SPRING HILL — Braxton Dixon, Spotlight boys runner of the year, is pushing the pace for the Broncos cross country program this season.

Dixon, a senior, improved his time from 18:49 to a season-best 17:32.

Spring Hill will be led by seniors Rylee Calderwood and Dixon, who have been with the program all four seasons.

“Rylee Calderwood and Braxton Dixon bring so much experience to our group and are really respected within our squads,” Spring Hill coach Brent Smitheran said.

Dixon led the Spring Hill boys at state at the Class 5A state meet at Rim Rock in Lawrence with a time of 17:51. He ran a time of 17:49 during the Class 5A regionals at Johnson County Community College, placing 12th to qualify for the state meet.

Dixon earned first-team All-Frontier League honors, running a time of 17:38 for fourth place in the league meet held at Ottawa.

The Spring Hill boys won the Louisburg Invitational a year ago.

Practices began with heat and plenty of humidity and then turned to downpour thunderstorms.

“We have had a less-than-ideal start to our season with heat advisories and now thunderstorms, but our squad has made the most of it,” Smitheran said. “They have not complained a bit, but just went about the workout as best they could in the conditions that we have had. We really like our group of workhorses thus far.”

Spring Hill has 25 runners out for the program with 15 boys and 10 girls.

Smitheran is entering his 19th season with the team and sixth as head coach.

Letter-winners back to lead the Lady Broncos are senior Rylee Calderwood and sophomores Alyssa Anderson, Molly Murray, Rebecca McCreight and Vienna Lahner.

Additional boys returning with Dixon are junior Tommy O’Leary and sophomore Kael Knittel.

It is a young group with some experience and lot of potential, Smitheran said.

“We graduated a really large group of seniors last year,” he said. “We are going to be depending on quite a few newcomers this season to help us along. Our freshman class in particular is going to be playing a large roll for us, and so far they have looked up to the challenge.”

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