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2023 Class C Boys XC Preview

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Contributors: Nerd the Third and Nerd Senior


Last year:

1. Gothenburg

2. Lincoln Christian

3. Fort Calhoun

4. Milford

5. Aurora


Top Returners:

1) AJ Raszler, Platteview (2nd) 2) Carter Hohlen, Lincoln Christian (3rd) 3) Parker Graves, Gothenburg (5th) 4) Jaxon Kilmurry, Battle Creek (8th) 5) Josiah Wilkinson, McCook (9th) 6) Rowan Jarosik, South Central (11th) – now in Class D 7) Jackson Feauto, Lincoln Christian (12th)

8) Lucas Gautier, Aurora (13th)

9) Drew Miller, Wayne (14th)

10) Luke Woockman, Bloomfield Wausa (16th)


Classification changes

This list may not be complete, but I have found the following changes that impact Class C:


· Elkhorn Mt. Michael drops from B and is now the largest school in Class C. Based on enrollment trends, they are likely to remain in Class C for the near future.

· Omaha Roncalli drops from Class B to the sixth-largest Class C school. In 2022 they were a co-op with Omaha Brownell Talbot for XC, and now Brownell Talbot is competing on its own in Class D.

· Palmyra was in Class D in 2022 but has moved up to Class C for XC in 2023.

· Gibbon, Lincoln Lutheran and Valentine have moved from Class C to Class D.

· Sandy Creek has deconsolidated (is that even a word?) from Lawrence-Nelson, so there is no longer a South Central team. Notably, this means that returning medalist Rowan Jarosik will now compete for Sandy Creek in Class D.


Individuals

Prep Running Nerd was launched just before Carson Noecker started high school, and his graduation is one of those break-ups that’s going to sting for a while. On the positive side, the individual title chase will be competitive again.


AJ Raszler of Platteview battled Carter Hohlen for most of the 2022 race before nabbing the runner-up medal by 1.2 seconds. Raszler had a solid spring, running 4:38, 9:57 and a 52-second split in the State 4x400. He’s made steady improvements throughout his career, and we expect to see him move to a higher level this fall.


Is Carter Hohlen consistent? All nine of our 2022 rankings had him at #2, and for good reason. He won three meets, finished 2nd at UNK behind Noecker, and ran sub-17:00 four times before his 16:44 at State. He arguably had the best State track meet of any Class C XC returner, running splits of 51 and 1:59 along with a blistering 4:27 1600. His team is stacked with high-quality training partners, including Jackson Feauto, who finished 12th last fall. Jackson ran 1:58/4:38 last spring and also threw down a 50.6 4x400 split at State. He dropped his 800 PR by 10 seconds from his 2022 best, so look for big things this fall.


Gothenburg is looking for a repeat and Parker Graves is leading the charge. He was unranked entering the 2022 XC season, in part because of his 68th-place finish in 2021, but we now realize that 2021 State result overshadowed a few strong performances he recorded early in his sophomore season. He jumped from unranked to #3 in last fall’s Week 2 rankings, and he never dropped lower than 6th the rest of the year. He had a strong track season, setting PRs of 2:02 and 4:34. His teammates Yahriel Gaeta (2:04/4:49), Ethan Olsen (4:59/10:23) and Nathan Sager (2:04, 4x4 52.3 split) should all be in the medal hunt this year after finishing, respectively, 18th, 20th and 21st last year.


Jaxon Kilmurry of Battle Creek has toiled in the shadows of Carson Noecker for the past two years while competing in many of the same meets, but he may be the fastest runner in Northeast Nebraska this year. His 2022 XC times as a sophomore were at least 30 seconds faster than his freshman season, and he had PRs of 4:35 and 10:05 this spring. He has a good chance to improve on his 8th place finish from 2022.


Josiah Wilkinson of McCook made a huge leap during his sophomore year. He only broke 18:00 once as a freshman, finishing 16th at Districts and just missing the last State qualifying spot. He more than made up for that last year, clocking six sub-18:00 races and medaling in every race, including when he finished 9th at State XC. He had productive spring, ripping a 1:59 800 at Districts to qualify for State. Look for more improvement this year as he, like most other boys, add inches and muscles as he gets older.


Rowan Jarosik of South Central entered the rankings last fall during Week 3 and stayed in the #8-11 range the rest of the season. He’d be up in the rankings this year except for one thing – he’s now competing for Sandy Creek in Class D. You’ll have to read the Class D preview to learn more about him.


Among other top returners, Lucas Gautier of Aurora finished 13th in 2022 and followed up with PRs of 1:58 and 4:38 on the track. Lucas rocketed to a #5 ranking last fall after finished second at the GINW Invite, and he also finished in the top 5 in four other meets, including winning at Districts. Drew Miller of Wayne was a consistent grinder in cross country as a freshman, improving from 20th place at UNK to 14th at State. His track season wasn’t quite as successful with PRs of 5:05 and 10:45, but we expect him to be back on point this fall. Luke Woockman of Bloomfield-Wausa is the 10th fastest returner from the 2022 field and ran 10:26 on the track.


