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09/20/23 Nerdsletter

Contributors: Nerd Senior and Nerd the Third

Back at full strength

Nerd Senior took an ill-advised mid-season vacation last week and has paid for it in spades. We're still trying to catch up on all the pictures that are being posted to our FB account, primarily because the Nerd team is absolutely grinding right now. If you run into a Nerd at a meet, give them a "Howdy, Nerd" and tell them how awesome they are.

Regular season results rarely matter; character always does

One of the benefits of having Nerds at eight to ten meets each week is that we catch special moments that should be shared with the running community. The McCook meet last Thursday included Elijah Goodell of Perkins County, who as a freshman is ranked 4th in Class D. He's been on a roll this season but didn't have a big enough meal in the hours before the McCook race. After spending much of the race in 2nd place, he was visibly struggling with 400 meters to go, losing ground quickly to the other competitors. He was in 10th place with 150 meters remaining, which is when he came into Word Nerd's camera viewfinder.

Grant Cappel, a senior at McCook was closing hard and would easily finish 10th if he passed Elijah. Instead, he decided to help Elijah when he realized Elijah was on the verge of falling. We shared Word Nerd's 10 frames with NTV that are included in their news feature at this link, and that video piece also includes an interview with Grant.

A parent at the meet noted that Grant even made sure to swing Elijah across the finish mat first. According to the on-line results, Elijah finished 14th with Grant a split-second later in 15th. As we discovered when Bellevue East's Brandon Schutt performed a similar act of kindness to Burke's Blake Cerveny in 2021 (see our long-form article here), in post-season races the 'helped' runner is generally disqualified while the 'helper' runner is not. During regular season races, such a call may be up to the discretion of the meet director and the coaches in the meet.

In most races, competitors will pass a runner on the ground so as to not jeopardize a legal finish, and we've seen a number of athletes crawl to the finish line. However, we've never seen anyone do it from more than 50 meters out, let alone 150 meters out. Elijah was likely cooked by the time Grant began to help him.

"Kids these days." That phrase often has an entirely different meaning in cross country.

How to save a life

Nerd Convert passed along a tip on a story idea last Friday, and we planned to include it in our Nerdsletter. However, after three phone interviews we realized it deserved its own platform. We'll be posting that article on Thursday, and it's something you don't want to miss.

4X awesome

Coach Andrew Soneson of Platteview asked if we had a list of all the four-time Nebraska State XC medalists. While we've compiled a list of three-time Class A medalists from 1997-2022, we hadn't tackled this much bigger project. Coach Soneson may be nerdier than us because in less than two weeks he had compiled a list for 32 boys (1960-2022) and 83 girls (1980-2022) based on data available on the NSAA website. Here are the lists:

Download PDF • 69KB

Download PDF • 79KB

Coach Soneson's eyes probably glazed over at some point during this project, and we won't guarantee that the list is completely accurate. If you think we've missed someone, send an e-mail to with the details.


The Nerd video team - which didn't exist until four weeks ago - has now filmed three meets using a drone, a lead-cart camera and ground-based cameras. Our latest meet was the Greeno-Dirksen collegiate meet on Saturday. We're still editing the men's video, but we think the women's video will blow you away. Nerd Ricky Bobby, Nerd HD and Nerd the Third shot the video while Nauj Nerd produced the women's video. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

Speaking of drones, Concordia T&F assistant coach Mark Samuels has posted videos of a second meet where he utilized his drone. If you want to watch the Aurora races from a bird's eye view, you can watch his videos at


You like cool photos? We've got a few. Here are some great ones the Nerd team captured last week:

McCook (Word Nerd)

Central City (Nerd Convert)

O'Neill (Hurdle Nerd)

Harold Scott (Nerdsam)

Wayne (Bloomin' Nerd)

Blair (Nerd Senior)

Woody Greeno (Nerd Junior)

Norfolk (Nerd Dawg)

Ravenna (High Mileage Nerd and Broken Nerd)

We post all of our photos on Facebook for you to share and download. As you've probably guessed by now, we post quite a few albums each week. If you want an easy way to figure out if we shot a meet where your school participated, just go to our album catalogue at


We registered another perfect week of collecting meet results, and our results page now includes links to almost 100 meets this season. You can find the results at That page also lists all of the meets this week of which we're aware, as well as potential Nerd sightings.

