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03/27/24 Nerdsletter

Updated: Apr 3

Contributor: The Nerd

Another record falls

On Friday at her home meet, Karsyn Leeling of Sidney became the first Nebraska high school girl to clear 6-00 in the high jump. Entering this season, Karsyn co-held the Class B record of 5-10 with Sue Lind (Albion, 1980 & 1981) and Kailynn Gubbles (Arlington, 2021) while Meredy Porter of Bellevue West had the all-Class record of 5-11 from 1987. Pending ratification by the NSAA, Karsyn should soon be the Class B and all-Class record holder. Karsyn will be competing for UNL next year.

Triple update

Speaking of ratification, Reece Grosserode's triple jump of 49-08 on March 16 at the Doane indoor meet has yet to be approved by the NSAA. The lengthy review time has given me an opportunity to do a little more research about the all-Class long jump record of 25-00.25 set by Robert Rands of Bellevue East. If you'll recall from last week's Nerdsletter, Rands hit that mark in March 2005 at an indoor meet at the University of South Dakota. At the State meet two months later, Rands jumped 24-11.25 to set the all-Class State meet record.

The Rands jumps were impressive, particularly because they broke the all-Class and State meet record of 24-10 set by Gale Sayers in 1961. For the youngsters in the crowd, Sayers was a football and track standout at Omaha Central who went on to a decorated football career for the University of Kansas and the Chicago Bears. During his rookie season in 1965 Sayers became the first NFL player to score rushing, receiving and punt return touchdowns in the same game, a feat that wasn't matched until Tyreek Hill accomplished it in 2016. Due to injuries he only played five full seasons in the NFL but in 1977 became the youngest player ever inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Why rehash this? Because longtime HS coach Paul Beran e-mailed me something I didn't know about the pre-Burke State meets. In 1961 when Sayers set the long jump record of 24-10, the State track meet was held at UNL's Memorial Stadium, and the long jump was contested underneath the stands in area nicknamed the Mushroom Gardens. This indoor portion of Memorial Stadium earned the nickname due to leaky pipes and an unforgettable smell, and the descriptions I've read suggest that it was effectively an indoor facility. Consequently, the all-Class long jump record for the last 63 years has been an indoor mark.

While any field event State records from Memorial Stadium have long been broken, the oldest State record on the books was set by Broken Bow's Kent McCloughan who ran a 21.4 220 yard dash (slightly longer than 200 meters) in 1961. That must have been quite a State meet. McCloughan went on to play football for the Cornhuskers and the Oakland Raiders.

Here's another tidbit I found during my research: one of Gale Sayer's teammates at Omaha Central was Vernon Breakfield. His son Vern is a football referee and a much-loved starter at high school track meets.


Our results page at has been updated for results through March 19. We're missing Ainsworth meet results from last week; please e-mail those to if you have them or let me know if that meet was cancelled.

If we know about a meet, we're pretty effective in chasing down results. However, we need your help. Each Saturday or Sunday we ask our followers on Twitter and Facebook to comment on the team(s) they follow and where/when they are competing during the next week. In the past week I've seen tweets regarding the cancellation of meets that weren't on our schedule, so it's clear that our meet list is not complete. Please share your upcoming meet(s) when you see us asking for input.

Impressive marks

We had a much longer listing of impressive marks in last week's Nerdsletter but a few of our readers felt it left out too many of their peeps. In the interest of time and world peace, here's a much shorter version of marks that caught our eye:

  • Carter Nelson of Ainsworth, a UNL football commit, appeared to set or match three PRs on 3/19 at the USD indoor meet. He pole vaulted 14-08, long jumped 21-03.5 and threw the shot 52-03.5. In 2022 he threw the discus 175 feet and high jumped 6-10. He's got a bright future in football but... he would be a heckuva decathlete.

  • Two-time Class A XC champ Juan Gonzalez of Fremont is off to a fast start on the track. He ran a 4:13.35 indoor 1600 at Mount Marty on Friday while Isaac Ochoa of Norfolk ran 4:22.1. Jack Witte of Millard West ran an indoor 4:15 the previous week and knocked out a 1:57.81 800 on Friday at Doane. The all-Class 1600 record of 4:09.84 was set by Westside's Milo Greder in 2017. Seth Hirsch's 3200 record of 8:54.12 from 2017 may also be at risk.

  • Will Kulhanek of Overton had an outdoor meet last week, running a 10.94 100 and 50.34 400. The Class D 100 record is 10.85 by Nate Probasco of Scribner-Snyder. Perhaps a Overton booster will purchase an anemometer for the track team so Will has a chance to set a wind-legal record this season.

