Contributor: The Nerd
Our weekly Nerdsletter during XC season seemed to be well received, so we're going to try to write semi-regular updates during the track season. However, we don't want to start off too fast and injure ourselves, so it may take a while to get up to speed. Here are a few Nerdly thoughts for your consideration:
We waited until May 2021 to post a list of college distance running commitments, but this year we'll try to give updates throughout the spring. So far we have:
Luke Bonifas, Adams Central - Doane
Elli Dahl, Fremont - Nebraska
Colby Erdkamp, Gretna - Nebraska
Seth Fey, Millard West - South Dakota
Gabe Hinrichs, Elkhorn South - Notre Dame
Sam Kirchner, Millard West - Nebraska
Robert Nizzi, Creighton Prep - Northwest Missouri State
Daniel Romary, Lincoln Northeast - Iowa State
Carter Waters, Fremont - Alabama
If you've committed to a collegiate distance program as a walk-on or scholarship runner, we'd love to hear about it. Shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a DM on Twitter, FB or Insta. Proud parents and friends are welcome to let us know too.
Nebraska Grad Classic
The Nerd staff made it down to the Friday session of the UNL Graduate Classic which featured a great collection of in- and out-of-state teams including UNL, UNK, UNO, Creighton, Concordia, Midland, St. Louis, Iowa State, Drake, Central Methodist, Iowa Western, Cloud County, Colby CC and a number of local unattached athletes. I've linked Friday results when most of the distance events were held as well as Saturday results. Photos from Friday for men are here and women's photos are here.
Friday felt a little like a high school reunion at the Devaney with a high number of former athletes from Fremont, Prep, Kearney, LSW and others on the track. Fremont may have stolen the show by sweeping both the men and women's 1000. Mara Hemmer held a solid lead by midway of her race and won by 3 seconds over Rylee Haecker of Concordia, while Wes Ferguson made up a 15-meter gap in the last 200 to nip Drake's Adam Fogg, aka Fogg Dogg, at the wire. In addition to winning the race, Wes set a new national D2 record for the 1000, running 2:23.80. Wes was named D2 National Athlete of the Week.
Millard South alum Noah Rasmussen made a big splash in the men's mile, taking an aggressive lead by 600 and finishing first in 4:10.59, followed by Iowa Western's Yonas Mogos and Iowa State's Thomas Pollard, who both finished in 4:11. In the prior heat, Creighton freshman Ryan Montera (Bloomfield, Colorado) broke from the field with 400 remaining with what I'm guessing was a sub-62 final 400 to win in 4:17, a new school record for CU. Ryan came to CU with a 4:13 PR in the 1600 and a 9:09 in the 2-mile, so we expect to see him do great things at Creighton.
Looking over the Lincoln police reports on Saturday morning, I was surprised to see that Colin Morrissey of Lincoln Running had not filed an assault charge against a competitor in the 5000, the last event of the Friday session. Over the span of a few laps, Colin repeatedly tried to take the lead but was rebuffed with elbows and wide running by a JUCO runner. I won't name names, but only two runners DNF'd that race, and one of them was DQ'd by an official about halfway through the race. We've received unofficial word that Colin is resting comfortably at home and should be able to race again. Where else but Devaney can you have a wrestling match and a track meet at the same time?
Iowa Western's Nicholas Kiprotich is from Eldoret, Kenya, arguably the center of the distance running world, but Friday night was the first time he had run at official track meet. Like many athletes, the Devaney atmosphere led him to go out a bit too fast in the slow heat of his 3000 debut. If I heard correctly, he ran a 4:10 pace through 600 meters before settling in for a 4:32sh 1600 split and a 8:39 finish. Look for him to do some big things with a bit more racing experience and even pacing under his belt.
Myles Bach of UNK was the overall winner of the 3000 in 8:17, running alone for virtually all of the race. A native of Iowa, Myles ran 4:20/9:24 in high school and was at Gonzaga for two years before transferring to UNK. According to TFRRS, his 8:17 puts him at #7 in D2 thus far this year.
We had hoped to see Nebraska Wesleyan at the meet, but the program dropped out of the meet due to healthy and safety concerns. They're back in action this Friday hosting the Praire Wolf Invite at the Devaney.
In contrast to a number of D1 colleges that are ending T&F programs, Creighton recently announced that it is restoring its track program after about 60 years without a formal team. They've informally participated in track for many years but are now 'filed' with the NCAA, and they'll begin participating in the Big East championships beginning in 2023. Long-time graduate assistant Matthew Fayers, a sub-4:00 miler from Oklahoma State, has earned a well-deserved promotion to assistant coach. Creighton will field largely a mid- and distance-only squad for the next several years, although I hear there are some pretty talented track athletes now competing at CU in other varsity sports. Eli Vedral of Bishop Neumann, a four-time State medalist in the 110/300 hurdles, is also a member of the team.
