Contributor: The Nerd
Last week represented our first full week of meets, with every high school having at least one race under their belts. The Nerd team made it to nine meets last week, and the universal feedback was, "that was a fun meet!" Did everyone run well? Heck no. However, we admire any high school kid who has the guts to strip down to a singlet and shorts, toe the starting line, give their best, all the time not being sure whether the race will be one to remember or one from which to bounce back. The meek don't go out for cross country; the strong do.
We were a perfect 26-for-26 last week in chasing down results, in large part due to help from coaches and followers. The complete list of last week's Nebraska high school meets, as well as the ones that are being held this week, is located at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/copy-of-results.
Every weekend we ask our Twitter and Facebook followers to help us build the meet list for the week. That serves two purposes: (1) we know the meet results we need to chase down and (2) it helps the Nerd team pick the meets that we'll attend. If you want your race to be on our radar, please reply to our weekend query and we'll add your meet to our list.
A Nerd in need
We're professionals, right? Oh, actually no, we're just volunteers. However, we were mildly surprised that Nerd Junior would drive 75 miles to Seward, only to realize when the girls' race started that he didn't have a memory card in his camera. With helpful guidance from Mrs. Nerd, he found a fan with a smaller lens than him and made this proposition: "If you let me borrow your memory card, I will take extra great pictures of whichever team you're following."
What happened next is sooooo Nebraska. Michelle Faltin, a Crete fan, handed over her memory card to Jack even though she had no idea what a Prep Running Nerd was. She simply gave it to him because he looked honest and was carrying a really long lens. So... if you're looking at the Seward boys pictures, you may notice that the Crete boys have a lot of photos. Michelle should be receiving her memory card and a sweet Nerd sheet in time for Crete's next meet on Friday. (If you're looking for Seward girls photos, we simply don't have any. In Junior's defense, he was getting married less than 48 hours later, so he may have been a bit distracted.)
The Nerd team attended nine meets last week and produced another week of great photos - over 2000 photos, including the junior high races at the Schuyler meet. Rather than scroll through all of our Facebook posts, you can go to our website to get a direct link to the meet that is of interest to you. That link is https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022. We took photos at Plattsmouth, Wisner-Pilger, NPSP, Gering, Seward, Schuyler, DC West (not yet posted), Gibbon and Burke. On top of that, Southwest HS fan Carol Kelley provided about 50 photos from the Cambridge meet.
Here are a few of our favorites from last week:
We pick our meets based on proximity to each Nerd's home base, whether the Nerd is already attending the meet to cheer on his/her child, and the size of the meet. While we can hit some daytime meets, most of the Nerds have work/class schedules that prevent midday trips to a meet. For example, Hurdle Nerd was set to shoot at the Boyd County meet this Thursday, but he can't attend the meet now that the races were moved to the morning.
Race breakdown of the week
Art Nerd can't take photos while he's coaching at meets, but he does provide excellent commentary. Here's a breakdown of the Top 10 battle between Trey Robertson (Wallace), Jarret Miles (NPSP) and Mason McGreer (Perkins County). Trey was a 2021 Class D State champ in the 3200, but he played football the first three years of high school. After an abbreviated 2022 track season, Trey chose XC for his senior season, but he was a bit of a mystery to us since he's never competed in a high school 5k race. Jarrett won the 2022 Class D 1600 title and has medaled at State XC his first two years, while Mason medaled in both the Class 1600 and 3200 in May as a freshman.
Trey was hot off the starting line, consistent with his track racing strategy, going through the mile mark at around 5:13. Jarrett was aiming for a negative split and hit the mile at 5:30, a few seconds ahead of Mason. At 3000 meters Jarrett closed the gap to within 5 seconds, but that is as close as he got. Trey's last mile was the fastest of the field, and he took the 12-second win in 16:47. Mason finished 3rd in 17:28.
This course typically runs a bit slow due to poor footing, numerous tight turns and tall soft grass, so it will be interesting to see how much faster these three boys can go. They will likely to face off a few more times this season, so look for each of them to try different strategies in the lead up to State. If they can stay together through at least two miles, that would be a dogfight worth seeing.
