Qualifying for Kansas State High School Cross-Country meet is arguably the biggest goal for any competitor.
In a short but taxing month, the Trojans’ quest for a first-ever state title will run through Wamego on Halloween.
On Saturday, the Trojans made their first trip to where they hope to be competing in a month.
Trojan coach Stuart Holmes got a good glimpse of both some stiff competition and his team’s potential performance.
With Nathan Vogel and Jonathan King finishing in the top 20 at 11th and a time of 19 minutes, nine seconds, and 19th, 19:28, respectively, Hillsboro’s 138 points were enough to place sixth out of 17 schools.
Class 3-2-1A stalwart Riley County won the event, finishing 18 points better than the Trojans. Olpe was one point behind for second and Norton was third with 127.
“It was another good day for the team,” Holmes said. “The course at Wamego is very hilly and the competition was excellent, but our runners were up to the challenge.
“Running especially well were Nathan, Jonathan, and Bret (Mueller), who had great races for this early in the season. Their summer conditioning paid off as it is difficult to run well on such a challenging course without being in good shape.”
Mueller also secured a medal, taking 29th in 19:57.
Freshman Josh Richert posted a good showing and promising signs, coming in 45th at 20:46 against 126 runners.
Senior Dimitri McClelland was just two-hundredths of a second from placing in the top 50 with a 51st-place time of 21:05. Hillsboro’s trio of Justin King, Michael Christian, and Daniel Gray competed strong in the JV race, too.
King picked up his first medal on the state course with a 15th place time of 20:14 against 170 competitors. Christian was 73rd and Gray took 93rd with 22:18, and 23:23, respectively.
As the only member for the Lady Trojans, sophomore Samantha Ens competed in the junior varsity race after missing the first meet with an ankle injury. Ens just missed a medal by 10 places. She came in 40th at 21:10. Up next for the Trojans is a meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday on Peabody Golf Course.