Updated: Apr 11
Contributor: The Nerd
For the past 20 years I have been telling my wife, kids and friends that the secret to happiness is to have low expectations. If you have low expectations who how good of a husband or dad I'll be, how nice the weather the will be, how fast you run a race... then reality will probably exceed your expectations and you'll end up quite happy.
This is my first Nerdsletter of the official track season. Read it with low expectations and you might actually enjoy it.
So what is the Nerdsletter?
We started the Nerd movement six years ago because major media outlets in Nebraska were cutting XC and T&F coverage. With so few statewide articles written about these sports, we began the Nerdsletter about a year ago to give you more news and highlight things that T&F fans might find interesting. I keep an index card in my pocket all week where I right down things that might be interesting, and once a week I write about them. Let's start with the things that the Nerd can do for you.
College resources and commitments
Using social media as well as e-mails and DMs from athletes/parents, we do our best to keep a list of all Class of 2023 Nebraska XC/T&F athletes who have committed to a college. In addition, we've written a long article on how to choose a college if you're interested in those sports, and we've got a listing of all the XC/T&F programs in and nearby Nebraska. Check out our college page at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/college-recruiting. If we missed a commitment, DM us or shoot an e-mail to email@example.com.
Sports photography is our sweet spot. We have 17 (SEVENTEEN!) volunteer photographers across the state who take pictures at high school and college meets. A few days later, we post those pictures for free on our Facebook page. We've attended 48 meets since early January, and we should attend at least 50 more by the time the season is completed. If you don't have the patience to scroll through our very busy Facebook page, the Photo tab on our website (https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022) provides links to every meet album. Here's a sample of the Nerds' work; we'll highlight additional photographers next week.
Our photo policy
So by now you've probably figured out that we post all of our photos for free. Our photo policy at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022 gives more details but here's the bottom line:
Athletes, family members and schools can download and/or repost our photos. We would appreciate it if you tag Prep Running Nerd on your social media posts. We're not trying to monetize the Nerd but we would like to have a bigger following so we can help grow the T&F/XC community.
Yearbook advisors may request high-resolution photos by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via DM.
Other media entities (paid or non-monetized) must ask for explicit approval to use each our photos. We work collaboratively with newspapers who cover the sport but can't always have someone on site.
Ideally every track meet in Nebraska would be uploaded to athletic.net so we could easily see the results. Sadly, that doesn't happen. Each week we ask our followers to help us build a meet schedule for the following week, and then we doggedly chase down results. We believe we're the only resource in Nebraska that captures these results, and they're updated throughout the week at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/trackresults.
The meet listing also includes a designation if a Nerd is planning to be at a meet. For example, Nerd Ricky Bobby is listed next to this Thursday's Elkhorn meet. We all have jobs and family obligations so there are times when the scheduled Nerd doesn't appear. In addition, we rarely shoot a meet if it's raining because water kills cameras.
Since we have the results for virtually every Nebraska high school meet, we should use them, right? Nerd Junior has developed a web-based Track Leaderboard that can be accessed at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings. Our goal is to list the top 15 performances for each event by class and gender. However, here are the caveats:
Results are only auto-populated if they are on Athletic.net and the status of the meet results are 'Official,' 'Complete' or 'In Progress.' If Athletic.net lists the status of the meet as 'In Review' or 'Partial Results,' then those results aren't auto-populated. For example, Caiden Fredrick's 62-00 shot put at Columbus didn't migrate to our spreadsheet because the 4/1/23 Columbus meet is listed as 'Partial Results,' but his 62-10.75 effort at the 4/7/23 Millard South meet did hit our spreadsheet because the results are 'Official.' We don't know how a meet director can change the meet status.
