Contributors: Nerd Senior and Nerd the Third
Our goal each week is to publish a Nerdsletter that does a little of everything: recaps our social media posts for the week, summarizes results, highlights great photos and, if we're feeling spunky, actually includes some original thoughts. We're confident that our 20 Nerds generate more cross country content than anyone else in Nebraska, and we use the Nerdsletter to condense all of that great stuff into bite-sized portions. If you have suggestions for stories we can include in a future Nerdsletter, drop us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Our hardest and most time-consuming project each season is writing the season previews. We review the list of returners, take a deep dive into track results, reach out to coaches and do our best to find incoming freshmen who might be difference makers this year. We analyze the top 15-20 prospects in each class and give our predictions on team races. Sure, we screw up a lot, but these are by far the most comprehensive by-class previews you'll find anywhere (although hats off to Stu Pospisil of the World Herald for writing an XC article today). If you've just been bitten by the distance running bug or are already wondering who will be in the medal hunt in mid-October, the previews are just what you need. You can find the previews on our Blog page or you can click below:
Cross country meet results are notoriously hard to find since the big newspapers don't publish them like they used to do. Not to worry, though, because we do our best to track down the results of every Nebraska high school meet. We were a perfect 17-for-17 last week, and the results for all 17 meets are located at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/copy-of-results.
That results page serves a few more purposes. Each weekend we ask our Twitter and Facebook followers to help us build the meet schedule for the next week. That accomplishes two things - it helps us track down results and it helps the Nerd team decide where to photograph. If a Nerd is planning to go to a meet, we'll put their name in red behind the meet name. If it's not a solid 'yes,' we won't list the Nerd and you can be surprised if they show up. Please remember, however, that the Nerds are all volunteers, so a work or family commitment may prevent them for making it to their meet. In particular, these heat-related weekday morning meets are tough to make.
If you like XC photos, you should definitely be following our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd. We post all of our albums on Facebook for you to share with family and friends. Our only caveat is that other media outlets should not use our photos without explicit written permission from the Nerds. If you're a yearbook advisor and find a cool photo you'd like to use, reach out to us and we'll provide the high-res version at no cost. At this time we do not provide high-res versions to anyone beyond yearbook advisors and media outlets, primarily because we don't have the bandwidth to handle those requests.
At least once a week we update our Pictures tab on our website at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022 to provide Facebook links to all our albums. If you don't want to scroll through our busy Facebook page, our website is a good option.
We shot eight meets last week: Logan View, Hartington, Medicine Valley, McCool Junction, GINW, Class of Metro, North Platte and Norris. Here are a few of our favorite pics from last week:
Videos! And a drone!
We keep discovering hidden talents among our Nerds, and Nerd Ricky Bobby has a cool hobby. He's an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and last spring he had a bird's eye view of Berlyn Schutz's sub-5:00 mile at the Harold Scott meet. He's a track dad and has never had a cross country runner in his house, but he renewed his 'you-don't-get-paid-anything' Nerd contract for this fall. Thank goodness, because a drone pilot can do some seriously cool things at a cross country meet.
Our Nerd team also includes HD Nerd and Nauj Nerd, who probably prefer video over still photography, so we decided to see what these fellas could do at the Class of Metro meet. Our goal was to see how difficult it is to shoot and edit an XC race using multiple cameras, and we learned a lot on Saturday. Here are the Nerd team's two XC videos, with hopefully more to come:
Class of Metro sophomore race (two-camera approach edited by Nerd Ricky Bobby)
Class of Metro senior race (three-camera approach edited by Nauj Nerd)
We're working with NebraskaTok and Rich Barnett at High Plains Radio in McCook to do periodic radio interviews about cross country. Nerd Senior previewed the Class A and B fields last week on NebraskaTok at https://open.spotify.com/episode/5yN92GzOLBzgfP2gKdd1xE?si=BBqMZjLXTYiInCOJ_cCxSg&nd=1. We'll post more interviews as they happen.
Platte River Rumble
The inaugural PRR high school meet will be held next Friday, September 8 at the Mahoney State Park located between Omaha and Lincoln. It won't be as big as the UNK meet but the Omaha Sports Commission expects over 2,000 athletes to compete in eight different races - girls and boys large school (primarily Class A) races at 9:00 and 9:40, girls and boys Open (JV) races at 10:20 and 11:10, girls and boys small school races at 12:00 and 12:50, and girls and boys middle school races at 1:40 and 2:30.
