Contributor: Nerd the Third
The Class B boys race was the most senior-heavy of the eight divisions in 2020, with seniors taking 10 of the 15 medals. Three of the five returning medalists don't run track, so this team race is potentially more wide open than some of the other boys' fields.
The 2020 Skutt team has led some folks to debate about whether it deserves to be called one of the best Class B teams in history. It finished with 27 points, well ahead of Lexington (75) and Plattsmouth (78). Skutt graduated State champ Isaac Richards and runner-up Ryan Zavadil but returns its 3rd, 4th and 5th finishers from 2020. The top returners are McCoy Haussler (sophomore, 9th at 2020 State, played soccer this spring), Alexander Kennedy (senior, 17th at State, 53.8/2:08 in the spring) and junior Alex Rice (2:02/4:37/10:17), who finished 20th at State XC despite falling 1k into the race. The wildcard for Skutt this year may be runners who weren't on their roster last fall. Jack Wade played football as a freshman but has converted to XC after finishing 5th in the State 800 in 1:58.7. According to observers outside the program, there also may be a few freshman that are candidates for the varsity squad. Of course, no one wins a title on paper, and overconfidence can be just as damaging as injuries.
Lexington has some ground to make up on Skutt but it returns all of its 2020 State runners except Elmer Sotelomunoz (now running at Cloud County CC), who finished 6th in State last fall. While none of the Lexington returners stood out on the track this spring, we don't think that tells much about the upcoming season. Kevin Parada (4:49/10:25 in spring) didn't finish the 2020 State meet due to the same fall that impacted Alex Rice from Skutt - so that may give Kevin a bit more motivation this year. In addition, Lexington's Ian Salazar-Molina, who wasn't on the 2020 State XC roster as a freshman, ran a 10:05 for 5th place at State track this spring.
Plattsmouth returns its 1st, 3rd and 4th finishers, and XC/baseball athlete Sam Campin is the fastest returning finisher of any school with his 5th-place medal last year. Returners Elijah Dix and Carter Moss both ran 4:59 this spring.
Mount Michael (81) may be in the hunt as well since it returns its 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th finishers. Mark Schroll (21st at 2020 State XC, 4:36 PR), Jude Storch (27th, 2:09) and Max McCoy (58th, 4:50/10:18) all ran well this spring.
Gering finished 7th in 2020 but loses four of their top 5 runners, including the middle school principal's son Peyton Seiler (3rd place in 2020). On the bright side, Gering captured the junior high State XC title last fall with three boys in the top 13, including another son Nathan Seiler. It's going to be a challenge for Gering to return to State after losing so many experienced runners, but the future does look bright for that team. (On a different note, the Gering girls' team is led by defending champ Madison Seiler. The coach and the middle school principal have stumbled upon a genius recruiting strategy.)
South Sioux City only returns three boys from last year's 8th-place squad. Mesuidi Ejerso will be a high stick but the team will need to build its depth.
York returns all five of its 2020 finishers and those five all ran track this spring. Colin Pinneo had a great spring, running 4:34/9:56 and should improve on his 11th place finish in 2020. Jackson Schmid (2:17/5:13/hurdles) and Gabriel Zarraga (2:17/5:00/10:38) are their next two placers from last fall.
We think Lexington has a slight edge for the State title, followed by Skutt, Plattsmouth and dark-horse candidate Norris.
Norris (103) returns all but their 5th finisher from 2020. Zach Pittman (24th in 2020, 2:04/4:59/10:23), Tanner Cooper (25th, 1:58/4:42), Riley Boonstra (35th, 4:43/10:35) and Noah Pomajzl (72nd, 2:09/5:05) put in good work this spring.
The one thing working against Norris is that Pittman and Cooper and have reportedly cut their mullets for senior pictures. In addition to the secret running powers offered by mullets, "The Cutting" (it has an official name) is a slap in the face of Conrad Schroeder, the immediate past president of the Nebraska Mullet Association. The Nerd was at the ceremony in early April when Schroeder cut a 10-inch strand of his mullet, put it in a locket and gave it to Pittman, after which Pittman took over the presidency. Frankly, I thought the purpose of senior pictures was to immortalize fine haircuts (the now-bald Nerd had a perm in his senior pic), but maybe times have changed. Parents these days.
Here are the top teams from 2020:
Skutt (return 3 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Lexington (return 5 state participants, 0 medalists)
Plattsmouth (return 3 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Mount Michael (return 4 of 6 state finishers, 0 medalists)