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09/05/23 Nerdsletter

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Contributor: Nerd Senior and Nerd the Third

A day early!

Nerd Senior is heading off to a national park so we're releasing the Nerdsletter on Tuesday rather than the normal Wednesday. Will there be a Nerdsletter next week? Probably not unless Nerd the Third has a lot of time on his hands.

Platte River Rumble

Speaking of the inaugural high school PRR, this is probably our last reminder that the #1 thing you need to know about the meet is the shortage of on-site parking at Mahoney State Park for this event. Since the PRR is being held at a 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

Will the hassle be worth it? We think so. Here is the final list of high school teams participating in the large and small school divisions:

1. Ashland Greenwood

2. Omaha Bryan

3. Omaha Burke

4. Columbus Lakeview

5. Creighton Prep

6. Crete

7. DC West

8. Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

9. Elkhorn North

10. Elmwood-Murdock

11. Fort Calhoun

12. Gretna

13. Gretna East

14. Holdrege

15. Lincoln Christian

16. Lincoln East

17. Lincoln Lutheran

18. Lincoln Northeast

19. Lincoln Northwest

20. Lincoln Pius X Catholic

21. Lincoln Southeast

22. Lincoln Southwest

23. Omaha Marian

24. Millard North

25. Millard South

26. Millard West

27. Mount Michael Benedictine

28. Nebraska City

29. Norris

30. Ogallala

31. Omaha North

32. Omaha Northwest

33. Papillion La Vista South

34. Plattsmouth

35. Ralston

36. Scotus Central Catholic

37. Skutt Catholic

38. Syracuse

39. Waverly

40. Westside

41. Westview

42. Yutan

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. The Omaha Sports Commission expects over 2,000 athletes to compete in eight different races - race times have been moved up 30 minutes due to the expected high temps, with girls and boys large school (primarily Class A) races at 8:30 and 9:10, girls and boys Open (JV) races at 9:50 and 10:40, girls and boys small school races at 11:30 and 12:20, and girls and boys middle school races at 1:10 and 2:00.

Drone attack

Our Nerd video team, including the Nerd Bird drone, will be back in action at the River Rumble. We'll produce videos for at least two races and release those within a week of the meet.

Mark Samuels, an assistant track coach at Concordia, reached out to me last week to share that he used a drone to video the two high school and two junior high races at last Thursday's Concordia meet in Seward. He has posted those on his YouTube account for anyone to view:


It's hard to keep up but the Nerd team is posting photo albums non-stop. We have albums posted from meets held last week at Superior, Plattsmouth, Overton, Wisner-Pilger, Gibbon, JCC, Papio South, Cozad and North Platte St. Pat's. As I write this, we're working on uploading photos from Augustana and Burke. In addition to our 20 Nerds, Tim Brayton of Lexington returned as a guest Nerd and provided photos of the junior high races at Overton.

With thousands of free photos on our Facebook page at, it's hard to pick a our favorites, but here are a few:

Minden, Nerd Convert

North Platte St. Pats, Word Nerd

Gibbon, Broken Nerd

Cozad, Dr. Nerd

Wisner-Pilger, Bloomin' Nerd

The Nerds are adding albums so quickly that our website isn't always up-to-date, but you can find a partial listing of the meets we've shot at


We had to scramble to keep our perfect record for the 2023 XC season, but we ended up 22-for-22 on collecting meet results for the past week. Check out our results page at for links to results from all of the meets. Nerd the Third summarized the top performances of the week in the list below:

Titan Classic @ Papio South:

Max Myers (LSW), 16:16

Ben Schlegelmilch (LE), 16:45

Caleb Ruch (LE), 16:47

Mia Murray (LE), 18:40

Kaitlyn Swartz (Papio South), 19:18

Peyton Svehla (LE), 19:43

Myers and Murray both broke away early. They will see tough competition at the Platte River Rumble.

Minden Invite:

Tyler Hetz (Gothenburg), 16:32

Parker Graves (Gothenburg), 16:35

Ethan Smith (Northwest), 17:01

Lilly Kenning (Milford), 19:22

Olivia Chapman (Northwest), 21:01

Alexis Ericksen (Aurora), 21:25

Tyler Hetz took his second win in three days, and Parker Graves narrowed the gap from Thursday. Freshman Ethan Smith was third on Thursday and just a bit slower on Saturday. Expect him to continue to improve; he ran his first two career 5ks in a three-day period, and that has to be taxing. Lilly Kenning competed at Concordia on Thursday and then came back for the win on Saturday.

Cozad Invite:

Lindee Henning (Ogallala), 20:03

Talissa Tanquary (Sidney), 20:14

Izzabella Renner (McCook), 20:36

Burke Invite:

Jack Witte (MW), 16:13

Porter Bickley (MW), 16:26

Gavin Luthi (Gretna), 16:40

Beatrice Invite:

Riley Boonstra (Norris), 16:22

Jack Wade (Skutt), 16:46

Kendall Zavala (Norris), 19:24

Ellie Thomas (Norris), 19:50

Tanna Petsche (Norris), 20:11

News flash: Norris is good. The Skutt boys did not have Tommy Rice, who was out with an illness, and the Norris boys squeaked out a 7-point victory. There was no such drama on the girls' side where Norris won with 11 points from its top four scorers.


AJ Raszler (Platteview), 17:22

Augustana Twilight:

Juan Gonzalez (Fremont), 15:10

Denny Chapman (CP), 15:24

Isaac Ochoa (Norfolk), 15:48

Wes Pleskac (Fremont), 15:56

Jacob Finney (CP), 15:56

Kassidy Stuckey (York), 18:36

Jordyn Arens (Crofton), 19:40

Nebraska really dominated the night, with Gonzalez taking the high school boys title, UNL's Berlyn Schutz taking the collegiate women's title, and Hartington-native Carson Noecker winning the men's collegiate title. The Nebraska high school boys took five of the top seven high school spots and Creighton Prep won the team title with 73 points while Fremont was second with 172 points.