What's the biggest challenge for huge races like UNK, Rim Rock and the Platte River Rumble? Parking. Since the PRR is being held at Mahoney State Park, there is a fee to enter the park. The race is offering VIP on-site parking and shuttle to the start/finish line for $35 but that's limited to the first 300 cars - and those 300 VIP spots are the only on-site parking spots available. Once those VIP slots are sold out, there will not be parking available at Mahoney, so you'll need to park at Nebraska Crossing and take the PRR shuttle. Shuttle tickets must be purchased in advance and are $5 per person. For more info about the meet and how to purchase parking, please visit https://omahasports.org/platte-river-rumble-high-school.
While parking may be limited, the talent at the meet is not. As of today there are 42 high school teams registered, including 19 of the 34 Class A teams in Nebraska. A few Class B and C teams have chosen to opt up to the large school race, but there should be about 20 schools in the small school division. The junior high races will include squads from 29 schools.
And here's a bonus offering - we're finalizing plans to have our video team on hand for at least two of the day's races. And when we say our video team... we mean Nerd Bird, the drone piloted by Nerd Ricky Bobby, plus expert videographers HD Nerd and Nauj Nerd. We won't be live-streaming the races but we should have videos completed within one week of the race.
Our rankings tab at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings includes our weekly individual rankings; the pre-season rankings were posted on August 29. If we're on the ball, each Tuesday we'll post updated rankings by class. We'll eventually add links for the periodic coaches' polls that rank teams.
Keep in mind that our individual rankings and the coaches' team rankings are entirely subjective. If we rank you too low or don't rank you at all, we don't hate you. We may not know about you or perhaps we were more impressed by another athlete's time or their performance against another top runner. Similarly, coaches are already too busy teaching and taking care of their athletes, so they're not spending hours each week deciding which teams should be ranked. We don't post season-ending individual or team rankings because that's decided at Kearney.
Billie Jean King, one of the most dominant tennis players in history, was quoted as saying, "Pressure is a privilege." She was usually favored in each match she played, and that favored status meant that she was expected to win, often in convincing fashion. If rankings might add pressure to an athlete, then why do we post them? We're certain that more than one coach is opposed to them. However, just like college football media posts pre-season polls hours after the national championship game, we publish rankings because it builds interest in the sport. It helps athletes set goals - for example, Austin Carrera of Hastings set a goal last fall to be ranked, and then he kept on building on that to earn three State medals in XC/T&F last year.
If rankings create expectations, is that a bad thing? Expectations are a part of life, and they're a natural outcome of being a top student, a reliable spouse, a caring parent. Learn to be comfortable when great things are expected of you, because that's the type of person that other people want to know, hire and love.
One of the steps we go through during our season previews and preseason polls is to determine which schools changed classifications. There seemed to be quite a few changes this year, including:
· Gretna East and Lincoln Standing Bear are two new high schools that will compete in Class B.
· Elkhorn Mt. Michael drops from B and is now the largest school in Class C. Based on enrollment trends, they are likely to remain in Class C for the near future.
· Palmyra was in Class D in 2022 but has moved up to Class C for XC in 2023.
· Gibbon, Lincoln Lutheran and Valentine have moved from Class C to Class D.
· Sandy Creek has deconsolidated from Lawrence-Nelson, so there is no longer a South Central team. Both will compete in Class D this fall.
· Omaha Roncalli has deconsolidated from Brownell Talbot; the combined squad previously competed in Class B. This fall Roncalli will compete as the sixth-largest Class C school while Brownell Talbot will compete in Class D.
High schools had until early August to notify the NSAA of their decision to move up one classification. For XC, the only schools to do so were Pius, Omaha Buena Vista and Omaha Westview, all who opted up into Class A. With those opt-ups, Class A XC has 34 schools (33 girls teams and 33 A boys teams) while Class B has 26 girls teams (including Duchesne and Mercy) and 24 boys teams. Class C has 60 schools and Class D has 126 schools. Twelve teams qualify for State in both Class A and B, fifteen in Class C and eighteen in Class D.
The imbalance between Class A and B is striking and unlikely to change, since most of the current Class A schools are likely to remain in Class A through opt up even if their future enrollment figures would otherwise place them in Class B. Is it time to increase the combined Class A/B school count beyond 60 schools? Perhaps. The athletic director from at least one high school would have to write a proposal to increase the limit from 60 in order for it to progress through the NSAA legislative process.
