Rob Haude inherited a mixed bag for his first Hillsboro cross-country coach: He doesn’t have many runners, but three of them know what it takes to get state.
Senior Jonathan Hinerman and sophomore Abby Driggers ran in the state 2A meet in Wamego last year, placing 29th and 63rd, respectively.
Like Haude, freshman Millie Sechrist is new to the team, but carries a surname familiar to Hillsboro cross-country fans. Her older sister Emily won two state championships and was twice runner-up as a Trojan.
“As a coach it’s been beneficial,” Haude said. “Most of the high school kids know what it takes and understand that part of running.”
Hinerman will have to shave about two minutes off of his 18-minute, 25-second state effort to be among this year’s front-runners.
“He’s really committed and dedicated and focused to have a special year this year,” Haude said. “He’s a smart kid, he’s a strategizer. He enjoys that aspect of running, too. That’s what makes him a good competitor.”
Haude’s workouts have emphasized endurance, speed, mental toughness, and race strategy as he seeks to build team cohesiveness in a sport focused on individual performance.
“I still try to emphasize the team and how a group is stronger than an individual,” he said. “We keep each other accountable with personal goals.”
Haude’s experience the past seven years as a competitive triathlete made the transition to coaching cross-country a good one.
“I’ve enjoyed it very much; it’s really stretched me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the meets and seeing the kids come out of their shells. It’s one thing to practice, but when you get into a meet you always see those kids that open your eyes to another side of them.”