Junior isn't around this week so we did not issue any Insta-friendly rankings graphics, but we did hit our Tuesday deadline for updated individual rankings. The change at the top of each ranking was the Class D boys, where Trey takes over the #1 spot after sitting at #6 the first two weeks. We've published the Top 15 and our Watch List for each class at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/week2rankings. If you want to see the prior rankings, just go to https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings.
I saw some chatter on our social pages about the ranking system for teams and individuals. We compile race times for at least 25 athletes in each Class and we try to take in account head-to-head competition. We think we spend more time evaluating results and rankings than anyone else in the state. However, at the end of the day we're just making subjective decisions about the rankings, so take them with a grain of salt.
The coaches' polls are an entirely different matter. Their first priority is on workouts, travel arrangements, keeping athletes healthy, selecting varsity spots and, by the way, teaching all day. I'm guessing they spend considerably less time worrying about team rankings than the rest of us, and the number of coaches who vote will vary with each poll. The real purpose of team and individual rankings is to bring attention to the sport - not to slight your team or your runner - so don't be offended if the rankings aren't what you think they should be.
Top O' the Classes
Instead of reviewing top races this week, we thought we'd take a look at the top athletes in each Class:
Class A girls - Jaci Sievers of Elkhorn South retains the #1 spot this week despite not racing at Seward, and Claire White of Westside also took the week off. Stella Miner (Westside) ran 19:03 on a tough course on a hot day, followed by Marissa Holm (North Platte) in 19:27 and Abigail Burger (Kearney) in 19:53. Miner and Holm have both thrown down two impressive races in a week's time. Despite Stella's great race, we elevated Mia Murray (Lincoln East) to the #2 spot after she set a meet record with a blistering 18:36 at Papio South. The Papio South course is used a lot by Class A athletes, and Mia came close to the course record of 18:27 set by Jeralyn Poe (Lincoln North Star, Michigan State, Northern Arizona). Mia was banged up during the track season, but she is definitely back into good form now.
Class A boys - Yes, we know that the Augustana Twilight course is table-flat, the weather was great on Friday night and there's a persistent rumor that it's not a full 5k, but we're still impressed by Isaac Ochoa's (Norfolk) 15:06 and Juan Gonzalez's (Fremont) 15:18 to place 3rd and 4th, respectively. Isaac retains his #1 spot while Juan jumps from #5 to #3. Lincoln East's Isaac Graff keeps his #2 spot after running a meet record 16:09 at the Papio South meet, while Zack Schultz (Millard North) drops one spot to #4 after his 16:07 at the less difficult Burke/Walnut Grove course. The Burke race might have been the most entertaining of the week, with Zach, Piercze Marshall, Tommy Vasquez and Jack Witte all together at 3300 meters.
But seriously, is the Augie course short? All 45 Concordia University athletes wore GPS watches last Friday night, and Coach Matt Beisel texted me the results: 25 CUNE women ran the same 5k course as the high schoolers and the lowest GPS distance was 3.09 miles, while the 20 CUNE men running the collegiate men's 4-mile race measured right at or just longer than four miles. So... the rumors are not true. It's just a super-amped environment, humidity was 37% during the late evening and yes - it's flat as pancake.
Class B girls - Maddie Seiler (Gering) continues to do Maddie Seiler things, winning by nearly two minutes at her home meet. Kassidy Stuckey (York) ran 19:01 at the Augie course, a 59-second improvement over her 2021 race in Sioux Falls. Ellie Thomas (Norris) gets a promotion from #5 to #3 after winning the Beatrice meet in 19:46. She has bested teammate Kendall Zavala in both races this year, so Kendall has moved to #4.
Class B boys - We're not huge fans of dethroning defending State champs until they're beat head-to-head, so Mesuidi Ejerso (South Sioux City) retains the top spot after his 16:56 win at Plattsmouth. Riley Boonstra (Norris) holds onto the #3 spot with his 16:36 win in Beatrice, while #2 Ian Salazar-Molina (Lexington) and #4 Alex Rice (Skutt) did not race this week.
