Contributor: The Nerd
The best thing I saw this week
As a writer I'm annoyed at myself when someone publishes an article that I wanted to write. I've followed Lincoln East's Berlyn Schutz since I saw her run a 5:10 indoor 1600 as an 8th grader, but I've grown to admire her even more over the past four years as she's faced the challenges that come with evolving from a girl to a woman. Marissa Kraus of the World Herald recently posted an article about Berlyn that is exceptional in part because Berlyn was so willing to talk about the challenges of running and puberty. Here is the article link that may be behind an OWH paywall; here is a link to a Twitter post by Berlyn's dad where you can see the article without a subscription.
I knew the back story for this article but never felt like I, as a middle-age man, had neither the expertise nor the standing to tell Berlyn's story. I'm glad Marissa wrote it and I hope high school girls read it. Puberty can hit a girl like a ton of bricks and it's great when young women like Berlyn are there to support others, especially those outside her team.
I also followed Berlyn's older sister Ani, and I have been impressed for years how Lincoln East's success has been driven in part by a community of girls who are on both sides of the female development timeline. Ani's dad also shared this article that Ani wrote for the Ovals and Trails website back in 2018. It's a great message for female distance runners - and probably a great read for all high school girls.
So many freakin' photos
Thanks in part to our guest Nerd John Elftmann, we were able to shoot ten meets last week. We've posted the list of meets we attend at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022, and that web page has links to each album on Facebook. As of Tuesday night, we were still editing photos from SPVA but those should be posted later this week. Here are a few of our favorite photos:
Thanks to help from coaches and our followers, we were able to find results to all 27 meets last week that we knew about. This is the link for all meet results for this season.
We published our latest set of individual rankings on 10/11/22. This is the link to those detailed rankings. If you'd like to review rankings for the entire season for both teams and individuals, you can find those at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/rankings. Here's a brief rundown of some of the top-ranked athletes in each class.
Class A boys
Some consideration was given to awarding Fremont's Juan Gonzalez a promotion from #2 to #1 after besting top-ranked Isaac Ochoa (Norfolk) by six seconds at HAC (UNK course) with his 15:30 win. However, Isaac has won two of three races against Juan this season, and there's not a ton at stake at a conference meet. Lincoln East's Isaac Graff and LSW's Max Myers remain at #3 and #4 after they finished in those spots at HAC in 15:37 and 15:44. Zack Schultz (Millard North) jumps two spots to #5 after winning Metros in 16:22 - a solid time at Walnut Creek - while Piercze Marshall (Millard West) improves to #6 after finishing 0.6 seconds behind. Sergio Martinez of Omaha South makes his rankings debut at #15 after finishing 7th at Metros in 16:42; this may be South's first ranked boy since Trevor Ramsdell, who now runs at NWMSU.
Class A girls
Mia Murray ran another dominant race at Kearney, winning HAC in 18:14; she ran 18:19 (UNK) and 18:11 (Pioneers' Park) the previous two races. Jaci Sievers (ElkSouth) did not compete at Metros (nor did we expect her to) but remains #2, while Westside's Stella Miner and Claire White finished their first races in 27 days with 19:10 and 19:25 at Metros; they are #3 and #4. Berlyn Schutz jumps from #7 to #5 after running a season-best 18:51 at HAC and Isabelle Hartnett (MWest) moves to #6 with her 3rd-place finish at Metros. Abigail Burger (Kearney) and Hope Riedel (North Star) join the rankings after finishing in the top 6 at HAC.
Class B boys
This group saw the biggest shake-up. Tommy Rice (Skutt) beat most of Class B at UNK, and then he beat the season-long #1 Mesuidi Ejerso (SSC) by seven seconds at the RCC meet. While we believe that conference meets aren't that important, we're giving Tommy the #1 spot after these two impressive performances. Riley Boonstra (Norris) holds onto #2 after running 15:47 at Bennington; Riley sat out the UNK meet because of a minor injury. (I'm slightly suspicious of the length of the Bennington course based on the girls' race, where the top three girls registered season bests by at least 40 seconds, but it was perfect running weather and the course is pancake flat.) Jayden Ureste (Lexington) improves from #8 to #4 after winning his conference title in 16:13, while Hastings' Austin Carrera moves to #5 after he won a meet in Phillipsburg (KS). Elkhorn now has two athletes in the top 15 after Ethan Walters (#12) and Brayden Geiger (#15) finished 2nd and 3rd at Bennington.
Class B girls
#1 Maddie Seiler (Gering) won the Sidney meet in 19:13 and #2 Kassidy Stuckey (York) won at Hastings in 18:56; their rematch at State should be epic. They may be joined in a lead pack by Kendall Zavala (Norris), who won the Bennington title a fraction of a second ahead of Atlee Wallman (Norris) and Emma Steffensen (Waverly). Wallman improves from #5 to #4, while the freshman Steffensen moves #11 to #5. Jadyn Scott of Gering is the only new entrant to the rankings after running 20:00 for 2nd at Sidney.
