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9/28/23 Nerdsletter

Contributors: Nerd Senior and Nerd the Third


The UNK cross country meet is not only a great collection of athletes, but its gravitational pull is so strong that it delayed our rankings and Nerdsletter this week. If not for the rescheduled Crofton meet on Monday, UNK would have also been the only high school meet held in Nebraska on the first three days of this week. It's exhausting to cover eight races and drive six hours all in one day, but we wouldn't have it any other way. UNK is one heckuva meet.


Bebop and fairness

A few weeks ago Nerd Junior told a story about his 8th-grade year. After finishing second in his middle school spelling bee as a 7th-grader, he was confident that the title would be his as an 8th grader. However, during the first round the following year he was given the word 'bebop', which to my knowledge has only been said out loud in the last 50 years by Cyndi Lauper (trust me, she used to be a cool pop star). Junior had never encountered the word but guessed it was spelled 'beebop.' Just like that, five minutes into a two-hour spelling bee, he was eliminated. He seethed in the audience when a classmate correctly spelled the next word, 'waffle.' Nine years later, sitting at our dinner table, Junior was animated with fake outrage as he claimed he was unfairly robbed of a spelling bee title. Mrs. Nerd and I couldn't stop laughing.


One of the Bible readings at church this weekend was Matthew 20:1-16, a parable in which a landowner pays the same wages to the men who worked twelve hours in his fields and to the men who worked only an hour. The wage paid to the full-day laborers was just and agreed upon in advance, and yet they felt their pay was unfair in relation to the men who began their work just before sunset.


I thought about these two stories as I reflected on the UNK meet. While there were a number of breakout performances on Monday, there were numerous examples of athletes who didn't perform up to their expectations or simply didn't finish the race. When a huge upset occurs in a football or basketball game, the commentators will often say, "that's why they play the game." In cross country, rankings, PRs and past accomplishments simply don't matter on race day.


I've interviewed dozens of top distance athletes over the past five years and, with few exceptions, the ones who enjoy racing are often those who care the least about the outcome. It often takes a while to learn that lesson, but last spring I spoke to several senior girls who said, in slightly different ways, that they had stopped fixating on times and simply focused on enjoying last season with their high school teammates. A few said that they were simply trusting God to decide whether a good race or bad race was what they needed, and they would embrace whatever result came.


Weather, injuries or illness, a competitor who runs out of her mind -- so much of what happens on race day is simply out of your control. Does it seem fair for a runner to be ranked in the top five all season and then not medal at State? Sooner or later we stumble on the truth: fairness doesn't matter in races. The clock doesn't care what you did all season. It only cares how fast you ran today.


Fortunately, distance running is fair the longer you engage in it. Those who put in the work are generally rewarded with better times, increased discipline and a stronger self-worth. The sport hands out its share of injuries, losses and DNFs, but nearly every setback provides a lesson that can be applied later in life.


I've never been particularly good at running and yet I've had a 40-year love affair with the sport. That sounds fair to me.


Forever part of their story

Last Thursday we published a long-form article at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/post/memphis that tells the story of a 7th-grade Omaha boy, Memphis Zabawa, who went into cardiac arrest near the end of a cross country race in early September. Grab a Kleenex; you'll be moved by the improbable series of events and collection of people who saved his life.


Videos

Two months ago I had lunch with three coaches and we talked about how drone footage could be a game changer for cross country race videos. A month later the Nerd video team was born, consisting of Nerd Ricky Bobby and his drone Nerd Bird, Nerd HD in the lead cart, and Nauj Nerd shooting on the course. Nauj Nerd and Nerd HD are also our video editors. The UNK meet was the fourth meet of the season for the video Nerds, and their work gets better with every meet. The team will eventually post four videos from the UNK meet, and Nauj Nerd has already posted the Class A video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gmoy5TA8Rc. It is freakin' amazing. Next up is Class B produced by Nerd HD.


If you don't want to wait for us to post video links to our social media, go to YouTube and subscribe to the Prep Running Nerd channel.


Want to see more? We're tentatively scheduled to give some youngsters a dose of cinematic love at the State Junior High XC championships at Papio South on Saturday, October 7th. The JH State meet has one of the loudest crowds of any Nebraska meets, and we're pumped to share that experience with all of you.


Part of the reason we can produce videos like this is with the cooperation of meet directors. UNK Coach Bonsall bent over backwards to help us capture the UNK races, just as the hosts at Greeno, PRR and Class of Metro have done.


