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05/07/24 Nerdsletter

Contributor: The Nerd

With Districts starting on Tuesday, May 7, we're going to push out a Nerdsletter to get you in the post-season mood. I've only got two hours to write this so it may be a bit haphazard.

Quick bites

Here are some big items that come in small packages:

- A rainy morning last week forced me onto the treadmill so I used that time to watch a replay of the Drake Relays. If you have access to a streaming service that carries the CBS Sports Network, you may be able to pull it up. I was able to watch UNL's Darius Luff win the 110 hurdles and see several UNL relay teams place high in relays. The highlight for me was watching UNK's Wes Ferguson win the Elite 800 against a strong field that included Iowa State's Darius Kipyego (6th in 2024 NCAA D1 indoor 800), pro runner Adam Fogg (FogDog on YouTube) and Drake's Isaac Basten (5th in 2023 D1 outdoor 1500 and a 2024 indoor mile qualifier).

- Katie Spencer was a decorated Millard South athlete, winning the 2015 1600 (4:55) and 3200 (10:31) Class A titles and two XC silver Class A medals behind now-pro runner Jeralyn Poe. On Sunday Katie won the Lincoln Marathon in 2:42:50 in her marathon debut. She competed collegiately at Oklahoma State.

- Mike Cunningham is posting podcast interviews with a high school track coach from each of the 50 states. Late last week he posted the podcast with Kent McCrimmon, the high school coach at Omaha Concordia. The Spotify link is at

- The podcast includes a reference to a mixed 4x200 relay race that was approved by the National Federation of High Schools prior to the 2023 season. This is a 'special event' akin to the throwers relay that is a highlight of many meets. A number of meets offered the 4x200 relay during the 2023 season. However, the NSAA, which uses the NFHS for its rule framework, indicated earlier this year that meet hosts are not allowed to offer the mixed 4x200 relay because it has not been approved by the NSAA. Why? We have no idea.

- Mike Sautter of Hurrdat Sports shared with me that the Burke Stadium renovation is scheduled to begin once the State meet is wrapped up. There will be no football games hosted at Burke this fall while the renovation continues; it will be back in action sometime next spring.

- Jaiya Patillo racked up multiple national championships through her 8th grade year but wasn't expected to compete for Bellevue West this year as a freshman. However, she ran her second high school 400 at Metros, winning in 56.01. Jaiya ran 53.87 at the AAU Junior Olympics last August and could threaten the All-Class record of 55.05 set by Clara Nichols of Millard South in 2011.

- From our limited research, Millard West, Creighton and Minnesota alum John Quigley (#207 above, 2022 Big East meet) ran the fastest time among Nebraskans at the Boston Marathon in April, placing 59th in 2:25:50 in his second career marathon.

- Mabel Henningsen (below) of St. Pius St. Leo ran a 5:10 1600 at the PAL Supermeet on Saturday, a few days after Emily Hegge of Papillion ran 5:12. Henningsen is an 8th grader; Hegge is a 7th grader. Mabel also ran a 59.68 400 and 2:24 800 on Saturday. She'll attend Omaha Marian next fall.

On the boys' side, reflects that seven Nebraska junior high boys have broken 5:00 in the 1600, with Tyler Scott of Beatrice leading the way with a 4:46. Of course, results for many junior high meets aren't posted to For example, OPS does not post junior meet results even though it's the largest school district in Nebraska.

- Evan Driml of St. Stephen the Martyr cleared 5-09 at the PAL Supermeet. While that mark is well below the state-leading 6-02 cleared by 8th-grader Jahiem Hamik of Wayne, Evan's performance was remarkable because he came into the meet with a PR of 5-02. His performance exemplified the true value of junior high T&F: kids have no idea what they can do well until they actually do it repetitively.

- Sami Campos, a Lincoln 8th grader, pole vaulted 12-01 last Friday at the Wichita State meet, setting a one-inch PR. She finished 5th out of 13 in the collegiate field.

- We caught up with Elkhorn North's Kailey O'Brien this weekend after one of our Nerds ran into her at a doctor's office. Kailey has posted 1600 and 3200 PRs this season of 5:35 and 11:52 despite struggling for the past eight months with iron levels far below normal amounts. She's seen more than her share of doctors since August and her medical testing will continue once the State meet is wrapped up. A junior, Kailey is hoping to qualify for State in the 3200. Count us among the fans cheering for her.


At last count, since March 15 we've posted photos from 92 junior high, high school and collegiate meets on our FB page at The album listing can be difficult to review since they are listed in the order they were uploaded. Our website at has a more organized listing of the meets we've shot.

