One outgoing senior made it the next step of competition in the Div. III Cambridge cross country meet Saturday, Oct. 22. The other saw her dreams of a regional berth dashed.
Hiland senior Hunter Yoder ran with the front of the pack, and easily stepped into a regional berth when he placed eighth in the boys’ competition.
With the top 12 advancing, Yoder continued his standout senior campaign in which he set a new Hiland High School record, and ran a 17:29 to place eighth to earn a regional berth at Pickerington High School Saturday, Oct. 29.
Meanwhile, another great Hiland cross country career came to an end when Melissa Hostetler failed in her bid to duplicate last year’s regional-qualifying effort.
For the guy nicknamed “Cookie,” the race played out pretty much the way he had envisioned it going.
“The course was wet and sticky and the wind didn’t do anyone any favors,” Yoder said. “Coming in, I knew I was seeded in the top 12, and I knew I just had to go out and run a good race. Fortunately, that is exactly what happened.”
Yoder came in ranked right around the eighth best time, a spot where he settled in nicely near the mid way point of the race and never left. He knew exactly where he was, and he also knew who he had behind him, so he felt like he was a in good position to advance to regionals as the hunters tried to hunt down Hunter.
Justin Anderson of Fort Frye was an easy winner, churning out a time of 16:35. Ten seconds back was Caldwell’s Levi Pemberton and another seconds behind him was Harrison Central senior Zach Henry. A pair of Garaway Pirates were next, with Julian Shrock and Nathan Wicker placing fourth and fifth.
Trying to chase down Yoder were a pack of runners, but eventually Yoder put some distance between himself and a herd of about five runners, who eventually thinned out themselves. He was never really challenged for the eight spot.
“I knew exactly where I had to be and where I was, and I just settled in there and stayed put,” Yoder said.
Yoder struggled at regionals last year after finally qualifying for the meet, where he placed 52nd in a time of 18:08. He is looking to improve on that finish.
“I was disappointed with the way I ran there last year, and with this being my last year, I am hoping to put a little better effort together there,” Yoder said . “I just want to give it my best and see what happens from there.”
For the Hawks, the next in line was freshman Tyler Kuhns, who placed 49th in 20:04. One spot behind him was Alexander Ventura, who ran a 20:05. Placing 63rd and 64th for Hiland were Matt Troyer (21:37) and Alijah Chupp (21:39).
When the girls took flight, Hostetler was hoping that her senior season would allow her to return to Pickerington. It never materialized, as the Lady Hawks senior fell into the middle of the pack early, and never really got any kind of rhythm going.
Hostetler needed a top 28 finish among the field of 77 runners, and ended up placing 36th overall. Her time of 22:28 left her 23 seconds off the pace of number 28, Emma Potts of Tusky Valley’s time of 22:05. Last year at the Pickerington Regional, Hostetler placed 45th in a time of 21:58, a time that would have gotten her in. Just one week earlier, Hostetler had run the same Cambridge course in the Inter-Valley Conference meet, and ran a sparkling 221:44. But on this soggy, windy day, it was simply not her day.
Hiland teammate Brooke Miller ran a 24:03, good for 52nd place in the field, while Alexis Yoder placed 77th in 36:17.