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04/30/24 Nerdsletter

Updated: May 1

Contributor: The Nerd

It's been three weeks since our last Nerdsletter. I blame it on a Scotland vacation (see photos) and a hard landing once I got back to work, but there's really no excuse for the absence of track and field coverage. The entire Nerd team is ready for Championship season, and we hope to finish strong.

Championship season

For casual fans, we're at the start of what some coaches refer to as Championship season. While some conferences held their meets last week, here's what the next three weeks hold:


The beauty of being an internet-only media company is that our followers don't have to wait a week between updated top performance lists. Under the "2024 Track" link at you can find a spreadsheet that lists the season's top 15 marks for all 17 events organized by Class and All-Class. Our rankings include on-line results as well as paper-based results that we collect and manually input. The rankings are updated every 24-48 hours so, for example, an outstanding mark achieved tonight won't be immediately reflected in the spreadsheet. The manual results take a bit longer to be entered, particularly if Nerd the Third has a tough final coming up.


Throughout the season we do our best to prepare a list of high school meets and then chase down the results. If a Nerd plans to be at a meet (barring a last-minute conflict), we'll also post that information too. Our results page at is updated every few days.

No excuse zone

In the middle of our vacation we stayed in the same B&B as Chris and Denise Arthey. The Artheys are from southern Britain and picked up our American accents immediately. Chris shared that they lived in Houston for five years and it was the most impactful time of their lives. Why? After adopting the Harley Davidson lifestyle, they were driving on Highway 35 in Texas when they were sideswiped by a drunk driver. Chris woke up two weeks later to find out that part of his left leg had been amputated; he also learned then that his wife had also lost part of her left leg.

After a difficult rehab period where child amputees ran literal circles around them during physical therapy visits, Chris returned to his lifelong habit of running. His 'two-leg' marathon PR is 2:58 but he's run 4:28 with a running blade. He's got a cycling leg and has completed a half-Ironman. He's also got a hiking leg and, with his son, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and to the Mount Everest base camp. He and his wife wrote the book "Highway 35" that is available on Amazon. I haven't ordered the book but plan to do so soon.

After talking with Chris, it's a bit more difficult for me to make an excuse for not working out.

Bite-sized updates

  • Wes Ferguson of UNK won the Drake Relays Elite 800 race in 1:46.08. His PR is 1:45.46 from last year's D2 championship final and he ran 1:45.85 at the prestigious Bryan Clay meet earlier in April.

  • Among UNL competitors at Drake, Lincoln High alum Darius Luff won the 110 hurdles, Millard North alum Kevin Shubert finished 2nd in the shot put, and Lincoln East alum Berlyn Schutz finished 2nd in the 1500 in 4:18.37 (4:39 mile conversion).

  • Sophia Scott, a sophomore at Omaha Burke, recently finished 2nd in the Penn Relays javelin. She placed 3rd at the KU Relays in mid-April.

  • Among the many people impacted by last Friday's string of tornadoes, the family of Bennington distance runner Lillian Dall lost their home. Lillian texted her coach that her track jersey had been lost in the storm, but she subsequently found it about twenty-feet up a tree.

  • We had watched Bellevue West freshman Jaiya Patillo fly through 400 races in the winter season but Jaiya, who has won multiple age group national championships, was not expected to compete for her high school this season. However, Jaiya debuted with a 56.22 400 last week at the Gretna meet and now sits #1 on our season rankings.

So. Many. Records.

When I left for Scotland there had been seven State records this season. By the time I returned, we were up to EIGHTEEN. In my absence, Nerd the Third recapped all 18 records in this blog post.

Will there be more? I can almost guarantee it. Here's an updated list of records that are under threat:

  • The Class A girls 3200 record of 10:23 may be within reach after Claire White of Westside notched a 10:35 at the KU Relays on April 19. Claire broke her arm on a run in early April and presumably isn't feeling top notch right now. When she's well rested at the end of the season, watch out.

  • The Class A girls 4x800 record of 9:12.7 was set by Lincoln East in 2018 while Elkhorn North set the Class B girls record of 9:27.97 last year. Westside ran 9:17 at Harold Scott on April 18 while Elkhorn North ran 9:28.35 on April 19 at KU. We've yet to see Norris take a serious stab at the 4x800 this year but they could also be a factor.

  • Speaking of Norris, Ellie Thomas ran a 2:09.73 800 last Thursday at Crete in what was described to me as less-than-ideal conditions. Alice Schmidt of Elkhorn set the Class B record of 2:08.84 in 1999.