Radio interviews

We readily admit that we're better at writing, photography and videos, but how do you turn down recurring interviews with two radio station hosts who are begging to talk about high school distance running? We had two interviews last week, with mostly-different topics for each interview. Click on the links below to access them:



Photos

We admit it. We're behind on photos, and Nerd Senior is the absolute worst. Work and family take first priority for our volunteer Nerds, so we've got at least six meets to upload to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd. Once we get caught up, we'll update the links on our website at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022. Until then, keep watching our FB page for the latest cool photos.


Results

Thanks to our followers, we have links to results for every Nebraska high school race held last week at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/xcresults, plus a few meets held in other states that included Nebraska teams. That page also includes all of the meets to be held this week. Keep in mind that the times listed on the schedule are primarily for our planning purposes, and it's likely that a number of afternoon races scheduled for Thursday and Friday will be moved to morning starts to avoid the heat.


Nerd the Third breaks down a few of the notable results a bit later in the Nerdsletter.


Rankings

As noted above, we pushed back the release of individual rankings this week so they reflect Monday's UNK results. You may notice that our rankings, in many cases, do not match the order of the finish at the UNK meet. While we place high value on head-to-head matchups, we might also factor in the athlete's season thus far. For example, a few ranked athletes didn't run well at UNK despite recording three or four solid results leading up to the race. If they bounced back from bad races in previous years, we're more confident they'll do so this year. However, we also want to recognize athletes like Lincoln Lutheran's Sawyer Benne, who went ham and finished second at UNK despite not being ranked all season.


Rankings are very subjective so please don't take it personally if we don't rank you as high as you'd like. This is our second year of XC rankings and we received our first parent complaint yesterday - not a particularly nice complaint. In case there is confusion, let me be clear on this: our rankings aren't going to improve the recruiting profile of an athlete. While XC results are important, it's my observation that most college coaches focus on T&F times since that approach eliminates any uncertainty about XC course difficulty, length and surface quality.


We issue weekly rankings because it brings more interest to the sport, it recognizes top athletes, and hopefully it motivates other kids to keep improving. The only ranking that really matters to us is how much you love running once your high school career is over.


Team and individual rankings for the entire season can be found at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings.


Keep in mind that we do make errors. The Class C girls rankings were a disaster this week: I misspelled Emilyn Kavan's first name, misspelled Jaelyn Witter's last name, and somehow overlooked Liston Crotty's 2nd-place finish at UNK that should have improved her ranking rather than lowered it. I tackled Class C rankings just before midnight on Monday, but I promise to do better.


Those freshmen from Nebraska

Can we brag a bit about the college freshmen who hail from Nebraska? UNL's Berlyn Schutz won the Augustana Invite four weeks ago and was named Big Ten Runner of the week after she finished third at the Greeno Invite. South Dakota State's Carson Noecker (Hartington Cedar Catholic) also won the Augustana meet and finish 15th at Minnesota's Griak meet last Friday, running 24:38 for the 8K. The Griak race featured 18 Division 1 schools, including powerhouses like Gonzaga, Portland, Santa Clara and New Mexico.


At that same Griak meet, freshman Keeli Green (Arlington) and Trey Robertson (Wallace) were the top finishers for Concordia in the small college race. Keeli played softball her first two years of high school before winning the Class C State XC titles her final two years, while Trey played football for three years before winning the Class D State XC title as a senior. Dyami Berridge, a Winnebago grad who is now a freshman Haskell Indian, finished nine seconds behind Trey and was solidly in the top 20% of the small college race.


Notable results for week ended 9/24

Here are a few of the results that caught Nerd the Third's eye:


Bon Homme Invite:

Delanie Runnels (NV), 20:39


Runnels, a freshman who has been moving up the rankings (she's now third), won the race. Our records reflect that she's undefeated this season.

Adams Central Cross Country Invitational:

Austin Carrera (Hastings), 16:07

Diego Chojolan (Hastings), 16:51

Sophia Reynolds (Hastings), 20:09

Xiamora Lagunas (Hastings), 20:32

Jada Hothan (NP), 20:47

As a precursor to their strong performances at UNK, Austin Carrera (now ranked 3rd) and freshman teammate Sophia Reynolds (newly ranked at #12) snagged the titles at Adams Central.


