Contributor: The Nerd
NAIA national championships
Nerd the Third and I had the opportunity to spend seven hours of quality time in the car on Saturday - and we enjoyed five hours of the NAIA national meet in Brookings, SD. The South Dakota State facility is an absolute gem - a 300-meter, 8-lane track that seems to be great for both athletes and fans. We snapped about 400 photos that are posted at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd and we're working on a video of the event.
I hit the CWS every year and I attended the Division 1 championships at Oregon five years ago, and these national championships at any level are awesome. Every event we saw on Saturday ended with a national champion, and it was incredible to watch. It was fan friendly, too - spectators were allowed on the field to get a closer view of the jumps. While I didn't personally witness national championships by Nebraskans, I saw some heroic efforts by many. Here's a link to the results. And here are Nebraska athletes that finished in the top four IN THE COUNTRY, with their high school listed in parentheses:
Josie Puelz - 1st, pole vault - Concordia (Lincoln Lutheran)
Allison Skala - 1st, shot put - Doane (North Platte)
Shandon Reitzell - 1st, high jump - Midland (Houston, TX)
Matthew Campbell - 1st, weight throw - Doane (Ainsworth)
Dylan Kucera - 1st, shot put and 3rd, weight throw - Midland (Fremont)
Veronica Pinkerton - 2nd, 800-meter run - Hastings (Beatrice)
Lauren Tamayo - 2nd, pentathlon and 7th, high jump - Hastings (Ralston)
Jordan Koepke - 3rd, 600-meter run - Concordia (Gulf Breeze, FL)
Rylee Haecker - 3rd, 1000- meter run - Concordia (Davenport)
Erin Mapson - 3rd, pole vault - Concordia (Lincoln East)
Lindsay Adams - 3rd, pentathlon - Doane (Millard West)
Juba McClay - 3rd, triple jump - Hastings (Mesa, AZ)
David Arcos - 3rd, heptathlon - Doane (Columbus)
Concordia - 3rd, 4x800 relay - Rylee Haecker (Davenport), Kylahn Heritage (Nampa, ID), Grace Reiman (Adams Central), Keri Bauer (Pleasonton)
Nisa Thomas - 4th, 60-meter hurdles - Hastings (Elizabeth City, NC)
Daisy Maessner - 4th, long jump and triple jump - Hastings (Kearney)
Chris Wren - 4th, weight throw - Concordia (Fair Oaks, CA)
In terms of team standings, Indiana Tech dominated the women's competition by 72 points while Oklahoma City had three distance athletes score 59 of their 62 points to win the title by 3 points. Zouhair Talbi of OCU swept the mile, 3000 and 5000 races in less than four hours while his teammate Abebe finished 2nd, 2nd and 3rd.
On the local scene, the Concordia women and Hastings women reached the podium by placing 3rd and 4th, respectively. I saw Coach Beisel of Concordia at the start of Saturday's competition and he told me that they would place in the top 4 if they scored in the mid-40's, and he thought they would. They scored 45. Other top-20 finishes for the GPAC included Doane (9th) and Dordt (14th). On the men's side, Midland finished 6th with 27 points, Dordt was 10th with 21, and Doane tied for 18th with 16 points. I'm not going to say that Nebraska dominates the NAIA scene, but it definitely has an outsized presence, particularly on the women's side. For example, 5 of the top 6 men in the weight throw were from Nebraska schools, as well as 4 of the top 6 women in the pentathlon.
The raw emotion of all of the competitors was awesome, and especially from Zach Beard of Langston, who won the 60-meter dash title.
A good cause
One of the images that impressed me the most this weekend was that of Sydney Little Light of Rocky Mountain college, who earned double All-American honors by finishing 5th in the mile and 5th in the 5000. During both races she had a painted red hand over her mouth, which showed that she was in solidarity with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in North America. I posted about her on my Facebook page on Sunday and by Tuesday it had reached over 80,000 impressions and 247 shares. With her painting and her placing, she certainly made a statement on Saturday.
