Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Contributors: The Nerd and Nerd Junior
Like last week, we tracked down some of the larger Nebraska high school meets held last week, and those are posted on our Results tab. If we're missing a race and you have access to the results, send the link or the results to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was the first full week of racing for most high schools, although some pesky thunderstorms kaboshed a few meets on Thursday. Nearly every meet we were watching this week had a couple of studs facing off, and we're starting to see results that will help us refine our weekly rankings.
The weather was cooler this week but storms cancelled a few meets. We believe the Wilber-Clatonia meet would have included Wilber-Clatonia, Hartington-Newcastle (Carson Noecker), West-Point Beemer, Pender, Battle Creek, East Butler, Ponca, Winnebago, Oakland Craig and Madison. The Minuteman Invite would have included at least Grand Island (Juan Garcia), Class B contender Lexington and Kearney Catholic.
Plattsmouth Invite 8/31
This meet typically offers a fast course but unbearable temps. In the 2021 edition, the runners had good temps but a very muddy course that resulted in unremarkable times. On the girls side, Blair won with an impressive 19 points followed by Duchesne with 38. Chloe Schrick of Blair took the title in 21:14; Eva Wentz of Duchense was 2nd in 21:47. In the JV race, Duchesne's Mary Kate Kramper is working back into racing shape, and her 21:32 would have been 2nd in the varsity race - and the team race would have tightened to 22 to 28. I wouldn't sleep on Blair, though; their first 5 were in the top 13 at this meet.
Mesuidi Ejerso of Sioux City, the reigning Class B 3200 champ, cruised to an easy win in 17:12, followed by Dawson Fricke of Blair in 17:58. Blair and Mt. Michael each had three medalists, and Blair edged Mt. Michael 40 to 43. Plattsmouth was close behind in 51. I spoke with a coach who attended the meet, and he is impressed with the depth of Blair and Mt. Michael, but they each need at least one more high stick to compete well at State. Plattsmouth's Sam Campin, 5th at State XC in 2020, plays baseball in the spring and summer and got off to a slow start in 18:52. That's not a huge surprise and we expect him to work back into racing shape over the next month.
This was largely a Class B meet although Class C Ft. Calhoun and Auburn also competed. Returning State medalist Jacob Rupp of FC struggled to a 19:41 due to some hydration issues. The Olberding twins both medaled and freshman Travis Skelton is working hard to live up to his family's distance-running street cred.
Charlie Thorell 9/2
The Thorell meet in Seward is a mix of nearly all classes, with Class A doing most of the damage. The Seward course features a 45-degree turn almost immediately after the start, and the Skutt boys went out hard and led through 1k. Elkhorn South's Gabe Hinrichs and Lincoln North Star's Grant Wasserman gapped the pack at about 1500 meters and Hinrichs led Wasserman by about five seconds at 2k. Hinrichs won his 2021 debut in 15:51, followed by Wasserman in 16:29. In a meet scored with the first four placers, LNS won with 2, 4, 6, 13, 24, while Elkhorn South placed third with 1, 3, 5, 60, 71.
Nerd Junior was at the race and was most impressed with the Class B Skutt boys who finished 2nd. They had five medalists: Alex Rice (8th), Jack Wade (9th), Tommy Rice (11th), Thomas Richter-Egger (12th) and McColy Haussler (15th). Skutt lost the State champ and runner-up to graduation, but they are quickly returning to form.
On the girls' side, a four-girl pack of Jaci Sievers (Elkhorn South) and three Westside girls (Claire White, Reese Young-Oestman and Noelle Abels) broke away almost immediately and stuck together through two miles. Sievers and White separated shortly after that and, after a brief tour through the woods, Sievers emerged with a 5-second lead with 400 meters to go. (There is no truth to the rumor that White was attacked by a bear in the wooods.) She held onto a 19:07 win, just ahead of White's 19:10. Young-Oestmann finished 3rd in 19:23 and Abels in 19:55. Westside took the team win with 31 points for four scorers, followed by Elkhorn South in 49. Cece Gerard is solidifying her role as Westside's 4th runner and was 22nd in 21:24. Elkhorn South has a bit more depth and would have won a meet if five runners were scored - they finished 1, 12, 17, 19 and 21.
