Contributor: The Nerd
We love summer but we’re thrilled that cross country season has started again. The outdoors, kids trying their hardest, parents freaking out and yelling unintelligible things – we love all of it. The expanded Nerd team hit eight meets on Thursday through Saturday, and the pictures made me feel like I was at all of them. We hope you love the photos as much as we do.
Speaking of photos, it takes quite a while for the Nerds to edit and upload photos after a meet. We don’t have a specific timeline for how quickly that happens, since family and work take priority over photo editing. We’ll send a tweet when an album gets uploaded to our Facebook page, and each week we’ll update the Photo tab on our website to include links to the albums.
As of Tuesday night, we had albums posted for all nine meets we attended in the last six days: Auburn, Class of Metro, GINW, Logan View, Norris, Scottsbluff, Sutherland/North Platte, Weeping Water and Plattsmouth. You can scan our Facebook page or just go to https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022 for direct links. You're welcome to download and share those photos with family and friends, and we'd appreciate photo credit in your social media posts. For paid and unpaid media organizations who want to use our photos, we have an official media policy that is posted at the top of our photo page.
Here are a few of our best photos from the weekend.
In order to give semi-accurate rankings for each class, we do our best to track down results for every meet we can. The results are posted at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/copy-of-results. You can help us find results in two ways: (1) respond to our Saturday tweet/FB post when we ask which team you support and when/where are they competing this week, and (2) send a DM a results link or e-mail results to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While looking at the Sutherland/North Platte results, we couldn't find a name we wanted to see. We didn't know this by yesterday's rankings deadline, but it appears that Sutherland's Story Rasby is playing volleyball this fall. We'll have to wait until track season to see her run again.
We've also uploaded results for the 8/30 Plattsmouth meet. Those results are particularly notable because the girls' varsity winner was Nayera Abdessalam of Omaha North. After qualifying for State as a freshman, Nayera lost her sophomore season to the OPS cancellation decision, and she focused on soccer as a junior. She's back at it again this year, and she ran 20:52 in her first race in almost three years.
We highlighted a number of incoming freshmen in our season preview articles but we didn’t expect a bunch of them to win varsity races so quickly. The following freshmen won meet titles last week:
· Jacob Swanson of Nebraska Christian won the St. Paul Invite in 17:46.
· Liston Crotty of Auburn won her home meet in 21:20.
· Miriam Deanda of Schuyler won the Logan View Invite in 21:58.
· Abbi Durow Millard South won the Class of Metro freshman title in 20:43.
It’s notable for any high school kid to run 3.1 miles, but a few performances caught our eye:
· Carson Noecker of Hartington-Newcastle opened his final high school season with a 15:46 win at his home meet. Dyami Berridge of Winnebago was second in 18:10. Dyami is a returning medalist but we excluded him from the preseason rankings because we were told he was moving out of state. He responded to our DM after our pre-season rankings were released, but rest assured he’ll be in the next round of rankings.
· Hannah Swanson of Nebraska Christian won the St. Paul Invite in 19:50. Hannah was the Class D silver medalist at the 2021 State meet.
· The Gering varsity team ventured into Colorado, and Madison Seiler ran 19:13 at Fort Collins to finish 2nd.
· Kassidy Stuckey of York won the McCool Junction 3k race in 11:20, breaking Julia Lee’s course record by 20 seconds. Julia Lee also ran at York and was a perennial State contender in the 3200, earning three State medals.
· Isaac Ochoa of Norfolk didn’t race last week, but he did time trial a 16:21 5k on Thursday. He’s ranked #1 in Class A.
· Stella Miner ran her first varsity XC race for Omaha Westside, winning the Class of Metro junior title with a meet best of 19:08. It was an impressive race; the Papio South course isn’t easy and the heat index was fairly high by race time.
· Zack Schultz of Millard North only finished one race last XC season due to injury, but he got off to a strong start at the Class of the Metro. He faced off against Piercze Marshall of Millard West, with Zach finishing in 16:40, 16 seconds ahead of Piercze. Those were the two fastest times of the day.
The race of the week
Art Nerd was on hand at Sutherland/NP for what may have been the best full-race competition last week. Lindee Henning of Ogallala and Marissa Holm of North Platte both ran sub-19:00 with Lindee squeaking out a one-second win in 18:48. Here is Art Nerd's write-up: "Henning and Holm broke away from McCook's Samantha Rodewald just after one mile and stretched out to a considerable lead. Henning was a step ahead for much of the race and met every challenge and surge from Holm. Rodewald ran much of the race all by herself and finished a strong third in 20:11 followed by Zarah Blaesi (20:21) of North Platte, freshman Emma Cappel (21:06) of McCook and Braelyn Gifford (21:12) of St Pats.
We've interviewed few athletes more tenacious than Lindee. The Class C State meet is going to be a dogfight. (BTW - we're totally digging the new Ogallala uniforms.)
