Hillsboro High School track and field head coach Dennis Boldt said the goal for the season is to qualify as many athletes as possible for 3A state meet in Wichita. He looks to have a good head start with a strong group of returning state competitors.
Senior Callie Serene placed third in the 800-meter dash at the state meet last year. She leads a talented group of Hillsboro female distance runners.
Freshman Emily Sechrist is fresh off her state championship cross-country run and competing for the Trojans’ track team for the first time. She is likely to compete in the 3200-meter run, 1600-meter run, and 4x800-meter relay.
“She absolutely has the ability,” Boldt said.
Serene and Sechrist will be joined by freshmen Karyn Leihy, who originally set a record time for the Hillsboro cross-country team before it was bested by Sechrist. Tara Proffitt joins them to form a dynamic 4x800 relay team.
“To find four girls at that level, it’s pretty unique,” Boldt said.
Two legs of the Trojan boys’ 4x800 sixth-place state relay team also return. Senior Bret Mueller and junior Josh Richert will be joined by last years’ alternates, junior Tyler Proffitt and sophomore Avery Franz, for another state run.
Even though distance and middle distance has been a team strength, Boldt said, the strength of the boys team this season will be jumps and sprints.
Leading this group is junior Shaq Thiessen who placed third at the state meet in the long jump. Thiessen will also compete in the triple jump and high jump this season.
“He’s fun to watch,” Boldt said. “The kids were huddled around watching him jump the other day in practice.”
Junior Mitchell Day will compete in short sprints and long jump. Sophomore Jesse Brown will compete in the high jump and sprints. Sophomore Franz will also long jump and triple jump this season. Boldt characterized each athlete as on the cusp of a state berth last season.
There are several athletes Boldt expects to improve on marks from last season and compete for a state berth. Senior Kiara Espada placed sixth in regionals in the shot put last season; she will compete in the shot put and discus this year. Junior Ashley Bartel placed fifth in the pole vault at regionals last season; she will compete in the vault and hurdles. Tyler Proffitt placed sixth in the pole vault in regionals last year; he will compete in the vault and middle distance events.
Lindsey Brazil should also improve to compete for a state ticket in the triple jump, Boldt said.
As a team, Boldt is hoping to place in the top three in the Central Kansas League standings.