The Nerd team
In 2015, after retiring from high school coaching at Millard South, Dustin Lewellyn founded Nebraska Elite Track Club (NETC) to promote high school distance running. While media coverage of high school of cross country and track and field has never been great in metropolitan areas, several years ago Omaha newspapers and television began limiting their coverage to State meets and record performances. Dustin aimed to fix that, and he began providing on-site meet coverage, recording athlete video interviews, publishing individual XC rankings, launching the Nebraska Cross Country Festival, and serving as the news aggregator for Nebraska high school running.
Jay Slagle began working with Dustin in 2017 under the Prep Running Nerd moniker, and in 2021 Jay transitioned the NETC website into the Nerd site when Dustin stepped away to focus on coaching at the collegiate level. The Nerd team now includes:
The Nerd – Jay Slagle competed at Falls City High way back in the 1980’s. He absolutely loved running and could have been a lot better if he would have pushed through the discomfort of workouts. He has PRs of 4:53 and 10:46 but, unfortunately, runs half that fast these days. He wrote two childrens’ books before turning his creative energy to high school XC and T&F in 2017. He’s happily married to Mrs. Nerd, who has been incredibly understanding of this time-consuming hobby. The Nerd has primary responsibility for writing the in-season weekly Nerdsletter, preparing Class B-D XC individual rankings, and updating the results page.
Nerd Junior – Jack Slagle competed for Creighton Prep (2014-2018) and the University of Nebraska (2018-2022), and currently has the fastest Nerd family PRs with 4:20 (1600), 9:26 (3200) and 26:00 (8k). Fun fact: he joined the UNL Letterman Club on the same day as fellow freshmen Adrian Martinez and Lexi Sun. He’s marrying Nerd Ever After in September 2022 and beginning his accounting career in October 2022, so he’s going to be a bit busier than he was during college. Junior is responsible for major website updates, co-manages the Instagram account and Class A XC rankings with Nerd the Third, and keeping the Nerd humble. Really humble.
Nerd the Third – Henry Slagle competed for Creighton Prep (2017-2021) and now competes for Creighton University. Henry gained 50 pounds during his high school career – which might be a problem for some athletes, but not for those who enter high school as an 82-pound, 5’2” beast. The Third has PRs of 4:23 (1600), 9:42 (3200) and 26:02 (8k), with his best racing still ahead of him. The Third joined the photography crew in March 2022, but his main priorities are updating our results database, writing pre-season and pre-State articles, coordinating Class A individual ratings with Junior, and co-running the Instagram page.
Nerd HD – Jaden Gebeke is based in Elkhorn and is arguably the biggest running nerd on our team. After wrapping up his Elkhorn High career in 2019 with PRs of 4:51, 10:23 and 17:11, he’s been doggedly pursuing a marathon OTQ while juggling a video camera and life in the real world. We ran into him so much at track meets in 2022 that we asked him to contribute to our Districts and State coverage, and he knocked it out of the park. While video is still his preferred medium, Nerd HD has a great eye for photography and a true passion for the sport.
Nerd Central – Sadie Loehr, a 2022 Adams Central grad, is based in Lincoln and attends Nebraska Wesleyan. She competed in basketball, softball, cross country and track while at Adams Central, with PRs of 5:55 (1600) and 23:02 (5k). She was a member of the Adams Central yearbook staff and knows her way around sports cameras and XC courses. Sadie continues to run but has hung up her competition spikes in favoring of studying molecules and microbes. She’ll be covering meets in Lincoln and the surrounding areas.
Hurdle Nerd - Mike Peterson is the long-time head girls coach and boys/girls speed coach for the O’Neill T&F squad. More importantly, he’s got a killer photography portfolio and a fair amount of free time (well, as much free time as teachers can have) during cross country season. He is a 1983 Gering High grad with a 14.4 PR in the 110HH, placed 3rd at Class A State his senior season, and is married to a gal from his Gering High track team. We’ve struggled to find meet results in northeast and north central Nebraska, so Mike should help us bolster our coverage of the great schools in those areas.
Broken Nerd – Doug Kuskie was a distance runner at Broken Bow back in the 1990’s, and he qualified twice for the State XC meet. He’s now dad to Preston, a sophomore distance runner and basketball player at Wood River. Doug works his tail off Monday through Thursday, but he’s excited to represent the Nerd team at Friday and Saturday meets in central Nebraska. Doug already has great familiarity with Class D cross country and Class C T&F, but he’s excited to have an excuse to hit some meets that don’t include Wood River.
Dr. Nerd – Troy Bracker is based in Fremont. He was a semi-official photographer for the FHS and UNK XC and track teams until his kids retired from competition, and he’ll now use his camera collection to follow more schools while keeping his day job as a family medicine physician. He played four sports at Fremont High, threw shot in T&F, and his mom was the head women’s basketball coach at Midland for 42 years. If you need a volunteer photographer to perform a tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen, Dr. Nerd may be your best option. Dr. Nerd has been sharing UNK pics with us over the past year, so we know you’ll be impressed with his photos.
Art Nerd – Tim O’Neill is based on North Platte and aims to cover schools from all four classes. Tim was a combat photographer in the US Navy and later opened a commercial photo studio, and his artistic interests also include clay, painting and mixed media. He eventually traded his entrepreneurial career to teach art and coach XC/TF at North Platte St. Pat’s. Art Nerd has been an endurance athlete for over 40 years, and he may have the most impressive post-high school PRs of the Nerd Team – 4:18 (mile), 9:08 (2-mile) and some pretty impressive triathlon times that led to a job at USA Triathlon in the 1990’s. Compared to Art Nerd, the rest of us are just a bunch of hacks with cameras, so we’re thrilled to share his great work.
CW Nerd – Holly Benish is based in Gurley, which is just north of Sidney and a stone’s throw from Wyoming and Colorado. Her kids attend Leyton High School and she volunteers to cover sporting events for Leyton High and a local newspaper. Photography and watching XC/TF meets are her two favorite hobbies, but she didn’t know she was a high-level running nerd until we talked to her at the State track meet. She has two daughters, she’s married to the coolest farmer on the planet, and she’s a stay-at-home mom who rarely spends time at home. Holly spent her formative years as a dancer, but she’s fully embraced her daughters’ athletic passions.
All of the Nerds are volunteers, but we're serious about promoting the sport. Team rankings are typically prepared by coaches, while we dabble in individual rankings. The goal of the rankings is simply to shine a light on the sport, so please don’t take offense. If you have story ideas or information you’d like to share, shoot the Nerd an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.