Class A distance preview
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Contributor: Nerd the Third
We already covered all of the classes in another article, but Class A distance running was our specialty in the early days of Nerding, so we thought we'd take a deep dive here. Nerd the Third took a break from his rigorous accounting coursework to author this article. Yes, we know there are other great runners who could be included on this list, but at least concede this much - even with your favorite runner listed below, the Nerd team is still writing more about Nebraska T&F than anyone.
Gabe Hinrichs, Senior, Elkhorn South
Fresh off an all-class gold in cross country and the Nike Regional title, Hinrichs (Notre Dame commit) looks to ride a wave of momentum into track season. In the 800m-1600m-3200m triple last spring, he took 2nd-1st-1st, an impressive showing against talented fields that included Daniel Romary (Iowa State commit) and Liem Chot (now at Temple). Gabe has not competed since Eastbay Nationals in December, and his biggest battles this season could be against the clock. Milo Greder holds the 1600m state record at 4:09.8, and Seth Hirsch’s 3200m record is 8:54.1, while Gabe ran 4:12.40 and 8:59.66 last May at State. By the end of May, we expect Gabe will have firmly established himself as one the best distance high school runners in Nebraska history.
Daniel Romary, Senior, Lincoln Northeast
While Daniel's 2nd place finish at State XC was impressive and somewhat surprising, he is at his best on the track. After running 1:52 (1st) 4:14 (3rd) and 9:04 (3rd) at 2021 State - arguably the most electric series of races in State meet history - he accomplished even more in August, winning the USATF national championship in the 1500m (3:53.4) and finishing 2nd in the 800. Daniel (Iowa State) has incredible leg speed and may be the only one in the state to rival Hinrichs’ range from 800-3200. Unfortunately, an injury has been keeping him from training well this offseason, but he should have plenty of time to get back into top form.
Sam Kirchner, Senior, Millard West
Like most Class of 2022 boys, Sam Kirchner (Nebraska) of Millard West only has one track season of note, but it's an awfully good one. He ran five 3200's last spring, all in less than 9:40, and finished 4th in State in 9:24 behind Hinrichs, Chot and Romary. He came back the next day to finish 5th in the 1600 in 4:20, a 5-second PR. That momentum carried into the XC season, where he was ranked in the top three in the last five weekly rankings before bonking at the State meet. Aside from that one bad race, he's been exceptionally consistent, and that should continue this spring. Sam has been a top-flight triathlete for several years, so he appears to have devoted most of the winter to swimming racing instead of hitting indoor track meets. We're confident that Sam will be a factor in this year's State races.
Braden Taylor, Senior, Fremont
Fremont enters this spring with a talented group of seniors, including Tulsa-commit Braden. He possesses 1:53 800 speed (3rd at State 2021) but has also shown plenty of strength in his 1600 performances. He has gotten off to a hot start in the indoor season running 1:58.07 and 4:25.31, ranking #1 and #3 among 2022 indoor performances. With Liem Chot graduated, watch for Taylor to improve upon his fourth-place finish in the State 1600 last year while battling an elite group of 800 runners.
Carter Waters, Senior, Fremont
With perhaps the most impressive indoor performance of 2022, Carter begins his final track season before heading to Tuscaloosa in the fall. We already knew he in the top tier last year when he ran 4:23 and 9:19 last spring and placed 4th at State XC in October (fun fact: he's earned five State medals in the last 16 months). Despite that, we were shocked to see him run a 9:15 on a 300-meter indoor track. Seriously, in February? Waters has the potential to hang with the big names of Hinrichs and Romary this season, as well as contribute to Fremont’s team title hopes.
Nolan Miller, Senior, Fremont
The third stud in Fremont’s distance squad (not to mention UNK-commit Tyson Baker), Nolan is a Nebraska commit who has also delivered some gutsy performances indoor. He PRed with a 4:26 1600 and has the potential to run sub-1:55 in the 800 this year, in the Nerd’s opinion. He will definitely be busy at State as Fremont defends their 4x800 title, but do not expect that to be Miller’s only race at Burke.
Grant Wasserman, Senior, Lincoln North Star
Grant seemed to have found his sweet spot in the 3200m last spring with at 9:31 PR and 7th place finish at State, but his 1600 times this indoor season may change his plans. He ran 4:25.0 on a 200-meter flat track at Concordia, which is a great indicator for fast times during outdoor. He has big shoes to fill, as Liem Chot graduated North Star last year, but his stock seems to be rising right now. The brainy Wasserman has been accepted into the prestigious Raikes program at UNL, and he was recently offered a spot on the Nebraska cross country team to extend his competitive running career.