The reason we'll hit over 100 meets this year is because we have an incredible group of volunteers. None of the Nerds get paid to shoot or edit photos; they simply do it to support the T&F community. If you see a Nerd, please thank them for all the hours they devote to growing the sport.

District meets

We had an ambitious goal of shooting 20 of the 28 District meets but full-time jobs are going to prevent that from happening. As of 6:00 p.m. on Monday, this is our shooting plan:


A1-Gretna, 5/7/24 (Joyful Nerd)

A2-Papio South, 5/7/24 (Nerd Dawg)

A3-Lincoln, 5/7/24 (Nerdsam 11:00-4:00)

A4-Kearney, 5/7/24 (Nerdell partial day)

B1-Waverly, 5/7/24 (Nerd Sr.)

B2-Fort Calhoun, 5/7/24

B3-Norris, 5/7/24 (Nerdka)

B4-Boone Central, 5/7/24

B5-Aurora, 5/7/24 (Nerd atTack, Nerd Convert)

B6-Ogallala, 5/7/24


D1-Pawnee City, 5/8/24

D2-Osceola, 5/8/24

D3-Hartington, 5/8/24

D4-Bassett, 5/8/24 (Hurdle Nerd)

D5-Fullerton, 5/8/24

D6-Kenesaw, 5/8/24

D7-McCook, 5/8/24 (Nerd Stammpede partial day) 

D8-Paxton, 5/8/24 (Guest Nerd Megan Andersen)

D9-Chappell, 5/8/24 (CW Nerd)


C1-JCC, 5/9/24 (Nerdka)

C2-David City, 5/9/24

C3-Oakland, 5/9/24 (Wild Nerd)

C4-Hartington, 5/9/24 (Nor'Easter Nerd, Bloomin' Nerd) 

C5-Atkinson West-Holt, 5/9/24

C6-Centennial, 5/9/24 

C7-Sandy Creek, 5/9/24

C8-Ord, 5/9/24 (High Mileage Nerd)

C9-Bayard, 5/9/24 (Nerd Stammpede and Guest Nerd Deanne Bishop)

District meet live results

In the interest of efficiency, we will post a separate blog post that links to all of the different live results links for Districts. Just check on or our Twitter/FB accounts on the day of Districts to find the links.

How the heck do you qualify for State?

The State qualification process has not changed much the past few years, but there are a few annual updates that are important. We've posted our annual article at that summarizes in non-concise terms how athletes qualify in each Class.

There has been considerable debate about whether the Nebraska State qualification process is fair. If you don't have your best day at Districts, or if your meet is in the middle of a hellstorm (e.g., the Grant meet last year that was eventually moved mid-meet to Ogallala), you risk not qualifying for State. Some observers espouse awarding some or all spots based on season performances - for example, high jump 6-07 in early April and you've secured your spot at Burke - and that's essentially what is done at the collegiate level. However, nearly all collegiate meets are professionally timed, wind measurements are taken, and every meet result is reported to the same online database (previously TFFRS, now Based on our experience as the chief aggregator of Nebraska high school meet results, we don't seem to be very close to doing those things yet.

Put an anemometer in your backpack

PJ Grosserode, who runs Trackville in Lincoln and is a jumps coach at Doane, warned us in early 2023 that wind measurements were one of the key steps to certifying a State record in the sprints and horizontal jumps. (We wrote at length about anemometers in our March 20th Nerdsletter linked here.) There are few dozen Nebraska sprinters and jumpers who ought to have an anemometer in their backpack when they go to meets, to class, to the bathroom... basically anywhere. Athletes have set 23 State records this year but it likely would have been more if anemometers were more commonly used.

Record-setting season

If you're new to the chat, welcome! You've missed an incredible season thus far, with athletes breaking 23 Class or All-Class State records since March 15. While the Tuesday forecast doesn't look favorable for additional State records, perhaps better weather (and professional timers) at Wednesday and Thursday meets could set the stage for records in Class C and D. Speaking of, meet directors -- did you ask the timing company to bring an anemometer?

The NSAA website hasn't been updated for all of the records - due possibly in part to the volume and delays in submitting the paperwork - so we've done the legwork to list all of this season's records. You can find that listing here.

While we're on the topic of records, the two most recent records were set at last week's Metro meet. Gretna East's Braden Lofquest (above in yellow), who briefly held the Class B 1600 record earlier this season before Skutt's Tommy Rice broke it, took back the record by running 4:12.11, nearly three seconds faster than Rice's time from the Fremont meet.

