Contributor: Nerd the Third
The depth of Class A girls running continues to amaze us and, based on the quality of the underclassmen, it seems like the best is yet to come. Lincoln East's pack running was phenomenal at 2020 State, with Spartan runners finishing 9th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 17th. Lincoln East (65 points) returns five of their seven state finishers, including medalists Izzy Apel, Peyton Svehla and Berlyn Schutz. The Spartans lose Jenna and Kylie Muma: Jenna is now running at Wichita State and Kylie has moved with her family to the Norris school district. Unfortunately, Kylie is unlikely to run at Norris this fall due to an injury.
Fremont (88 points) is always in the hunt for a team title, and Elli Dahl (5:00/10:47 in the spring) returns with three other State finishers, including her younger sister Maris (5:18/11:30). Fremont always rebuilds quickly, so we expect they'll field a quality seven at State. Lucy Dillon (57 PR in 400, 2nd place at State in 800 with a 2:17) and Mia Wagner (5:27/11:43) round out the returners. Elli's 2020 season was compressed to four weeks due to a late-summer injury, so she's one of the favorites to win State.
Millard West (97 points) returns six finishers, including their top three from State - Emily Gilbert, Sydney Beaudin and Isabelle Hartnett (5:18/11:24). Neither Gilbert nor Beaudin run track so we don't have a read on their fitness. However, with Millard West's traditional firepower, we expect them to make a serious run at Lincoln East.
Lincoln Southwest (102) returns its 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th runners, including Bri Rinn (2:13/5:10) who will be in the fight for the individual title.
Kearney (174 points) was quite a way back in 2020 but returns its 2nd through 6th runners. Hannah Godwin now runs for the Huskers but the team has great depth.
The two most intriguing teams may be Omaha Westside (176) and Millard North (214). Westside returns its top six runners, and just needs one or two runners to step up to complement the consistent running by Claire White, Reese Young-Oestmann (5:19/11:22) and Noelle Abels (5:38/11:47). As a freshman, Claire earned 5th-place State medals in XC, the 3200 and 1600 with PRs of 18:39, 5:13 and 11:28, and three other freshmen were Westside's 4th, 5th and 6th finishers at State. . , Stella Miner has transferred to Westside but won't be eligible this fall, but her presence at presence should be a huge benefit to the team.
A similarly-young team is Millard North, whose top five finishers at 2020 State were freshman, so it's possible they could record big improvements with a bit of experience under their belts. Millard South, Elkhorn South and North Platte also return at least six of their 2020 finishers, and Jaci Sievers should be a high stick for Elkhorn south.
We call it a toss up between Lincoln East and Fremont in 2021, but they'll be pushed by Millard West and Lincoln Southwest. As is often the case, injuries (or lack thereof) will likely determine the winner.
The top teams from 2020:
Lincoln East (return 5 of 7 state finishers, 3 medalists)
Fremont (return 4 of 7 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Millard West (return 6 of 7 state finishers, 2 medalists)
Lincoln Southwest (return 4 of 7 state finishers, 1 medalist)