Contributor: The Nerd
With apologies to those of you who read our Saturday morning social media posts, here’s a rehash of those posts before I summarize Monday's brief interview with Carson Noecker of Hartington Newcastle.
Carson ran a 13:49.7 3-mile at the Woodbridge XC Classic in CA on Friday night to win the boys Rated Race; this 3-mile time converts to a 14:19 5k. During a radio interview with High Plains Radio last Wednesday, I predicted that Carson would post a very fast time in California because he’d finally have someone with whom to race. I was wrong; Carson won the Rated Race by 40 seconds. Here are the result for his race: https://athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/206390/results/860564
Carson was slotted in the 2nd fastest race based on his 14:58 PR. The fastest race (Sweeps Race) was won in 13:42 by Tyrone Gorze of Crater (OR). Tyrone finished 6th at 2021 Eastbay Nationals (formerly Footlocker) and ran a 14:08 track 5k in June.
Carson's 13:49 time from the Rated Race would have placed 3rd in the Sweeps Race, although we suspect Carson could have run faster with someone nearby. Of note, Carson’s time was 12 seconds faster than Aaron Sahlman of the national powerhouse Newbury Park; Aaron ran an indoor 8:01 3000 (converted 8:36 3200) last February and will be one of the nation's most coveted recruits this year.
Carson is arguably the most undercovered elite-level runner in the nation, but we suspect he's fine with that. We wrote about him in our 2021 XC State preview; you can find that piece at https://preprunningnerd.com/post/class-d-standouts-1
Carson was kind enough to call me on Monday afternoon for a brief interview. I had a lengthy phone call with Carson last fall, and we’ve talked at races multiple times over the last two years. If you thought the notoriety from the Woodbridge race (Milesplit post-race interview and a lot of social media love) might give Carson a little swagger… well, that's not Carson Noecker.
The California trip – which he took along with five teammates who competed in other races at Woodbridge – was Carson’s first airplane flight. The Hartington community helped underwrite the cost of the trip, and the team is exceptionally appreciative of that support.
I asked him to compare the California course to others he’s run in Nebraska, since the Woodbridge course is considered to be pancake flat like the Nike Regional course in Sioux Falls. He responded that hasn’t seen a Nebraska course as flat as Woodbridge, but he felt the Pierce course (where he’ll run Districts) is the flattest he’s run during high school. With so many talented runners in the Rated Race, I asked Carson how long he ran with someone within ten meters of him; he guessed he had company for just the first 400 meters. Carson is well-known for giving a full effort at even the smallest meet, and he didn’t think he worked any harder at Woodbridge than at other races – although the faster pace left him pretty tired by the end. The weather and the evening start were easily the best conditions he’s had this fall.
In our interview 11 months ago, Carson indicated that he wasn’t planning to run any postseason meets (Eastbay, Sound Running, Nike) in 2021. On Monday I asked him if he would race any of these meets this year since he clearly has the talent to compete on a national stage. He replied that he doesn’t know yet, and his focus right now is on the last five weeks of the Nebraska season. His goals for the rest of his season aren’t any different than they have been every year: try to improve his times from last year at every remaining meet, including his 15:19 Class C State meet record. He’s not fixated on breaking 15:00 on Nebraska soil this season (he ran 14:58 at Districts last fall), although it seems more likely than not that he’ll crack that barrier again if the weather cooperates.
It's difficult to compare times to previous Nebraska greats since courses, distances and weather are often considerably different; to make matters worse, these stars often have no company after the first few hundred meters. Acknowledging those limitations, here are a few comparisons:
· Seth Hirsch (Millard West/Wisconsin/Colorado) ran 14:56 at Walnut Grove in his final home meet, and then ran 14:39 on the soccer fields in Sioux Falls at the 2016 Nike Regionals. Seth holds the State meet record of 15:04.9, and he also ran sub-15:10 times at Footlocker (now Eastbay) regionals and nationals. Seth placed 4th at Nike Nationals and 5th at Footlocker Nationals as a senior in 2016. He was 9th at both races as a junior, and he's easily the most nationally-decorated male high school runner to come from Nebraska.
· Colby Wissel (Kearney/KU) was the gold standard before Seth with his three Class A State XC titles. Colby’s fastest State time was 15:37, and he held the State 3200 record for 13 years until Seth broke it in 2017.
· Two other rock stars in recent memory are Milo Greder (Westside/Iowa State/Cincinnati) and Gabe Hinrichs (Elkhorn South/Notre Dame). Milo’s best 5k was 14:51 at the same Nike Regionals where Seth ran 14:39, and his best in-state effort was a 15:37 at the 2016 State meet. Gabe ran 15:00 twice last November; in Sioux Falls to take home Nebraska's first Nike Regional title and two weeks later to finish 6th at Eastbay regionals. His best in-state effort was a 15:18 at the State XC meet last fall. After Seth, Gabe recorded the 2nd-fastest time at the State course since 1987, when Nate Nielsen ran 15:15.
