The Hillcrest Academy cross country course was a challenge on a cooler, sunny Monday afternoon.
Starting in the outfield of the baseball field, runners make their way through a choke point at the gate and head up a big hill for the first of four times.
After circling the athletic fields at Hillcrest Academy, runners make their way into the woods behind the baseball field. After winding their way through the path, they headed back up the hill and around the complex twice more before making a turn onto the track and to the finish line.
Mid-Prairie’s Lucas Bontrager called the course mentally challenging.
“I think with how muddy it was and those hills is different mentally. It’s just a lot harder (than a typical course),” Bontrager said.
It was the second meet hosted by Hillcrest Academy this year, but some new faces dotted the Raven lineup. The boys team was led by Jorge Canchola, who ran a 21:47 to lead the team in just his second race this year. He placed 77th.
Canchola started the team as a manager, not sure if he wanted to run with the team or not. After watching a few meets he decided to jump in.
“I think running is a fun sport, but I wanted to see how it looked before I joined,” he said.
Canchola is also balancing cross country with fall club soccer, often practicing back-to-back during the week.
Close after Canchola was Colin Miller, who finished three seconds back in 21:50 and 79th place.
The final three scoring members were Will Kolck (21:53), Colby Harris (22:04) and Owen Swartzendruber (22:13). Iowa Mennonite had a full varsity team, with Jesse Slater running a 22:58 and Toby Chen a 24:22. Swartzendruber improved his time from 28:40 to 22:13 between the Hillcrest Early Bird and Monday’s meet.
The Hillcrest Academy boys finished 13th of 13 teams in attendance.
Leah Bontrager continued to lead the Hillcrest Academy girls, pacing them with a 31st place finish in 22:31. It was a 73 second improvement for Bontrager over her Sept. 3 race on the same course.
Sarena Gerber was 50th in 23:52, Chloe Staley 79th in 27:02, Taryn Leichty 84th in 27:47 and the final scoring member was Julia Boller in 88th in 28:10. Ainsley Shaw was 96th in 39:33.
Leichty saw an 87 second drop from her last time out on the course and ran her second fastest time this season.
The Mid-Prairie boys were fourth in the race, with Jamison Stutzman leading the charge and Chandler Hershberger close behind. Stutzman was 14th in 18:25 and Hershberger 15th three seconds later.
Lucas Bontrager was 24th and Nathan Wallington 27th. Mose Yoder was the final scoring member in 48th. It was the second consecutive varsity race for Carter Harmsen, who finished 54th in 20:15.
The Mid-Prairie girls won the team race with a team score of 45, beating out Williamsburg at 55 and Solon at 94.
Marie Hostetler ran 18:40 to win the race, 1:17 faster than the next runner.
Mitzi Evans and Abbagail Evans were No. 2 and No. 3 for Mid-Prairie. Ana Fleming ran a season-best 21:02 to be the No. 4 runner and place 11th. She beat out a pair of Williamsburg runners just behind her by six and eight seconds.
The final scoring member was Angelina Evans in 18th at 21:34.
The Lone Tree cross country team was also in attendance. Macie Bopp was 39th in 23:07 and Natalie Patterson finished 58th in 24:42, running in her second race this season.
The Lion boys team only had four runners, so did not score as a team in this meet. Alberto Cortes continued to inch toward the sub-20 mark with a 20:13 and 53rd place.
Cale Christofferson and Nick Saltzman finished three second apart in 71st and 72nd. Lone Tree freshman Blake Honeycutt was 95th in 25:00.
The Lone Tree and Hillcrest Academy cross country teams will run in the SEISC meet on Thursday at Waterworks Park in Fairfield.