Updated: Aug 19
Contributors: Nerd the Third, Nerd Senior
We continue our season preview with a look at the Class C girls. The top 10 returners are expected to be:
1) Keelianne Green (1st), Arlington, Senior
2) Lindee Henning (2nd), Ogallala, Junior
3) Talissa Tanquary (4th), Sidney, Junior
4) Hailey O’Daniel (8th), Arlington, Sophomore
5) Lilly Kenning (9th), Milford, Sophomore
6) Makinley Fuller (10th), Chadron, Senior
7) Mallory Applegate (11th), Cozad, Senior
8) Karyn Burkholder (16th), Cozad, Senior
9) Kyla Krusemark (18th), Wayne, Sophomore
10) Lauren Henning (19th), Ogallala, Junior
** Olivia Lawrence (6th in Class B), Platteview, Junior
** Samantha Rodewald (8th in Class B), McCook, Senior
Last year at the Class C girls state meet, Keeli Green of Arlington stormed away and won by a whopping 34 seconds. While she was the favorite going into the meet, she wasn't the pre-season favorite given that she hadn't run more than two miles before June 2021. Keeli continued her excellence this past spring, taking home Class B state medals in the 800 (2:17), LJ, TJ and 4x400. Tabbed by observers as a potential pentathlete in college, Keeli is out to prove that she's not a one-hit wonder in cross country. Arlington may change at least one meet on their schedule this season, so there's a chance that Keeli will get to mix it up with more Class A and B competitors.
Despite Keeli's accolades, we do not expect this season to be a walk in the park for her given how stacked the field is. While eight of the fifteen 2021 medalists a year ago have graduated, there is quite a bit of top-level talent returning. Among those returners is Keeli's teammate, Hailey O’Daniel, who had a stellar freshman season on both the course (8th) and track (1:05, 2:32, 5:34).
Lindee Henning of Ogallala was undefeated going into State XC and was the only competitor who really took a shot at challenging Green on a miserably hot day. Lindee finished 2nd in Kearney, matching her 2020 finish. Henning won most of her races this past spring, with PRs of 5:23 (3rd at Class B State) and 11:40 (4th), so she definitely has momentum going into her junior season. Lindee's sister and training partner, Lauren (5:55/12:54 on the track), also adds to the Ogallala talent as they make a bid to qualify as a team. We interviewed both Keeli and Lindee prior to 2021 State, and here's that article.
Talissa Tanquary will have her hands full as she leads Sidney on their title defense, but she certainly seems capable with multiple marks under 20 minutes last year. She ran 1:02/2:25 during the spring. Three strong sophomores are Lilly Kenning (5:39/12:16) from Milford, who has had a solid summer of training, and the Krusemark twins from Wayne. The Krusemark girls dealt with injury and heat-related issues that were speed bumps during their freshman year, but we expect them to elevate their performances this year. Kyla had PRs of 5:49 and 12:23 during track, while Jala ran 2:38, 5:47 and 12:23.
Makinley Fuller, a senior at Chadron, is a hurdle specialist in the spring but also has three top-10 District finishes in XC. Finally, the Cozad duo of Karyn Burkholder (1:01, 2:35, 3rd in 300 hurdles) and Mallory Applegate (1:02, 2:30, 5:32) can lean on each other during training and races.
Here's an interesting twist on Class realignment that we weren't aware of until we published out Class B preview. McCook has been reclassified from Class B to C, and that throws another stud into the Class C title race. McCook only sent two athletes to the Class B state meet last year, one of them being Samantha Rodewald. Rodewald was one of our co-favorites going into State XC but didn't have her best day, finishing 8th. We have interviewed (see link here) few athletes who work as hard as Samantha, and we expect that she'll be in the thick of the title chase as she hunts for her fourth State XC medal.
And another post-publication update: Platteview jumped from Class C to Class B in 2021 and it now goes back to Class C for 2022. While Olivia Lawrence had no trouble adjusting to new competition in Class B, she should continue to excel in Class C. Of note; she placed higher in the Class B state meet (6th) than she had in Class C (10th) in 2020. She loses a solid training partner in Izzy Clarke, who finished 34th last year but has transferred to Papio South for 2022/2023.