Despite Carson's success throughout high school, he did his best to delay the recruiting process until his senior year. However, he made it clear last fall that his destination would be fairly close to the family farm in Hartington and that he was interested in an agriculture-related degree. On Monday he told me that he's talked to Nebraska-Lincoln, Mount Marty and South Dakota State, and he didn't give any indication that he's interested in expanding his search beyond those three schools. I may have misread him but, if you're the head coach at those three schools, you have to like your chances right now.
The Prince of basketball
Speaking of top recruits, I had the chance to talk with Britt Prince (Elkhorn North) after her 4th place finish in Blair last Thursday. For those of you who don't follow high school basketball that closely, Britt is a highly-regarded point guard. I asked our friend Mike Sautter, the recruiting guru at NebPreps (@Thenebpreps and @MikeSautter_ on Twitter), to give us the low-down on Britt:
"Britt is unquestionably one of the best juniors in the country. She is a consensus Top-25 player - i.e., every legitimate recruiting service in the country has her somewhere in the Top-25. There hasn't been a Nebraska girl that has been as highly recruited or rated nationally since Jess Shepard (Fremont, 2015). Prior to Jess, well it's been decades. Britt is continuing the trend of nationally-rated boys or girls from Nebraska. She might end up being rated as the highest of them all, even higher than Hunter Sallis (Millard North, 2021) who ended as a consensus Top 20 player."
The Elkhorn North basketball Twitter account had a post a few days prior to the Blair meet that listed eight D-1 programs that visited its campus the previous week. When we spoke, I asked Britt how she was managing to give even a small amount of focus to cross country when she was at the center of so much recruiting madness. Her answer revealed two key reasons.
First, her basketball coach is also her mother, and Ann Prince has established two time windows each week where Britt will work out in the school gym in front of visiting coaches. While coaches are free to text or call Britt at any time (and they do), they can't speak to her during these open gym periods. The second reason Britt seems to be managing this so well? She seems remarkably cool-headed about the experience, and she doesn't fit the 'look-at-me' profile of a typical five-star basketball recruit.
Britt finished 5th at State as a freshman and, on a rare bad day, 30th last year as a sophomore. She ran a season best 20:59 at Blair on Thursday despite miserable conditions, and she remarked afterwards that it was the first race this year where she felt like she was in shape. That's understandable; due to a busy basketball schedule this summer, she didn't begin consistent running until the first day of XC practice. In part because she works on basketball skills throughout the week, she's also running fewer miles than her other varsity teammates. The Elkhorn North team is led by Ella Ford (14th at State as a freshman) and it's deep; in addition to winning the Blair team title, Elkhorn North had the first eight of nine finishers in the JV race.
And that concludes the summary of my encounters with famous athletes.
I arrived late for the Creighton/UConn soccer game on Saturday night, sat through about an hour of lightning delays, and then headed home without ever seeing any game action. I did pick up the game program, however, and noted that 28 of the 64 players on the two teams are from another country. This reflects a story that a parent of a high school soccer player told me last week; their kid had very little hope of playing D-1 soccer because rosters are being filled by older international players and transfer portal players.
While that may also happen in cross country, my experience has been that there are incredible academic and athletic opportunities for runners at the JUCO, NAIA, D-3, D-2 and D-1 levels in and around Nebraska. If you've even briefly considering running in college, you should read our article on that topic. We think it will be worth your time.
Thanks to our attentive followers, so far this year we've been able to find results for every XC meet (that we know about) that includes a Nebraska high school. The results are listed on our website here. We usually wait until the day after the meet to updated our website with results; in most cases they're either uploaded to athletic.net or the results are waiting in our e-mail account (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you're a meet director or coach at a far-flung meet where the results aren't going to get posted online, we'd love to get your results.
So... we write this weekly Nerdsletter but our real thing is taking pics. Maybe you've seen our work. Anyway, we hit 7.5 meets last week - so many that we're still in the process of editing and uploading. You can find links to all of our photos from this season at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022. The meets we hit last week: Bridgeport, Bennington, Blair, Harold Scott (open races only, still in editing), Waverly (in editing), O'Neill, Alliance (in editing) and the Greeno/Dirksen collegiate meet. If you follow our Facebook page, you should see posts when we add new albums. Here are some of our favorite shots of the week:
Nerd Junior is back at the wheel so our Instagram account has those flashy Top-15 graphics for each class; we hear it's a real crowd-pleaser among the cool kids. Our Week 4 rankings page includes a bit more detail than the Insta version, including athletes who are on our watch list.
