Area teams compete in Hillcrest Early Bird cross-country meet

By Giovanni Coronel
Posted 9/6/23

In what was the season opener for many of the teams in attendance, Hillcrest hosted their annual Ravens Cross-Country Early Bird Meet on Aug. 29.

Taking place on the school campus of Hillcrest …

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Area teams compete in Hillcrest Early Bird cross-country meet


In what was the season opener for many of the teams in attendance, Hillcrest hosted their annual Ravens Cross-Country Early Bird Meet on Aug. 29.

Taking place on the school campus of Hillcrest Academy, 10 schools participated in this co-ed early bird cross-country meet. 

The race was a 5k run that began on Hillcrest’s baseball field. One of the more noteworthy aspects of this course was a daunting hill runners had to repeatedly run up, a tiring and challenging obstacle indeed.

Among the 10 schools who competed, Highland, Lone Tree, and of course Hillcrest had runners race in this course. All three schools had both their boys and girls teams compete. 

Hillcrest Results 

Finding success in their home cross-county meet, the Ravens had runners earn a top five placement in both the boys and girls varsity races.

Claiming third place in the girls 5k cross-country run was Hillcrest freshman Marie Yoder. This race was Yoder’s high school debut and she showed great promise by completing the course with a time of 21:35.43 to place in the top three. 

Throughout the race Yoder was positioned for a strong finish, consistently staying in front of the pack, and keeping up with the fastest runners. 

First and second place were both claimed by Iowa City High with junior Ani Wedemeyer and sophomore Abigail Burns taking first and second place respectively. 

This was the third time Wedemeyer has won this race and she won this year with a first-place time of 20:35. Iowa City High won the team race with a perfect score of 15. 

The next top performer for Hillcrest in the girls varsity race was junior Delaney Shaw.

An experienced runner, Shaw placed 22nd with a time of 28:10.79. Comparing her time to last year on the she was about twenty seconds faster; she has shown improvement every year she runs this course. 

Also competing in her first high school race was Hillcrest freshman Brynna O’Rourke. She placed 27th in a field of 39 with a time of 29:50. 

For the Hillcrest boys varsity team they placed second with a score of 39. Cedar Rapids Jefferson placed first with a score of 21. In the boys varsity race 35 runners completed the course. 

Winning the race with a first-place time of 18:58.80 was CR Jefferson senior Curtis Sanders 

Leading the way for Hillcrest was junior Micah Gerber. 

Gerber was the top performer on the Hillcrest boys team by placing fifth with a time of 20:11.92. This time was about 10 seconds faster than his time last year on the same course. 

In addition to Gerber two other Ravens secured top 10 finishes, freshman Mason Wilson and junior Jesse Blossom.

Wilson was able to secure eighth place with a time of 20:57 and his teammate, Blossom, placed 10th with a time of 21:19. This was an improvement for Blossom who, last year on this course, finished in 12th place with a time of 21:53.

The four other Ravens who completed the course were Isaac Beachy who placed 17th, Jeremiah Danker who placed 23rd, Braden Hartsock who placed 25th, and Kyle Neuschwander who placed 30th.

Highland Results 

In the girls varsity race Highland had two runners complete the race, sophomores Siena Stanerson and Erika Thomann. 

Stanerson was Highland’s top performer, just finishing outside the top ten with an 11th place finish with a time of 24:20.08. 

Thomann ended the race with a time of 28:12.32 to place 23rd overall. This was Thomann’s second year in a row she has competed on Hillcrest’s course.    

Since they did not have enough runners Highland girls had an incomplete team and they did not qualify for any points to place on the team rankings. 

On the boy’s side Highland varsity completed the meet by placing third with a team score of 77. The Huskies had seven runners complete the course to earn points for their team and their total time was 2:08:29.90

Crossing the finish line, the fastest, for the Huskies was freshman Jacob Schneider. Jacob completed the course with a time of 23:52.51 to place 20th individually and earn 12 team points. 

The next Highland runner to cross the finish line was sophomore Chase Hickenbottom. 

Showing an improvement in time and individual standings from when he ran this same course last year Hickenbottom ended this year with a time of 25:41.24 to place 24th. His placement earned 14 team points. 

Not straying too far from each other during the 5k run a trio of Huskies crossed the finish line back-to-back-to-back. Those runners were sophomore Jack Krotz, freshman Tate Stumpf, and sophomore Brayden Zywiec. 

With all three of their finishes earning 51 combined team points Krotz placed 26th with a time of 26:15, Stumpf placed 27th with a time of 26:16, and Zywiec placed 28th with a time of 26:23. 

The last two Highland runners to complete the course also finished in a consecutive order. Placing 32nd with a time of 27:58 and 33rd with a time of 28:04 was freshman Issac Giesmann and senior Jackson Schneider respectively. 

Lone Tree Results 

For Lone Tree they had three runners on the girls team and three runners on the boys team compete on Hillcrest’s course, with neither team having enough runners to earn team points. 

On the girls side the Lady Lions’ top performance came from Vivian Zaruba, a talented athlete who also participates in track and field, basketball, and softball. 

A year ago, as a sophomore, Vivian ended her season at the 1A state cross-country meet after successfully qualifying. Opening her junior season at Hillcrest she ended the race with a time of 26:12.31 to place 14th. 

Just finishing outside the top 20 was the next Lady Lion to cross the finish line, sophomore Jazmine Nino. Nino completed the course with a time of 28:06.61 to procure 21st place.

The third and final competitor to finish the race for the Lady Lions was freshman Abby Zaruba. Abby showed great determination in her first high school race by placing 34th with a time of 32:05.78. 

On the boy’s side it was freshman Brock Nebergal who gave the Lions their top performance. Securing a top 15 finish Nebergal ended the course with a time of 22:05.25 to place 13th. 

Taylor Alberhasky, a junior, was the next Lion competitor to finish the race. Alberhasky was able to finish in 19th place with a time of 23:38.84. 

The final Lion runner to complete the course was senior Joey Birtcher. Birtcher has experienced running this course before, competing in it last year. This year he was able to power through the course with a time of 26:43.95 to take 29th place. 


Boys Results

1. Curtis Sanders, CR Jefferson, 18:58

5. Micah Gerber, Hillcrest, 20:11

8. Mason Wilson, Hillcrest, 20:57

10. Jesse Blossom, Hillcrest, 21:19

13. Brock Nebergal, Lone Tree, 22:05

17. Isaac Beachy, Hillcrest, 23:27

19. Taylor Alberhasky, Lone Tree, 23:38

20. Jacob Schneider, Highland, 23:52

23. Jeremiah Danker, Hillcrest, 25:17

24. Chase Hickenbottom, Highland, 25:41

25. Bradon Hartsock, Hillcrest, 26:00

26. Jack Krotz, Highland, 26:15

27. Tate Stumpf, Highland, 26:16

28. Brayden Zywiec, Highland, 26:23

29. Joey Birtcher, Lone Tree, 26:43

30. Kyle Neuschwander, Hillcrest, 27:02

32. Issac Giesmann, Highland, 27:58

33. Jackson Schneider, Highland, 28:04

Girls Results 

1. Ani Wedemeyer, IC High, 20:35

3. Marie Yoder, Hillcrest, 21:35

11. Siena Stanerson, Highland, 24:20

14. Vivian Zaruba, Lone Tree, 26:12

21. Jazmine Nino, Lone Tree, 28:06

22. Delaney Shaw, Hillcrest, 28:10

23. Erika Thomann, Highland, 28:12

27. Brynna O’Rourke, Hillcrest, 29:50

34. Abby Zaruba, Lone Tree, 32:05



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