Creighton Prep Invitational:

Denny Chapman (Prep), 15:47

Tommy Rice (Skutt), 16:34

Charlotte Gregor (Omaha South), 19:47

Molly Caruso (Millard North), 20:16

Mia Urosevich (Westside), 20:30

The Prep Invite has a unique format where runners are placed in one of three races based on PRs or season bests. This means that the 'A' race could have as many as 25 runners from a school while the top finishers in the 'B' and 'C' races may be earning their first medal of the season. The 'A' races were unusually competitive this year, with Chapman breaking away from Rice and a Lewis Central athlete after about two miles to dip under 16:00 again - on a Boystown course that usually doesn't yield fast times. Charlotte Gregor earned her first career XC win and couldn't have been happier about it. Most of Westside's varsity team sat out this meet to prepare for Saturday's Rim Rock race, but Mia Urosevich competed since she had a conflict for Rim Rock.


Malcolm XC Invitational:

Carter Hohlen (Lincoln Christian), 16:39

Avery Carter (Milford), 17:02

Lilly Kenning (Milford), 20:29

Hannah Heinrich (Scotus), 20:46


We expect Carter Hohlen and Lilly Kenning to be fighting for a meet title every week, but the Malcom meet was more about second place. Sophomore Avery Carter was unranked at the start of the season but has progressed each week. Hannah Heinrich is one of three Scotus girls for which we track weekly results. None of those girls were on our radar at the start of the season, but now Hannah, Emilyn Kavan and Mary Faltys are all ranked in the Class C top 15.


Mt. Michael:

Riley Boonstra (Norris), 16:24

Ryan Burton (Bennington), 16:44

Ella Ford (Elk North), 19:07

Leah Robinson (Elk North), 19:13

Kendall Zavala (Norris), 19:30

Ellie Thomas (Norris), 19:49

Tessa Greisen (Seward), 20:00

This had the makings of a blockbuster girls race, but the combination of the heat, an early afternoon start and lack of shade served up a triple whammy for athletes at Mt. Michael. In addition to a number of DNFs from top talent due to the heat, Elkhorn North's Jenna Polking (ranked 12th at the time) saw her season end mid-race after breaking a bone in her foot. Elkhorn North tied top-ranked Norris and (I'm assuming) won the trophy based on the tiebreaker of the fastest 5th finisher, but I guarantee you that EN would trade all of its team titles so far this season to have Polking healthy.


Palmer:

Jacob Swanson (Nebraska Christian), 17:15

Hannah Swanson (Nebraska Christian), 21:15


The 'Swanson Sweep' is becoming routine for Nebraska Christian. Hannah remains undefeated on the season and could very likely remain that way leading until State where she'll face off against Crofton's Jordyn Arens for the first time this season. Jacob is just a sophomore but has been consistent since his first high school race; look for him to keep doing great things.


Doniphan-Trumbull:

Anna Fitzgerald (Doniphan-Trumbull), 21:32

Anna quietly goes about her business while facing many of the best runners west of Kearney. This was her second win of the season.


Ft. Calhoun Invitational:

AJ Raszler (Platteview), 16:36

Nolan May (Arlington), 16:47

Hailey O’Daniel (Arlington), 20:22

While we expect a battle for the the top spot at all eight races at State, the depth of the top tier for Class C boys is likely the deepest. AJ Raszler recorded another solid result at Ft. Calhoun but Nolan May has been improving throughout the season. Hailey O'Daniel's lowest finish this year has been sixth despite facing tough fields at Blair and UNK.


Gordon Rushville:

Grant Springer (Valentine), 17:13

Tyrah American Horse (Gordon-Rushville), 20:25

Lincoln North Star:

Isaac Ochoa (Norfolk), 15:48

Max Myers (LSW), 15:51

Easton Zastrow (LNS), 16:34

Joe Dustin (Pius), 16:38

Kassidy Stuckey (York), 18:56

Kara Muller (BW), 19:23

Hope Riedel (LNS), 19:23


Isaac Ochoa overcame an early lead by Max Myers to win in 15:48. While sub-16:00 times aren't news-making events at Pioneer Park, they don't happen very often. Kassidy Stuckey led the entire race while Kara Muller held off a hard-charging Hope Riedel to finish in second.


Nebraska City Invitational:

Ethan Walters (Elkhorn), 16:24

Elijah Dix (Plattsmouth), 16:49

Mallory Robbins (Plattsmouth), 20:12

Liston Crotty (Auburn), 20:16


Ethan Walters has quietly put up solid numbers and has been ranked in the top 15 every week this season. Mallory Robbins (#10 in Class B) and Liston Crotty (#8 in Class C) were junior high competitors, so this match up seems to bring out the best in both of them.