If you'd like to see our prior rankings or see updated coaches' pools for each class, go to our rankings home page.
Top o' the Classes
We use this section each week to summarize the performances of the top athletes in each class and how that may have impacted our ratings. We had a few internal disagreements about the Class A rankings, so we reserve the right to change them next week.
Class A girls: Jaci Sievers (Elkhorn South) has yet to race but stays #1 due to her impressive spring and summer; we may see her at UNK but the only thing we really care about is that she's back healthy for Districts. Third-ranked Mia Murray (Lincoln East) won the Harold Scott meet in a blazing 18:37, while #2 Stella Miner and #4 Claire White (Westside) competed at Harold Scott but did not finish. Marissa Holm (North Platte) keeps her #5 ranking but did not compete at McCook; she did win the Adams Central meet yesterday in 19:02. There were no changes in the Top 9, but there may be in the future since many of them will be racing at UNK next Monday. Freshman Abbi Durow (Millard South) joins the rankings at #13; she was #15 in Week 1 before sitting on the watch list the past two weeks.
Class A boys: The top three remained unchanged. Isaac Ochoa (Norfolk) won his home meet in 15:45, Isaac Graff (Lincoln East) won Harold Scott in 15:58 and Juan Gonzalez (Fremont) was the top Nebraska finisher at the Heartland Classic in 15:51. Max Myers (LSW) and Jack Witte (MWest) both move up one spot to #4 and #5 after they both ran 16:04 at Heartland. Hudson Davy (Lincoln East) joins the rankings at #14 after sitting on the watch list the past four weeks.
Class B girls: There were no changes in the top 5 as Madison Seiler (Gering), Kassidy Stuckey (York) and the three Norris girls (Thomas, Zavala and Wallman) all took care of business. Ella Ford (Elkhorn North) jumps from #8 to #6 after being the first Class B finisher at Blair in 20:25. Britt Prince rejoins the rankings at #9, Miriam Deanda (Schuyler) rejoins at #12 after finishing behind the two Lexington girls at Central City, Josie Pogie (Skutt) makes her second appearance in the rankings, and Tessa Greisen (Seward) joins the rankings at #15 after winning the Bennington meet in 20:51.
Class B boys: Mesuidi Ejerso (South Sioux), Riley Boonstra (Norris) and Oscar Aguado-Mendez (Lex) are still the top 3; Mesuidi won the Blair meet and Oscar won the Central City meet, while Riley did not race at Waverly. Miguel Cruz-Mendoz (Lex) jumps from #12 to #4 after running 16:35 at Central City, finishing 11 seconds behind Oscar, while teammate Lazaro-Adame-Lopez moves up one spot to 5th. Gus Lampe (Roncalli) moves from #15 to #12 after a strong showing at Blair, while Hasting's Austin Carerra joins the rankings after his 16:55 at Harold Scott made him the top Class B finisher (he also won the Adams Central meet yesterday). Lex and Skutt have 7 of the 15 ranked boys; the UNK meet should be a good indicator of how those two teams, ranked #1 and #2, will match up at State.
Class C girls: No changes in the top 5 this week. Keeli Green (Arlo) won the Blair meet in 20:13, Lindee Henning (Ogallala) won McCook in 20:17, Sammy Rodewald (McCook) ran 20:35 in McCook, Talissa Tanquary (Sidney) ran 21:10 to be the third Class C finisher at McCook, and Lilly Kenning won the Fillmore Central meet in 20:15. Jala Krusemark (Wayne) jumps from #10 to #7 after winning her home meet. Aurora feature two very strong freshmen - Alexis Erickson and Ella Eggleston - and they join the rankings at #9 and #10 after running 20:29 and 20:33, respectively, to take the top two Class C spots at Central City. Sawyer Benne (Lincoln Lutheran) rejoins the rankings after finishing as the top Class C finisher at Harold Scott in 21:10.
Class C boys: Carson jumps to #1++ after his California performance. Carter Hohlen (Lincoln Christian) stays at #2 after running 16:46 to win the Fillmore Central meet over multiple ranked boys from Class C and D, and he also won at the Malcom Invite yesterday. AJ Raszler (Platteview) stays at #3 after missing the Waverly title by 0.27 seconds in a meet dominated by Class B teams. Two weeks ago Noah Osmond (Broken Bow) ran 17:07 at his home meet and finished ahead of the strong Gothenburg contingent, while #5 Lucas Gautier (Aurora) was the first Class C finisher at Central City in 17:10. The only new boy to the rankings was Luke Woockman of Bloomfield-Wausa, who won the O'Neill Invite in 17:54.
