Contributor: Nerd the Third
The top three teams at 2020 State return in 2021 with loaded rosters. Milford (87 points) returns its top four scorers, Sidney (99) returns its top five scorers, Fort Calhoun (101) returns all six finishers, and Lincoln Christian (102) returns runners #2-5. Furthermore, 8th place Minden (125) returns all six finishers.
Milford's four returners all ran track. Elliott Reitz finished 11th at 2020 State XC and ran 11:00 this spring. Carter Roth (25th in 2020, 4:57 in track), Hudson Mullet (42nd, 4:51) and Maddox Baack (48th, 2:14) should all be in good form.
Sidney also looks to be in solid shape, with all five returners competing in mid-distance or distance this spring. Daniel Bashtovoi (7th place in 2020 XC) ran 1:59, 4:34 (7th at Class B State) and 10:23. Mitchell Deer (2:03) and Treyson Johnstone (2:05) joined Bashtovoi on the 2nd place 4x800 team at State. Julian Maytorena and Tre Canas ran 2:22 and 2:20, respectively, during the spring. While freshman boys seem to play a less prominent role than girls each year, Sidney may be helped by a few. They should be adding Jashawn Davenport, who won both distance titles at the junior high State XC meet (10:23) and track meet (5:01). He has a 1600 PR of 4:59. In addition, Noah Canas finished 9th at the junior high State XC meet.
Fort Calhoun is led by Jacob Rupp (13th in 2020 XC, 2:09/4:32/9:58), and we think Rupp may be the only returner among these top contending teams with a sub-10:00 3200. Lance Olberding (17th, 4:51/10:59), Ely Olberding (38th, 5:20) and Johnathon Schwartz (103rd, 2:18) had solid distance times this spring while Luke Gustafson (92nd) focused on sprints and long jump.
Lincoln Christian top returners are Dahlton Fisher (44th in XC, 2:04 in track), Carter Hohlen (31st, 4:48/10:26) and Hudson Opp (52nd, 2:07/4:55/10:35).
Minden's six returners all competed in track. Konnor Verbeck (23rd in 2020 XC, 2:03/5:17 in spring), Cooper Land (24th, 2:07/4:46) and Alexander Brais (87th, 2:10/5:10) had the best marks in the spring. Minden may also find some help from freshmen. Last fall, Minden finished third at the junior high State XC meet, led by Caden Jameson in 5th place in 10:51 (3000 meters). Caden also ran a 5:03 1600 this spring and could provide some depth to the Minden team.
Each of the top three returning teams have a high stick on their roster, but we would expect the team title to be determined their 3rd and 4th runners. We think Milford, Sidney, Fort Calhoun and Minden will be tightly bunched, but we'll give the early nod to Sidney based on their returners and the qualify of their incoming freshmen. Here are the top teams from last year:
1. Milford (return 4 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
2. Sidney (return 5 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
3. Fort Calhoun (return 5 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
4. Lincoln Christian (return 4 of 6 state finishers, 0 medalists)