Class C boys: Carson Noecker (Hartington) continues to impress with his 14:38 at Bloomfield. I felt the course might be a tad short based on the PRs established by the girls' field, but two coaches at the meet are adamant that it's a full 5k. #2 Carter Hohlen cruised to a 16:47 win in his conference meet at Pioneers' Park, while #3 AJ Raszler (Platteview) finished 2nd behind Class B Gus Lampe at his home meet and won (16:38) his conference meet at Beatrice. We didn't see a lot of movement in this group, although Ethan Olsen (Gothenburg) and Logan Lebo (Lincoln Lutheran) are ranked after strong performances last week.
Class C girls
The top 4 girls are unchanged. #1 Keeli Green (Arlo) won the NCC at Ashland in 20:18 but was only four second ahead of unranked Louisville's Mira Fosmer, who slides into the rankings at #12. #2 Lindee Henning (Ogallala) won at Minden in 18:56, Lilly Kenning (Milford) won at Fairbury in 20:20, and Sidney's Talissa Tanquary (#4) appeared to sit out her home meet. Jala Krusemark (Wayne) returns to the rankings at #10 after being the first Class C finisher at Wayne, and Olivia Lawrence (Platteview) improves to #9 after winning her conference meet at Beatrice.
Class D boys
The top 8 rankings did not change. #1 Trey Robertson (Wallace) won the Cambridge meet in 17:04. Mason McGreer (Perkins County) and Jarrett Miles (NPSP) met again, this time at Grant, with McGreer winning by 10 seconds in 16:52. Justin Sherman (Cornerstone) stays at #4 after sitting out his small conference meet, while teammate #14 Benjamin Ehrenberg captures what we believe is his first career win. Freshman Jacob Swanson (Nebraska Christian) remains at #5 after winning his third title of the season, this time at Fullerton; he and sister Hannah have swept the titles at three meets this season. Jobjosiah Muthiani of Freeman returns to the rankings at #15 after running 17:33 at Auburn.
Class D girls: This class is a model of consistency: we haven't changed the order of the top 12 girls since the UNK meet. Jordyn Arens (Crofton) remains #1 after winning Wayne in 19:11; her slowest race this year is a 19:34 at South Sioux. #2 Hannah Swanson (NE Christian) remains undefeated through seven races after winning Fullerton in 19:54. #3 Angela Frick (North Central) won the NVC in 20:18, #4 Kathrine Kerrigan (Ainsworth) ran 19:24 at Minden and #5 Braelyn Gifford (NPSP) won the SPVA meet at Grant in 21:00 ahead of the Ribble and Hill from Bridgeport. Miriam and Gianna Frasher of Aquinas trade places after Miriam bests Gianna by one second at the Centennial meet; Miriam is now #13 and Gianna is on the watch list.
Junior high kids are cool
This is our 5th year of attending the junior high State meet, and Coach Haselhorst and Coach Stenger of Papio South do a tremendous job of running the meet. In less than two hours, more than 1,000 kids competed in one of four races. The meet is magical. The crowd is loud, huge and confined to a relatively small area. In addition to parents and friends of the athletes, I saw collegiate and high school runners supporting the runners. I talked to Talissa Tanquary of Sidney, who made the 5+ hour road trip on a school bus to support a large Sidney team, and Aleah Rasmussen of Wisner Pilger, who was there for two runners from her school. I ran into high school coaches from Sidney, Bennington, Lexington and Seward, to name just a few. The environment is just awesome and an exceptionally effective gateway drug to get kids to run in high school.
One of the coolest things about the meet is that you never really know who should be a favorite. Junior high races are notoriously varied in distance - it could be 1779 meters (McCool Junction), 2400, 2700, 3000 or something in between. In addition, many junior high results don't make it to the internet, although I'm not sure they would have helped us make better predictions. Here's a quick rundown of the races:
Girls championship race
This is more or less the seeded race, with an emphasis on the team title. There was a lead pack of four girls with 250 meters to go, and Madeline Scott of Bennington moved from 4th to 1st over the next 150 meters. However, 7th-grader Scout Bell (Gothenburg) made up at least 15 meters in the final stretch to win in 11:28. Scott finished 2nd in 11:30, Lily Zakaras of 402 Track Club was third in 11:33 and Grace Volzke of Elkhorn Ridge finished 4th in 11:39. Bennington took home the team title with 94 points followed by Gothenburg (103) and Norfolk (121). 16 of the top 20 girls were 8th graders, so we're excited to see what they do in high school next fall.