  • Claire White of Westside ran a 4:55.73 indoor 1600 at Doane on Friday. Both Claire and teammate Stella Miner have a realistic shot at Elizabeth Lange's record of 4:49.3. We hope to be at this weekend's Westside invite in case something special happens there.

  • Boston Irish of Cozad and Jaren Moore of Holdrege both cleared 14-00 at the outdoor Holdrege meet on Friday while Class D defending champ Mason Wallin of Chase County cleared 13-06 at the Perkins County meet.

  • Mabel Henningsen, an 8th grader at St. Pius St. Leo, ran a 5:15 1600 on Saturday to improve her PR from the winter by 4 seconds. An hour later she won the 200 in 27.74, breaking the meet record of 27.93 set by Katie Shafer of Cornerstone Christian in 2022. Katie, now a sophomore at Papio South, won the 2023 Class A 400 meter State title and ran a leg on Papio South's 4x100 (2nd at State) and 4x400 (3rd at State) squads. I don't expect to see Mabel run many more 200s in her career but holy cow her range is impressive.

  • Kamden Cupples, a 6th grader at St. Wenceslaus, ran a 2:22 800 and 5:07 1600 on Saturday at CSM.

Middle school mayhem

I attended the Saturday morning session of the PAL junior high meet held at College of St. Mary. The morning and afternoon sessions combined had about 50 heats each of the 60 and 200 meter races, and a total of 700 kids competing over the 10-hour meet. Junior high meets are a place to experiment; in addition to the crazy performances above, I saw six-foot long jumps and fifty-pound kids throwing the shot put. With over a dozen different events, most kids can find at least one event where they feel comfortable, and it was clear that the PAL coaches were letting kids pick their events. The CSM fieldhouse was packed with kids 'playing' track, and it was great to see so many parents celebrating the effort more than the outcome.

I'm familiar with a few high schools who hold pre-season intrasquad multi-event competitions where each athlete completes all of the events offered - for example, the 60, 800, long jump and shot put - and at least one of the coaches then scores the results using the decathlon point system to determine the winning teams. I am guessing that the competition is mostly a fun team-building event, but every now and then it reveals a hidden talent.

Junior high can be brutal. It's tough to be brilliant (or even good) at much of anything when you're battling unpredictable hormonal changes, acne and changing voices. Unskilled kids are pretty easily identifiable in ball sports; they're the ones who trail far behind the play or can't execute fundamental skills like shooting, dribbling or throwing. That's not always the case in track, which is why it's the perfect sport for teenagers. In field events, they compete one at a time so only the closest observers know how they compare to others. In races finishing last doesn't carry the same stigma as shooting an airball or dropping a pop fly because... in races someone always finishes last, whether it's in a professional race or a junior high meet.

Track is also a sport where nearly all kids see improvement. If novice athletes faithfully attend practices throughout the season, it's almost inevitable that they'll improve their marks due to increased repetition or an actual increase in fitness. In track we don't measure success in terms of wins or losses. Personal records - those achievements that are 100% owned by the athlete - are just the kind of wins that junior high kids need to boost their self esteem. Even better, every now and then a kid discovers a hidden talent or a love for the sport that they'll continue to pursue as adults.


Weather-related changes impacted our plans to shoot several meets, so last week may end up being our least-busy week of the year. We've posted photo albums at for the following meets: USD (Monday), Mount Marty Class A (Friday), Perkins County (Friday) and the Saturday morning session of the junior high meet held at College of St. Mary. We'll also post pictures from Saturday's Morrill meet later this week. The next four days should be busier with Nerds planning to be shooting at least seven meets. A few highlights:

USD 3/18/24 (Nor'Easter Nerd)

Perkins County 3/23/24 (Nerd Stammpede)

Mount Marty 3/22/24 (Joyful Nerd)

CSM junior high morning 3/23/24 (Nerd Senior)

Bruce's birthday

Our favorite Nerd dog Bruce celebrated her first birthday on Tuesday with a bite of unfrosted birthday cake. She won't be at any track meets this spring but she's already planning on riding backpack shotgun during the cross country season.


First published at by Jay Slagle on March 20, 2024. If you find an error, shoot us an e-mail at and we'll get it fixed.

Like this coverage of the Nebraska track and field scene? There's more of this at Check out the Blog tab for our frequent stories and and the Results tab for every Nebraska high school race we can find. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @PrepRunningNerd or on Facebook at

Finally, if you think runners, jumpers and throwers are the best things 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 jumper who became a quadrapalegic after a swimming accident.

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1 Comment

Mar 27

Going to miss you & all your helpers. Last Gr-son’s at Wesleyan. No Nerds sharing photos ! No easy access to Results. Be safe out there ! Thanks for YEARS of love of track & field and XC. 💖

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