Contributor: The Nerd
We don't have a lot of new material this week - work is kicking my tail - so this is largely a compilation of the information we've compiled or posted on social media during the last week.
We do our best to chase down meet results so you can just find them on our website. Our results page has been updated for the Doane and UNL collegiate meets on Saturday as well as the College of St. Mary meet on Sunday.
Meets this weekend
The following events are on our radar for this weekend:
Friday/Saturday, UNL collegiate
So yeah, we're Nerds and we like to take photos. Nerd Dawg hit some of the running events at the Doane collegiate meet on Saturday, and Nor'Easter Nerd made her debut with me at the College of St. Mary high school meet on Sunday. If you go to our website here, you can find a link to all of our Facebook photo albums.
Open indoor high school meets
I've had a number of out-of-state followers remark how lucky Nebraska is to have so many winter indoor meets for high school athletes. It wasn't always this way. Before Concordia launched its Championship Series in 2019, high school athletes had to search for one-off events in and outside of Nebraska. Flash forward to today, when you can compete nearly every weekend in January and February at meets hosted by Concordia, College of St. Mary and NWMSU.
These high school meets are hosted by overworked college coaches who typically spend Fridays and Saturdays coaching their own athletes, and then they blow most of their Sundays working the HS meet. These winter meets are arguably harder to host than an in-season meet; there's no high school coach submitting batches of entries, and the meet director has to communicate with hundreds of athletes instead of a handful of coaches. There can be a recruiting advantage to hosting, but many of the athletes are committed somewhere else by the time they show up for a meet. Beyond that, consider the case of College of St. Mary, a women-only institution - they've opened up their track to girls AND boys for not only three winter meets but also twice-weekly open workout sessions.
I hate to admit it, but I think these college coaches love track and field even more than the Nerd. Hats off to them for working so hard to grow the sport. The meets thus far this winter have been incredible. Nerd the Third came to College of St. Mary on Sunday and was stunned by the huge number of athletes as well as the overflow crowd - it was so crowded that CSM is adding more seating for their final meet.
While winter success may have little correlation with spring success, the winter meets are great motivational tools to work hard instead of hibernating AND athletes can pick up race/event strategy even if they're in below-average shape. We have Nebraska meets the next three Sundays, so dip your toe in the Mondo if you can - the list of winter meets is linked here.
Best marks of the winter
Here's a compilation of the best marks so far this winter. With two meets remaining at Concordia and one more at College of St. Mary, we expect to see quite a few changes in the leaderboard over the next month. This past Sunday I saw a 6-09 high jump (Dae'Vonn Hall), a 4:23 1600 (Juan Gonza) and a 2:19 800 (Claire White). It was only January 29th. This season is going to be a blast.
Class of 2023 commitments
There was a flurry of college commitments on February 1st - some previously announced plus a few that were new to us. We've tried to keep up with them but we're guessing quite a few never made it to social media. Here is our updated commitment listing - please send an e-mail to email@example.com or DM us if we've made an error or are missing an athlete.
If you're an underclassman or a Class of 2023 undecided -- either undecided where to go to school or undecided as to whether to compete in college (spoiler - we highly recommend it) - we have two great resources for you:
Navigating the college selection process
Listing of Nebraska (and nearby) collegiate programs
More reading material
If you're a fan of running, there a number of weekly newsletters that are quite good. We highly recommend The Lap Count by former pro runner Kyle Merber. While Kyle doesn't cover Nebraska athletes beyond Emily Sisson and Sara Vaughn, he does have great insight the US and International running scene. You can subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter at https://thelapcount.substack.com/about.
For your viewing pleasure
While the Boston University indoor meet last weekend featured a number of American records, this weekend's New Balance Grand Prix in Boston should be just as impressive. Even better - it's on broadcast TV. Set your DVRs for NBC between 2:00 and 5:00 pm Saturday for some great live action.
Speaking of BU...
Aside from the jokes about the Boston University indoor track being short, there's a reason why that banked indoor track produces some incredible times for men -- while a slightly less banked track at Michigan may produce equally fast times for women. Creighton coach Chris Gannon led us to this slightly-technical article about the impact of banked tracks and how different degrees of banking can be a positive or a negative: He also shared a more technical article about how the composition of an indoor running surface impacts running speed.
Quote of the week
Pro writer Johathan Gault interviewed NAU's Drew Bosley after he set the NCAA 3000 meter record at BU. He asked Bosley why he grew a mustache. Bosley's response:
"You walk into the bar and you're about to get in a bar fight. And before you get in a fight, I grab a glass bottle and just smash it over my own head before we even fight. So the guy that I'm fighting is like, What can I do to this guy that he hasn't already done? How can I hurt this guy? So when I line up on the race and people look from side to side and see Bosley with the 'stache, they're like, this guy doesn't care already. I can't hurt him in a race."
As we teased in last week's Nerdsletter, the least surprising award of the year was announced this week when Carson Noecker of Hartington Newcastle was honored as the Gatorade Player of the Year for Nebraska cross country. Mia Murray of Lincoln East received her Gatorade POY award last week.