Isac Portillo-Munoz of Lexington was about as close as we could get to finding a pre-race favorite, and he did not disappoint. Undefeated in the six races leading up to State, he ran 9:59 to break Eli Murillo's course record of 10:02 from 2021. Despite the record pace, there were boys close behind. Perkins County's Elijah Goodell ran 10:13 for 2nd, and I'm going to guess that his Perkins County teammate Mason McGreer, ranked #2 in Class D, might be Elijah's role model. Jack Knapp of North Platte finished 3rd in 10:18,Tyler Hetz of Gothenburg was 4th in 10:20, and Elijah Bickley (younger brother of MWest stud Porter Bickley) was 5th in 10:27. Beatrice won the team title with 95 points by putting four boys in the top 26, Lexington was second with 148, and Norris was third in 163.
Gothenburg had the girls' winner and the boys' 4th-place finisher, both junior high teams finished in the top four, and the high school boys' team is ranked #1 in Class C. What the heck is going on in Gothenburg?
Girls open race
The open race allows runners as young as 5th grade, and that's how 10-year-old Madison Scott of the 402 Track Club captured the junior high title in 11:37. Her time would have placed 4th in the championship race. Lex Rogers, a 7th-grader at Adams Central, was 2nd in 12:08. Megan Breitbarth, an 8th grader at Pender, was third in 12:14 while Raeann Massey of Fort Calhoun was 4th in 12:21. We saw several little sisters of accomplished runners in this race: Maya Wagner and Jenna Dahl of Fremont finished in the top 15, as did Olivia Crotty of Auburn. Adams Central took the title with 68 points, followed by West Point-Beemer and Fremont (both had 112).
Boys open race
Kowen Radar (Adams Central) was in 5th place at 800 meters, a step behind the leader at 2750 meters, and he pulled out a two-second win in 11:03. Brexten Kobza (Harvard, 8th grade) and his 7th-grade teammate Kaden Equitin finished in 11:05 and 11:12, respectively, while Gerado Hernandez-Tapia of Elkhorn was less than a second back in 4th place. Doniphan-Trumbull won the team title with 93 points despite only having one medalist; Lexington was second with 107 and Adams Central was third with 168.
If you like the photos above, we've got 1800 more of junior high kids at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/2022. In addition, we shot the junior high races at York, Ord, Blair, Wahoo, Schuyler and Auburn. Links to those photos are also on our Pictures tab.
We knew them when...
Emily Sisson won two State XC titles while competing at Omaha Marian (2006, 9th grade) and Millard North (2007, 10th grade), plus a bunch of State track medals. She finished her high school career in Chesterfield, Missouri, before excelling at Wisconsin and Providence. Her Wikipedia page lists all of her accomplishments, which includes a 16:48 5k national championship while competing for the Cornhusker Flyers in 2007 and, oh, she was also 10th in the 2021 Olympic 10,000 meters. This past Sunday she set a new American marathon record by running 2:18:29 at the Chicago marathon. But wait, there's more...
Sara Ensrud Vaughn, a 2004 Gering High graduate, finished 7th at Chicago with a PR of 2:26:23. Sara made a splash in December 2021 when she won the California International Marathon in 2:26:53, the first time she had raced that distance. Sara had a high school 1600 PR of 4:58, and she swept the all-class golds in the 800, 1600 and 3200 during her senior year. She competed in college at Virginia and Colorado. UNK Coach Brady Bonsall shared this Citius Magazine post that provides a much longer review of Sara's racing career.
Coach Bonsall also pointed out that Nebraska has a rich history of female distance runners who have excelled after high school. In addition to Sara and Emily, that list includes Sammie Gdowski, Fran ten Bensel, Anne Shadle and Alice Schmidt.
I'm responsible for the Class D rankings so I have been wondering why I haven't seen results for Kolter Van Pelt of Stanton. It turns out that he had an appendectomy in August. He ran his second race of the season at Oakland on Thursday; he finished fourth.
A primer for State qualifying
In contrast to track and field, the criteria for qualifying for the State XC meet are fairly simple. If your team is in the top three at Districts or you're one of the first 15 finishers, you qualify.
There are four Districts in Class A and B, five Districts in Class C and six Districts in Class D, so each State race will have 12, 15 or 18 team qualifiers. The number of teams in each District varies greatly by Class. Class A has 7 or 8 teams per District, Class B has 6 or 7, Class C has around 12 and Class D has about 18. The max number of competitors also varies by Class - Class A runs 7 and scores the top 5, Class B & C run 6 and score 4, and Class D runs 5 and scores 3. If a school doesn't have the minimum number of scorers, they won't have a team score.
No room for fear or doubt
It's championship season. Time to celebrate your accomplishments, teammates and coaches. It's time to fill your heart with joy and optimism, to run your best, to cherish these final races. Whatever you do, leave no room for fear or doubt.
Like to read more? Click here to read one of our most popular articles, No room for fear or doubt.
