Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY– Aidan O’Neil has always enjoyed running.
“I was a runner in the past but nothing like this,” O’Neil explained. “I was just more go out for a few miles every day at an easy pace.”
While running may not be new for O’Neil the Regina sophomore is brand new to the sport of cross country.
Watching O’Neil on Tuesday he doesn’t look anything like a rookie.
O’Neil continued his stellar sophomore season with a fourth-place finish at the River Valley Conference meet at Kicker Soccer Park in Iowa City.
“I think I’ve definitely made a jump since track season,” O’Neil said. “To be in a situation with such great coaches and such great kids to run with has really given me a new perspective on running.”
The fourth-place individual finish from O’Neil helped Class 1A No. 14 Regina to a third-place team finish with 109 points.
Class 2A No. 2 Tipton won the team title with 27 points followed by 2A fourth-ranked Mid-Prairie with 83 points.
Regina got a 22nd place finish from senior Adam Boblenz and junior Joe Maley was 24th as the Regals finished 17 points in front of 1A seventh-ranked Bellevue.
“Adam Boblenz, his whole career he hasn’t been on a team that has been ranked and the first meet here they beat two ranked teams and they next week they were ranked,” Regina coach Chad Swope said. “Our kids have just embraced it and they are pushing each other and they just keep getting better.”
O’Neil has emerged as the leader for the ascending Regals in his first ever season of cross country.
After moving to Iowa before last school year O’Neil caught the attention of Swope during his freshman track season last spring.
“He moved here and said he had run some 5ks on his own and so we put him in the 3,200 in track,” Swope said. “You could just see the determination in him in the first race we put him in. I think track just triggered something with him and over the summer he really put in the miles.”
O’Neil spent the season logging miles in preparation for his first full season of cross country.
In his first varsity race O’Neil finished 20th at the Bob Brown Invitational at the Kickers Soccer Complex.
Just a few days leader O’Neil was third at the Tipton Invitational in 17:58 and Swope could see his confidence grow.
“There was something there that just sparked,” Swope said. “When the light goes on with a kid like that you just kind of get out of the way and let them go. He put in the miles over the summer on his own.”
O’Neil hasn’t slowed down since.
Thursday was the latest in a season filled with strong performances from the first-year runner.
In his first ever appearance at the RVC meet O’Neil was fourth in a time of 17:50.46, more than 19 seconds faster than his first race on the same course.
“I don’t think a lot of people can do this sport it takes a special kind of person,” O’Neil said. “It’s fun getting out and competing and you may feel like you are hurting but everyone else is hurting too so it’s just about digging deep.”
Bellevue sophomore Payton Griebel won the individual title in 17:25.07 followed by the Tipton duo of Ty Nichols and Clay Bohlmann.
O’Neil was less than three seconds off the third-place pace of Bohlmann.
“I think part of it is making sure you aren’t leaving anything out there,” O’Neil said. “My problem in track season was I was waiting to kick, saving some of my energy to kick, but the kick is always going to be there you just have to make sure you are leaving it all out there in that last 200 meters.”
The addition of O’Neil helped Regina bolt up the conference standings.
A year after placing ninth at the RVC meet the Regals moved up six spots on Thursday.
Boblenz was 22nd in 19:06.98, Maley was 24th in 19:08.91 and sophomore Riordan Smith was 26th in 19:17.48.
“You can see the determination Aidan has and it’s really been infectious with the guys,” Swope said. “You can see the times but just that attitude has really been infectious.”
The Regina girls finished fifth in a loaded girls field won by four-time defending 2A champion Mid-Prairie.
The top-ranked Golden Hawks had five of the top six finishers and won with 17 points while 2A third-ranked Monticello was runner-up with 45 points followed by fourth-ranked Tipton with 78.
Northeast was fourth with 130 followed by 1A seventh-ranked Regina with 136.
“We have the toughest 1A/2A conference in the state and I don’t think it’s even close,” Swope said. “We take our lumps during the season but by they time we get down to districts no 1A team has run the schedule that we have run and I think that gives our girls a lot of confidence.”
Junior Mya Whitaker led Regina finishing 20th in a time of 22:22.18 while senior Natalie Franklin was 27th overall in 22:52.54.
“They are getting better and better,” Swope said. “Mya has just been incredible for us and Natalie Franklin, they are doing great.”
River Valley Conference Meet
At Kicker Soccer Complex
Team scores– 1. Tipton 27; 2. Mid-Prairie 83; 3. Regina 109; 4. Bellevue 126; 5. Anamosa 138; 6. Monticello 141; 7. Northeast 156; 8. Cascade 157; 9. Camanche 219; 10. Wilton 310; 11. West Liberty 337; 12. North Cedar 371
Individual leaders – 1. Payton Griebel (BEL) 17:25.07; 2. Ty Nichols (TOP) 17:42.97; 3. Clay Bohlmann (TIP) 17:47.93; 4. Aidan O’Neil (ICR) 17:50.17; 5. Thaddeus Shetler (M-P) 17:50.46; 6. Cody Bohlmann (TIP) 17:15.17; 7. Troy Butler (TIP) 17:58.75; 8. Andrew Butt (CAM) 18:09.86; 9. Maxson Fogg (TIP) 18:14.41; 10. Aiden Onken (BEL) 18:15.68; 11. Adam Knepper (CAS) 18:25.47; 12. Drew Pate (ANA) 18:28.88; 13. Shea Keister (ANA) 18:32.13; 14. Ben Steinbeck (BEL) 18:32.5; 15. Carter Jargo (NE) 18:37.82
Regina (109)– 4. Aidan O’Neil 17:50.17; 22. Adam Boblenz 19:06.98; 24. Joe Maley 19:08.91; 26. Riordan Smith 19:17.38; 33. Sam Welter 19:35.94; 37. Colin Olney 19:48.38; 39. Joe Polyak 19:50.35
Team scores– 1. Mid-Prairie 17; 2. Monticello 45; 3. Tipton 78; 4. Northeast 130; 5. Regina 136; 6. Wilton 185; 7. Bellevue 191; 8. Anamosa 202
Individual leaders – 1. Danielle Hostetler (M-P) 19:21.23; 2. Sydney Yoder (M-P) 20:31.51; 3. Jaden Yoder (M-P) 20:46.44; 4. Emma Althoff (MON) 20:54.33; 5. Mitzi Evans (M-P) 21:10.64; 6. Abby Fleming (M-P) 21:24.83; 7. Ava Capron IMON) 21:28.77; 8. Hunter Jones (North Cedar) 21:30.01; 9. Phoebe Shetler (M-P) 21:30.30; 10. Karle Kramer (MON) 21:35.39; 11. Cenady Soenksen (NE) 21:37.47; 12. Chloe Klabo (TIP) 21:46.56; 13. Leah Kohler (MON) 21:50.38; 14. Lydia Recker (MON) 21:51.31; 15. Rebecca Hinderaker (TIP) 21:56.51
Regina (136)– 19. Mya Whitaker 22:22.18; 24. Natalie Franklin 22:52.54; 30. Josie Pursley 23:44.6; 31. Allison Hein 24:05; 32. Alex Spies 24:13.21; 34. Gwyneth Charlton 24:20.57; 35. Cate Klitgaard 24:21.95