Contributor: The Nerd
Fremont (58) handily won the 2020 boys title with its top 6 runners among the first 22 finishers. They return five boys who finished 10th, 13th, 17th, 22nd and 49th at State. In 2020, Coach McMahon had so much depth that he had multiple options for his last two state berths, and we don't expect that to change this year. With Nolan Miller (1:56/4:30 this spring) and Carter Waters (4:23/9:19) leading the pack, we expect Fremont to be solidly in the hunt for another title.
Millard West returns six of its top seven, led by Sam Kirchner, who placed 3rd at State XC and then 4th (3200) and 5th (1600) at State track. They graduated their 4th finisher from 2020, but also return medalist Piercze Marshall, Joey Hartnett and Seth Fey. In addition, two freshman stepped up in the track season and should contribute: Jack Witte ran 4:26 while Porter Bickley recorded a 4:35/10:07.
Prep was 3rd in 2020 and has some big shoes to fill with 2020 medalists Nerd the Third and Jack Schembari both graduating, but sophomore Denny Chapman (27th in 2020) and seniors Cade Neubauer (injured last fall), John Burns (29th) and Ethan Weber (60th) should provide stability.
Lincoln North Star moves on without standout Liem Chot but Grant Wasserman, who had a breakout season last fall, looks to lead an experienced group of returnees. Papillion South loses super-human Zach Jones and Peyton Anthony, but returns its next five runners in 2021. We wouldn't sleep on either team due to their depth and their great coaching.
We expect Gretna and Elkhorn South to make some noise this year. Gretna (188 points) returns all but Cade Suing (their #2 at 2020 State), and Colby Erdkamp (4:20/9:25) will likely be a high stick based on his outstanding track season. Elkhorn South (161) is led by Gabe Hinrichs but has seen great growth from Luke Johnson (4:29) and Grant Dixon (2:00) since last fall. Finally, Norfolk and Lincoln East return their top 5 from last year, and Pius returns six of its seven State finishers.
We normally say that the team race is more interesting than the individual competition. However, if the weather cooperates, we think we're looking at a huge number of sub-16:00 runners this year. We have six sub-9:30 runners - Hinrichs, Romary, Wagner, Kirchner and Erdkamp, plus Carson Noecker in Class C. We have several boys who have excelled at the 5,000 meter distance, including Evan Caudy, Juan Garcia and Isaac Ochoa. If the weather and competition work out, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few attempts at sub-15:00.
Based on what we know so far, we predict a dogfight between Fremont and Millard West. The top teams from last year:
Fremont (return 5 of 7 state finishers, 2 medalists)
Millard West (return 6 of 7 state finishers, 2 medalists)
Creighton Prep (return 3 of 7 state finishers, 0 medalists)
Lincoln North Star (return 4 of 7 state finishers, 1 medalist)