We don't often see this, but two pairs of siblings won boys and girls varsity titles at the same meet:
* Hannah (junior) and Jacob (freshman) Swanson of Nebraska Christian swept the St. Paul titles.
* Trey (senior) and Ashley (sophomore) Robertson of Wallace swept the Dundy County Stratton titles.
Do you miss it?
Dr. Nerd's daughter is Shelby Bracker, and she's not competing in XC for the first time in seven years. Dr. Nerd asked her if she missed it. Her reply: "I miss the thrill of racing. The nervousness you get on the line and the feeling you get when you see the finish the line. I even miss walking back to camp to change out of spikes and cooling down and talking about how we elbowed a girl or someone cut us off or how hard the hill was."
We used to miss those things too, and that's part of the reason we become Nerds.
Class of Metro compiled results
With separate races for each grade and boys/girls running in the same races, the Class of Metro is a unique meet. However, in the moment it’s tough to really know who did well, so we asked Nerd the Third to compile the top 15 times across all races:
1. Stella Miner, Westside, Junior (19:08)
2. Claire White, Westside, Junior (20:05)
3. Abbigail Durow, Millard South, Freshman (20:43)
4. Kara Muller, Bellevue West, Junior (20:45)
5. Molly Caruso, Millard North, Junior (21:03)
6. Mia Urosevich, Westside, Freshman (21:08)
7. Isabelle Hartnett, Millard West, Senior (21:12)
8. Alexis Chadek, Papio-La Vista, Freshman (21:30)
9. Natalie McNamara, Bellevue West, Senior (21:45)
10. Caitie Slattery, Marian, Junior (21:47)
11. Kendall Dobberstein, Gretna, Sophomore (22:00)
12. Rachael Chambers, Millard North, Junior (22:02)
13. Brianna Hernandez, Millard West, Junior (22:05)
14. Sammy Ullman, Millard West, Senior (22:07)
15. Thea Kutash, Millard West, Junior (22:13)
1. Zack Schultz, Millard North, Senior (16:40)
2. Piercze Marshall, Millard West, Senior (16:56)
3. Denny Chapman, Creighton Prep, Junior (16:56)
4. Jack Witte, Millard West, Junior (17:06)
5. Braden Lofquest, Gretna, Sophomore (17:25)
6. Connor Reeson, Gretna, Senior (17:30)
7. Dalton Heller, Millard South, Junior (17:30)
8. Conor Gross, Westside, Sophomore, (17:37)
9. AJ Raszler, Platteview, Junior (17:41)
10. Joey Hartnett, Millard West, Senior (17:58)
11. Ryan Kugler, Westside, Sophomore, (18:06)
12. Jayden Wall, Westside, Junior (18:07)
13. Dylan Lender, Millard South, Junior (18:10)
14. Logan Yarges, Millard West, Senior (18:13)
15. Cole Dobberstein, Gretna, Senior (18:13)
In addition, we saw a few notable performances in the 4k race. Kaitlyn Swartz of Papio South won the race by 90 seconds, and her 15:43 was a solid effort. Duchesne put all of their team in the 4k race as well, and Corrine Mansour, Maggie Lickteig and Eva Wentz finishing within 11 seconds of each other in 3rd, 5th and 7th.
Do early results matter?
I was only able to attend the Class of the Metro meet last week. While the meet has a novel approach – you only race kids in your grade, and boys and girls run at the same time – the top runners often train through the meet and use the race as a hard tempo. Other teams hold back their best runners, using the meet as a week to pick the rest of their varsity team. While we pay attention to fast times at this meet, we don’t pay attention to the lackluster times from proven athletes.
We take the same approach to other early season meets. Every coach has a different training philosophy, but no training plan has athletes peaking in the first week of the season. Most teams are still building mileage and introducing speed work, so heavy legs and overall body fatigue are common right now. Consequently, when we drop our next rankings on Tuesday, keep in mind that a fast time the first three weeks of the season may get our attention – but a moderately slow race may not.
Finally, long meets can allow for different racing conditions as the meet progresses; we often see this at the five-race Class of Metro and eight-race Kearney meets. With little shade and an early-morning state, the Class of Metro freshman definitely had better weather than the seniors on Saturday.
Our second round (Week 1) of rankings dropped on Tuesday at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings. There were a number of teams in all four Classes that didn't race last week, so any shake-up in rankings is mostly due to either really great results or ones that suggest an athlete may have had a rough summer of training. Once again, the only rankings that really matter are the State meet results and/or year-over-year improvement at each course. Rankings bring attention to the sport and generate excitement amongst Nerds like us, but they're snapshots in time that mean very little. We did the math a few years ago; less 2% of all Nebraska high school XC runners will medal at State. Don't define your success by medals or rankings; define it by improvements and character.
