Hillsboro High School senior cross-country runner Josh Richert faced familiar opponents in Drew Hageman of Hesston and Jordan Hett of Marion on Thursday at the Peabody-Burns High School meet at Topham Farm.
Although he finished third behind Hageman and Hett, the competition compelled Richert to run a personal best time of 17 minutes, 23.06 seconds, despite the rain-drenched conditions. It was 14 seconds better than his previous record and 57 seconds faster than he ran last year at Peabody.
Richert’s motivations go beyond hanging with the top runners in the state; he plans to be one. He said his goal is to finish in the top seven at state this season, 10 spots higher than his finish last season. Richert steadily improved all last season before peaking to set a personal record at regionals. He said he is focused this season to start off strong but similarly build toward a state berth. He said he has worked to improve his speed in mile splits.
Emily Sechrist won the girls’ race for Hillsboro with a time of 15:27.13. She was about 18 seconds faster than Brenda McCollum of Bluestem. Hillsboro head coach Stuart Holmes said Sechrist was only four seconds off her school record time and ran a time 14 seconds better than last year at Peabody.
Karyn Leihy finished 11th to medal with a time of 17:50.88.
“She was certainly stronger in the second half of the race than last week so her conditioning is coming along,” Holmes said.
Avery Franz was just outside of medal contention in the boys’ race, placing 22nd with a time of 19:35.31. Just behind him were teammates Jordan Bezdek, 24th with a time of 19:43.81, and JD Schmidt with a time of 19:59.50.
Erin Wiebe placed fifth in the junior varsity race with a time of 20:37. Karina Torres placed 11th with a time of 21:25. Mary Leihy placed 19th with a time of 22:22. Morganne Ham placed 24th with a time of 24:02.
Matt Reeh finished 44th with a time of 40:03 in his first ever cross-country race.