Contributor: The Nerd
I had the good fortune to spend Thursday night and most of Friday at the KU Relays. For those of you who haven't been, Friday and Saturday at KU Relays is controlled chaos. The meet brings together some of the best high school athletes from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and the events are scheduled down to the minute. I'm not sure how they pull it off, but staying on time through 19 heats of the high school 4x100 is about as close to a miracle as you'll see in track and field.
As if the competition wasn't enough to grab your attention, the Rock Chalk complex is awe-inspiring. Set on the outskirts of Lawrence, the complex includes venues for track, softball, soccer and tennis plus a huge multi-sport indoor complex. In some ways it's similar to the UNL complex just north of the Devaney Center, but I have to imagine that it would take another $50-$100 million to replicate KU's quality. When you see something like Rock Chalk, you start thinking... how many wealthy UNL track alumni would we need to pull that off?
The KU Relays is a huge event that requires an incredible administrative team, but it also requires a lot of certified track officials. Sara Sinani is a Nebraska native whom I've seen at Devaney, NAIA Nationals and now KU, but she was just one of at least six officials at Lawrence who also work collegiate events in Nebraska. If you love track and field but are smart enough to stay away from a camera, I'd encourage you to look into T&F officiating. Look around at the State meet in May; we need to start recruiting the next generation of T&F officials.
Collegiate distance races were the only events scheduled at KU on Thursday night, and the chilled vibes contrasted sharply with the buzz of Friday and Saturday. The last two races of the night were the men's and women's 10,000 meters. That's 25 mind-numbing laps, which may explain the small fields. An inspirational soundtrack couldn't hide the pain or the near-empty stands, and I'm sure a few athletes were questioning why they subject themselves to that kind of sustained pain.
Distance runners grind every day. Last Thursday was no different. On a windy evening that featured virtually no PRs, the distance runners never gave up.
The Nerd Leaderboard continues to improve in terms of depth and quality. It looks like we still need to input results from eleven meets that were held before April 16, and most notably the KU Relays results are missing. As we noted last week, the athletic.net results for a number of meets like KU aren't immediately classified as 'official', and thus they don't auto-populate our spreadsheet. We'll manually input meet results if the meets don't switch to 'official' status.
We are aware that there are some issues with auto-populating. For example, the boys 4x800 results from Yutan on March 28 are at least one minute faster than they should be. Both Cornerstone and Brownell-Talbot self-reported these errors but we don't have a way to eliminate auto-populated results from athletic.net.
Likewise, the Leaderboard doesn't distinguish between wind-legal, wind-aided or wind-not-measured results, nor does it distinguish between hand-timed and electronically-timed. This isn't going to impact the 400+ meter races, but the wind and the timing differences could have a major impact on 100, 110 and 200 results.
Despite those caveats, we still think the Leaderboard is a good resource and it is updated throughout the week as athletic.net results become official. The Leaderboard link is at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings. It's got multiple tabs, including all-class and individual class rankings, so feel free to dive into the details.
Here are a few results from the last week that caught our attention:
* Kate Campos of Pius ran a wind-aided 13.93 100H on Thursday. The conditions haven't been right for Kate to make a strong record attempt in the two hurdles events, and they won't be good this week either. The stacked Harold Scott meet tomorrow may be the windiest meet of the season.
* Sydney Stodden (Elkhorn North), Grace Heaney (Elkhorn North) and Brooke Rose (Gretna) all ran sub-59 400's at Elkhorn last Thursday despite the wind, while Jaci Sievers of Elkhorn South ran a 5:00.39 1600 at the same meet. Jaci will face off against another sub-5:00 stud, Libby Castelli of Sioux Falls O'Gorman, at the Harold Scott.
* Amari Laing of Millard South jumped 19-06.25 to win the KU Relays long jump, and then she finished 4th in the triple jump with a new PR of 37-10.25 (State leader). She's already jumped 19-11.25 this season in a wind-legal jump, so the long jump State record of 20-02.75 seems awfully close.
* Thanks to an athletic.net misspelling, Taylor Evans of Fremont has the top two marks in the pole vault Leaderboard, and her 12-05 leap on Friday is 14 inches ahead of the next best Class A vaulter.
* Sage Burbach of Norris is the first Nebraska girl to break 46-00 in the shot put this season, throwing 46-04 at Syracuse to match her PR from 2022 State.
* The Elkhorn North and Elkhorn South girls threw down the top two 4x400 times of the season, 4:07 and 4:08, in a head-to-head match-up at Elkhorn. Over at Burke, Lincoln Southeast ran 4:08 while Kearney ran 4:10.
* Dillon Miller of Brady lost his top spot in the 100 after a windy week, but the top five boys on the Leaderboard are in a tight window between 10.58 to 10.63. Dae'Vonn Hall and Asher Jenkins of Bellevue West moved up the Leaderboard in the 100 and 200, respectively, and both will be a force in May.
