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With some improved confidence and another year of training under her belt, Madi Thomann set out last weekend to improve on last year’s state meet performance. She did just that.
This year the Highland junior was laser-focused at the state meet. Finishing in 21:21 and a 63rd-place finish, her time was almost 90 seconds better than last year and just one second off her personal record.
“I think this year her mindset was a little different,” Highland coach Angie Strobel said. “She has matured more and has more confidence as a runner. When she does encounter problems she knows how to get past them.”
The Highland cross country team’s motto this season according to Strobel was “suffering is our passion.” Strobel said that Madi embraced that on the way to finishing 36 spots higher than last season.
“Once the races started she saw all the things she had learned and was able to do that,” Strobel said. “She has a lot more energy this year, she’s getting older and has more confidence in herself.”
After winning one race as a junior, Thomann added one more race win to her total. Taking first place at the Mike Jay Invite in Columbus.
Thomann also captured the school girls 5K record this season with a time of 21:20 at the qualifying meet.
Hillcrest Academy sophomore Leah Bontrager finished in 67th place, five spots higher than last season with a time of 21:22.
“It was pretty good,” Bontrager said. “It was a hard race definitely because there were a lot of people and I’m not with my team so it is just different.”
The state meet, especially for Class 1A, is a different beast with a spectator-lined course nearly the entire way. With one year of experience in that atmosphere, Bontrager said she was less nervous than before.
“I definitely wasn’t as nervous because I knew what it looked like and how it all was going to happen,” she said.
Bontrager ran 22:16 on the course last season, meaning her time was improved by 54 seconds.
A group of Hillcrest Academy students traveled up with her in a team bus to cheer Bontrager on, something she said is awesome to have.
“I love that I have people that come up and support me and come and love to cheer me on,” she said. “That feels good.”
Coach Marty Gingerich said Bontrager competed well in her second trip to Fort Dodge.
“It was great to be able to see her compete at the state championship level,” Hillcrest Academy coach Marty Gingerich said. “She represented Hillcrest Academy well today and all season long.”