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Trojan cross-country team sends two to state meet

Emersyn Funk, Caleb Diener punch tickets to Wamego

Staff writer

Entering her first year as a varsity cross-country runner, Trojan freshman Emersyn Funk isn’t having a typical year as a newcomer.

Outside of one meet earlier in the year, Funk has secured a top-10 finish in the rest, including eighth-place in a minefield of a CKL meet last week.

That’s not all.

Funk became the new record holder for the girls, breaking Abby Driggers’ three-yearold record.

There’s more to do, and Funk’s sensational season will continue Saturday at Wamego’s Class 2A state meet.

Funk punched her ticket Saturday at the regional meet at Burlington, taking seventh place in 22:02 as the Trojans’ lone girl qualifier.

Much like Funk, sophomore Caleb Diener has improved each meet also for the boys’ team.

Barely missing out on the top- 10 a week ago in Lindsborg at 11th in 18:02, Diener wouldn’t be denied Saturday.

Despite not clearing the 18:00 hurdle and slowing just a bit, Diener came close enough, taking eighth in 18:18 to join Funk in their debuts representing Hillsboro at state.

“There were water puddles and patches of mud on the course that might have slowed him down,” Trojan coach Kodi Panzer said. “He passed two guys at the end so I’m not complaining.”

Despite the success, Saturday also had its share of sadness with Panzer and the Trojans bidding farewell to the senior trio of Tucker Moss, Caleb Kliewer, and Orin Blecha.

Before the season began, Blecha set his sights on topping his brother’s record.

Down to his final chance, Blecha not only achieved his goal, but finished with a career-best in 23:16.

“Tucker was my leader and captain, even without saying it to them, everyone just knew,” Panzer said. “Caleb had injuries his first year running, but worked hard and enjoyed it.

“I bet he runs for fun now because he enjoys it. Orin worked hard and put in the effort, his desire to beat his goal in his last try was memorable. He’d be good at ultras like what I run.”

The Trojans would’ve made an earlier trip to Wamego Sept. 8, but Mother Nature had other ideas, washing the meet away.

While Funk will be making her first trip to Wamego, Diener’s no stranger to it, after competing there last year during the regular season.

Panzer was hardly worried about Funk possibly having butterflies on the largest stage.

“Hah, she’s tough as nails,” she said. “I’m glad I’ve got three more years with her.”

Diener’s race begins at 10 a.m., with Funk getting started at 11:45 a.m.

Last modified Oct. 25, 2018

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