The NSAA meet season opened last Thursday, and roughly half of Nebraska schools choose not to race in this first week. The biggest meet was the Class of Metro at Papio South, where the races are held by grade level and boys/girls run in the same race. Here were the top 10 fastest times on the new course:
Dennis Chapman, Prep, 15:59
Jack Witte, Millard West, 16:16
Dalton Heller, Millard South, 16:20
Braden Lofquest, Gretna East, 16:30
Eli Jones, Prep, 16:43
Dylan Lender, Millard South, 16:45
Porter Bickley, Millard West, 16:50
Connor Gross, Westside, 16:54
Ryan Kugler, Westside, 16:59
Jacob Finney, Prep, 17:07
Stella Miner, Westside, 18:55
Claire White, Westside, 19:08
Abbigail Durow, Millard South, 19:51
Kara Muller, Bellevue West, 20:11
Libby Frazer, Millard West, 20:19 (freshman)
Kate Ebmeier, Millard West, 20:31
Alexis Chadek, Papio, 20:54
Olivia McKlem, Millard West, 21:00
Molly Caruso, Millard North, 21:01
Litzey Fredette, Millard West, 21:15
The best race of the day was the senior race where Chapman, Witte and Heller ran side by side for the first 2200 meters. In my opinion, the new course offers more ups and downs than the prior course, and the boys were flying down those hills. Between 2200 meters and about 2800 meters, Chapman opened a 10-second gap over Witte with Heller a few seconds further back, and Chapman increased his lead by a few more seconds over the final 2000 meters. Times at Class of Metro often aren't that great because the best talent is rarely in the same race, but if the senior race was a teaser for how the rest of the Class A season will unfold, then it's going to be a helluva season.
The Norris meet featured an early season clash of the arguably the two best Class B girls teams in the State - Elkhorn North and two-time defending champ Norris, while highly-ranked Skutt and Norris squared off on the boys' side. The Norris girls squeaked out a 25-31 win over Elkhorn North. Norris was led by Kendall Zavala in 19:34 while Elkhorn North countered with Ella Ford and freshman Leah Robinson at 2nd and 3rd. The two teams had the first 11 finishers, all under 21 minutes on a not-easy course.
The Skutt boys won 44-57 over Norris. Riley Boonstra continues to impress with his win in 16:11 while Skutt took the next three spots - Tommy Rice, McCoy Haussler and Jack Wade. Skutt will need to work on its depth to challenge Lexington for the team title, but the first step was to get Haussler healthy again. Based on Saturday's outcome, that sounds like mission accomplished.
I hit the Plattsmouth Invite on 8/29. Elijah Dix of Plattsmouth took the lead on the first of the three laps around Rhylander Park and notched a 13-second win over Michael Rodgers of Mount Michael. In the girls race, Auburn sophomore Liston Crotty and Plattsmouth freshman Mallory Robbins recreated their junior high racing days and went out relatively quickly. The effort was a bit too much given the sun (and 85 degree heat) that the runners were in for about 75% of the course. Reece Ewoldt of Blair started more conservatively and took over the lead after about 3k, winning in 20:18. Crotty and Robbins finished 2nd and 3rd, and I expect big things from those two girls this year.
A few other notable race results:
· Ogallala's Lindee Henning, the top-ranked runner in Class C, won the North Platte invite in 18:52. Issy Renner of McCook was a surprise runner-up (at least to us) in 19:46.
· Platteview's AJ Raszler, the top-ranked boy in Class C, won the Auburn Invite in 17:15. His freshman teammate Esten Kohl finished 2nd in 17:40. Liston Crotty of Auburn took the girls title in 20:58.
· Grant Springer, a senior at Valentine, won his home invite in 19:08, just ahead of ranked Mason Hagan of North Central.
· At the Scottsbluff Invite, Class D girls defending champ Hemingford took home the team title over a number of quality Class C schools.
· Nebraska Christian's Swanson siblings, Hannah and Jacob, swept the St. Paul titles for the second consecutive year, finishing in 20:26 and 17:24, respectively.
· The Hartington meet featured three ranked boys in Jaxon Kilmurry of Battle Creek, Brody Taylor of Ponca and Gannon Walsh of Pender. They finished in that order. On the girls side, the Pender girls scored a perfect 10 points by taking the top four spots, led by Kyla and Jala Krusemark. They're our pick to win the Class D title.
· Delani Runnels, a freshman at Niobrara-Verdigre, won the Burwell 4k; two-time State medalist Maddie Davis of West Holt was 2nd.
Live the Nerd lifestyle
We introduced the Nerd clothing line in Spring 2022 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 visit 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.
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 and and the Results tab for every Nebraska high school race we can find. Once the season starts, we'll also rank the top 15 athletes in each Class at the Rankings tab. 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.