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HILLSBORO: Hillsboro track returns five state qualifiers, state record holder

Staff writer

Hopes should be high for the Trojan track and field team heading into the 2019 season.

Considering three of Hillsboro’s five state qualifiers are underclassmen, it may be safe to say they will be for years to come.

As coach Dennis Boldt embarks on his 29th season, he’s got enough talent and experience back to have more competitors at track and field’s grandest stage of all in Wichita Memorial Day weekend.

“We have a combination of experienced athletes that have scored at the state level, as well as young athletes that look to score well throughout the season, giving them a chance at post-season competition,” Boldt said.

For senior Josiah Driggers and sophomore Jessica Saunders, graduation has narrowed the field for improvement on last year’s state performances.

Four-fifths of Class 2A’s top-six finishers in long jump graduated, leaving the sixth-place Driggers as one who could challenge in May.

Entering the season, perhaps only KC Marantha Academy’s third-place finisher, Jax Holland, is standing in the way of Driggers’ state title hopes.

Saunders put Class 2A on notice for both shot put and discus as a freshman, with sixth- and fourth-place finishes.

Even as Hillsboro’s record-holder in shot put, Saunders doesn’t benefit from graduation quite like Driggers.

With four out of Class 2A’s top six finishers in discus also sophomores and half as many in shot put, Saunders could have a slew of pests to contend with the remainder of her high school career.

For defending state champion Wes Shaw, it’s everyone else trying to catch up to the senior in shot put and discus.

There was not a competitor in the state’s other five classes who as close to Shaw in shot put and Marion’s state discus champion, Tyler Palic, graduated.

The future Harding Bison-commit rewrote both Hillsboro’s record book for the two several times a year ago en route to becoming Class 2A’s holder.

After taking second to Palic at state, expect Shaw to continue breaking records in not just shot put, but discus, too.

Kinsey Kleiner also made huge strides a year ago as a freshman, qualifying for state as part of the 4x100-relay team along with fellow sophomore Iris Klein.

The other half of the team must be replaced with Sienna Kaufman graduated and Roxana Nieto opting not to go out.

With Kleiner and Klein barely missing out on qualifying in long jump and high jump, the two could break through this year.

It’s now or never for senior Eva Franz, whose events are long jump and triple jumps.

Franz was part of the Trojans’ 4x400-meter relay team that just missed qualifying, along with Klein and Kleiner.

Junior Addie Behrens has been another of several Trojans that have been on the doorsteps of making it to Wichita.

Behrens outdid Saunders at regionals in javelin, taking fifth place, just inches away from advancing, while also competing in hurdles.

If freshman Emersyn Funk’s track season turns out to be anything like her cross-country season did, watch out.

Funk improved each week on the course back in fall and not only broke Hillsboro’s three-year old record, but qualified for the state cross-country meet in her first run.

Sophomore Caleb Diener was the other of coach Kodi Panzer’s two state qualifiers in cross country, and will be a force in distance races along with Dillon Boldt.

The boys’ team should also get help in the jumps from sophomore Carson Linnens.

Considering the Trojan coaching staff handles not only the high school athletes, but the junior high as well, finding the time to develop everyone is a never-ending challenge.

But it’s one that Dennis Boldt rarely struggles with, and he’s got plenty of underclassmen that should keep the Trojan track team a formidable opponent on the biggest stage.

Last modified March 27, 2019

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