Scott Nisely meet at Doane
If have of the college athletes in Nebraska seemed to be competing at the Devaney Center this weekend, the other half were apparently hanging out in Crete at the Scott Nisely meet. The meet featured squads from Doane, Concordia, Hastings, Midland, York, Bellevue and College of St. Mary. I don't have any photos for you but I do have the results: https://www.tfrrs.org/results/71792/Scott_Nisely/.
College of St. Mary Metro Indoor Athletics Challenge
CSM hosted its first-ever meet at its new on-campus facility on Sunday, and they gave the high school kids have the first crack at setting facility records. These college-hosted meets are always well-run and quick-moving, and we saw a lot of impressive performances in three hours. The results link is at https://live.athletic.net/meets/12157. Photos are posted at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=PrepRunningNerd&set=a.958075638148846. We also created a short video of the meet at https://www.facebook.com/PrepRunningNerd/videos/462660048848403 but Junior says I picked a horrible song. I promise to do better.
The 800 was the next-to-last event but it was worth the wait. Stella Miner, who had to sit out of XC last fall after transferring from Marian to Westside, popped off an impressive 2:15.80 with Papio South's Deavion Deleon in 2nd in 2:23. For perspective, only one Nebraska girl (Bri Rinn) ran faster than 2:15 all of last year and Bri's 2:13 was outdoors. No one really bothers to keep records of indoor meets since they were rarely offered before this year, but the fastest time we can find before this weekend was a 2:19 run by McCook's Molly Sughroue at the UNK meet in 2014. There's a rumor that the 2:15 is currently a US top-10 performance on MileSplit, but I can't see that information.
Other impressive performances included Cole Haith of Millard West (4:33 1600), Claire White of Westside (5:34 1600) and Florida State commit Dejaz DeFrand of Lincoln High (7.62 60). Katie Smith of Skutt ran a solid 400 to win in 1:05.7, and she looks like she could make a statement in Class B. Jack Gillogly of Prep won the 60 out of the slow heat in 7.02 and also won the 200 in 22.86. Both are top 10 indoor times over the past five years and could be a good sign for this hurdler-turned-sprinter.
The second heat of the boys 800 featured a face-off between a number of boys wearing custom-made Steng Gang (Papio South) singlets against Millard West's Seth Fey, who was sporting an absolutely beautiful Prep Running Nerd cotton t-shirt. Both Steng Gang and the Nerd have a presence on Twitter, so my honor was on the line. Fortunately, Seth did a slingslot move out of the final corner to win in 2:05, just edging Quin Karas and Casey Kruger of Papio South.
Jake Ralston, a Papio South alum and currently at KU, has signed a letter of intent to join the UNL squad next fall as a grad transfer. Jake has two years of eligibility remaining in XC, indoor and outdoor. Jake was the 2017 State XC champ as a senior, and also placed 4th and 13th. He was a 5-time State medalist in track with PRs of 4:24 and 9:22.
I have a tight focus on distance running for much of the year but I do my best to give love to sprinters, jumpers and throwers in the spring. Two Nebraska boys are already making some serious noise this season. Jaylen Lloyd of Omaha Central is currently ranked 11th among US high school boys in the triple jump and 10th in the long jump. Lincoln Pius' Reece Grosserode in ranked 16th nationally in both disciplines. On a class basis, Reece's 23'1 is the #1 ranked US sophomore LJ this year while he's #3 in the TJ at 46'7". Jaylen is 3rd among juniors with 47'7" in the TJ and 8th with 23'5 in the LJ.
Jaylen's best performances in Spring 2021 were 22'5" and 46'0", and at State he was 3rd in the LJ and 1st in the TJ. Reece had a great freshman year, with PRs of 21'11.5" and 45'2.5", and he finished 5th (LJ) and 6th (TJ) at State.
Trackville has become the off-season training home for many of Nebraska's best jumpers and throwers, and they also pull in some nice talent for clinics. US Olympic jump coach Jeremy Fischer gave a clinic this weekend at Trackville, and he was gracious enough to give me a 45-minute interview on Saturday between sessions. He's coached athletes to 15 Olympic and World Championship medals so he knows slightly more about jumps than I do. I'll post an article later this week based on that interview.
We're trying to provide more video coverage this year, so Nerd Junior has launched a TikTok account @preprunningnerd. He's already posted a few race highlights from the Graduate Classic. Give us a follow and we'll try to impress you.
We haven't firmed up our schedule for the weekend but we're kicking around heading to Brookings to catch the South Dakota State collegiate meet.
In terms of high school meets, Concordia (Seward) and Northwest Missouri State (Maryville, MO) both offer indoor meets on Sunday. Nerd the 3rd competed in both meets during high school, and I highly recommend them. You're likely to run into more in-state competition in Seward, while NMWSU offers an oversized 300-meter track that is just outstanding.
There are seven more weekends of indoor meets before the official track season begins. Check out our post at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/post/indoor-open-meets for a complete list of the meets. With meets in Omaha, Seward, Maryville, Topeka, Yankton and Kansas City over the next seven weeks, you ought to be able to find at least one that fits into your schedule. All of the meets offer great facilities and great meet directors.