Big news for Hartington XC
We got word yesterday that the Hartington Newcastle varsity teams have been selected to run in the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in Irvine, California on Friday, September 16. In addition, Carson Noecker has been selected to compete in the elite race at that meet, so we're excited to watch Carson excel in a high-stakes meet. The school is soliciting donations to help defray costs; donation can be sent to Hartington-Newcastle School at 501 S Broadway, Hartington, NE 68739 with 'Woodbridge Classic' noted. Any funding questions can be directed to Mandy Hochstein at 402.841.2198.
The best XC story we may hear all year
Our opinion is that the key to covering cross country is 70% showing up, 20% having a good camera lens and 10% listening. CW Nerd nailed all three points in Scottsbluff last Thursday, and she texted me this gem late Friday night.
Preston Olson is a junior at Sidney High School. As a special needs student, he has dealt with physical limitations all of his life, but he’s always been the kid with a smile on his face. Team sports aren’t a good fit for him, and a middle school wrestling wasn’t his thing either. Last spring he was asked by several of his classmates to join the cross country team, so he and his younger sister (Ashlee, a freshman) went to conditioning over the summer. According to his mom, “He fell in love with running and being accepted by his peers.”
Coach Donna Wiedeburg has never had a special runner like Preston, so her initial goal was to get him trained to compete in a 3k race. As the start of the season approached, she realized that abbreviated races wouldn’t be allowed due to operational logistics, so her initial thought was to have him start races and then drop out at some point. However, Preston was ready to press on, particularly once he received his uniform. He told his teammates the day before the race that he was going to race, he was going to rock the 5k, and they would all be there to support him. As Donna recounted it, “All those things happened at the Panhandle Classic. He ran, he rocked it, and the team rallied around him all the way to the finish line.” Several of his teammates joined him for the final part of the race. He averaged less than a twelve-minute mile, which is incredible for a kid who started running in June.
Preston’s parents had work conflicts and couldn’t travel to Scottsbluff for the meet. However, with the help of another Sidney mother, Desireau encouraged and cheered Preston during the race via Facetime, watching him all the way to the finish line.
Coach Wiedeburg and Preston established a routine over the summer. She says, “Preston, what does Coach tell you?” and he replies with a smile, “No walking – more running.” When she met him at the Scottsbluff finish line, he told her, “No walking, Coach – all running!” She said it was one of her top five moments in seventeen years of coaching. When CW Nerd joined the team camp after race, Preston wanted a picture with all five fingers showing - "Because I only run 5ks!"
One of the junior girls on the Sidney team has been calling this season “the season of freaking dreams.” After Preston finished the race, that same girl ran up to Donna and said, “See Coach – it’s already the season of freaking dreams!”
We hope our pictures give you some sense of what happened on Thursday. A lot of tears are shed on cross country courses, and there was no shortage of good tears at Scottsbluff – from parents, teammates, coaches and maybe even a soft-hearted Nerd photographer.
We’re huge fans of the Unified track and field programs that are often part of varsity track meets. Sidney doesn’t have a Unified cross country program. It has a cross country family.
Where’s are the Nerds?
It’s Week 2 of the XC season but it’s also Wedding Week in the Nerd household. Nerd Junior gets hitched on Saturday, and Mrs. Nerd insists the Nerd the Third and I attend all the festivities. Consequently, we may not hit eight meets like last week. You can click on this week’s meet schedule to see the most up-to-date info on where we’ll be. Of particular note, CW Nerd will be at the Gering meet held in the shadow of the Scottsbluff Monument, and the prettiest XC picture we saw last year came from a Mullen student photographer who attended that meet.
Work, family and wedding commitments may force last-minute cancellations, but we’ll do the best we can. As always, feel free to come talk to us when we're at the meets. Editing photos for six hours after a meet is kind of boring, so the highlight of our day is often talking to runners and fans at the meets.
Being a running nerd is not just a frame of mind; it’s also a lifestyle. If you’re a nerd, we don’t think you should hide it, which is why we’ve opened a Nerd store on our website. All of the profits from last year’s sales went to provide t-shirts to OPS schools. The Nerd strategy team hasn’t decided what to do with the proceeds from this year’s sales; frankly, Mrs. Nerd is more concerned about taking back the bedroom that has turned into inventory storage.
In contrast to previous sales, we have the product in stock so the there is not a deadline for orders. However, once a product is out of stock, it won't be sold. My personal experience is that the shirts run a little small, but we're thrilled with the quality of the gear. Our store can be found here.
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Originally written for and posted at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle. Did you love reading about Nebraska high school running? Visit www.preprunningnerd.com for rankings, results, photos, long-form articles, frequent updates on our blog page, Nerd gear, and a bunch of other cool stuff that only running nerds would think to do. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow @PrepRunningNerd on Twitter and Instagram, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.