Contributors: Nerd the Third, Nerd Senior
We continue our season previews with a look at the Class D boys. In contrast to the Class D girls (see our preview here), well over half of the boys field has graduated, leaving individual and team titles wide open. Here are the top 10 returners:
1) Raden Orton (5th in 2021), North Central, Senior
2) Jarrett Miles (6th), North Platte St. Patrick’s, Junior
3) Kolter Van Pelt (8th), Stanton, Senior
4) Justin Sherman (11th), Cornerstone Christian, Senior
5) Mason Hagan (12th), North Central, Junior
6) Colin Rooney (15th), Sandhills Valley, Junior
7) Brody Taylor (16th), Ponca, Junior
8) Clinton Turnbull (17th), Centennial, Senior
9) Drew Moyer (19th), Palmyra, Senior
10) Mason McGreer (20th), Perkins County, Sophomore
The headlines in the 2021 Class D field were definitely skewed towards seniors, including the top four finishers at State XC. With those four graduated, we're guaranteed to have a new state champion in 2022 and there's no shortage of contenders. On the returner list above, only these three boys were on team qualifiers last year.
Jarrett Miles, who had some incredibly competitive races with Trevor Kuncl (Mullen) and Damin Luedke (Paxton) in the spring, leads the North Platte St. Patrick’s squad. Jarrett won the Class D 1600 (4:40) and placed 3rd in the 3200 (10:14) in May, so he has considerable momentum (and a sweet Nerd t-shirt) going for him.
Kolter Van Pelt has been training partners high stick with Abraham Larson (7th in 2021) for the past three years, so he will have to adjust to being Stanton's sole leader. Like many Class C and D athletes, his athletic.net profile is exceptionally slim, but he ran 2:04 and 4:39 at State while competing in Class C.
Justin Sherman of Cornerstone ran 2:16, 4:53 and 10:18 (8th at Class C State) during the spring, and improved to a 2:06 in the USATF summer season.
North Central's Raden Orton, 5th a year ago, ran 53.5, 2:07 and 4:49 this spring, so watch for his finishing kick during tight races. His teammate Mason Hagan (12th in 2021 XC) is also a 400/800 specialist with PRs of 54.0 and 2:02 this spring. Colin Rooney of Sandhills Valley improved his 15th place finish in XC to 11th in the State 3200 (11:03). Brody Taylor of Ponca had PRs of 4:42 and 10:29 during track, while Clinton Turnball of Centennial and Andrew Moyer of Palmyra should be consistently under 18:00 minutes after running between 17:50 and 18:10 for much of 2021. Mason McGreer of Perkins County, the lone sophomore on this list, had an exceptional freshman track season, finishing 7th at Class C State in the 1600 (4:39) and 3rd in the 3200 (10:01, a 29-second PR). Those stellar track times arguably put him as one of the favorites this fall.
One new face this season comes to XC with an impressive track resume. Trey Robertson of Wallace had arguably the best Class D distance performance at the 2021 State meet, finishing 3rd in the 1600 (4:38) and winning the 3200 (10:06). His 2022 track season ended prematurely in April, presumably due to an injury, but we've been told that he's going on all in on running after playing football his first three years of high school.
Top 5 teams in 2021:
1) Norfolk Catholic - 20 points (2 return)
2) McCool Junction - 39 points (3 return)
3) Cornerstone Christian - 39 points (3 return)
4) NP St. Pats - 40 points (5 return)
5) Ainsworth - 74 points (2 return)
We think the team title is a toss-up between McCool Junction, Cornerstone Christian, North Platte St. Pats and Norfolk Catholic. Remember: in the Class D team race, each school can run up to five athletes at the District and State mees, with the top three scoring.
NPSP's top four returners competed in track this spring. In addition to Jarrett Miles' gold medal performance at State T&F, Dax Connick ran 2:12/4:59, Porter Connick placed 8th in the 3200 in 10:58, and Billy Tolstedt qualified in the 3200.
Trenton Neville (26th in 2021) and Luke Brugger (33rd) of McCool Junction both qualified for State T&F in distance events, and they just need one more scorer (will it be Joey Pedersen?) to post a low mark.
Cornerstone Christian may arguably field the deepest group of Class D running nerds, led by Justin Sherman (11th in 2021, track marks of 2:06, 4:53 and 10:18), Ashton Hughes (22nd in 2021, track marks of 4:49 and 10:19) and Benjamin Ehrenberg (4:56 and 10:42 this spring).
While Norfolk Catholic graduated three State runners, all five of their 2021 competitors finished in the top 34 - which suggests they may have JV runners waiting in the wings to bolster the varsity squad. Nathan Kalous and Dominic Liess were their 6th and 7th runners at their 2021 conference meet, so they may be the next men up.
Orton and Hagan of North Central placed 2nd and 3rd at 2021 Districts, but to qualify as a team they would have needed a third runner to run in the top 25 at Districts. The three other boys on the 2021 Districts team have graduated, but perhaps a newcomer can help the team reach Kearney.
Elkhorn Valley finished 6th with 76 points and returns all five athletes. Their top three runners in 2021 were freshman Isaiah Eckert and sophomores Waylon Warneke and Owen Vondra. If puberty runs its natural course, this young team should be quite a bit better in 2022.
West Holt also returns all five boys, led by seniors Ian Larson and Tyler Jelinek. West Holt's 3rd and 4th runners last season were a sophomore and freshman, so look for West Holt to move up from their 8th place finish.
Potential freshman impact
It's difficult to project which Class D junior high studs will run cross country since those boys may also be good candidates for their football teams. Based on a non-exhaustive review of the Junior State XC and T&F meets, here are some fellows that may make an impact:
Jacob Swanson - Nebraska Christian - 9th at State XC in 10:44 with PRs of 2:24 and 5:08 on the track. He's the younger brother of 2021 silver medalist Hannah Swanson.
Connor Rohrer - Creighton - 13th at State XC in 10:46, and PRs of 2:23 and 4:43 (5th at JH State meet).
Will Nelson - Boyd County - 22nd at State XC in 11:01, and PRs of 2:16 and 5:00 in track.
Haven Hauxwell - Chase County - 14th at State XC in 10:50; PRs of 2:22 and 5:10.
Kael Garrett - Medicine Valley - 2:15 and 5:00 at the State T&F meet; no XC results.
Taylor Homan - Crawford - 4:57 at the State T&F meet; no XC results.
Colton Kroeker - Perkins County - 2:18 at the State T&F meet; no XC results.
Connor Sutton - Sandhills Thedford - 29th at State XC in 11:11; 5:31 PR in track plus the long jump, 4x100 and 4x400 in almost every one of his meets posted to athletic.net.
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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.