Contributor: The Nerd
I'm still not promising an article every night but Mrs. Nerd gave me another Nerd pass to knock something out in an hour (or two).
Maybe not the best but pretty darn good
In the midst of today's meet I ran into two Creighton distance runners from Missouri and Arizona. Both looked at the gaggle of media types just beyond the finish line and remarked how different it was from their State meets. "This is a great environment," one commented, "not like what we had at our State meets. The crowd, the media, the noise. We didn't have this."
The NSAA, volunteers, coaches, athletes and perhaps most importantly the crowd make Burke the place to be this week.
Down but not out
Injuries are part of the sport and the lucky athletes are able to work through the pain to a State title. Kat Beachler, a junior at Millard North, had major hip surgery late last year, was cleared to compete just before the season started, and this week she earned 2nd in the Class A discus and a gold in the shot put. While her repaired hip is good to go, her other hip is not, and she recently had to revamp her discus technique to get to the end of the season. Her coach, Lisa Charles, is also her mom, and they've had a wild ride this year.
On that same note, we've been aware that Kate Campos, a senior at Pius and a Wichita State commit, has been struggling with foot pain since the HAC conference meet two weeks ago. Her substantive workouts since then have been on a zero-gravity treadmill, and it was looking doubtful that she'd even qualify for State. Fortunately, she had a clean MRI to move forward with Districts, where she easily qualified in the 100H and 300H. Her pain continued through yesterday, and this morning she was back in the specialist's office. She was cleared again to race today, and she gutted through two finals to earn gold.
Entering the State meet, she was penciled in as a member of Pius' 4x400 team but her participation seemed doubtful after the 300H. Pius assistant coach PJ Grosserode told Kate that she had one more race in her and that the other three girls would give her the baton, the lead and a 3:00 split. He must be psychic; Pius was in first place by the 800 mark and their 1200 split was 3:00.34. Kate held off a late-charging Lincoln Southeast anchor to earn her third gold of the day. The gold was particularly gratifying for teammates Natalie Prichard and Molly Chapman, who have been members of the 9th place 4x800 team for the last three years. I'm going to guess that Vivian Dalton is pretty stoked too.
Not the story-book ending you'd like
We wrote about RaeAnn Thompson of Falls City in last night's blog; on Wednesday the three-time gold medalist and Doane commit injured her hamstring while qualifying for the 100 finals, limped through a 400, and then somehow qualified for the 200 finals. Unfortunately, she went down hard in the 100 today, writhing in pain, and had to be helped off the track. A few hours later she returned to the track and walked the 200 in 1:44, earning an 8th-place medal with a roaring crowd supporting her.
A few minutes later Grant Schere of Waverly did the same thing. Grant was the defending gold medalist in the 100, 200 and 4x100, and he had qualified 3rd in the 100 prelims and 4th in the 200. He finished 8th in both finals today, and his walking 200 gave him time to watch his teammate Braxton Smith on the video board.
Track and field teaches a lot of things, including resilience. Both athletes had gold-medal hopes on Wednesday morning, and in our view they both finished the 200 as winners.
Every distance race in Class A and B was impressive, but how about Riley Boonstra of Norris? He closed out the 3200 win on Wednesday with a 55-second last lap, and he won the 1600 today with a 56-second final lap.
If you like distance running, Burke was the place to be the past two days. The Elkhorn North girls and Skutt boys set new Class B 4x800 records. Boonstra scored dramatic wins. Berlyn Schutz of Lincoln East anchored her squad to a near-record in the 4x800, and then today she won the 800 (2:11) and 1600 (4:50). We got one last chance to cheer on Jaci Sievers of Elkhorn South before she moves onto Tennessee, and she earned a gold (3200, 10:36), silver (1600, 4:57) and 5th place (800, 2:15). Claire White of Westside earned four medals in the 3200 (2nd, 11:00), 800 (4th, 2:15) and 1600 (3rd, 5:05) and 4x400 (7th). Maddie Seiler of Gering won the 1600 (5:05) and 3200 (11:00) and finished second in the 800 (2:14). Jack Witte won the Class A 1600 in 4:14 and the 3200 in 9:19. So much talent, and quite a bit of returns in 2024. We can't wait.