Colby Erdkamp, Senior, Gretna
Colby (Nebraska commit) had a breakout season last spring, running 4:19 in the mile and 9:25 in the 3200m. Those times put him near the top of the state as a junior. Injuries and illnesses have limited his success during the past two cross country seasons, but he will be glad to be back on the track. He posted the fastest 1600m time of the indoor season (4:24.85), which is quite impressive for February. Watch for Erdkamp to be sharp even early in the season.
Juan Garcia, Senior, Grand Island
While Juan hasn't seen gotten much publicity during his high school career, he's been one of the most consistent boys in the state with 8th-, 7th- and 7th-place finishes at the last three State XC meets. Juan excels at longer distances and may be better suited for 5K and 10K distances in college (he has yet to sign), but he's got PRs of 4:32 (February 2022) and 9:40 (spring 2021). It doesn't take much imagination to see him going under 4:27 and 9:25 this spring. We're excited to see where he'll be running in college.
Evan Caudy, Senior, North Platte
Speaking of consistency, Evan (UNK commit) may even top Juan's results. He's placed 5th, 4th, and 3rd at the last three State XC meets and last October's result was the most impressive - he finished behind Hinrichs and Romary but ahead of several runners listed above. On the track, he has PRs of 4:26 and 9:48, and we see him dropping below 4:25 and 9:30 this spring if he's had a good off-season.
Piercze Marshall, Junior, Millard West
Piercze is already a two-time XC medalist, finishing 15th as a sophomore and 5th last fall. His 1600 PR of 4:40 is from a 2021 indoor meet, primarily because he focused on the 3200 for most of last spring. He dipped up 10:00 four times last spring with a 9:42 PR at Districts and a 5th-place finish at State.
Issac Ochoa, Sophomore, Norfolk
Isaac has the rare opportunity to medal at four Class A State XC meets after placing 5th as a freshman and 6th as a sophomore. While younger runners seem to find the best success in the 3200, Isaac only competed in the 4x800 and 1600 last spring, culminating with a 4:27 PR and 9th-place finish at State. Isaac did not race over the winter so we don't have an early indicator of his fitness level.
Ahmed Muse, Senior, Omaha Central
Muse enters 2022 as one of the most consistent racers in the state. He attended multiple indoor meets and displayed incredible consistency, running close to his PB of 2:00.41 in every race. He had the 3rd fastest 800 time during the indoor season, just behind the 3rd and 6th place finishers at last year’s state meet. Muse has the experience to know how to race well, setting him up nicely to compete in championship races.
Joe Volkmer, Senior, Lincoln East
After a low-profile offseason that did not consist of any indoor racing, we're hearing reports that Volkmer has significantly bumped his mileage in hopes of securing his first individual state medal. As our dark horse candidate for a breakout season, Volkmer is a high-risk, high-reward pick to make some noise at Burke in May. Along with Junior teammate Isaac Graff (who just missed out on a State XC medal this fall), the two will look to find success similar to that of their Lincoln East girls' team.
Elli Dahl, Senior, Fremont
A two-time Class A state champion in cross country and 3 time individual state champion in track, the Nebraska commit holds the most impressive credentials of any girl in the state. She has the leg speed to run 2:23 in the 800, but her best races are the 1600 (5:00.58 PR) and the 3200 (10:47). After pacing off of Kayli Crews for a number of races during her junior year, Elli was the leader (and Jaci Sievers rarely more than a step behind) for all of the key races last fall. While she did not race on the indoor circuit, we have no doubt that she will be fit and ready to shoot for multiple state titles this spring.
Jaci Sievers, Junior, Elkhorn South
Jaci is fresh off of an incredible cross-country season that saw her place 2nd at state with an 18:27. She broke 18:00 in a post-season race, a feat few other Nebraska girls have accomplished. She shows no signs of slowing down, running a 5:03 mile (converts to a 5:01 1600) against a collegiate field at the UNL Classic in January despite virtually no speedwork and then a 4:57.86 mile (4:56.13 1600) last weekend at the New Balance nationals. According to our records, she's now 7th on the all time list:
Elizabeth Lange, Lincoln Pius, 4:49.3
Erin Lee, York, 4:49.6 (converted)
Aubree Worden, Scottsbluff, 4:50.06
Emily Sisson, Millard North, 4:51.42
Katie Spencer, Millard South, 4:55.18
Jenny Stricker, Lincoln Southeast, 4:55.6
Jaci Sievers, Elkhorn South, 4:56.13 (converted)
Anne Shadle, South Sioux City, 4:56.4 (converted)
Taylor Somers, Millard South, 4:57.58 (converted)
Donna Spicklemeier, Hayes Center, 4:58.06
We are hoping to see some great races between Jaci and Elli, but based on last spring's schedules we believe Elkhorn South and Fremont are only scheduled to meet at Harold Scott and State.