National qualifiers for this weekend
The NAIA and junior college national championships are in the rear view mirror, but we have quite a few Nebraska-based athletes who are competing this week at the D1, D2 and D3 championships. Here's what we believe to be a complete list:
Chadron State (D2)
Jourdaine Cerenil - high jump (Pine Bluffs, WY)
Morgan Fawver - long jump (McCook)
Derrick Nwagwu - triple jump (Aurora, CO)
Daniel Reynolds - weight throw (Granby, CO)
Brayden Sorenson - high jump (Kearney)
Wes Ferguson - 800-meter run and DMR (Fremont)
Seth Simonson - 800-meter run and DMR (Hastings)
Cole Willis - 800-meter run (Kearney)
Micah Swedberg - DMR (Wallace)
Luke Stuckey - DMR (York)
Mayson Conner - high jump (York)
Axelina Johannson - shot put (Hok, Sweden)
Burger Lambrechts, Jr - shot put (Pretoria, South Africa)
Darius Luff - 60-meter hurdles (Lincoln High)
Jenna Rogers - high jump (Rutherford, NJ)
Alex Talley - shot put, weight throw (West Fargo, ND)
Darby Thomas - long jump (Abraham Lincoln, IA)
Nebraska Wesleyan (D3)
Maddie Moran - women's 60-meter dash (Johnson County)
Isabella Hilger - women's 4x400 meter relay and women's 200-meter dash (DC Aquinas)
Alexa Koza - women's 4x400 meter relay (Millard West)
Isabella Hogue - women's 4x400 meter relay (Conestoga)
Reagan Janzen - women's 4x400 meter relay and women's 800-meter run (Giltner)
Kyle Dickinson - men's 400-meter dash (Friend)
Garrett Lenners - men's 800-meter run (Freeman)
Eli Mackowski - men's high jump (Desert Mountain, AZ)
Kyle Ott - men's shot put (Heartland)
Eric Lenz - men's shot put (Central City)
Wayne State (D2)
Brooklyn Chipps - weight throw (Clearwater/Orchard)
Mckenzie Scheil - weight throw (Fillmore Central)
Yes, I know, Augustana isn't a Nebraska school, but Lincoln Southeast alum Evan Johnson is part of the DMR team that has qualified for nationals. He joins about a dozen other athletes who are headed to nationals.
If I've missed any Nebraskans, shoot me a DM and I'll correct the omission.
Speaking of Wes Ferguson...
Nerd Junior caught up with Wes during a meet at the Devaney Center, and Junior created a video of Wes' race and pre/post race interview. Wes is the D2 national record holder in the 1000 and is heading off to the national championships this weekend. Here's the video.
We're still compiling our commitment list, and we know that not every announcement hits our social media feed. If we're missing someone at our list at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/post/class-of-2022-commitment-list, send us a DM or just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Omaha Public Schools are opening two new high schools in August - Buena Vista near 60th and L and Westview near 156th & Ida. Westview has announced their coaches for next year:
Lillian Lutter, Girls XC - Bennington native, current Kearney assistant coach
Noah Scott, Boys XC - Kansas native, KU/Baker university grad
Jarod Meysenburg, Girls T&F - current Omaha North girls T&F coach
Matt Moore, Boys T&F - current Monroe Middle School T&F coach
Buena Vista is expected to pull students currently served by Omaha South and Bryan, while Westview will pull students currently served by Burke and Northwest. Both schools will enroll freshman and sophomores this year, add juniors in 2023 and seniors in 2024. They'll compete in Class A in every sport except football in 2022/2023. While the two new schools will help reduce the overcrowding at other OPS schools, they will also have a major impact on the XC/T&F programs at South, Bryan, Burke and Northwest.
High school results not impressive? Just find a good home.
Parker Schoen directed a tweet at me regarding how competitive every college division is, from Juco up to D1. On the same day, I saw a tweet from the Long Island University coach saying that his best miler this year - a 4:11 guy - came out of high school with a PR of 4:54. I've talked to a lot of collegiate coaches in Nebraska, as well as Olympics jumps coach Jeremy Fischer, and they all agree that some of the best athletes in college are often not the best track athletes at their high school. In fact, some coaches purposely search for kids who fit any or all of the following traits: low-mileage, small-town, 3- or 4-sport athlete, undercoached, and/or high ability to learn. Dylan Kucera never won a state shot put title at Fremont Bergan, but he's now a two-time indoor national champion. Evan Johnson never ran track at Lincoln Southeast and yet he's a 4:07 miler (and a national qualifier) at Augustana.
On the cusp of 3000
Believe it or not, we're almost at 3000 followers on both our Twitter and Facebook pages and over 1300 on our Instagram account. While we're most active on Twitter, we do update Facebook regularly and that is where we post any meet photos. We'd love a follow if you're on social media.
Pump up video
Well, maybe it doesn't qualify as that, but we created a video to celebrate the official start of the Nebraska high school track season. Let us know if you like it.
It's a big job, but we're hoping to provide a preview of every track event and every class in the next few weeks. Granted, we don't have a lot of familiarity with all the classes, but we will do our best. For field events, we're working with Patrick Grosserode of Trackville. We'll post these articles on our Twitter and Facebook pages. If you're not following us, you need to start nerding out.
Originally written for and posted at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle.
Did you love reading about Nebraska high school running? Visit www.preprunningnerd.com for rankings, results, photos, long-form articles, frequent updates our blog page, and a bunch of other cool stuff that only running nerds would think to do. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow @PrepRunningNerd on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.