The Augie course is a run on several soccer fields - it's table flat and I'm told the weather was ideal. This twilight run features loud music and about 50 90-degree turns, and it is always the fastest meet of the regular season. So... take these times with a grain of salt... but also keep in mind that these top boys dominated a huge meet.

Boone Central:

Diego Chojolan (Hastings), 17:00

Jacob Swanson (Nebraska Christian), 17:10

Hannah Swanson (Nebraska Christian), 20:26

Hannah Heinrich (Scotus), 20:40

Emilyn Kavan (Scotus), 21:03

Hannah Swanson is just doing Hannah Swanson things - winning nearly every race she enters. Hannah Heinrich and Emilyn Kavan of Scotus were not on our radar before this meet, so we'll be interested to see how they progress this season. They'll see deep competition at the Platte River Rumble.

Minuteman Invite – Lexington:

Tyler Hetz (Gothenburg), 16:38

Isaac Portillo-Munoz (Lexington), 16:48

Ethan Smith (Northwest), 16:56

Susano Calmo (Lexington), 21:01

Olivia Chapman (Northwest), 21:22

Jaelyn Witter (Kearney Catholic), 21:36

This meet was especially notable because the top three boys are freshman. Hetz and Portillo-Munoz were the two fastest Nebraska 8th graders last spring in the 1600 - at 4:35 and 4:36, respectively - and Hetz earned another win two days later at Minden. Liv Chapman scored two runner-up finishes on the week. Jaelyn Witter is another freshman who may be in the medal hunt.

NP St. Pat’s:

Mason McGreer (Perkins County), 17:00

Elijah Goodell (Perkins County), 17:27

Anna Fitzgerald (Doniphan-Trumbull), 22:04

We had an idea that freshman Elijah Goodell would be good based on his 8th grade results, but we didn't expect him to finish 2nd in a very competitive early-season meet. If Perkins County's third runner can get closer to 19:00, they have a legit shot at the Class D team title. Anna Fitzgerald is as tough as we thought she would be.


Luke Woockman (BW), 16:44

Delani Runnels (NV), 19:25

We had to work hard to get these results but we were motivated to see how fast Delani Runnels would run after winning the Burwell 4k in her high school debut. She ran 19:25 in what we believe is her first 5k XC race; that will play. Luke Woockman of Bloomfield Wausa is off to a great start this season.

DC West:

Braden Loftquest (Gretna East), 16:17

Gus Lampe (Roncalli), 17:34

Braden Lofquest won the Class A 800 last May for Gretna High and has won his first two races in a new uniform. He should be in a competitive race this week at the Platte River Rumble.

Charlie Thorell Invite:

Dalton Heller (Millard South), 16:04

Dylan Lender (Millard South), 16:30

Carter Hohlen (Lincoln Christian), 16:35

Conor Gross (Westside), 16:36

Easton Zastrow (LNS), 16:38

Jayden Wall (Westside), 16:38

Ryan Kugler (Westside), 16:38

Josiah Bitker (LNS), 16:42

Claire White (Westside), 18:44

Stella Miner (Westside), 18:49

Hope Riedel (LNS), 19:08

Leah Robinson (Elkhorn North), 19:10

Lilly Kenning (Milford), 19:12

Ella Ford (Elkhorn North), 19:14

Abbigail Durow (Millard South), 19:23

Abigail Burger (Kearney) 19:28

Tessa Greisen (Seward), 19:54

There were quite a few surprises at this meet. On the boys' side, Dalton Heller and Dylan Lender had solid results for the second consecutive week, and we expect Heller to be fighting with the big boys in Class A. Lincoln North Star swept the boys varsity and JV team titles with a level of depth that we were not expecting. In the girls' race, Hope Riedel led early before White and Miner took the lead after the halfway point, and White separated in the last 800 meters. Freshman Leah Robinson showed grit in her second competitive 5K, and Elkhorn North easily won the team title with four scorers - but would have won by a larger margin if five athletes had been scored. They will not be conceding the Class B title to Norris without a fight.


Katherine Kerrigan (Ainsworth), 21:35

Angela Frick (North Central), 21:55

Maddie Davis (West Holt), 22:02

Three returning medalists highlighted this meet. They're all still good.


Reece Ewoldt (Blair), 20:18

Liston Crotty (Auburn), 21:07

Liston Crotty and freshman Mallory Robbins of Plattsmouth took an early lead on a hot day, but Ewoldt took over at about 3500 meters and cruised to the victory.

Class previews

Just in case you missed this post last week: 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. 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:

Radio interview

My goal this season is to have one radio interview per week, alternating between NebraskaTok and McCook's High Plains Radio. We'll be talking to NebraskaTok a few hours after this Nerdsletter is posted, but here's the link to our McCook radio interview on August 30.


Once the class previews are written, our next hardest task is our weekly individual rankings. We have results for every high school meet in Nebraska, and we use those results to inform our very-subjective rankings. Nerd Junior is responsible for Class A while Nerd Senior tackles Class B-D. Check out the latest rankings at

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.

Keep in mind that we also make errors of omission. I was so rushed to complete the B-D rankings for Nerd Junior's graphics that I mistakenly had two 11th-ranked girls in Class D. Dakota Horstman should definitely be ranked but did not appear on our list; she will definitely be on that list for Week 2.


First published at by Henry Slagle and Jay Slagle on August 30, 2023. If you find an error, shoot us an e-mail at and we'll get it fixed.

Like this coverage of Nebraska high school distance running? 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. 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

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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