Mueller lone Trojan advancing to Wamego
When the biggest ticket for any high school cross country competitor, the state tournament, is up for grabs, the last place to have a sub-par outing is when it matters most.
Unfortunately, for both Hillsboro High School teams, the season came to an abrupt ending Saturday at the Class 3A regional meet held at gusty Southeast of Saline.
Needing a finish in the top-three to advance to this weekend’s state meet at Wamego, the boys’ team just missed, placing fourth out of 14 schools.
The top-ranked hosting Southeast of Saline Trojans won the boys’ division, defeating runner-up Hutchinson-Trinity, 70-85.
It was Ellsworth’s 88-98 edge for third, which ended the Trojans hopes of moving on for all but senior Nick Mueller.
Mueller’s ninth-place time in the 5k of 18 minutes, 30 seconds punched his ticket for Wamego.
Of 11 teams competing in the girls’ race, the Lady Trojans finished in a two-way tie for sixth with Sedgwick with 173 points.
Belle Plaine ran away with the girls’ title, finishing ahead of SES 32-58.
“With four of 3A’s top six ranked teams in our regional, we knew the competition for the top three qualifying places would be keen,” Trojan coach Stuart Holmes said of the boys’ outcome. “Unfortunately for our guys, we had somewhat of an off-day and did not run as well as we have most meets over the past month.
“Overall, the other three ranked teams just ran better than we did Saturday. The guys have worked so hard and had such a successful season, it’s just too bad it ended a week early.”
There’s one more year for junior Nathan Vogel, and he proved he’ll be one of the Trojans’ best next season, taking 13th out of 92 runners with a time of 18:39.
Seniors Brandon McMillen, Robbie McClelland, David Ratzloff, and Matthew Klenda all closed out strong careers.
McMillen was 23rd (19:03), McClelland 26th, (19:13), and Ratzloff came in at 27th (19:17).
Junior Jonathan King wrapped up his season with a 33rd-place time of 19:31.
Klenda capped off his high school career, rounding out the top-50 in 20:34. Fellow senior Cody Blackketter also ran his final race at the MCAA meet.
“Nicholas will run as an individual at state and will compete very well,” Holmes said.
Pacing the Lady Trojans was Heidi Schroeder.
Schroeder put the final touches on a stellar career and record-setting season with a 26th place time of 18:08 out of 74 runners in the 4k.
Super freshman Breanna Blackketter also came within eight seconds of Schroeder’s record, running an 18:11 for 28th.
Blackketter’s fellow freshman Samantha Ens also showed promising signs of a good future, grabbing 36th in a personal record time of 18:34.
Clara Ens and Jessica Elliot ran their final race Saturday with Clara finishing 48th (19:20), and Elliot 53rd (19:33).
“A number of the girls had excellent times for a windy day as both Heidi and Breanna were within eight seconds of the school record,” Holmes said. “Samantha even set a new PR by 15 seconds so she also finished the season on a positive note.”
Graduation will take its toll on Hillsboro. However, Holmes should again return a strong group.
“Our seniors have done an outstanding job and will be missed,” Holmes said. “Their hard work and self-discipline to run in the summer have been great examples for our younger runners.”