* Tyler Carroll of Central City had the fastest 60H time over the winter, and he's now at the top of the 110H Leaderboard after his 14.15 on Friday.
* Malachi Swallow and Rhett Cullers of Chadron now own the top two spots in the 300H after running 39.20 and 39.25 yesterday (4/18) in Mitchell.
* Nolan Slominski of Blair and Tommy Rice of Skutt had a great showdown at Plattsmouth on April 11, posting the top two times on the Leaderboard with a 1:56.04 and 1:57.32.
* In less than ideal conditions, Isaac Ochoa of Norfolk posted the 2nd-fastest 3200 of the season with a 9:29 at Fremont while Zach Schultz of Millard North ran 9:32. The two boys matched those placements in the 800 with Ochoa's 1:59 and Schultz's 2:01. Ochoa ran a 4:18 the week prior, and he is defying the reputation of being a 3200/5k specialist.
* Speaking of Norfolk, Rowdy Bauer has jumped over 23' twice in the last two weeks. He went 23-01.5 at GI on April 6 and then 23-08.5 at Fremont last Friday. Carson Staehr of Aurora (23-00 on March 30) is the only other athlete to break the 23' mark.
* Jaylen Lloyd jumped 47-03.25 in his Westside debut at KU, and now sits in second behind Staehr's 47-11.5. I've been reliably informed that Lloyd, who is returning from a minor injury, only had a 10-step approach at KU and should continue to improve over the next month.
*Dae'Vonn Hall of Bellevue West cleared 6-10.25 at Elkhorn on Thursday. He jumped 6-09 over the winter in far better conditions.
*Caiden Fredrick won the KU discus with a heave of 193-08, and J'dyn Bullion of Bellevue West outdid that with a 200-06 thrown at Elkhorn. From the data we can see, that's a 23-foot PR for J'dyn, who finished 2nd in the discus at USATF 15-16 nationals in 2021.
* Millard West ran a state-leading 3:26 4x400 at the Omaha Central meet while Lincoln Southwest ran a state-leading 8:05 4x800 at Fremont. But wait... Waverly ran a 3:21 on April 6th at the Waverly meet but the results aren't auto-populating because the meet status is 'partial results.' We'll get that fixed.
Twelve months ago we had three Nerds hitting a max of three meets per week - and we were only able to do that because Nerd Junior and Nerd the Third were both injured and not competing. Last week eleven Nerds took photos at FOURTEEN meets. Albums from 13 of those meets are already posted on our Facebook page. You can go to https://www.facebook.com/PrepRunningNerd/photos_albums on Facebook to see a listing of our albums or you can review a list of our albums for the last 16 months on our website at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022. Here's a sampling of the photos taken by each of Nerds in the last week:
Where are the Nerds?
If you're just dying to know where the Nerds will shoot each week, check the Results tab on our website on Monday of each week. By then our rag-tag group of volunteers has figured out if they can squeeze in a meet in the midst of their work, school and family schedules. If you happen to see one of us, give us a shout. In the midst of shooting 2000-8000 photos, a little human interaction is a nice break.
Wes Freakin' Ferguson
UNK's Wes Ferguson, a two-time D2 national champ in the 800, ran a school record 1:46.95 at the Bryan Clay meet in California last weekend. At the same meet, fellow Fremont alum Carter Waters, now at Alabama, ran a 14:32 5000.
We have a few additions to the camp list from last week:
* 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.
* The Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosts a very popular camp June 13-16 in Kearney. A lot of distance running friendships have started here, and we know a few collegiate athletes who have been counselors there. For more info, go to https://search.fcacamps.org/CampDetail.aspx?ID=9389. Another link is https://www.omahafca.org/camp#DistanceCamp.
* Millard South is hosting a track camp June 13-15 and a cross country camp June 19-21 for kids through 8th grade. More info at https://sites.google.com/a/mpsomaha.org/ms-track-field/camps.
Live the Nerd life
We had to purchase more gear because our Nerd team has expanded so quickly, and that means that we'll be adding sweatshirts and more black t-shirts to our inventory. We didn't buy many but look for them to be added over the weekend. Our store is at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/shop. Do we do this to make a profit? Heck no. Mrs. Nerd has seen the books and she's not happy.
That's all folks...
One of the best tweets I saw all week was from Nerd contributor Patrick Grosserode of Trackville: "So many kids wonder why they don't achieve goal times; maybe it's because you spend a fraction of the time that you give other sports. I am blown away by how many kids miss track meets for basketball/volleyball. Track is no different than any sport. You have to practice."
Two days at the KU Relays has left me a bit disorganized, but we'll try to add some meat to the next Nerdsletter. I'll be surrounded by athletic greatness at the Harold Scott meet and hope to talk to a few of the athletes.
First published at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle on April 19, 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.