Hillsboro High School cross-country team will have two representatives at state after sophomore Emily Sechrist won the girls’ 4-kilometer race and senior Josh Richert placed eighth in the boys’ 5-kilometers. Both advanced to state in 2011.
“Our regional was really strong again this year, so to qualify was difficult,” coach Stuart Holmes said. “Qualifying for state again is a result of all the hard work that Emily and Josh have put in this year.”
Sechrist, the reigning 3A state champion, won comfortably in a field that included last year’s state runner-up, Sarah Wright of Douglass. She took the lead early in the race and was closer to the lead four-wheeler than the nearest runner behind her by the time she entered the final stretch.
“Just like last year, she is running extremely well here at the end of the season,” Holmes said.
Sechrist won with a time of 15 minutes, 31 seconds — 26 seconds ahead of runner-up Klair Gibson of Douglass.
Karyn Leihy just missed advancing to state, running the course in 17:07. In 13th place, she was the fastest finisher who didn’t qualify for state. Her race was an improvement of 37 seconds compared to the previous race at Southeast of Saline.
Erin Wiebe placed 51st at 20:24. Mary Leihy placed 59th at 22:29, and Morganne Hamm placed 60th at 24:00.
Entering the final stretch of the race, Richert was neck-and-neck with Nate Lacoy of Haven and slightly behind Luke Kicklighter of Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson, but he was able to pull away from Lacoy and pass Kicklighter right before the finish line. He placed eighth with a time of 18:14, less than a second ahead of Kicklighter.
Jordan Bezdek placed 46th at 20:36. Daniel Gray placed 72nd at 23:10.
“All of our runners gave an outstanding effort, and in fact, every single one of our runners improved their time from a month ago when we ran at Southeast of Saline during the season,” Holmes said.
Class 3A state cross-country will be Saturday at Rim Rock Farm, 2276 Burnett Lane, Lawrence. The course is where the University of Kansas has its home cross-country meets. The girls’ race is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., and the boys’ race is scheduled to begin at noon.