North Bend Central:

Gus Lampe (Roncalli), 16:46

Gianna Frasher (Aquinas Catholic), 20:36

Ogallala Invite:

Mason McGreer (Perkins County), 15:59

Tyler Hetz (Gothenburg), 16:02

Jarrett Miles (NP St. Pats), 16:47

Lindee Henning (Ogallala), 19:37

Talissa Tanquary (Sidney), 20:02

Emma Cappel (McCook), 20:11

Ord Invite:

Katherine Kerrigan (Ainsworth), 19:38

Maddie Davis (West Holt), 20:37


Rim Rock Farm Classic (KS):

Denny Chapman (Prep), 15:17

Jacob Finney (Prep), 16:13

Ryan Kugler (Westside), 16:14

Eli Jones (Prep), 16:30

Jayden Wall (Westside), 16:34

Claire White (Westside), 18:24

Stella Miner (Westside), 18:24


From what we can tell, the Rim Rock regional meet included athletes from Creighton Prep, Omaha Westside and Lexington. Chapman was 3rd and Finney 20th in the gold race, while White and Miner finished 4th and 6th, respectively. Prep placed 3rd out of 39 teams. Lexington finished 2nd in the maroon team race with four boys in the top 18: Miguel Cruz (7th, 16:32), Lazaro Adame (10th), freshman Isac Portillo-Munoz (13th) and Herson Rodriguez (18th).


Make a sign, who knows what will happen?

The Spargo family of Dundy County Stratton traveled to Eugene in Summer 2022 for the World T&F championships, and daughters Clara and Abi made a sign about how they traveled from Nebraska to get a picture with Alyson Felix. Sure enough, they got that picture and it made a splash on social media. A few months ago Mike Spargo, who coaches and teaches at DCS, received an e-mail from TrackTown USA inviting the family back to Eugene for the Prefontaine Classic/Diamond League championships held in mid-September. They watched the meet in 'super fan' seating, saw an Oregon Ducks football game and got to meet a number of Olympians and world record holders. Anyone recognize Jacob Ingebrigtsen?


It all started with a clever sign. Remind me again why you're not making signs for cross country meets? We'll be looking for them at State.


UNK meet

We had quite a presence at the UNK meet with seven Nerds taking photos or video plus a few more parent Nerds doing other stuff. Tony Chapman (Nerd Convert) interviewed each of the eight winners as they walked up the hill beyond the finish, and he included an article about the chaotic finish line in his Flatwater Sports newsletter on Wednesday. The Flatwater newsletter drops several times each week and covers all Nebraska high school sports as well as a sprinkling of collegiate sports (search for Tony on Twitter or Facebook to sign up for the newsletter). On Thursday, 9/28, he'll publish a story about the Columbus Scotus girls' team.


We won't do Tony's interviews justice with our brief recap of the UNK races, but here's our best effort:


Class A boys: We expected a tight race between Juan Gonzalez of Fremont and Jack Witte of Millard West, with Dalton Heller of Millard South as the wild card. There was a lead pack of over 20 boys at 1000 meters, thinning out to a strung out group of ten boys at 2000 meters. At 3000 meters Gonzalez and Witte began to separate from Heller, with Wes Pleskac of Fremont ten meters back and Porter Bickley of Millard West another 20 meters back. After the race, Juan told Tony that he separated from Witte at around 4200 meters, and he had a 40-meter lead with 400 meters to go. Heller was within five meters of Witte at that point. Gonzalez won in 15:38, just two seconds slower than his State-winning time in 2022 when weather conditions were far more favorable. Witte finished in 15:53 while Heller ran 15:57. Pleskac and Bickley rounded out the top five.


As expected, Fremont won the team title while Papio South was a surprising second after placing boys in 9th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 22nd and 23rd. Millard West finished third. Among the top team contenders, top-ranked Creighton Prep was the most notable absence.



