Hillsboro High School cross-country runners Emily Sechrist and Josh Richert earned a chance to compete for a state championship Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. It was the first time that both runners have qualified for the race as individuals.
Sechrist, a freshman, placed second in the girls race with a time of 15 minutes, 24 seconds, just a second off the school record she set previously.
“I didn’t expect to go to state,” Sechrist said. “I just wanted to medal in a race this year. I was really surprised.”
To overcome Savannah Wright of Douglass, Sechrist kicked earlier in the race.
“If I would have started sprinting sooner, I would have had a chance at first,” Sechrist said.
Sechrist’s goal for state is to earn a medal by placing in the top 20 runners.
“In some ways it was her best race, as she is learning to run what we call ‘comfortable hard’,” head coach Stuart Holmes said. “She finished the last half mile very well.”
Richert, a junior, placed 10th with a time of 17:46. He finished nearly a minute faster than teammate Bret Mueller.
“I think it was a mental hurdle for me when I started,” Richert said of falling behind his teammate. “He’s been a major part of me going to state. He’s such a good runner I wish he could have gone.”
Richert also kicked hard at the end of the regional race. He said he used his mile and half-mile race speed at the end of the contest. He said middle distances are more his specialty and he gained confidence in his running ability last spring during track season.
“Josh continued his excellent string of races, showing good patience in the first half of the race and having the ability to finish strong and move up into the top ten,” Holmes said.
While Sechrist was excited for her first attempt at a state championship, Richert was more nervous. Last season, he competed as part of the team at Wamego.
“I don’t have Bret to help pace me,” Richert said. “With the team atmosphere, you feel more secure.”
Richert is hoping to keep pace with Dylnn Hernandez of Wichita Independent at the state meet. He finished one spot ahead of the Trojan runner at regionals.
While he also wants to finish in the top 20 to medal, Richert also set a goal of beating his brother Pete Richert’s state time of 17:04.
Sechrist will race at 11 a.m. and Richert will race at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Bret Mueller — 18. 18:30
Avery Franz — 33. 19:13
Dylan Hill — 40. 19:30
Jordan Bezdek — 52. 20:01
J.D. Schmidt — 53. 20:02
Daniel Gray — 54. 20:03
Karyn Leihy — 22. 17:17
Samantha Ens — 42. 18:55
Erin Wiebe — 52. 19:48
Amy Bartel — 60. 20:52