A Running Faith

Golden Hawks begin, and end, their races with prayers and thanks to Jesus

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 11/10/20

Race day always begins with a huddle.

And a prayer.

Less than 10 minutes before the Mid-Prairie girls cross country team was to successfully chase down a fourth consecutive state team title on …

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A Running Faith

Golden Hawks begin, and end, their races with prayers and thanks to Jesus

Posted

Race day always begins with a huddle.

And a prayer.

Less than 10 minutes before the Mid-Prairie girls cross country team was to successfully chase down a fourth consecutive state team title on Oct. 31 in Fort Dodge, they ran out into the practice area and grouped together in a huddle.

Sydney Yoder spoke out as the girls gathered in a small circle.

A determination and passion filled their faces. Not just about winning a race. But a passion for their faith.

Minutes before the race, after taking off their warmups, freshman Danielle Hostetler and junior Jaden Yoder held hands and prayed.

Yes, the Golden Hawks are virtually unbeatable. Hostetler, who set a school record in her first varsity race this year, finished the season undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state.

You won’t find a team any faster. And you won’t find a team that’s any closer.

“I know we wouldn’t be able to do as well if we weren’t united together,” said Jaden Yoder, who finished third at the state championship race. “We love each other so much and our main goal is to run for Jesus. That’s truly why we run. I’m not just saying that. I’m very thankful for that. I couldn’t do it without Him.”

Danielle Hostetler, who is home schooled and is the third Hostetler girl to win a state individual championship, learned much of this from her older sister, Marie, who won three straight individual and team championships. Marie is now a freshman on the cross country and track teams at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Virgina.

“I love that she can just go out there and do what she needs to do with determination. And she does it with the right mindset for the glory of God,” Marie Hostetler said. “If I taught her anything, that’s the most important thing I helped her to learn and give that to her.”

In postrace interviews with the media following races, Danielle Hostetler is quick to praise God. It is a part of her being.

But she is not alone in that strong faith.

“We all love each other so much,” Sydney Yoder said. “Jesus gives us that love for each other. He’s just really blessed us. I can’t say how blessed I am to have a team like mine that I can just come to practice and we’re all just together. We all just love each other so much.”

It all begins on race day with the prerace huddle.

“It’s a good start to a race, just putting things in perspective, to remember why we are running and who gave us the gifts,” Jaden Yoder said.

In the middle of all this faith is not only head coach Mark Hostetler but longtime assistant coach Aaron Fleming, who is a pastor at New Life Community Church of Wellman.

The Golden Hawks responded with a strong season. They won River Valley Conference, Class 2A Williamsburg qualifier and state championships, plus the regular-season meetings, some of which ended in one-two-three sweeps by Danielle Hostetler and the Yoder twins.

All earned All-Conference and All-State honors, as did Mitzi Evans, who finished eighth at the state meet and fifth at the River Valley championship meet.

Ana Fleming became the first in Mid-Prairie history to be a part of four consecutive state team titles. She finished 33rd at the state championship, and was followed by freshman Phoebe Shetler in 34th place and Abby Fleming, Ana’s younger freshman sister, in 36th place.

And not to be forgotten are freshman Annika Poll, who finished 21st in the River Valley championship and missed out on Mid-Prairie’s state roster spot by 10 seconds, and sophomore Amara Jones, who finished 24th at the River Valley meet. Both of their times would have ranked them among the top 50 in the state meet, but Mid-Prairie could only bring seven runners.

“It’s like nothing else, no other team that I know of,” Sydney Yoder said. “Our team is just so close. We don’t let anything stay between us. It doesn’t matter what place you are on the team, whether you’re JV or varsity, we’re all equal.”

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