Class A girls: Like Prep, the Westside team headed to Rim Rock on Saturday instead of running at UNK. Mia Murray has repeatedly faced off against Claire White and Stella Miner of Westside and Kaitlyn Swartz of Papio South, and Swartz was her stiffest competition at UNK. Grace Suppes, a freshman at Papio Lavista, bolted to the front at the start of the race and was side-by-side Murray at 1000 meters and the one-mile mark. Fast starts are rarely rewarded at Kearney course, and Murray had the sole lead at 2400 meters with Swartz and Suppes in 15-meter increments behind Mia. By 3000 meters there was a big gap after Swartz, with Peyton Svehla (Lincoln East), Suppes, Lindee Henning (Ogallala), Abigail Burger (Kearney), Kara Muller (Bellevue East) and Kate Ebmeier (Millard West) in a column. By 4600 meters Burger had a firm grasp on third place, with Henning and Ebmeier fighting for fourth. Murray closed hard to win in 18:36, just off the 18:19 (UNK), 18:14 (HAC) and 18:23 (State) results she ran at this course in 2022. She told Tony that the heat was a bit of a shock since Lincoln East has been training in the morning, but she feels like a sub-18:00 at Kearney is possible if the weather is right and the rest of her training goes according to plan. Swartz finished 2nd in 19:00, Burger was third in 19:19, Ebmeier was 4th in 19:26 and Henning (from Class C) finished in 5th, proving yet again that she can run with the top talent in the State.


Lincoln East, Millard West and Kearney came into the meet ranked as the top three teams, and that's how they finished. Lincoln East is the heavy favorite.



Class B boys: Virtually all the top teams and athletes in Class B were at Kearney, so this meet was as close to a State preview as you'll find anywhere. Top-ranked Riley Boonstra of Norris and 2nd-ranked Braden Lofquest of Gretna East met for the third time this season, and this was the first chance to see Lexington compete against Skutt and Norris. Tommy Rice of Skutt led a pack of ranked runners through the 1000-meter mark. At 3000 meters Rice, Boonstra, Lofquest and Miguel Cruz of Lexington had a five-meter lead over a tight column of six runners led by Elijah Dix of Plattsmouth. Boonstra and Lofquest threw in a surge at 4200 meters that gapped the rest of the field, and the two boys were nearly at a sprint with 400 meters to go. Boonstra later described the first 4000 meters as fairly comfortable, and we know from State T&F that he's a master at the sit-and-kick strategy. Boonstra won in 16:12 with Lofquest finishing in 16:14. Austin Carrera was in 16th place at 3K but finished in 3rd place in 16:32. Tommy Rice of Skutt and Ethan Walters of Elkhorn rounded out the top five. While it was not significant in terms of the team race, McCoy Haussler of Skutt moved from 12th to 7th in the final 400 meters - the most impressive kick we saw on Monday.


Skutt won the team title over Lexington, 39 to 54, with Norris at 64. As they have done in previous years, Lexington competed at Rim Rock two days before the UNK, so we weren't particularly surprised to see Skutt win. Both teams will be well rested at State, and it seems likely that those teams will keep their strangleholds on the top two positions.



Class B girls: While a few other races at UNK offered the first opportunity for top dogs to meet this season, that wasn't the case here since nearly everyone in the top 15 except Sophia Reynolds of Hastings had raced against each other at least once prior to UNK. Indeed, Norris and Elkhorn North have been competing so often that they should be sharing a bus. Kendall Zavala of Norris came in as the top-ranked runner, having defeated nearly every ranked girl in Class B, but the field was too deep to predict the winner. At the 1000-meter mark, the lead pack included Zavala and teammate Ellie Thomas, Kassidy Stuckey of York, Ella Ford and Leah Robinson of Elkhorn North, Lilly Kenning of Class C Milford, Tessa Greisen of Seward and Gabi Westfall of Skutt. Stuckey had a 30-meter lead over Zavala and Ford by 2700 meters, with Thomas, Kenning, Robinson and Griesen another 50 meters back. Stuckey won in 18:56 followed by Zavala in 19:04, Ford in 19:10, Thomas in 19:32 and Greisen in 19:43. Stuckey told Tony after the race that she knew her best shot to win was to lead the race and throw in a few early surges to tire out the field; she executed that strategy perfectly.


Top-ranked Norris won the team title 27-50 over Elkhorn North. Norris competed without Atlee Wallman while Elkhorn North has lost Jenna Polking for the season, and Elkhorn North's second runner did not finish due to a heat-related issue. We expect a tighter margin at State if both teams are healthy.



Class C boys: AJ Raszler of Platteview has been the top-ranked runner all season, but UNK was the first time this season we had the top five boys compete in the same meet. The lead pack of ten boys at 1000 meters included five unranked boys who would not finish in the top 20, again underlining the premise that fast starts at Kearney are often ill-advised. The lead pack consisted of a whopping 12 boys at 3000 meters, with Raszler, #4 Carter Hohlen of Lincoln Christian, #3 Gus Lampe of Roncalli and #8 Avery Carter of Milford at the front. Hohlen made the first surge, and Lampe told us that he responded with his own move at around 4000 meters. With 400 meters to go, Lampe had a 30-meter lead over Raszler, with Hohlen ten meters further behind and Gothenburg freshman Tyler Hetz (#2) another five meters back. Lampe won in 16:43 followed by Raszler (16:47), Hetz (16:47), Hohlen (16:52) and Carter (17:01).