The second record was set by the Omaha Westside girls in the 4x800. They smashed the previous record of 9:12.70, running 9:03.22. A nine-second improvement over an exceptionally solid record by the 2018 Lincoln East squad is just NUTS. Based on winter indoor results, we knew that Westside had three girls capable of running sub-2:15: Stella Miner, Claire White and Olivia Elbert (above). They just needed a fourth girl to run 2:25 and they found it... in their sprinter group. A few hours before Amiya Hill finished 7th in the Metro 200 finals (below), she ran a lead-off leg of 2:26. She was followed by Elbert (2:16 per unofficial splits), White (2:15) and Miner (2:06). A senior, Amiya has never run an open 800 in high school, and the Metro meet was just the second 4x800 of her career.

No prior experience is needed to contribute to your team. Just ask Amiya.

Top marks

So you're probably wondering who has the best marks of the year, right? We're here for you. Emma Smith (Northwestern student), Nerd Junior and Nerd the Third have been updating our rankings sheet all year. We list the top 15 performances by event and by Class. You can find all of that info at the '2024 Track' link at

Media and meets

We did not make it to the Omaha Metro conference meet for the field events but we were there for all the running events. Over the course of two afternoons, I saw three other media outlets trackside. Perhaps there were more in the press box but... it was disappointing to see so little media interest for the largest conference meet in Nebraska.

Putting that aside, we've had a number of requests to have a Nerd attend a number of unique track meets this season. While we try to do our best, nearly all of the fifteen Nerds shooting this spring have jobs or school that take priority. However, if you've got a meet (or two) every year where you'd really like great photographs, we'd encourage you to do what we did: buy a solid camera and sports lens, and then find a 'learner' who will keep improving their photography skills. We're happy to give advice on how to create a photographer within your team or organization.

No room for fear or doubt

As the 2021 State XC meet approached, I encountered a number of top athletes who seemed ready to crumble from the anxiety of racing in their biggest meet of the season. While athletes and actors will often say that a mild dose of pre-event nerves keeps them sharp, I've seen numerous examples at the high school level where anxiety or self-doubt knocks a top runner out of contention.

With that in mind, I wrote the article "No Room for Fear or Doubt" and it's become one of the most popular articles we've posted. While the article was written with distance runners in mind, it is equally applicable to sprinters and field event athletes. We encourage you to share the article with your athlete, and hopefully they'll leave no room in their heart for fear or doubt.

Mental Health Mile

Bennington High School is hosting an event, including the Mental Health Mile, this Saturday for the Play for Paige Foundation. Shayn Sexton and Kate Langford (a Nerd favorite) are Bennington track athletes on the planning committee.

To be clear, State track meet qualifiers should talk to their coaches to determine if supporting this great fundraiser would make them ineligible to participate at State. I don't think walking one mile would trigger a violation, but it takes just one complaint to the NSAA to create unnecessary drama.

A blast from the past

Track fan and former coach Bryce Lambley found a stack of 8mm/Super 8 films in his parents' storage and decided to digitize them to see what they were. His dad Frank Lambley was a high school track coach for 51 years, including the last 37 years at North Bend, so he figured he might find something good.

Bryce is still going through the videos but he shared this one with us. This is a two-minute compilation of the 1964 Class D District held at the Oak Bowl in Peru. What stands out to you? The larger-than-life athletes? The chalked lane lines? The huge field in the distance event?

The Kenyan shuffle

There are any number of habits followed by successful Kenyan distance runners, including running extremely slow at the start of runs until an athlete is confident that their body is fully warmed up. The pedestrian pace has been coined the 'Kenyan shuffle' and it's a practice that makes a lot more sense than diving headlong into a training run.

Most of my runs start by 5:30 a.m. At the start of each run I'm always tired and my body aches in more places than I can count. However, I get through it by ignoring my pace for at least the first two miles. On good days my legs sputter to life after 15-20 minutes; on some days I never get a spark. Either way, it's always a good run.

My wife and I have raised three kids and, like annoying parents are prone to do, we often make suggestions about things our kids might want to consider doing. Join a group, take up a hobby, read a book, go to church, reach out to a relative. At times we get looks that are similar to what you might expect if you asked a novice athlete to go run a five-minute mile. I'm realizing our delivery is all wrong.

As parents, what we're really suggesting is that our children take the Kenyan Shuffle approach to a new venture. Go slow, feel it out, don't go fast until you decide it's something for you. It's not hard or painful to go slow, and you can always stop. However, if you make a life-long habit of Kenyan Shuffling through life, you'll go through a lot doors that are definitely worth exploring.


First published at by Jay Slagle on May 7, 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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