Class D girls: #1 Jordyn Arens (Crofton) won at O'Neill in 19:26, #2 Hannah Swanson (Nebraska Christian) won at Central City in 19:32, and Angela Frick (North Central) won the Neligh meet in 20:52. Katherine Kerrigan (Ainsworth) moves from #6 to #4 after finishing 2nd behind Arens at O'Neill, a week after topping #7 Anna Fitzgerald (Doniphan-Trumbull) and #5 Braelyn Gifford (NPSP) at Broken Bow. To be honest, this is a really difficult class to rank - there are little turf wars in Western Nebraska, Central Nebraska and Eastern Nebraska, and UNK will be the first time that we see those regions race each other.
Class D boys: The top six boys remain unchanged. Trey Robertson won the Arapahoe meet in 18:02, Jarrett Miles (NPSP) won the Ravenna meet in 17:48, Mason McGreer (Perkins County) won the McCook meet in 17:21, Justin Sherman (Cornerstone Christian) was the first Class D boy at Bennington in 17:09, and Raden Orton and Mason Hagan (North Central) were the top two boys at Neligh. Benjamin Ehrenberg (Cornerstone) and Jobjosiah Muthiani (Freeman) join the rankings for the first time this year at #14 and #15.
Nerds pressed for time
Due to work and travel conflicts, our schedules are a bit messed up this week:
* We'll be shooting at Malcolm, Creighton Prep, Mount Michael and Ogallala this week. We know that four meets is wimpy, but life occasionally gets in the way of our hobby.
* Dr. Nerd and Nerd Senior are burning a vacation day to attend the UNK meet on Monday, and we may be joined by several other Nerds. Look for guys in Nerd gear carrying large cameras.
* Because the UNK meet falls on Monday, 9/26, the results will not be reflected in the rankings posted on Tuesday, 9/27. We'll get back from Kearney after 8:00 p.m. and that doesn't leave enough time to do it right.
* Nerd Senior is traveling with limited connectivity until Sunday night, so next week's Nerdsletter is in jeopardy unless Junior or Nerd the Third wants to write it. We also may be slow to update our website with results. We'll see how that goes.
We can't be at every meet in Nebraska, but that doesn't mean your kids have to go without pictures. Last fall we posted an article on how to take good running pictures. Here's that link.
A few quick thoughts:
* An Arlington dad ratted out his wife with this story. At the Blair meet last week, she walked up to a man holding a large camera who appeared to be taking pictures of runners from multiple teams. She asked, "Are you a nerd?" to which he replied, "I beg your pardon?" His wife tried to remove her foot from her mouth by explaining how awesome the Nerds are, but that non-Nerd may still hold a grudge.
* We received some feedback on our racing spike piece from last week. The general feel was, "yeah, good idea, but a lot of us already do this at our high school." I did not hear from any coaches that thought there was a huge need for this, so we'll let it rest for now.
* Alea Hardie, a freshman at UNL, won the sorta-hilly Greeno/Dirksen collegiate meet with a 5K time of 16:57, two weeks after she won the table-flat Augustana Twilight 5k in 17:00.1. For comparison, the top women at last year's Notre Dame meet were running between 16:15-16:30. I believe the Notre Dame course is pretty flat, and Alea will be competing there in two weeks with the rest of the Huskers. I suspect she'll run even faster at ND with a very competitive field.
* We were hoping to see the top UNK guys on Saturday in Lincoln, but they will be competing this weekend at the Chile Pepper meet at Arkansas.
* The UNK media team wrote a great story about UNK XC Coach Brady Bonsall and his two daughters who are on the UNK team. Here's that link.
Get you markers out
At least one of the Nerds should be near the start line for each UNK race. We really enjoy seeing the magic marker messages that athletes write on their legs and arms, and the Kearney course often produces good signs in the crowd. Bring your 'A' game and ask for a picture; we'll do our best to accommodate.
We're still growing
We told ourselves that we were going to remain at ten Nerds for the rest of the fall season but... never say never. A Nebraska high school legend introduced herself to me while we were shooting the warm ups at the Greeno meet. We chatted, we DM'd, we e-mailed, and four days later the State gold medal count of the Nerd team has grown by 13 (up from, umm, zero).
We're thrilled to announce the addition of Nerdlee. Erin Lee was absolutely dominant during her years at York High School, finishing with prep PRs of 2:12, 4:49 and 10:48 for the 800, 1600 and 3200. According to our internal all-class all-time data, she's sits #2 in the 1600, #5 in the 800 and #15 in the 3200. She recently wrapped up a successful career at K-State and is now in the real world.
More important than Erin's track records, she's an outstanding photographer with a true passion for the running community. She's agreed to our incredible compensation package - a hat, t-shirt and sweatshirt, plus the gratitude of parents and athletes. Due to her work schedule, she may only make a handful of meets this fall, but we can't wait to showcase the work she does.
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 email@example.com 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.