Class C girls - Defending champ Keeli Green (Arlo) won the new Concordia HS meet in 21:09. We don't know the course but we do know it was hot on Thursday afternoon. #2 Lindee Henning (Ogallala) had another speedy race, running 19:29 at Cozad a week after her 18:48 at North Platte. Lilly Kenning (Milford) jumps from #6 to #3 after winning the Minden meet in 19:39 on Saturday, two days after she was the top Class C girl at the Seward meet.
Class C boys - Nerd Senior hit the Wisner Pilger meet and watched Carson Noecker (Hartington) sprint through a very difficult Indian Trails course, running 15:51 to break the meet record of 16:23 set by Jonah Heng of Norfolk Catholic (based on Coach Raabe's memory). He's good. Really good, and it was really hot. Carter Hohlen (Lincoln Christian) retains the #2 spot after running 17:01 as the top Class C finisher at Seward. Parker Graves (Gothenburg) jumps onto the rankings at #3 after running 17:15 (Lex) and 17:01 (1st place at Minden) over a three-day period.
Class D girls - Top ranked and defending champ Jordyn Arens (Crofton) opened her season with a 19:11 at the Augie Twilight, the second fastest of Nebraska girls behind Kassidy Stuckey's 19:01. Hannah Swanson (Nebraska Christian) won her second title of the season with a 20:55 at Boone Central to stay at #2. Angela Frick (North Central) jumps from our Watch List to #3 after topping Peyton Paxton (Mullen) and the Ainsworth girls at the Ainsworth Invite.
Class D boys - I've already shared Art Nerd's summary of the NPSP race that vaulted Trey Robertson into the top spot in Class D. Jarrett Miles and Mason McGreer both moved down a spot to #2 and #3, respectively. Justin Sherman of Cornerstone moves into #4 after winning the Concordia HS meet in 17:38; he was the top Class D finisher at Auburn last week in 17:29.
Alea Hardie, a freshman at UNL, won the college women's race at the Augustana Twilight in 17:00, winning by 30 seconds. Alea came into the night with a 17:27 high school PR for the 5k, and she is arguably the most talented addition to the UNL women's team in recent memory. Ben Arens of UNK was the fastest Nebraskan in the men's division, running the 4-mile course in 19:26 to finish 5th. Six native Nebraskans or collegians running in Nebraska were in the top 20.
Dozens of collegiate and post-collegiate athletes with Nebraska ties competed at Augie. Women's results are at https://goaugie.com/documents/2022/9/2/Augie_Womens_5k22.pdf; men's results are at https://goaugie.com/documents/2022/9/2/AugieMens4mile22.pdf.
We don't have the bandwidth to do a good job of covering collegiate running, but we are planning to be at (and shoot) Woody Greeno on 9/17, Mizzou on 9/30 and the Platte River Rumble on 10/14. As always, we'll post all photos on our Facebook page.
Where are the Nerds?
It’s Week 3 of the XC season. As noted above, the shifting of meets to midday will hurt our coverage, but we'll do the best we can. We know we'll be attending at least six meets, and Dr. Nerd is taking a day off from saving lives to hit both the Fremont and Arlington meets on Thursday. You can click on this week’s meet schedule to see the most up-to-date info on where we’ll be.
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.
Our newest member of the Nerd family
If Nerd Junior is going to slack of his Nerd duties this week, he loses the right to edit the Nerdsletter. Since we used his wedding as an excuse for why we weren't shooting more meets last week, we figured we should introduce you to the newest member of the Nerd family, Nerd Ever After. She comes from a checkered background - her go-to sport at Omaha Marian was golfing - but we like her too much to tell her that golf is the second best sport held at golf courses. Junior will be back in action in Week 4, and we're pretty sure he'll remember his memory card. If not, we hope Crete is at the meet again...
We hear it all the time...
We routinely run into people - and see comments on our social media accounts - who are huge running fans but only learned about Prep Running Nerd a few weeks ago. We're the only Nebraska website that lists all high school results, ranks all classes and publishes thousands of free race photos every week, and yet somehow the majority of Nebraska XC parents have never heard of us. If you're a coach or a boisterous parent, do us a solid and tell your team and team parents about the Nerd. If we're going to grow Nebraska distance running, we need more people actively engaged in the sport - and a great way to be engaged is to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook.
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.
Do you see any errors, typos or key omissions? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to correct the article.
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.