Give 'em the old Frankie Shue
It doesn't happen often - maybe every seven years - but it's not impossible for an athlete to win the 800 out of the first (slower) heat. Franklin Shue of Millard West accomplished the feat as a sophomore in 2016, winning in 1:54, and Gretna's Braden Lofquest did it again today with his 1:53.30 after leading for nearly all of the race. The second heat of the Class A 800 was more tactical, the exception being Denny Chapman's (Prep) aggressive move after 200 meters, and the pack's decision to not chase Chapman spoiled all of their chances at gold. It's a shame Lofquest had to celebrate his win off the track, but we're guessing he'll settle for it.
We felt the Class A boys team race was more of a toss-up than the other three team titles awarded today. The Papio South girls had looked dominant much of the season, the Waverly boys have so many great athletes, and the Norris girls have a unique mix of strength (Burbach), speed/jumps (Bredthauer) and distance/mid-distance (too many to name).
Prep got its win with medalists in 10 of the 11 running events plus two fifth-place finishes in the field events. The only running event they didn't medal in was the 4x800. Prior to Districts, there was a debate among the Prep coaching staff about whether to run Jack Gillogly (UNL commit) in the 400 (sub-50 speed) when he seemed to be a lock for the 100 and 200 golds if he ran those on fresh legs. Coach Tietjen eventually decided to use Gillogly in the 4x100 and 4x400, both events that Prep won. Denny Chapman, a junior, collected 20 points in the three distance events, not bad for his first high school season of track. The rest of the Prep kids executed as good or better than expected, bringing home a 35-point victory.
The most unusual thing about Prep's third title in eight years? They've accomplished it with a track that is largely unchanged from the early 1960's when the school was built. The track surface is crushed rock. I guess rock doesn't age.
A pole vault oddity
We saw an interesting incident in the Class B pole vault. A jumper hit the bar, with one end staying on the pin while the other end went a few inches higher and lodged on top of the arm from which the pins extend. By rule, that is a miss even though the bar didn’t fall. We learn something new at every track meet.
I was shooting the shot put today and ran into Sue Wilcoxson, part of the Dale/Sue combo that helps run the shot pit arena. Dale's been volunteering at State for 39 years and Sue a little bit less, but her first volunteering gig was when the girls State meet was held in Kearney in the early 1970's. She coached volleyball and track at Fremont for many years, and track runs in the family blood. She whispered that I should get some good shots of Gretna's Audrey Wilcoxson, her grandaughter. We'll have to see if I came through for Grandma Sue.
I wasn't at the jumps today, electing instead to focus on the discus and shot put, but the impasse between the NSAA and photographers continues to fester. If you missed yesterday's blog, the NSAA vacated the photographers from the end of the long jump pit because they were "in the jumper's line of sight." This issue briefly arose last year, and the rumor in the media shed is that a coach has complained about the presence of photographers.
I was told today that there actually is a rule in the track manual that references line of vision for horizontal jumps. The theory, I've been told, is that having people beyond the pit is somehow a competitive advantage to a jumper. I can also tell you that no one I've spoken with has seen the rule applied anywhere but at State the last two years. I exchanged messages with a Division I track and field director this morning, and he's never seen a D1 event or USA Nationals event without photographers sitting just beyond the pit.
Last year the rule wasn't enforced once Class C and D arrived on Friday along with their legion of small-town newspaper photographers. Let's hope that happens again, or a lot of those newspapers will be using file photos taken at sparsely-attended meets at venues far less impressive than Burke.
Holy cow, girls
There was a seven-minute gap between the 400 and 1600 so the Class B girls made good use of the time. The entire field joined in prayer. I love these girls.
No points deducted for style
The NSAA rolled out a new rule in wrestling this year that deducts team points for wrestlers who over-celebrate after matches at the State meet. If we had that rule in track, would we see cool photos like Ethan Mann getting pumped about his 4th-place finish in the 800?
A two-time deal?
I'm halfway through State and am not sure I can do this every night. We'll see how it goes.
Published at www.preprunningnerd.com on 5/18/23 by Jay Slagle.