Contributor: Nerd the Third
Boone Central captured the 2020 title with 74 points, with seniors representing three of their top four scorers. While they return three finishers in 2021, including 7th-place medalist Alicia Weeder, they face an uphill battle in 2020. Douglas County West finished 2nd in 2020 with 100 points and it returns five of six finishers and its top five scorers. Olivia Malousek (11th at 2020 State XC, with 5:39/12:01 PRs), Morgan Morris (38th, 2:40) and Maria Malousek (40th, 2:33/5:49) had solid times during track, the other two returners (Paxton Paulson, 41st, and Ellie McCarville, 49th) focused mostly on sprints and jumps.
Lincoln Christian finished in 3rd in 2020, just a point behind DC West, and they return all five finishers from 2020. Sadye Daniell finished 6th at State last fall and recorded PRs of 2:33, 5:29 and 11:55 in the spring. Ava Schneider (47th) posted a 2:31 PR while Riley Dallman (52nd) ran 2:40/6:04 in the spring, while it appears that 2nd fastest returner Annie Hueser (31st) may have focused on basketball.
Ogallala (107 points) was close behind last year in 4th, and they return five of six finishers, led by 2020 runnner-up Lindee Hanning . Lindee placed 7th in Class B State 1600 (5:26) and 3200 (11:53). However, the rest of the returners either didn't have as much success in track or didn't post times this spring, so we can't gauge their strength going into the fall.
Close on Ogallala's heels are Chadron (112 points, all returning), Pierce (117, four returning), Sidney (120, six returning), Minden (148, five returning) and Aurora (149, five returning), and all have legitimate shots at the title. Chadron's six returners all competed in track but only a few focused exclusively on distance races, with jumps and hurdles thrown in. Chadron isn't projected to have a high stick but the gaps between their top runners in 2020 was fairly slim. Defending champ Alexus Sindelar should pace Pierce even she didn't compete in track this spring, and teammates Callie Arnold (2:25 PR in track) and Peyton Simmons (6th at State in 4x400) should be high placers.
Milford graduated its top three runners from 2020 but may be adding Lilly Kenning, who finished 4th (11:47) at the junior high State XC meet and then won the junior high State track meet 1600 in 5:28. A 5:28 would have earned a medal in the Class C State 1600 this spring, so Lilly has some serious street cred.
Finally, Bloomfield-Wausa finished 3rd in Class D in 2020 with 47 points, and they return four of their five State finishers. Those four had an average finishing time of 21:17 in 2020, compared to top 4 average times of 21:13 by DC West and 21:14 by Lincoln Christian.
The biggest unknown in team and individual standings may be the impact that freshmen have this year. Class C featured six freshman medalists in 2020. Aside from Lilly Kenning of Milford, Class C competitors didn't seem to score particularly high in the distance races at the Junior High State track meet, but that doesn't mean that this year's freshman class will be quiet.
This division may be the most competitive team race at State with so little separation between the nine teams that bring back most of their rosters. If we had to guess, we think it will be a dogfight between DC West, Lincoln Christian and Bloomfield-Wausa for the top spot The status for the top four teams from 2020:
Boone Central (return 3 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Douglas County West (return 5 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Lincoln Christian (return all 5 state finishers, 1 medalist)
Ogallala (return 5 of 6 state finishers, 1 medalist)
(Class D 3rd place) Bloomfield-Wausa (Returns 4 of top 5 state finishers, 1 medalist)