Last October, Hillsboro High School freshman cross-country runner Emily Sechrist mastered the field and one of the state’s most difficult courses to claim the Class 3A championship.
Sechrist returned Saturday to Rim Rock Farm as a sophomore, and served notice she’s a serious threat to repeat, shaving 27 seconds off last year’s winning time to place fourth in the Rim Rock Classic Varsity Blue division race in Lawrence.
“I had a lot of good memories here, so I was excited to run it again,” Sechrist said. “I knew there were a lot of runners, so my goal was to get in the top five. Running the course before helped.”
“Emily had another outstanding race,” Hillsboro head coach Holmes said. “With over 2,000 runners competing from several states it was quite the atmosphere.”
The Varsity Blue division featured 221 runners from high schools equivalent to Class 4A and under. Sechrist was the highest-placing runner from Kansas. The top three finishers were from Missouri and Colorado.
“Another positive was the strong finish she had in the last 200 meters,” Holmes said. Sechrist battled stride-for-stride in a dead sprint with third-place finisher Katie Tuck of Smithville, Mo.
“You never know you have that extra energy until someone is right there, so I was really pushing at the end,” Sechrist said.
Sechrist ran the undulating University of Kansas course in 15 minutes, 36.6 seconds. The next closest Class 3A competitor, Suzie Wright of Douglass, finished 14th with a time of 16:12.
Trojan senior Josh Richert was no stranger to Rim Rock, either. Richert placed 17th at state last year, clocking in at 17:59.7 in the 5000 meters.
“It was a little déjà vu,” Richert said. “It was a little different because more people were running. It’s louder, definitely louder. You can’t hear yourself think.”
There were more than twice as many entrants in this race as there were at the state meet. Richert finished 37th out of 246 runners, with a time of 17:47.4.
“I thought I was out very slow, but the second mile I was in somewhere like 11 minutes flat — that’s very good for me.”
“Josh improved his time from last year by 12 seconds, so his training and racing are headed in the right direction,” Holmes said.
Additional results for Hillsboro in the girls’ race included, Karyn Leihy, 85th, 17:47; Erin Wiebe, 205th, 21:31; and Morganne Hamm, 211th, 24:55. Boys’ results were, Jordan Bezdek, 183rd, 20:02; Avery Franz, 205th, 20:34; and Daniel Gray, 243rd, 23:41.
“Many of our runners embraced the challenging course and competition and therefore had good races,” Holmes said. “Another highlight of the meet was the continued improvement of Morganne, Erin, Karyn, and Jordan, as they all ran faster than they did earlier in the season at Wamego.”