The most notable performances beyond the top runners were by two freshmen and a junior. Gabriella Calderon of Bennington finished 5th in 20:13 and is a solid contender in Class B. Freshman Lucy Gerraughty of Marian cut 1:48 off her time from last week to place 6th in 20:19, and Seward isn't known as an easy course. Freshman Gabi Westfall of Omaha Skutt finished in 20:21 in 7th place, and she was Skutt's top finisher.
I'm not sure we learned much about Gabe Hinrichs this week other than (a) he's in shape and (b) he makes a 15:55 on a hard course look pretty easy. As for the girls, Jaci Sievers is showing the form that made her one of just two girls to medal in the three distance events at Class A State last May (Kaylie Crews was the other), and Claire White continues to show that she's a top-5 contender.
Nerd Junior has already posted pictures of this race at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=PrepRunningNerd&set=a.875188956437515.
Ainsworth Invite, 9/2
The Ainsworth boys meet featured 6 teams and the girls had 5 teams with scores. Ty Schlueter of Ainsworth captured the boys title in 16:48, 54 seconds faster than his 2020 meet time and 0.3 seconds off his PR from the Class D State XC meet where he finished 2nd. With state champ Peyton Davis of Aquinas now competing at UNK, Ty's win reflects that he's still the man to beat in Class D. Trevor Kuncl of Mullen cruised to 2nd place and appears to be on track to improve on his 8th place finish at 2020 State. West Holt edged Ainsworth for the title, 17 to 19, with their first four finishing 5, 6, 9 and 10.
Peyton Paxton of Mullen continued her impressive freshman season, adding a second title in a week. Her 21:08 winning time was 30 seconds slower than her Panhandle time. Katherine Kerrigan and Emma Kennedy ran 21:35 and 21:37, respectively, pacing the Ainsworth girls to a slim win over North Central.
DC West, 9/2
The Elkhorn North boys didn't qualify for State in their first season, but that should change this year. Michael Grigsby won the DC West title in 16:31 after finishing 2nd to Class A Daniel Romary at Norris last week. Joe Dustin of Pius finished 2nd in 16:35 and led his team to the title with 34 points. Elkhorn North finished second with 44 points, with their boys finishing 1st, 10th, 16th and 17th. In an eleven-team meet of Class B and C teams (plus Class A Pius), Elkhorn North looked solid.
On the girls' side, the rumors of Elkhorn North's demise have been greatly exaggerated. While softball-player-turned-runner Keeli Green of Arlington won in 19:04, Elkhorn North's Britt Prince (19:33) and freshman Ella Ford (19:33) both ran solid times. Prince had an off day at Norris last week, running 21:49 on a blistering day, but we're guessing her fitness isn't that great right now due to her busy summer basketball schedule.
Class A Pius won the girls' team title with 26 points, followed by Class B Elkhorn North (30) and Class C DC West (41). Pius captured 5th through 8th places. Olivia Malousek paced DC West with a 19:46, and they placed 4, 9, 13, and 17 despite the higher-class competition.
Augustana Twilight, 9/3
For Nebraska high school runners, the Twilight course is arguably the second-fast course around besides the Nike Regionals course (with fewer 90-degree turns) at the same park. Mrs. Nerd said she had to put on a sweater by the time the high school boys finished racing around 8:20 p.m., so the weather was excellent for early September.
Fremont, Prep, Central (boys only), Norfolk, York and Crofton traditionally trek to Sioux Falls for this nighttime meet that featured 30 boys teams and 26 girls teams. Fremont set the standard this year, winning the title by 10 points with 54; Prep was 4th with 119 and Norfolk was 7th with 233. On the girls side, Fremont finished 4th and Norfolk finished 10th.