We learned earlier today that from Fremont Tribune's Randy Speer that Midland coaching great Joanne Bracker passed away on Wednesday. Joanne coached the Midland women's basketball team for 42 years and led her team to eight national tournaments. More importantly, she was a great mother to our Dr. Nerd, and he included his mom's accomplishments in his Nerd bio when he joined our team. The Fremont community lost a good egg this week.
Speaking of this season, on February 2 the NSAA posted District assignments for track and field. With the fields set, I assume the NSAA will now start asking for host schools. Here's the listing:
Beware the 'loaded' District?
In the eight hours since the District assignment have been released, there's already been a lot of social media chatter about loaded Districts. With additional qualifier spots available in running events, a 'loaded' District really only impacts some field events as well as prelim/final events where only the eight finalists are considered for additional spots. In fact, some coaches would argue that a District that has a deep field of distance runners may actually improve their runner's chances of advancing as additional qualifiers. We went through the very painful process of explaining state qualifying standards last spring, so we're just going to repeat it here. We've updated the auto-qualifying marks for the pole vault and high jump for 2023, but let us know if we've overlooked any other changes from 2022.
Four district meets, and the top four athletes in each of the 14 individual events are auto-qualifiers for State. In the event of a tie for 4th, the athletes with the tie all auto-qualify. In addition, in all but the pole vault and high jump, the next eight best performances (comparing all four districts) are additional qualifiers; that number eight is reduced if there are ties for the 4th place qualifier. In theory, this means that a loaded District could have 12 qualifiers out of an event like the 1600. However, for the events with District finals (100, 100/110H, 200), you are only eligible for the extra qualifier spot if you are one of the eight finals qualifiers. If there is a tie for the last extra qualifying spot in running events, then none of those athletes qualify. If there is a tie for the last extra qualifying spot in the LJ, TJ, SP and discus, all of those athletes qualify.
There are only extra qualifiers in the pole vault and high jump if they meet the NSAA standard, which is the average of 8th place finish at State in the three prior years for that Class. For Class A, the standard is 13-06 (boys) and 10-00 (girls) in the pole vault and 6-03/5-01 in the high jump. As a final caveat for the pole vault, male athletes must clear 9-06 and females 6-06 to nab one of the auto-qualifying spots in any Class.
Finally, for relays the top three teams at each District will auto-qualify, but the next four fastest across the state to complete the State field of 16 teams.
The same general rules (extra qualifiers must be in finals, rules for ties) apply as in Class A, so I won't repeat those. There are six Class B Districts with three auto-qualifiers in each individual event, plus the six next best finishers in all but the pole vault and high jump. The standards for additional qualifiers in the PV and HJ are 13-00/10-00 and 6-03/5-02, respectively. Pole vaulters must clear 9-06/6-06 as the minimum to auto-qualify.
For Class B relays, the top two teams in each District will auto-qualify. The next four fastest teams across the state will also qualify.
Class C and D
The same general rules (extra qualifiers must be in finals, rules for ties) apply as in Class A, so I won't repeat those. There are nine Class C and D Districts with two auto-qualifiers in each individual event, plus the six next best finishers in all but the pole vault and high jump. The standards for additional qualifiers in the PV and HJ in Class C are 13-01/10-02 and 6-01/5-01, respectively; in Class D, the marks are 12-06/9-00 and 6-00/4-11. Pole vaulters must clear 9-06/6-06 as the minimum to auto-qualify.
For Class C and D relays, only the winner in each District will auto-qualify. The next seven fastest teams across the state will also qualify.
Is it fair?
The goal of the qualifying standards appears to be to get medal hopefuls to Burke. I think it does this to great success, but there will always be years where the approach isn't perfect. For example, the A-1 and A-3 Districts are absolutely loaded this year, and that means that there are going to some state-worthy sprinters who don't qualify for finals and thus aren't eligible for State. As in every year, we're going to see instances where an auto qualifier from one District might not even be a top-ten finisher at another District. One solution might be to eliminate Districts and let athletes qualify based on season-best marks (the NCAA does this), but I'm not sure that translates well to HS T&F given that not all meets are electronically timed. In addition, I'm guessing the majority of Class C and D athletes compete in winter sports, so they're probably not at their best until May. Regardless, these are the rules we have now, and it will be up to the coaches to come up with something better.
Originally written for and posted in February 2023 at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle. Do you see any errors, typos or key omissions? It's even more likely this week since we're still typing at midnight. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to correct the article.
Like this coverage of Nebraska high school distance running? There's more of this at www.preprunningnerd.com. Check out the Blog tab for our frequent stories, the Articles tab for long-form articles, the Results tab for every Nebraska high school race we could find this year, and the Rankings tab for team and individual rankings. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow us on Twitter @PrepRunningNerd or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.
Finally, if you think runners and jumpers are the best thing on earth, you'll enjoy our two most popular articles. In 2018 we published "The Runner with the Broken Heart" about a high school boy who finished last in nearly every race he ran. In 2022 we published, "The Fall and Rise of Emmett Hassenstab," a story about a high school triple who became a quadrapalegic after a swimming accident.