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Fab Freshmen

Contributor: The Nerd

Week 2 rankings are now up on the Nerd website. It's early, we know, but after two weeks it's already clear that a few freshmen are going to be a factor this season. We only have a few freshman boys listed because the young fellars often struggle against their more mature counterparts, but that's not the case on the girls' side. Here are ten athletes who have caught our eye.

  • Abigail Burger, Kearney (10th in Class A) - Abigail knocked off a 19:53 at the Cozad Invite, finished 2nd behind Ogallala stud Lindee Henning. We're excited to get a look at Abigail at the UNK meet later this week.

  • Kendall Zavala, Norris (5th in Class B) - Based on Kendall's performances at the junior high State track and XC meets, we had a pretty good idea she would be special. She finished 3rd at the Norris Invite in 21:14 during Week 1 and then won the Beatrice Invite title in 20:01. A sub-20:00 performance doesn't seem far away.

  • Tommy Rice, Skutt (11th in Class B) - He's at least the third Rice brother to run at Skutt, and Tommy is doing his best to keep up with his brother Alex, a Skutt junior. Tommy finished 3rd at the Northwest 4k and 11th at the tough Thorell meet in 17:08. He was the 4th Class B runner at the Thorell meet.

  • Gabi Westfall, Skutt (6th in Class B) - Two meets into the season and Gabi already seems to be Skutt's high stick. She finished 2nd in the Northwest 4k and then 7th at Thorell in an impressive 20:21 - she was the second Class B finisher there.

  • Nathan Seiler, Gering (12th in Class B) - The Seiler family knows a little about running success. Peyton Seiler, now running at North Iowa Area CC, finished 3rd in Class B last fall, and junior sister Madison is the defending Class B girls champion. (Here's hoping Madison rebounds from a summer basketball injury.) Nathan finished 6th overall and 2nd in Class B at the Panhandle Classic in 18:05, and improved to 3rd overall and 2nd in Class B at the Gering Invite with a time of 17:27.

  • Lilly Kenning, Milford (3rd in Class C) - Lilly is just the latest standout from this storied program, and she won the Minden Invite in 20:07. We only see one result so far this year but count us as impressed.

  • Story Rasby, Sutherland (11th in Class C) - Story also only has one race on the books, but is was an impressive 20:51 at North Platte where she placed 6th against tough competition from multiple classes. She was the 2nd Class C runner behind Lindee Henning of Ogallala.

  • Peyton Paxton, Mullen (4th in Class D) - We saw Peyton's times from junior high and were pretty sure she'd do well, but she's exceeded our expectations. She's won her first two races - the Panhandle Classic in 20:38 and the Ainsworth Invite in 21:08 - while topping ranked runners from Ainsworth, West Holt, North Central, Sidney and Chadron.

  • Braelyn Gifford, NP St. Pats (13th in Class D) - Braelyn finished 13th in 21:35 at the all-class North Platte meet and was the top Class D runner. The next week she finished 2nd in 22:04 at the St. Pats meet behind her ranked teammate Kate Stienke.

We're also watching Emma Kennedy of Ainsworth, who arguably should have been ranked this week after her 21:39 at Ainsworth where she bested ranked Callie Coble (Mullen) and Daisy Frick (North Central). In addition, the Krusemark girls from Wayne are rising quickly. Kyla finished 2nd at Boone Central in 21:11 while Jala was 4th in 21:26. Finally, Lucy Gerraughty of Omaha Marian finished 6th at Thorell in 20:19, a 1:48 improvement from her Class of Metro time five days earlier, but then she understandably ran slower two days later at the Titan Classic.

We're excited to watch these young bucks, and we're certain they'll be even more ranked freshman by the end of the year.

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