Carter Waters (3rd, 15:55) and Braden Taylor (5th, 16:06) led Fremont, which had five runners finish in the top 19. Sophomore Isaac Ochoa was 6th in 16:12 and John Burns led four Prep runners who finished 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th. Given the relatively dry and cool course, we're a bit surprised by the slower times in the entire boys' field was compared to two years ago. However, there are always solid teams in the meet, so you'll see a few of the Fremont boys moving up our rankings list.
The boys' so-so times contrasted with the girls results, where Alea Hardie of Sioux Falls O'Gorman blazed to a 17:46. Fremont's Elli Dahl finished 4th in 18:22; she's only run faster at the 2019 Nike Regionals, where she clocked an 18:04. Jordyn Arens of Class C Crofton finished 13th in 19:24, and Fremont's Lucy Dillon clocked a 19:57 for 22nd place. This race solidifies Dahl's top ranking in Class A.
Burke Invite, 9/4
Nerd Senior was on site for this meet at Walnut Grove - arguably the next fastest course for Nebraska racers after Sioux Falls. Millard West came out swinging in the boys race, with sophomore Jack Witte pushing the pace through the first 600 meters. Sam Kirchner had a five-meter lead over Daniel Romary, Coldby Erdkamp, Piercze Marshall and Evan Liewer at the mile mark, with Seth Fey another five meters back. Those six stayed together past two miles, but Kirchner and Fey broke away with 800 meters to go. The Millard West teammates were neck-and-neck with 150 meters remaining, and Fey pulled out a two-second win and a 30-second PR in 16:10. Piercze Marshall closed for 3rd in 16:20, Erdkamp in 16:21, Liewer in 16:26 and Romary in 16:33.
One race doesn't tell us much, but Seth Fey's second win in two weeks (an impressive 16:45 at Class of Metro on a difficult course on a hot day) is affirmation that he deserves consideration for a top-5 ranking. Sam Kirchner is doing pretty much what we expected this year, and Millard West rarely peaks early in the season. Piercze Marshall, who medaled at 2020 State XC as a sophomore, continues to be place high with little fanfare. Daniel Romary, who won a USATF national championship in the 1500 on August 1st, looks like a guy who extended his track season 70 days longer than the rest of Nebraska's top dogs. Given his talent level, we're expecting him to bounce back later in the season. Colby Erdkamp and Evan Liewer of Gretna are both running well, but in the early weeks they're just a little behind the Millard West boys. Finally, sophomores Jack Witte and Porter Bickley plus senior Cole Haith are giving Millard West the depth that will allow them to challenge Fremont for the State title.
On the girls side, the field wasn't quite as stacked. Isabelle Hartnett of Millard West continues to impress, following up her 2nd place finish at Class of Metro with a 19:29, 8-second PR at Walnut Creek. Isabella Bricker (20:03) and Addy Walker (20:18) of Gretna finished 2nd and 3rd, while Bellevue West's Kara Muller finished 4th in 20:19. Millard West had six of the top 12 finishers and Gretna had six in the top 18. Millard West won with 29 points and Gretna had 36 points.
We'll post pictures from the Burke Invite in a few days.
Titan Classic, 9/4
The Walnut Creek offers a lot of challenges (hills, no shade, plentiful allergens) and we're guessing that mud was one of the challenges at today's meet. Lincoln East sophomore Mia Murray, who finished 5th in the large-school division at the 2020 West Virginia state meet, won in 19:58. LSW's Bri Rinn, one of our top-5 picks this year, finished second in 20:06, while Papio South's Deavion Deleon was third in 2021. Lincoln East topped LSW 29 to 45.
For the boys, LSW's Max Myers won in 17:00, followed by Lincoln East's awesome Joe Volkmer in 17:10 and Papio South's John Fiedler in 17:18. Lincoln East took the victory over Lincoln Southwest, 32 to 47.
Omaha Marian's team competed at the meet two days after running at Charlie Thorell. Freshman Lucy Gerraughty was the top finisher in 20th place.