Stella Miner, Sophomore, Westside
If you were paying semi-close attention to the distance scene of Nebraska, you would have noticed Miner’s absence from the cross-country season. As a freshman at Marian, she won her last five races of the XC season, ending with a 18:11 and a four-second win at the 2020 State. She got off to a fast start during the 2021 track season, running 2:17, 5:05 and 10:56 by April 20th, but a stress reaction required her to rest for about three weeks before Districts. She finished 4th (11:04) and 6th (2:19) at State, a remarkable feat given that she had probably ran less than 20 miles totals in the prior month. She missed the transfer deadline last spring and had to sit out the fall season at Westside.
She now trains with Claire White, Reese Young-Oestmann (South Dakota) and Noelle Abels (UNK), three great runners, although her miles this winter have been limited to weekends due to her swim season. Despite the lack of winter mileage, Stella ran 2:15 and 5:11 indoors, which is a great indicator that she keeps improving. (Click here for race/interview footage from January.)
Deavion Deleon, Senior, Papillion South
Deavion has showed a steady progression throughout her running career, working her 800m PR from 2:31 down to sub 2:20. She posted a PR at an indoor meet this spring with a 2:18, putting her 2nd over the winter behind Stella Miner. She also has great speed in the 1600m with a 5:16 PR. Look for her to add to a star-studded girls distance field at state.
Claire White, Sophomore, Westside
Another Westside sophomore, Claire White ran the third fastest 1600m (5:18) during the indoor season. Based on her results during her first three seasons, where's she's collected four State medals, we expect that Claire will be ready to race well this spring when it matters. At state cross country, she executed a perfect race plan, staying patient and taking 3rd with a big PR. She's already proven that she's fit after her indoor performances, so she won't get off to the slow start that she had last spring.
Mia Murray, Sophomore, Lincoln East
Mia was ranked in the top 5 all XC season before finishing 8th at the State meet. She competed in West Virginia last spring, establishing PRs of 2:29, 5:21 and 11:22. With three sub-19:00 performances last fall, we expect her to be in the thick of things this spring.
Lucy Dillon and Taylor McCabe, Seniors, Fremont
Lucy placed 17th, 15th, 24th and 11th during her four State XC meets, but her strength is as a 400/800 runner. She ran the 400, 4x400, 800 and 4x800 at State, placing 2nd in the 800 (2:17), 2nd in the 4x400 and 1st in the 4x800. While she didn't place at State in the 400, her PR of 57.73 was the third fastest of the season behind super-studs Lauren Harris of Marian and and Kate Dilsaver of LSW. Taylor ran the same events at State as Lucy, finishing 3rd in 800 in 2:18. Taylor is an Iowa basketball commit and entered the State basketball tourney as the all-time Class A career scoring leader, so the start of her track season will be a bit delayed.
Brianna Rinn, Senior, Lincoln Southwest
Brianna had an exceptional 2021 State track meet, splitting 2:12 in the 4x800 on Day 1 before placing 4th in the 1600 in 5:10 and winning the 800 in 2:13. As a freshman, she placed 4th in the 800 with a 2:17, 10th in the 1600 in 5:16, and split 60.6 and 2:23 in the two relays. She's a four-time XC medalist, placing 14th, 12th 2nd and 4th. We haven't learned of a college commitment by Bri, but she will be a solid catch for whichever college signs her.
Berlyn Schutz, Junior, Lincoln East
A great contender since the moment she entered junior high, Schutz continues to grind out great performances. She placed 12th in both the 800m and 1600m last year at state, which sets her up nicely to make improvements this year. She ran a 5:23 at Concordia this spring, and seems ready to challenge her high school PR of 5:13 set when she was a freshman.
Isabella Bricker, Senior, Gretna
Like Schutz, Bricker has posted consistent marks in recent years but seems to be on the tipping point of a breakout season. Ranked 5th in the 1600m over the winter in 5:27, she came close to her outright PR of 5:24 from last year's State meet. A performance like that on an indoor track only promises faster times outdoors. She finished 13th at State XC in what appears to be her only year in XC.