Marion High School Warrior runner Jordan Hett earned his way into the Class 3A state cross-country championship by finishing fourth Saturday at the Class 3A regional meet at Lake Afton.
Hett battled a group of runners from Salina-Sacred Heart, Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson, Belle Plaine, and Wichita-Independent, who distanced themselves from the rest of the field by the midpoint of the contest.
Corey Donley of Salina-Sacred Heart dominated the field by winning in 16 minutes, 32 seconds, a half minute ahead of his closest rival. Hett placed fourth with a time of 17:10.
“Jordan ran a great race,” Marion head coach Rebecca Hofer said.
Two other Warrior runners made strong bids for one of the ten state qualifying positions, but fell short. Patrick McCarty finished 11th with a time of 18:05, and Jacob Cope finished 12th in 18:06.
“They were the next two to go,” Hofer said. “For Jacob, that was his best time ever — his last personal best was over 20 seconds longer.”
Timothy Knolla ran a season-best 19:50 to place 46th; Clark Kroupa finished 73rd in 21:10; Quinton Hett was 75th with a time of 20:42; and Jared Hague ran 22:05, finishing 78th.
While Hofer had hoped for a third-place team finish to qualify for state, she found positive aspects to the Warriors’ fifth-place showing.
“Even though we did not qualify as a team we did beat Hutch-Trinity who beat us at league,” Hofer said. “We also beat Hillsboro and Halstead, who beat us this year.”
Different terrain and conditions at each regional meet make time comparisons difficult, but Marion may have been in the most difficult region, based on results from Class 3A meets at Riley County, Cimarron, and Burlington.
Marion’s team time would have taken first at Riley County and Cimarron, and third at Burlington, all state-qualifying finishes. McCarty and Cope would have qualified for state with their times at all three of the other regional meets.
Hett will compete for the Class 3A championship at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Rim Rock Farm, north of Lawrence.