We then have to manually input the 'In Review' or 'Partial Results', as well as any 'paper' results we receive. We finished programming the spreadsheet on April 4, so we have about three weeks of manual results to enter. Nerd the Third and Chandler Schelkopf (aka Data Nerd), a former middle-distance guy at Fillmore Central and a current Creighton student, are entering that info. We've got a backlog so there may be a delay of a few weeks before we enter some manual results.
The leaderboard doesn't differentiate between results that are wind-legal, wind-illegal or no-wind-measured. It would be great if we could do so, but the reality is that wind gauges are used at less than 20% of all meets.
Athletic.net isn't always reliable. At one point in the day all of the Official results may be feeding into the spreadsheet, and a few hours later we may be missing a few meets. They eventually re-appear unless the meet status has been changed.
Some top marks are held by Athletic.net to be validated. By who, we don't know. For example, Jack Gillogly of Creighton Prep appears to have run a wind-legal 200 State record on 4/6/23, but that result is marked as "Pending Validation" on Athletic.net.
The leaderboard is periodically updated when final results are posted to athletic.net. We don't control the timing of the updates; it just kind of happens.
Nerd Junior has added a new tab this year titled 'The Best 50.' By comparing a current-year performance to the average of all-time top-15 results for that event, he's essentially giving a power ranking to top marks. As of April 11, his formula has determined the top two 'The Best' efforts so far this year are Jack Gillogly's 200-meter State record on 4/7/23 and Jaci Siever's (Elkhorn South) 10:23 3200 from 4/8/23. 'The Best 50' is not a time-proven measurement tool; Junior simply thought it would provoke some good discussions.
If you'd like to get up to speed on all things track and field, be sure to check out our pre-season previews for all non-relay events at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/post/2023-season-previews. We collaborated with Patrick Grosserode of Trackville and Tyler Hanson of Axtell to take a deep dive into every event and every class.
Speaking of wind-legal...
We're all Nebraskans, so we know that springtime winds can be pretty impressive. I've been at Kearney meets where there was a constant wind of 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. Nearly all meets run sprint races with the wind, and a strong wind significantly improves results.
As I noted above, we don't account for wind-legal status in the leaderboard. In practice, the only time wind-legal status really matters is to determine if it qualifies as a State record. For example, at last year's State meet, Jaylen Lloyd (then Omaha Central, now Westside) won the Class A triple jump title with a leap of 50-03.50. While Jaylen's jump exceeded the existing Class A State meet record, it didn't count because the wind reading during his jump was 2.7 meters/second. Reece Grosserode (Pius) finished 2nd in the event with a 49-00.50 jump, and he set the State meet record because the wind was 1.7 m/s during his jump. So when does the wind matter or how is it measured? We asked Patrick Grosserode of Trackville for a quick overview.
A gauge called an anenometer is used to measure the advantage that the wind provides to a runner's velocity. A certified manual-start anenometer can cost as much as $350, and most timing companies have access to them. For State-record purposes, wind readings are required for the 100, 200, 100/110 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. In races the anenometer is to be set 50 meters from the finish line, 1.22 meters off the ground and no more than 2 meters from the running surface. For the two jumps, the anenometer is set 20 meters from the board, 1.22 meters off the ground and no more than 2 meters from the runway. The anenometer is used to measure the average athlete velocity displacement for a certain amount of time - for the 100/110, it's the entirety of the race, for the 200 it's essentially the straightaway, and for the jumps it's when the athlete is sprinting and jumping.
Wind readings are rounded to the nearest tenth, so a meter/second reading of 2.04 would be rounded down to 2.0. When you see race results, a wind reading of +2.5 or 2.5 reflects a tailwind while a reading of -2.5 reflects a headwind. If there is no wind reading (or 'NWI') next to a mark, that means a wind reading wasn't taken. If the average wind reading is 2.0 or lower, the performance is wind legal. If the average is 2.1 or above, it's not wind legal and isn't eligible for a State record.
