Rolling Recap: 2023 NXR Heartland Regional Championships


One of the best days of the season and one we have long waited for is finally here in the 2023 NXR Heartland Regional Championships!

The meet pits the best of the best of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin against each other for regional supremacy and a chance to go to Nike Cross Nationals. 

Here we look at the highlights of what is sure to be an exciting day of racing at NXR Heartland.


2023 NXR Heartland Regional Championships - Individual Champions

RaceIndividual Champion
Boys Rising Stars

Josiah Bitker (Lincoln North Star)

Boys Open Section 1

Dalamar Read (Mill Valley)

Boys Open Section 2

Luke Williams (White Bear Lake)

Boys Open Section 3

Evan McClinton (Valley)

Boys Open Section 4

Aidan Gomes (Andover)

Boys Open Section 5

Caleb Dickel (Minneapolis Washburn)

Girls Open Section 1

Carley LaMotte (Burnsville)

Girls Open Section 2

Kaia Osmundson (Chisago Lakes)

Girls Open Section 3

Citori Halbe (Alexandria)

Girls Open Section 4

Mariah Fenske (Farmington)

Boys Championship

Robert Mechura (Roseville)

Girls Championship

Norah Hushagen (Forest Lake)


Bitker Runs Huge PR to Win Rising Stars Race

A sophomore for Lincoln North Star High School in Nebraska, Bitker ran in the Boys Rising Stars race for the second year in a row and ended up improving from 67th in 2022 to being crowned the Rising Stars champion in 2023. 

Bitker ran a time of 15:29.60 to set a new PR by 32 seconds, winning the race by 12 seconds over Cole Reilly of Sioux Falls. This is the first cross country win at the 5K distance of Bitker's cross country career. 

Dalamar Read Continues His Rise in 2023

Dalamar came into the 2023 cross country season owning a PR of 19:13 for the 5K. He will leave this fall with his confidence as high as ever after winning the Section 1 Open at the Heartland Regional with a time of 15:50. This was the first win of Read's career and a remarkable improvement at Heartland compared to his time of 19:36 from just a year ago. 

Minnesota Boys Runners Come to Win Titles

Luke Williams !!!

Caleb Dickel !!!

Aidan Gomes !!!

The Minnesota boys came to win in the open sections at the Heartland Regional with three of the five open titles won by the Minnesota boys runners above. 

Luke Williams of White Bear Lake won the Open Section 2 in a dominant effort running 15:32.20, winning by 23 seconds over Chase Altergott of Lakeville North. This was a big improvement over his 2022 race in the championship where he finished 92nd overall with a time of 15:53.90. 

After that Aidan Gomes of Andover won the Section 4 Open in a close race with Noah Buhrow of Iowa, winning with a time of 15:42.9 just 1.4 seconds ahead of Buhrow. 

Finally, Minneapolis Washburn's Caleb Dickel won the Section 5 Open with a time of 15:21.7, winning by 8 seconds over Lane Krautschun of South Dakota. 

Minnesota Girls Sweep the Open Titles

The Minnesota girls outdid the Minnesota boys en route to sweeping all four of the girl's open sections titles. The champions there were Carley LaMotte of Burnsville, Kaia Osmundson of Chisago Lakes, Citori Halbe of Alexandria, and Mariah Fenske of Farmington. 

Sophomores led the way in the open races for Minnesota with Carley LaMotte and Citori Halbe winning their respective race titles. LaMotte dominated her race finishing 19 seconds ahead of Kylie Nelson and running a massive 16-second PR. While it was closer in her race, winning by 6 seconds, Halbe led her race the whole way, finishing with a time of 18:20.50. 

In the other open races, Chisago Lakes junior Kaia Osmundson won her race with a time of 18:28.50 in a sprint to the line ahead of her high school teammate Annika Hall. In her last high school cross country race, longtime Farmington standout Mariah Fenske won her open race with a time of 18:30.80, winning by 18 seconds. 

Four Boys Break Heartland Meet Record

Four boys individuals broke the NXR Heartland Meet record held by Jackson Heidesch who ran 14:39 at last year's race. This record-breaking group was led by this year's champion in Rosevilles Robert Mechura who led the way with a time of 14:32, followed by Manny Putz, Juan Gonzalez, and Sam Scott. 

NXR Heartland Regional Top 5K Times (All-Time)

1Robert Mechura14:32.00
2Manny Putz14:32.10
3Juan Gonzalez14:33.80
4Sam Scott14:36.40
5Jackson Heidesch14:39.00

Hushagen Narrowly Wins Heartland Title Over Rupe

Forest Lake's Norah Hushagen added another title to her collection this fall after narrowly defeating Katelyn Rupe at the 2023 NXR Heartland Regional in South Dakota. Hushagen has now won her conference championship, sections championships, the Class AAA Minnesota state championship title and now the Heartland title. 

Hushagen was able to fend off a strong challenge at the line from Katelyn Rupe to win the girl's championship title with a time of 17:07.30, just ahead of Rupe with 17:07.60. It is one of the closest races finishes in NXR history.