Leah Bontrager wins first cross country race

Hillcrest Academy senior is a three-time state qualifier

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 9/16/21

NORTH ENGLISH

Leah Bontrager, a senior at Hillcrest Academy, hit a lifetime first on Tuesday.

A three-time state qualifier, Bontrager won her first cross country race in the English Valleys …

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Leah Bontrager wins first cross country race

Hillcrest Academy senior is a three-time state qualifier

Posted

NORTH ENGLISH

Leah Bontrager, a senior at Hillcrest Academy, hit a lifetime first on Tuesday.

A three-time state qualifier, Bontrager won her first cross country race in the English Valleys Invitational held at Knoll Ridge Country Club. It wasn’t just her first win in a high school cross country race, but any cross country race.

Battling for the lead with Belle Plain’s Breanna Cook in the first half of the race, Bontrager powered ahead at that point and led for the rest of race, winning in a time of 24:07.42.

Charlotte Brown of Wilton finished more than 20 seconds back, and Cook was third.

Bontrager, a three-time All-Southeast Iowa Super Conference honoree, finished third at least year’s Class 1A state qualifier and eighth at the conference championships. But she had never won a race. Until Tuesday.

"It does feel really good,"  said Bontrager, who finished third at last year's English Valleys meet.

While running on an ankle that had three stress fractures last year, Bontrager finished 52nd at the Class 1A state meet in Fort Dodge. It was her best career finish at state.

She led three Hillcrest runners at Tuesday’s race. Morgyn Nafziger was 16th with a time of 29:35 and Julia Boller was 21st with a time of 32:06.

Highland junior Katelyn Waters captured sixth place with a time of 26:46.71.

Also finishing among the top 10 was Lone Tree freshman Vivian Zaruba, who was eighth with a time of 27:12.52.

Collin Miller, a Hillcrest senior, finished fourth in the boys race with a time of 20:18.73. Also finishing among the top 10 was Hillcrest freshman Micah Gerber, who came in seventh with a time of 21:48.27.

“Collin has made steady improvements on this course during his high school career,” said HIllcrest coach Marty Gingerich.

Bryson Grove of English Valleys won the race with a time of 18:33.66.

Carlos Valenzuela led Highland with an 11th-place spot, finishing in 22:09.91.

Joey Birtcher and Jadin Grieser of Lone Tree finished 30th and 31st, respectively.

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