Is the wind reading synonymous with the wind miles-per-hour we see on weather apps? Patrick believes there isn't an accurate rule of thumb. Because the anenometer captures a very brief span of time - generally 15 seconds or less - there might be a lull in wind velocity that would allow for a wind-legal mark on a day that featured gusts of 25 mph. The presence of nearby buildings or hills can also amplify or block winds.
Wind also plays a key part in the pole vault. A few weeks ago I asked Jason Berry, a Concordia jumps coach, whether pole vaulters jump higher indoor or outdoor. He responded that crosswinds typically reduce pole vault performance, but a reasonable tailwind can lead to higher jumps at outdoor meets. However, the pole vault isn't subject to wind readings.
With Class or All-Class records in all five events likely to be challenged the remainder of the year, it's critical for coaches to talk to the timing company in advance of the meet (and the starter the day of the meet) if they think an athlete could threaten a record. If the timing company can't provide an anenometer (which is typically wired into the timing system), a coach may be able to arrange for a manual reading during the event. The NFHS track guidelines linked here cover wind measurement on pages 10-11. I'm sure Patrick Grosserode would also be happy to chat with coaches who have questions.
So what's the take-away? If you don't have a certified wind reading, a stellar mark in any of these these five events will never be a State record.
These performances over the past three weeks have caught our eye:
* Jack Gillogly of Creighton Prep set the All-Class 200 record with a time of 20.92 at Kearney on April 6. His 100 finals time of 10.63 at Kearney is the 2nd-fastest 100 this season but there does not appear to be a wind reading for that race.
* Jaci Sievers of Elkhorn South ran a 10:23 3200 at Tennessee on Friday night, putting her 3rd all-time behind Karlene Erickson (10:19, 1982) and Emily Sisson (10:21, 2008). Her previous best was a converted 10:24.1 from Nike Nationals in June 2022. She did not interrupt her training cycle for Friday's race, so don't be surprised if she chases the record on a nice day.
* Berlyn Schutz of Lincoln East has run 2:16, 5:07 and 11:04 this year, although the 800 and 1600 have yet to reach our leaderboard because the Kearney meet results from April 6 are still 'In Review'. Claire White of Westside has run 2:16, 5:03 and 10:56 this season while Gering's Maddie Seiler has run 2:19, 5:12 and 11:10. We thought 2022 was the golden year of girls distance running; this year may be better.
* Hazel Haarberg, a freshman at Kearney Catholic, has the top Class C marks in the 100 (12.51), 200 (25.80) and long jump (17-07), and the Stars have the best 4x100 (52.07) time this season. This isn't a big shock; she won the 100 and 200 at the State junior meet in Gothenburg last May. She ran a 1:01 400 twice as an 8th grader, but the shorter distances seem to be her sweet spot. Watch out for Kearney Catholic; according to our leaderboard, Margaret Haarberg has the best Class C high jump (5-05), freshman Alyssa Onnen has the best pole vault (11-06), and KC athletes are in the top 15 for nine events.
* Carson Noecker of Cedar Catholic has only had two meets this year but he's made the most of them. At the Cedar Catholic meet on March 28, he ran the 4x800, 1600 (4:22), 800 (2:05) and finished with a 3200 (9:16). At the Hartington meet on April 6, he opened with the 4x800 (8:39) and also ran 2:03, 4:20 and 9:23.
* Sam Cappos of Lincoln East and Caiden Fredrick of Papio South are going to battle all year in the throws. Fredrick has thrown 62-00+ in two meets while Cappos is over 61-00, and both are within striking distance of Larry Station's Class A record of 64-09. Cappos' discus of 192-03 at Columbus is ten feet shy of Larry Station's Class A record, and defending champ Fredrick has thrown 179-10 this season.
* Karsyn Leeling of Sidney tied the Class B State high jump record with a leap of 5-10 on April 1, and she's only an inch away from the All-Class mark of 5-11 held by Meredy Porter of Bellevue West (1987). EJ Brown of Elkhorn was our pre-season pick to threaten the All-Class mark, and she jumped 5-08 on March 24.
