Seniors Paige Schultz and Anna Murray embraced at center court as head coach Hannah Clark talked about their leadership and the attitude they bring to work hard and unite their team in daily practices. The girls' smiles beamed, with Paige's parents by her side, a clear testimony to the girls' enjoyment in the game of Basketball. The warm engagement at center court was recreated after the final buzzer as the two led their team to a strong victory on Senior Night.
Before the starting lineups were announced Coach Gregg Preston called his seniors to mid-court to address them. With the stands sitting on every word being spoken about the Comet leaders, the character of the class of 2018 was on display. It was a short treatise to reveal why so many Comet players focus on the game of life after the final buzzer of their last night in a Comet uniform sounds.
I’ve loved being on worship team," Halli noted. She is seeing that God has equipped her to share His love with others, and He is showing that His love is vast and spreads into every heart and soul. "Meeting people from all over the world, I love the relationship they have with Christ, and the community around the Hillcrest.”
Seventh grad student Hope Adams is prepping for one of the most competitive rounds in spelling bee competition. After working through three preliminary rounds of competition, Adams is preparing to face a host of the regions top spellers with her sights set on the State competition.
Hillcrest's first team, Zak Zwiers, Eric Konynenbelt, Dan Isaac, and Shantanu Mallick started the meet back in twelfth place. The written round hit the first team hard and placed them far down the hall from Hillcrest's second team, featuring Jack Nordick, Jake Rasmussen, Carter Mitchell, and Juliana Undseth, who placed in a top room ranking fourth in the competition after the written round.
The quick sprint for the Comets into their locker room was done underneath a scoreboard that showed a 22-20 halftime lead for the Comets. Tough defense earned Hillcrest the lead, but the Rothsay Tigers showed the Comets they were there to play, sticking out their own defensive stands to hold the Comets to 22 points behind an athletic effort that locked down the Comet post game with a solid zone defense.
Hillcrest has been in the top two places the past five years for the overall competition, usually holding the trophy for the Founders award. The founders award celebrates the best and most innovative design of the robot in the competition field. Hillcrest is most often the team with the target on their back, consistently coming up with the most creative and innovative designs.
The snow surrounding Hillcrest's sand volleyball court looked like a massacre of snowmen. Gloves, hats, and jackets darted the hillside. Students from South Korea joined friends from Minnesota and North Dakota in shedding winter gear Sunday night on Hillcrest's broomball court.
Gregg Preston looked to his team and asked them how they'd like to finish the game. A call from one player to take the one shot with the remaining minute on the clock was agreed upon by the team. Then, another team member said, "let's go after it". The Comets looked at each other and agreed. Gabe Preston looked down the bench to see Freshman Micah Foss who was entering the game. Reaching down the line of players, Preston said, "Don't be afraid to shoot."
“The children were running through sewage rivers and dirty streets and they didn’t have even half the clothes they needed,” Elise smiles as she retells scenes from memories of Costa Rica. “But, they were still so happy to just be together and to be with us.” She freely shares about a place that seemingly holds her heart, remembering the impact her family was able to make through Christ.
School activities continued in Hillcrest's empty halls over the Christmas vacation. Four days after Hillcrest students boarded flights from the dormitories a handful of Comets lumbered into vans at 7am for the first knowledgebowl meet of the season in Concordia.
15 of Hillcrest's 27 first half points were put on the board from behind the arc. The Comet's shot 42% from three-point land on the night, and Gabe Preston was the main contributor.
Former Comets are liking the throwback look of the games Hillcrest is battling out on the court lately. In their home opener, the Comets smothered Brandon-Evansville, going on a 19-5 run to open the game as the athletic Chargers went to the bench in timeout after timeout to figure out how to break the Comets' defense. The second half held a different story for the Chargers.
With a new five standing around the circle at tip-off, some have positioned Hillcrest in a rebuilding year. Center Sander Frustol spent a majority of last season on the bench injured. Zak Zwiers and Eric Konynenbelt didn't see a lot of varsity minutes with the Comets stellar senior class last season. However, Hillcrest showed commitment to Preston's defense-first scheme, and it opened the game up for them early.
With the momentum from the defensive side, Hillcrest smoothly transitioned their upbeat energy to their offense, where Hillcrest provides a tough high-low look with Olivia Foss and Anna Murray. Throughout the night, Foss would take the ball at the elbow and dart to the basket. Murray would trail, ready to pick up what Foss wasn't able to put away. The two combined for 24 of Hillcrest's 38 points.
With the smallest group the club has had to date, and facing the stiffest competition ever at the BISON BEST competition, Hillcrest's robotics club took home the first place trophy after the two day competition.
"You don't have to be taught to be afraid of the dark," Heidi Konynenbelt, a Hillcrest board member and the Christmas banquet speaker said as she gave context to Hillcrest's banquet theme Light of the World.
Hillcrest has reformed a lot of their time-tested practices over the past ten years. One specific enhancement is the number of staff working in the dormitory. The school has encountered various studies that show students need anywhere from 4 to 8 meaningful adult supporters in their life. In response, Hillcrest ramped up the number of dorm staff and the type of training the staff go through. There are now 14 adults who work in the dormitory. In chapel on Friday students heard the power a meaningful adult has on a growing student.
The first time we met she was coming off of a long yellow school bus. Her lightly tinted strawberry blonde hair fell gently on her small black backpack. Surrounding her were a virtual forest of tall blonde Norwegian classmates who were now crowding in a circle in the parking lot behind the Hillcrest castle. The huddle broke, and she slowly moved down the line of Hillcrest students, who were eagerly greeting their new Norwegian classmates. She introduced herself to each one, reaching out a hand of greeting with a smile plastered to her face. I immediately recognized her name.
Flames danced in the glass pebbles of the fireplace in Hillcrest Lutheran Academy's Student Union while Christmas music rang out over the speakers. The entire student body blew in from the frosty Hillcrest campus on Wednesday, stomping cold feet and breathing into cupped hands to warm themselves. The students swarmed around a photo area to have pictures taken with their friends, pictures that would be printed to be placed inside boxes that read "Operation Christmas Child" as students participated in packing boxes for children in need.