Contributor: Nerd the Third
David City Aquinas captured the 2020 Class D boys title with an incredibly low 14 points, followed by Norfolk Catholic (19) and Freeman (61). Aquinas graduated all five of their State runners, including 2020 State champ Payton Davis. Norfolk Catholic comes back with its three fastest runners from 2020, returning medalists Ben Hammond (7th at State XC, and 4:46/10/16 in the spring), Dalton Brunsing (9th, 4:42/10:24) and Dominic Liess (15th, 5:07/11:09). Only three runners are scored in Class D team totals, so Norfolk Catholic is the odds-on favorite for a win. They're also among the few Class D teams from last year where all of the returners appeared to participate in track.
Freeman returns all five runners but it may be difficult to overcome Norfolk Catholic's star power. They are led by Wes Havelka (12th fastest returner from 2020, and PRs of 5:11/10:51 in the spring), Noah Jurgens (15th fastest, 2:16 in spring) and Tandon Buhr (2:08/5:02).
At the 2020 meet Stanton only fielded two runners, Abraham Larson and Kolter Van Pelt, and they placed 3rd and 4th. They have incomplete spring results on athletic.net, but Larson ran 4:43/10:20 for two 7th place medals at Class C State track while Van Pelt ran 4:36 for 6th at State. They'll need to find a third runner to qualify as team, but even a 60th-place finish by that runner could put them solidly in the hunt for a podium finish since there are so many individual qualifiers in Class D.
Axtell, 4th in 2020 with 68 points, loses its top two runners to graduation but returns its next three. McJool Junction, 5th with 69, loses high stick Tyler Neville but returns the other four boys. Sixth place finisher Ainsworth looks to be in good shape, bringing back all five boys including the fastest returner Ty Schleuter (2nd in 2020, 5:02/10:14 in track), Thomas Ortner (61st in 2020, no track times) and Trey Appelt (5:09 in track).
Among other State teams, Sandhills (7th), North Platte St. Patrick (8th), Shelton (13th), Bayard (17th) and Doniphan (18th) return at least four finishers from 2020. Here's the status of the top teams from 2020:
Aquinas Catholic (Returns 0 of 5 state finishers, 0 medalists)
Norfolk Catholic (returns 3 of 5 state finishers, 3 medalists)
Freeman (returns all 5 state finishers, 0 medalists)
Axtell (Returns 3 of top 5 state finishers, 0 medalists)