Milford brings back two medal contenders in Gavin Dunlap (17th in 202) and Avery Carter (28th). Dunlap ran bests of 4:42/10:26 in the spring, while Carter ran 4:39 to finish 10th in the Class C 1600. Nolan May of Arlington is likely looking for redemption after a DNF at State last fall. He was ranked #10 in our pre-State rankings last year – in that range of talent where athletes might push their bodies a little bit harder to get to a top-5 finish, and sometimes pushing that hard leads to a bad outcome for a very good runner. He ran 4:40 and 10:13 this spring, and I expect him to be in the medal hunt. Finally, Haven Hauxwell, a sophomore at Chase County, did not qualify for 2022 State XC. However, his 5:00 and 10:30 PRs as a freshman suggest that he’s got a lot of upside the next three years.


The highest profile newcomer to Class C is Gus Lampe of Roncalli Catholic. He finished 10th in Class B last fall with a 16:52, 8-9 seconds behind Raszler and Hohlen. He made quite a splash last May at State with a gutsy early move in the Class B 3200. As we recall, he gapped the other leaders as early as the 800-meter mark and did not relinquish the lead until a lap or two to go, finishing just off his PR with a 9:53. While his move didn’t net him a state title, he gutted out a fourth-place finish and earned a great amount of respect from the Nerds. He returned the next day and knocked out a 4:31 1600, so he’s got some speed. Gus was the lone XC qualifier from Roncalli in 2022, and he’s got something to prove this year in Class C as he searches for a collegiate program.


Elkhorn Mount Michael is also bringing talent to Class C. Michael Rodgers leads the team after he finished 36th last year (17:46) and ran 4:43/10:13 in the spring. Oliver Sorensen is likely the #2 man on the team; he ran 4:45 this spring.


We’ve scoured the junior high XC and track results – as limited as they are – and found a few boys who make may an impact this fall:


· Tyler Hetz of Gothenburg finished 4th at the JH State XC meet and then smoked a terrifying 4:35 1600 at the JH State track meet with Lexington’s Isac Portillo-Munoz one second behind. Was it a once-in-a-lifetime race? Nope, he also ran 4:35 eight days prior, winning by 31 seconds, and he ran 4:46 and 4:56 in April. A junior high 4:35 is…. crazy. Gothenburg's team may also include Evan Pelzer; he ran a 2:14 4x800 split and 5:05 1600 at JH State.

· Trevin Opp of Lincoln Christian finished 17th at the JH State XC meet, not a bad outcome, and then he popped off a 4:53 at the JH State track meet in Gothenburg. That will play.

· Asher Saka of Alliance finished 6th at the JH State XC meet and ran 4:59 at the JH State track meet. His teammate Devin Graham also posted some solid XC times, but Devin was primarily a jumper during the track season so I’m not confident about which fall sport he’ll select.

* Esten Kohl of Plattview finished 9th at JH State XC and ran 2:19/5:00 during the track season.


Our predictions:

Nerd the Third: My original pick was Logan Lebo, but after we posted the article we learned that Lincoln Lutheran has moved from being in Class C to being the 29th largest Class D school. (I told you we didn't study this chapter.) With Logan Lebo out of the picture, I'm going with Gus Lampe.


Nerd Senior: I think it’s a four-way fight between Raszler, Hohlen, Graves and Lampe. Hohlen had the most successful track season, so I’m going to give him the nod with Lampe close behind.


Team race:

As noted above, Gothenburg returns their four scorers from 2022 State XC when they edged Lincoln Christian by two points. All four returners are medal threats, and freshman Tyler Hetz should earn a varsity spot in short order.


Lincoln Christian returns all six members of their 2022 State squad. In addition to Carter Hohlen and Jackson Feauto, they also return Nolan Engel (4:50/10:18 as a freshman), Joel Feauto (2:03 plus 5:01 in his only 1600 attempt), Dahlton Fisher (2:06 split but primarily a 300H/400 guy) and Samuel Riddle (5:04/11:17). Trevin Opp should have a good chance at varsity.


The amazing Olberding twins have graduated from Ft. Calhoun but the team returns four boys from their State squad, led by sophomore William Dennis (4:55). Ft. Calhoun’s sixth man finished 43rd last year, so all of their boys are within shooting distance of the top 25.


Milford returns its top two runners in Gavin Dunlap and Avery Carter, but they’ll need significant help from newcomers to stay in the top four teams.


Aurora returns four of five, including their top three, and could improve upon their 5th place finish in 2022.


Bloomfield-Wausa, led by Luke Woockman, returns all four members of the State squad, and should improve on their 8th place finish.


Elkhorn Mount Michael has a relatively large squad since the school strongly recommends sports participation. In addition to Michael Rodgers and Oliver Sorensen, we’ve been following a number of the MM boys on Strava this summer. Potential varsity members include Jack Teetor, Max Teetor, Finn Murphy and Jack Carda, plus about ten other boys.


Our predictions:

Nerd the Third: Sell your house and go with Gothenburg, with Lincoln Christian close behind and Aurora and Mt. Michael fighting for third.


Nerd Senior: I apologize for Nerd the third; we don’t encourage gambling. I thought Lincoln Christian would earn the title last year, so I’ll go with that pick again this fall. Gothenburg will be within single digits, followed by Aurora, Mt. Michael and Ft. Calhoun.


******


First published at www.preprunningnerd.com by Henry Slagle and Jay Slagle on August 23, 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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