We appear to have struck a nerve with quite a few coaches, athletes and parents last week with the article that led off our 10/5/22 Nerdsletter. In case you haven't read 'Failing Forward,' we've created a standalone article for you to read at this link.
The end is near
It's been a crazy eight weeks but we've only got 9 days left in the official high school XC season. With so much going on, this is what we expect to deliver to our Nerd fans over the next two weeks:
* All 19 District meets are being held on Thursday, 10/13. At this point, we plan to take photos for both boys and girls at ELEVEN Districts, as well as the girls' District races being held in Lexington (we'll arrive too late to capture the boys' races). We'll have at least one guest Nerd helping us on Thursday. Three Districts will each have two photographers on site because, well, Nerds want to see their own kid race. Want to know where all of us are headed? Go to our results page and see whether a Nerd is coming to your race.
You might have sped through that last paragraph so I just want to emphasize this. This all-volunteer gang of Nerds will be taking pictures - and then giving them away for free - at over 50% of the District meets held in Nebraska. If all goes according to plan, the State meet will be our 65th meet in less than 60 days. So, in the next two weeks if you see one of our volunteers wearing a Nerd shirt and carrying a large camera, tell them that they are loved.
* We'll be at Mahoney State Park for the collegiate Platte River Rumble on Friday, 10/14. The women race at 1:00 and the men race at 1:45. Go to https://omahasports.org/platte-river-rumble for more information on this new meet.
* It takes time to edit photos from 11+ District races, so we'll be posting albums on our FB page from 10/13 through 10/20. We'll update the photos page on our website as new albums are uploaded so you don't have to sort through a jazillion albums. Unless you want to...
* Our final rankings will drop on Tuesday, 10/18, three days before the State meet. We don't post any rankings after 10/18; the State meet finishing order is really the only ranking that counts. Will District results lead to big changes in our 10/18 rankings? Probably not unless an athlete outperforms relative to their body of work during the season. Many of the best athletes approach Districts with a 'survive and advance' mentality, so we do our best to not penalize an athlete who saves their best effort for the following week.
* We'll publish a Nerdsletter on Wednesday, 10/19, that summarizes the things we learned at Districts. We'll also probably give a State preview but we're at the point of the season where we no longer have time to plan these things in advance.
* Dr. Nerd and I will be at State on Friday, 10/21, to shoot all eight races. We don't post many social media updates from Kearney; the newspaper reporters tend to do that and we'd rather focus on getting good photos. Tweets are soon forgotten; photos last forever. Since State is such a huge meet, it will take us 7-10 days to post all of the pictures. Be patient; we take cool pictures and post them for free.
* We'll publish a final Nerdsletter sometime after State. We don't rush these things. The longer we think, the more likely we write something smart.
Are you Nerd material?
Until Fall 2021, we were largely a one-Nerd operation. Nerd Junior and Nerd the Third made it a family affair during the 2021/2022 year, and that made us wonder: could we scale up this thing so that XC and T&F could get even more exposure? This fall we added eight additional Nerds and they have absolutely killed it. Seriously - who thought we could shoot 65 meets in less than 60 days?
Even with these additions, we have areas of the State where our coverage is a little thin. For example, we could use additional Nerds based in Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney, Lexington, Sidney and somewhere in Northeast Nebraska. What are we looking for in a Nerd? Here's a brief rundown:
A willingness to do all of this for free. Well, not quite free. We'll give you some Nerd gear. We don't pay for gas or cameras or anything like that. On the bright side, you'll get paid the same rate as the rest of us - so you won't be envious of our paychecks.
You'll need a good camera and really good sport lens, like the kind that newspaper photographers carry around. Those types of lenses cost $1,000 or more, so that's the biggest obstacle. Your camera probably needs to be in the $800-$1500 range, so that's not cheap. However, we see parents with camera/lens combos like this all the time.
You need to be marginally competent at working with Facebook and editing photos. We try to share good stuff with our followers - the kind of photos that a phone camera can't produce.
Ideally you would be open to feedback on your photos. None of us are photo professionals, but we've learned a few things about sports photography over the years that result in better pictures.
You really need to like going to meets because there is very little glamour involved - unless you're Nerd Dog. Nerd Dog gets lots of attention.
If you're interested, give us a shout at email@example.com. It may take us a few days to get back to you. Among other things, we'll ask you some detailed questions about the items above.
Nerd gear - free shipping
In honor of the State meet, we're offering free shipping on all orders of $50 or more that are placed through Friday, 10/14. Use the coupon code 'OhShip' to waive the shipping fee of $6.99. We're out of XL black t-shirts and L and XL sweatshirts, but we have pretty good inventory for white T's, long-sleeve white T's and hats. Now here's our standard sales pitch.
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? It's even more likely this week since we're still typing at midnight. 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.