Bontrager takes seventh at conference meet with season-best effort

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 10/8/21

The cross country course for Thursday’s SEISC meet at Heritage Oaks Golf Course was a little different than the other courses that Hillcrest senior Leah Bontrager had experienced this …

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Bontrager takes seventh at conference meet with season-best effort


The cross country course for Thursday’s SEISC meet at Heritage Oaks Golf Course was a little different than the other courses that Hillcrest senior Leah Bontrager had experienced this season. 

“It was interesting when we got here and saw the map,” She said. “I think it's the first course that wasn't just loops, so that made me a little nervous because it was a lot of back and forth. And there also wasn’t... anything physical like flags to have to stay around, and there were a lot of corners to cut.”

But once the race started, Bontrager navigated the course just fine, finishing with a season-best time of 22:08. With a seventh-place finish, she earned all-conference honors for the fourth straight season. 

“I knew it was gonna be exciting because it's my senior year, and I just had confidence from the previous years, and I was ready to do it again,” Bontrager said. 

“I feel really good about today — my time and my place. And I'm excited for next week, to keep getting as much work in as I can before the qualifier, to get better.”

Hillcrest senior Collin Miller and Highland junior Carlos Valenzeula both took to the course in Wapello as well, leading their teams with new personal bests. 

Valenzuela set a new personal record with a 34th place finish of 20:14 after his coach, Angie Strobel, gave him a goal of 17 runners to pass — as it was his 17th birthday on Thursday. 

“I really enjoyed (the course) because I like seeing where I'm going, and I like to see the people who I'm going to pass,” Valenzuela said. 

“I just wanted to go out and have a good start and then start finishing really hard at the two mile or maybe one and a half. I basically just sprinted from the two mile all the way to the end. I finished pretty good and I was very happy with my results.”

Miller led the Raven boys, finishing in 19th place overall, just 17 seconds behind the last all-conference spot with a new personal record of 19:20.

“Collin ran really well today,” Hillcrest coach Marty Gingerich said. “He placed higher than I expected. I think up and down we were pretty good.

It was good to see Micah (Gerber) back on the course, having a good race. This was Diego (Ramos)’s second time and he was a scorer for us. That was really nice. Jesse Blossom also ran well, so our top five especially ran really well today.”

Gerber finished 61st with a time of 21:50, while Blossom and Jorge Cancholoa were 69th and 70th with finishes of 22:13 and 22:28, respectively. 

The Lone Tree boys were led by Jadin Grieser, who out-sprinted Columbus Community’s Josh Almanza to the finish line. 

“I felt like I was gonna throw up a little bit back there, but when the kid started running past me, I was like, ’I gotta beat this kid,’ and so I kicked it in,” Grieser said. Grieser pulled away to take 73rd place by over a second with a time of 22:56. 

“I started out at my usual pace,” Grieser said. “But then, in the second or third mile I sped up. And at the end, I made sure I had enough energy to sprint all the way.” 

Vivian Zaruba finished 27th for the Lone Tree girls with a time of 25 minutes flat. Lion coach Tiffany Regan said that Zaruba had a good race, especially since she had to  miss some time this season after a surgery. 

“This was probably her best race since she’s been back,” Regan said. “She did really well — all of these guys did.”

Joey Birtcher edged his Lone Tree teammate Taylor Alberhasky for 83rd place by less than half a second with a time of 23:27. 

All four of the Hillcrest girls ran season-best times on Thursday, including Delaney Shaw, who finished 37th with a time of 26:05. Highland’s Katelyn Waters was close behind, coming in 40th with a finish of 26:19.


Varsity Girls
7. Leah Bontrager Hillcrest 22:08
27. Vivian Zaruba Lone Tree 25:00
37. Delaney Shaw Hillcrest 26:05
40. Katelyn Waters Highland 26:19
60. Morgyn Nafziger Hillcrest 28:33
61. Julia Boller Hillcrest 28:40

Varsity Boys
19. Collin Miller Hillcrest 19:20
34. Carlos Valenzuela Highland 20:14
61. Micah Gerber Hillcrest 21:50
69. Jesse Blossom Hillcrest 22:13
70. Jorge Canchola Hillcrest 22:28
73. Jadin Grieser Lone Tree 22:56
78. Jackson Schneider Highland 23:09
83. Joey Birtcher Lone Tree 23:27
84. Taylor Alberhasky Lone Tree 23:27
88. Diego Ramos Hillcrest 24:37
91. Brendan Schnoebelen Highland 25:03
97. Andrew Lana Highland 26:35
99. Quang Huynh Hillcrest 27:09
100. Garett Hurst Hillcrest 27:41


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