Hillsboro High School cross-country coach Stuart Holmes wished every runner could run more than 300 miles in the summer and come into the season in sterling shape. That would be a perfect world. Some of his runners can’t do that. Some of his runners won’t do it.
Sophomore Emily Sechrist is one of the runners who has put in the miles in the summer. Some athletes may work as hard but no one outworks her. That’s why she has two state championship medals already, one last year in cross-country, one in the 3,200-meter run in track.
She started practices this week already in amazing shape, Holmes said. She is part of a core group of runners for Hillsboro that have started practices running up to eight miles a day.
The work pays off. She owns the top two times in Hillsboro cross-country history and one piece of state title hardware. It does not go unnoticed either. Holmes said the other athletes have responded to her work ethic and tried to match it.
Sechrist did not win a race until the state championship run in Lawrence. It’s safe to assume she’ll pick up a couple more firsts this year. There is no doubt she will compete for another state championship as one of the premier runners in Kansas.
Joining Sechrist in the eight-mile club is senior Josh Richert. Richert was the Trojans’ other state competitor last season, finishing 17th in Lawrence. It was one of his best finishes of season. He had one of his best times at regionals in Wichita, 17 minutes, 46 seconds.
“Your senior year is special,” Holmes said. “Success always breeds success and adds to confidence.”
Richert is part of triple threat of seniors on the boys team. He is joined by Daniel Gray and Jordan Bezdek. Juniors J.D. Schmidt and Avery Franz round out the remaining team members. Holmes was disappointed to only have five runners come out but the team he has is experienced.
Franz is another member of the eight-mile club. He will look to build on the momentum from a stellar finish to his track season last year, where he was part of the 4x800 and 4x400 state qualifying teams.
For the first time in five years, the Trojans will have enough girls to field a team. Sechrist, fellow sophomore Karyn Leihy, and junior Erin Wiebe ran last season. They are joined by three newcomers: juniors Morganne Hamm and Karina Torres and freshman Mary Leihy. The experience difference in the runners is vast but having enough athletes for a team is a step in the right direction, Holmes said.
The Trojans begin the season 10 a.m. Sept. 8 in Wamego.