We felt going into this meet that Gothenburg was the heavy favorite for the State title, but Lincoln Christian came within six points of the Swedes thanks to three boys in the top 11.



Class C girls: We were pumped to see #1 Lindee Henning and #2 Lilly Kenning face off in this race, but Henning moved up to the Class A race while Kenning competed in Class B. There was plenty of talent despite their absences since the field still featured 12 ranked runners. Talissa Tanquary (#5, Sidney), Emma Cappel (#7, McCook), Hailey O'Daniel (#3, Arlington) and Liston Crotty (#6, Auburn) had a 40-meter lead on the rest of the field by 1000 meters, and Tanquary and Cappel broke away by the one-mile mark. Tanquary opened a 50-meter lead by 2200 meters and a 100-meter lead at 3000 meters. Crotty slid into 2nd at 3000 meters with Cappel and O'Daniel just behind her. Tanquary cruised to a 20:14 victory, followed by Crotty (20:32), a hard-charging Lydia Stewart of Platteview (20:32), freshman Emilyn Kavan of Scotus (20:41) and Cappel (20:41). Tanquary told us after the race that her emphasis this season, as a senior, has been to 'run with my heart because I love running and the glory of it.' She felt the win would be a confidence boost as she heads into the final weeks of the season.


Top-ranked Scotus followed up their eye-opening Platte River Rumble title with a UNK win, scoring 54 points to Auburn's 87, Platteview's 103 and Lincoln Christian's 106. Scotus is the heavy favorite as we head towards State.



Class D boys: The Class D boys race featured only about half of the pre-race ranked runners, with a number of teams from Northeast Nebraska headed to other meets. However, the top five boys in Class D were at Kearney, including Mason McGreer of Perkins County, who had won his first four races of the season in convincing fashion. McGreer was in 8th place at 1000 meters, trailing #3 Jarrett Miles of NPSP, #2 Jacob Swanson of Nebraska Christian and several other ranked runners. By 2700 meters McGreer had a 40-meter lead over Miles, who in turn led by 40 meters over Swanson and #6 Brody Taylor of Ponca. We watched Swanson literally run out of his shoe at that point (see above), so kudos to him for finishing 3rd in the race in 17:30. McGreer cruised to a 16:48 victory, just outpacing his freshman teammate Elijah Goodell (16:57). Miles finished 4th in 17:40 while Keyton Cole of Axtell continues his ascension in the rankings by placing 5th in 17:47. After the race McGreer talked very little about himself, focusing more about Goodell's amazing talent and how he missed racing against Trey Robertson, who now competes for Concordia.


NPSP took a comfortable win with just 24 points, and their fourth (non-scoring) runner finished in 21st place. Axtell finished 2nd with 64 while Perkins County was third with 71. While NPSP is the heavy favorite, there will be a dogfight for the other place on the podium.


Class D girls: Crofton and top-ranked Jordyn Arens do not run the UNK meet, and this race was also missing a strong contingent of teams from Northeast Nebraska. 15th-ranked Angela Frick of North Central took the early lead at 1000 meters, about 40 meters in front of #10 Isabelle Peters of Tri-County and #2 Hannah Swanson of Nebraska Christian. Frick and Swanson ran together through about 2400 meters before Swanson created separation. Hannah had a 50-meter lead at 3000 meters, followed by #3 Peyton Paxton of Mullen with Frick on her shoulder, #6 Anna Fitgerald of Doniphan-Trumbull, #9 Dakota Horstman of Hemingford and unranked Sawyer Benne of Lincoln Lutheran. Benne took over 2nd place at 4500 meters and took home the silver in 20:58, 12 seconds behind Swanson. Swanson told us she wanted to focus on racing rather than hitting a specific time, so she delayed her surge until she was confident that she could finish strong. Fitzgerald finished 3rd in 21:02, Paxton 4th in 21:04 and Frick gutted out a fifth in 21:21.


As expected, Pender ran away with the title, scoring 22 points. Defending champ Hemingford scored 40 points and Mullen had 54.



******


First published at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle on September 28, 2023. If you find an error, shoot us an e-mail at jayslagle@hotmail.com and we'll get it fixed.


Like this coverage of Nebraska high school distance running? There's more of this at www.preprunningnerd.com. 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 www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.


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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