  • The Class B girls discus record of 165-00 set by Emily Duran of Nebraska City in 2000 is under serious threat from Madison Smith of Gothenburg, who threw 155-6 on April 5.

  • After setting State records at 6-00, 6-01 and 6-01.5 this season, I don't think we can rule out another high jump record by Sidney's Karsyn Leeling.

  • The Class A and B boys 1600 records are both less than one month old but they're still ripe for the breaking. Juan Gonzalez of Fremont holds the All-Class record at 4:08.99, set April 12th at his home meet; Tommy Rice of Skutt finished 2nd in that race and set a Class B record of 4:15.05, breaking the mark of 4:15.16 set by Braden Lofquest (Gretna East) two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, Jack Witte of Millard West has run 4:12.14 this year and Denny Chapman of Prep has run 4:15.39. Frankly, I'd be shocked if at least one of these records isn't broken at State.

  • The Class A 3200 record of 8:51.46 was set by Juan Gonzalez on March 28. He hasn't taken a serious stab at it again. He'll likely run the 3200 at State on fresh legs unless the Fremont coaches want to maximize their points in the 4x800.

  • Riley Boonstra of Norris smashed the previous Class B 3200 record of 9:12.90 (Bryan Clark, Auburn) when he ran 9:02.25 on April 19 at KU. Riley mastered the sit-and-kick racing strategy at 2023 State - a 55-second final lap certainly helps the cause - but he could be pushed by Hastings' Austin Carrera... and possibly Braden Lofquest if Braden attempts the 800/1600/3200 combo.

  • The Class B shot put record of 66-11.5 was set by Marty Kobza of Schuyler in 1981. Sam Thomas of Elkhorn North threw 66-03 on April 11. He's a dangerous man.

  • Brandon Benson set the Class D pole vault record of 15-04.75 in 2012. Roe Patterson of Fullerton jumped 15-00 on March 19 but, unfortunately, we believe he suffered a season-ending injury two weeks ago. Mason Wallin of Chase County cleared 15-00 last week using a pole borrowed from Sutherland, but he'll be hard pressed to break the Class C record of 16-02.50 held by Tyler Loontjer of Fillmore Central.

  • Reece Grosserode of Pius seems likely to triple jump further than 49-08, the mark he set earlier this season.

  • Zaidah Lightener of Papio South has a season-best long jump of 19-04.75, ten inches shy of the All-Class record of 20-02.75 set by LaQue Moen-Davis of Omaha North in 2010. Karsyn Leeling is 7.5 inches shy of the Class B record of 19-06.75 set by Tierra Williams of Auburn in 2013. Sarah Forsberg of Cross County is 8 inches shy of the Class C record.

  • The Class A girls 400 record of 55.05 was set by Clara Nichols of Millard South in 2011. In addition to her 56.22 last week, Jaiya Patillo of Bellevue West ran an indoor 54.79 in February and an outdoor 53.87 last summer. In Class B, Molly Sughroue's 56.29 mark from 2014 is under threat from Sydney Stodden (Elkhorn North, 56.91) and Emma Steffensen (Waverly, current holder State meet record of 56.38). Spoiler alert: Alonna Depalma of Waverly ran 56.24 at the EMC meet seven hours after I posted this article to break the record; why the heck did I forget to mention Alonna? Story Rasby of Sutherland is 0.70 seconds off the Class D record of 57.67 set in 1994.

  • A few months ago I didn't expect Robert Rand's (Bellevue East, 2005) Class A long jump of record of 25-00.25 to be in jeopardy, but Rowdy Bauer of Norfolk uncorked a 24-03.50 on April 18.


As of today we've posted Facebook albums at for SEVENTY-SEVEN junior high, high school and collegiate meets we've attended since March 15. That's the power of twenty Nerds. We hope to hit 100 by State. If you're not sure whether we shot one of your meets, go to our website at to see a list that is usually just a few days out of date.

We've posted pictures for over a dozen meets in the last two weeks. Here are a few of them:

O'Neill, April 11 (Hurdle Nerd)

Gothenburg, April 11 (High Mileage Nerd)

Syracuse, April 11 (Nerdka)

Minden, April 12 (Nerd atTack)

Sutherland, April 12 (Nerd Stammpede)

Wisner-Pilger, April 13 (Wild Nerd)

Creighton, April 23 (Bloomin' Nerd)

CNTC, April 22 (Broken Nerd)

Harold Scott, April 18 (Joyful Nerd)

Harold Scott, April 18 (Nerd Ricky Bobby)

Norfolk, April 18 (Nerd Dawg)

Ashland, April 27 (Nerd)


First published at by Jay Slagle on April 30, 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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