1) Sidney - 64 points (4 return led by Talissa Tanquary)
2) Lincoln Christian - 67 points (3 return)
3) Chadron - 95 points (4 return)
4) DC West - 96 points (4 return)
5) Arlington - 101 points (all five return)
In Class C, up to six athletes per team compete at State with the top four results included in team scores. Sidney returns four from its State championship team, but they'll need to replace Lydia Peters, who finished 15th place last year. In addition to Talissa Tanquary's return, Jenju Peters (25th) ran 2:55/6:16 during the spring while Rheo Dykstra (54th) had PRs of 2:55 and 13:29.
Chadron may be one of the favorites. They return Makinley Fuller (10th in 2021), Emma Witte (31st), Grace Pyle (44th) and Aspen Graves (81st). In addition, Chadron could be adding a number of freshmen (see below) that could make a run at a varsity spot.
DC West lost its #5 runner to graduation but returns Olivia Malousek (23rd at 2021 State, 5:53/12:25 in track), Morgan Morrison (32nd, 1:11, 2:49), Maria Malousek (38th, 2:27, 6:00), Ava Grimm (56th, 2:44, 5:55) and Maria Aydt (116th). In addition, freshman Addi Strong (see below) has a good chance to be a scorer at State.
Arlington has two absolute studs in Keeli Green and Hailey O'Daniel, so they just need some improvement at the 3rd and 4th spots to be a title contender. Sophomore Kelise Cook-Krivohlavek (97th in 2021) had the best spring of the other four returners, running 1:08, 2:39 and 6:32. I've also heard good things about sophomore Whitney Wollberg, a 400 (1:05) and PV athlete in the spring; Whitney ran 22:14 twice during her freshman season.
Wayne returns all of their 2021 State team: Kyla Krusemark (18th), Laura Hasemann (22nd) and Jala Krusemark (26th). We reviewed the Krusemarks' spring accomplishments above, and Hasemann (5:57/12:43) also put in the work. Wayne probably needs one of the other returners - Norah Armstrong, Olivia Hanson or Frantzdie Barner (a sprinter in track) - to improve their time by one minute for Wayne to make a push for the podium.
Fort Calhoun placed 11th in 2021 and returns their #1, #2, #4 and #5 runners. Bria Bench (21st in 2021, 5:56/12:38 in track), Dala Drowne (35th, sprinter), Harley Schwarte (87th, 6:24) and Kaitlyn Thalman (107th, 6:19) are the returners. The Pioneers also add two freshman (listed below) that should compete for varsity spots and potentially for scoring spots. There are some question marks here but also a lot of potential.
Aurora (9th team in 2021) returns all but Elena Kuehner (14th in 2021), and may pick up a strong freshman (see below). Milford (12th in 2021) is led by Lilly Kenning and returns all six State competitors. Minden returns all six 2021 State athletes but needs to develop a high stick to improve on their 13th place finish. Cozad didn't qualify last year but just needs a little depth to help out their two high sticks in Applegate and Burkholder.
Freshman impact potential
From our review of results from the Junior High State XC (3000 meters) and T&F meets, the Class C girls will have the largest influx of high-caliber freshmen. While we aren't sure that all of these girls will run XC, here's a good list of potential studs:
Addi Strong - DC West - 3rd (11:39) at State XC and 2:51/5:51 on the track.
Liston Crotty - Auburn - 6th (11:43) at State XC, followed by a 21:19 5K at Nike Regionals.
Maeli Nelson - Fort Calhoun - 10th (12:01) at State XC, and 2:32/5:48 during track.
Bella McLaughlin - Fort Calhoun - 51st (12:59) at State XC, 1:11/2:46 during track, a solid contender for a varsity spot.
Cali Hendrickson - Chadron - 11th (12:06) at State XC, 2:41/6:04 on the track.
Jentsyn Fuller - Chadron - 22nd (12:21) at State XC, 2:49/5:56 in track.
Ava Pyle - Chadron - 36th (12:36) at State XC, 1:08/2:43 in track.
Alexis Ericksen - Aurora - 13th (12:09) at State XC, 2:46/6:06 in track.
Have you seen our other season previews? They're posted at https://www.preprunningnerd.com/blog.
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Originally written for and posted at www.preprunningnerd.com by Jay Slagle. Did you love reading about Nebraska high school running? Visit www.preprunningnerd.com for rankings, results, photos, long-form articles, frequent updates on our blog page, Nerd gear, and a bunch of other cool stuff that only running nerds would think to do. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow @PrepRunningNerd on Twitter and Instagram, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.