* The Norris meet on March 30 gave us a number of All-Class season-leading marks, including Avyn Urbanski of Northwest in the 100 (12.05) and 200 (25.06), Jacob Horner of Elkhorn North in the 110H (14.56), Carson Staehr of Aurora in the triple jump (47-11.50), Kalen Knott of Seward in the pole vault (15-03), and Sage Burbach of Norris in the shot put (45-08). The wind was not measured at that meet.
* Madison Smith, a junior at Gothenburg, unleashed a 152-08 discus throw on April 6. She's leading the state by 16-08 (based on results entered thus far) and is 12-04 off the Class B State record of 165-00.
* The All-Class gold in the girls' shot put is going to be a dogfight. Sage Burbach, Jessica Stieb (ACL), Katharine Beachler (Millard North) and Nyaluet Diew (SSC) have all thrown between 45-00 and 45-08.
There will be even more great athletes that we'll highlight next week.
It's a bit early to be thinking about summer running camps but two notices came across our computer in the last two weeks:
* Cozad High School is hosting a one-day cross country camp on July 11 from 9:00-2:30. Speakers include collegiate coaches Matt Beisel (Concordia), Brad Jenny (Doane), Ryan Mahoney (Hastings), and Brady Bonsall (UNK). The flyer for the camp is linked here.
* David Ramsey is again hosting a Cross Country Running Camp in Pueblo Colorado on July 9-16. I don't have any experience with the camp but a number of Nebraska runners have attended the camp in the pre-COVID era. Here is the link for that camp.
* The Eyes Up camp led by Coach Chris Gannon at Creighton has two two-days sessions: an elite camp on July 17-18 and a second camp on July 24-25. You might even have Nerd the Third as a camp counselor. Go to www.eyesup.run for more information.
* Homer High School is hosting a one-day camp on July 13. Speakers include Creighton coaches Chris Gannon and Matthew Fayers and Mount Marty's Dan Fitzsimmons. Click here for more information and the registration form.
Are you hosting a summer XC camp? E-mail me the info at email@example.com and I'll include it in a future Nerdsletter.
Odd and ends
Here's a few things that on our radar:
* I read Kara Goucher's book, 'The Longest Race,' in late March. The book is well written and provides a behind-the-scenes look at her professional running career, the ups and downs that even elite runners face, and her experience with Alberto Salazar and the Nike-sponsored Oregon project. Nerd the Third also enjoyed the book, and I suspect female runners will get even more from it. I highly recommend.
* The Metro conference track meet is moving back to a two-day event in 2023 on May 2nd and 3rd. This was the format for many years but transitioned to a one-day event sometime prior to 2019. While I haven't seen the 2023 schedule, the previous two-day meet started mid-afternoon on both days and minimized the out-of-school time. The schedule largely mimics the State meet two-day format, and I believe performances will improve.
* I will be at the KU Relays this Thursday night (collegiate distance races) and most of Friday (mix of college and HS races). If your high school is competing in the KU Relays, please send a list of athletes and races to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to take pictures of them. If everything works out right, I should have a media credential for the event and will have better photography access than spectators.
* Rumor has it that the Omaha Burke scoreboard is being repaired this season in the hopes of having it work again in time for the State meet. Burke's lane lines were recently repainted.
Live the Nerd lifestyle
We introduced the Nerd clothing line last spring as a joke, and then ordered a ton of t-shirts last fall that are still cluttering up Fashion Nerd's old bedroom. She can't come home from college until we sell all of the t-shirts, so do the Nerd a solid and take a look at our store at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/shop. Several of you have asked if we're going to replenish our sweatshirt supply and yes, we ordered about a dozen that should arrive in late April (just when it's not cold anymore).
First published at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle on April 11, 2023.
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 can find, and the Rankings tab for top-15 performances in each event. 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 www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd. 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.