Sports

Area individuals

Van Buren County's Faith Neeley (1968) leads a pack of runners at a cross-country meet earlier this season. (File)
Van Buren County's Faith Neeley (1968) leads a pack of runners at a cross-country meet earlier this season. (File)
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Along with the Union Coverage area’s five team qualifications, the area also had two runners punch their tickets to the 2020 state cross-country meet as individuals. Hillcrest Academy’s Leah Bontrager and Van Buren County’s Faith Neeley will both be in action in the Class 1A girls race.

Bontrager returns to Fort Dodge

Hillcrest’s Leah Bontrager will be making her third trip to the state meet, making it to the state meet every year of contention so far.

Bontrager cruised to contention in her third year of high school cross-country. She finished in third place at the Pekin qualifier, crossing the tape with a time of 21:52.5.

After qualifying in her freshman season, wearing an Iowa Mennonite uniform before the school’s name change, Bontrager took 72nd in the 2018 race. She crossed the tape in 22:16.4. One year later, Bontrager improved by five spots, taking 67th, in 21:22.8. If she improves her time once again this year, it could be another personal record for the Ravens’ junior star.

Neeley back for third trip

Much like Bontrager, Faith Neeley has made the state cross-country meet in each of her three attempts. The Van Buren County junior took sixth in the Pekin qualifier, crossing the tape with a time of 22:13.

As a freshman, Neeley had an impressive run in the Class 2A race, one year before VBC would bump down to Class 1A. Neeley took 16th in 2018, crossing the finish line in 20:29.7.

One year later, Neeley took 48th in the Class 1A race. She finished with a sub-21:00 time again, getting across the line in 20:57.3.

With two years of experience under her belt, VBC’s lone female cross-country runner looks to make waves again on Saturday morning.