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Hillsboro runners contend with weather, competition to close regular season

Staff writer

The Hillsboro High School cross-country team got a final tune-up for the postseason Thursday, competing at the Sterling Invitational in the regular season finale. 

After the Central Kansas League meet Thursday at Larned, all that’s left is regionals at Hutchinson before the state meet at Wamego. 

The Trojans braved cooler temperatures, a blustery west wind, mist and flurries, in what coach Kodi Panzer called their toughest and most competitive meet of the year. 

“This was probably our toughest meet in terms of the teams, and the wind was awful,” she said. “We still turned in good times, though.”

Sterling, a perennial cross-country powerhouse, is tough competition for any team, and Thursday was indeed a tough meet, with 4A schools such as Great Bend, Pratt, Haven, and Buhler also competing. 

The 21-minute hurdle has been tripping Emersyn Funk up all season, but the sophomore finally cleared it Thursday, finishing with a season-best 20:42 for 17th out of 69 competitors and a medal. 

Freshman Ainsley Duell was 35th in 22:29, while fellow classmate Moriah Jost took 41st two seconds over 23 minutes. 

Senior Millie Sechrist wrapped up Hillsboro’s varsity girls action with a 25:10 for 56th. 

Panzer kept Pedro Nieto out of action Thursday to allow him time to recover from an ankle injury so the freshman’s ready for the postseason, and Nathan Lopez was competing in the junior varsity race, leaving Hillsboro’s boys two runners short of getting a team score. 

Tristan Reed fell one place and 4 seconds short of a medal, taking 21st in 17:31 to lead the boys’ trio. 

Caleb Diener’s been hampered by injuries also, but the junior still turned in a 17:55 for 26th out of 92 runners. 

Rounding out the boys’ competitors was Jason Latham with a 24:03 finish. 

Lopez was 27th in 22:58 for the JV. 

The next time the eighth-grade duo of Trudy Hein and Levi Allen will race again after Thursday will be as freshmen. 

Hein continued to improve, finishing 13th out of 24 runners in 16:46 on the two-mile course. 

Rarely has Allen been threatened during his junior-high career, winning all his races by a comfortable margin. 

That changed Thursday, but it was his decision to start half a minute behind the 29 other runners. 

Reno Valley’s Carsen Blasdel came the closest anyone has come to dethroning Allen, whose winning time of 12:27 was only 16 seconds faster than the runner-up. 

Thursday’s action is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. at Larned High School.

Last modified Oct. 17, 2019

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