All season long, Hiland senior runner extraordinaire Hunter Yoder has talked about putting his name on the record board at Hiland High School.
On Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Inter-Valley Conference cross country meet, he finally did it.
Yoder cruised to sixth place behind a bevy of east Canton runners, and in the process of running a 17:07.49, set the new Hiland record, which had been 17:09.
Yoder roared up the final large hill and across about 200 yards of flat surface to the finish line, as he and Garaway’s Nathan Wicker went at it to the wire. As he crossed the finish line, Yoder raised his hands as he took a glance at the clock.
The Hiland record was his.
Yoder smashed his own PR by 17 seconds and made strides toward crashing through the 17-minute mark and into the 16s.
“He is pretty bent on going under 17 this year,” Hiland head coach Mark Fowler said. “He set the school mark at the IVC race and he is running his best at the right time of the year. He is stepping up when he needs to be.”
And the fact that Yoder set the school record on a hilly Cambridge course is even more impressive.
How tough is the Cambridge course, which winds throughout the school grounds traversing a large number of big hills? Fowler texted former Hiland cross country standout Darian Pacula and told him of Yoder’s feat.
Pacula’s response summed up exactly how challenging Cambridge can be.
“His response was, ‘On that course, at Cambridge’?” Fowler said. “That is a very tough course, with a lot of big climbs.”
The IVC effort and school record pave the way for Yoder to tackle a district meet that takes them right back to Cambridge, which can’t hurt his chances.
However, this year, the number of individuals to get out of districts has dropped from 16 to 12, based on the number of teams that ran at districts last year.
“We go from sending 16 runners to regionals down to 12, so that obviously makes it a little more challenging, but he has definitely put himself in position to move on,” Fowler said.
Conversely, the girls had such a huge field last year that they get to send 28 runners on to regionals, something that will certainly help Hiland senior Melissa Hostetler, who is hoping to be one of those runners to advance.
“Right now Melissa’s time has her sitting 21st, so she has a good shot at advancing,” Fowler said.
While the goal for both Hiland seniors is to move on to regionals, Yoder has improved to the point where he would love to end his career competing with the best at state in Hebron in two weeks.