Nerd the Third usually provides a summary of the best races of the week, but Monday morning accounting and management tests left little time to play this weekend. Here's my very quick look at a few interesting results:

Heartland Classic (Joyful Nerd)

Fremont's Juan Gonzalez won the Heartland Classic, a regional meet in Pella that draws competitors from at least five states. He finished in 15:04. The Nebraska kids were on fire at this meet with five finishers in the top 12: Jack Witte of Millard West (3rd, 15:30), Max Myers of LSW (4th, 15:36), Wes Pleskac of Fremont (7th, 15:49) and Porter Bickley of Millard West (12th, 16:00). Papillion South was led by John Fiedler (17th, 16:13) and the team finished 7th, Millard West was 12th, and a Fremont team impacted by illness finished 13th.

In the girls race at Heartland, Kate Ebmeier (4th, 19:01), Litzey Fredette (6th, 19:23), Libby Frazer (15th, 19:45) and Olivia McKlem (19th, 20:07) led Millard West to an impressive team title. Lincoln Southwest finished 8th and Fremont 12th. Chloe Hemmer of Fremont was Nebraska's other top-20 finisher, placing 17th.

Class D #3 Peyton Paxton of Mullen won the Bridgeport meet despite stiff competition from Cecilia Barron (Morrill) and Dakota Horstman and Aurora Hinman (Hemingford). Hemingford had four in the top 11 and easily won the team race; they are the defending Class D champions.

Central City (Nerd Convert)

Class B #7 Ethan Smith of Northwest - just a freshman - won the Central City meet in 15:58, finishing ahead of a solid Lexington contingent and ranked boys from Aurora and Nebraska Christian. Lexington finished 2nd through 5th, with the four boys separated by 12 seconds. Any doubts about Lexington's depth can be dismissed. The girls race was also solid, with Nebraska Christian's Hannah Swanson (Class D #2) winning again in 19:47. Olivia Chapman of Northwest was 2nd, Susana Calmo of Lexington was 3rd, and Kendall Wineteer of Aurora (Class C #8) was 4th.

The Frasher sisters - Gianna and Miriam - of David City took the top two spots at Columbus Scotus, followed by Faltys, Heinrich and Kavan of Scotus. Five Scotus girls finished in the top 20, and the team has jumped to #2 in the coaches' poll that was released on Monday.

The Harold Scott meet in Lincoln featured the top four ranked girls in Class A, and the the results weren't much different than the rankings. Mia Murray (Lincoln East, 18:32), Claire White (Westside, 18:38) and Stella Miner (Westside, 18:44) finished in their rankings order of 1-2-3. By the pictures I've seen, it looks like 4th-ranked Kaitlyn Swartz of Papillion South attempted to stick with Mia Murray, a traditionally fast starter, and Kaitlyn finished in 5th in 19:08. Lincoln East's Peyton Svehla was fourth in 18:49. It's common to see the top Papio South runners experimenting with different racing strategies during the regular season, so I'm guessing Kaitlyn went home with some good data to ponder.

Dalton Heller of Millard South won the Harold Scott boys title in 15:48, while Austin Carrera of Hastings topped the rest of the field with a 16:11. We've been waiting for Austin (Class B #4) to drop a big time this year, and on Thursday he bested three boys ranked in Class A.

The Waverly meet on Friday featured quite a few ranked boys and girls. Class B #1 Riley Boonstra of Norris won in 15:41, followed by Class B #2 Braden Lofquest of Gretna East in 15:50. Class B #11 Elijah Dix of Plattsmouth was 3rd in 16:27 and Class C #1 AJ Raszler of Platteview was 4th in 16:36. On the girls side, Class B #1 Kendall Zavala of Norris kept up her string of consistent performances, edging second-ranked Kassidy Stuckey of York by four seconds. Third-ranked Ellie Thomas of Norris was 3rd, and Platteview's Lydia Steward (now #4 in Class C) had a breakout performance with a 19:52.


The Class A, B and C coaches issued new polls earlier this week, and we issued our updated individual rankings yesterday. You can the team and individual rankings for the entire season at


First published at by Jay Slagle on September 20, 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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