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Contributor: The Nerd
Thanks to our followers, last week we identified a season-high 21 meets and were able to track down results for all 21 at www.preprunningnerd.com/results.
Blair Invite, 9/16
Nerd Senior attended this meet on the grounds of Blair High. This is a two-loop course around the school with about 85% of the route on flat surfaces with no shade, and Thursday was a rough day to go without shade. Each lap also had 300-400 meters through a grove of trees which the Nerd belatedly discovered were full of chiggers and mosquitos that love camera guys who sit in tall grass.
Mesuidi Ejerso of Sioux City, top ranked in Class B, pulled away early and won in 17:22. Mesuidi is the real deal. Class B #11 Dawson Fricke took 2nd on his home course in 17:55, with #7 Michael Grigsby of Elkhorn North in 3rd. Gus Lampe (4th, 18:05) of Roncalli-Brownell and Jack Sinnott (5th, 18:15) of Elkhorn North are just outside the rankings. The next four boys were from Class C, with #8 Parker Gaston (18:19) of DC West edging the Fort Calhoun twins Ely Olberding (18:25, ranked 14th) and Lance Olberding (18:28, watch list) and 15th-ranked Nolan May (18:31) of Arlington. We don’t move rankings solely on one race result, so we’ll have to look at Nolan’s body of work to see if Lance deserves to be moved ahead of him. Fort Calhoun squeaked out a one-point win over Blair and six points over Elkhorn North even though Jacob Rupp is still working back to the form that had him ranked 6th in the Class C preseason poll.
On the girls side, Class C #3 Keeli Green of Arlington remains undefeated in her one-month XC career. At roughly 1K, Class B #14 Ella Ford (4th in 21:12) and #6 sophomore Britt Prince (5th in 21:16) of Elkhorn North were on her heels, but she pulled away for 33-second win in 20:30. Class B #8 Chloe Schrick (21:03) of Blair and Class C #5 Olivia Malousek (21:06) of DC West were with the Ekhorn North girls at 4K before overtaking them. Class B #12 Eva Wentz of Duchesne was the 6th Class B finisher in 21:43 while teammate and 6th-ranked Mary Kate Kramper was the 10th Class B finisher in 22:19. Gretna ran their JV girls at this meet, and Olivia Hannesson (21:19) may be in line for a varsity spot after her 6th place effort. In what may be a match up of three State teams, Elkhorn North won with 32 points (4, 5, 10, 13, 14) over Blair’s 38 points (2, 9, 12, 15) and Duchesne’s 63.
Heartland Classic, Pella, 9/18
On the girls side, this 33-team meet included Nebraska schools Papio South (4th), Millard West (7th), Gretna (13th) and Marian (21st). Papio South has been quiet this year as it rebuilds from the Kaylie Crews era, but senior Deavion Deleon threw down an impressive result, finishing 5th in 18:36. Papio South’s Olivia Rosenthal also broke the 20:00 barrier with a 19:53, and teammates Kaitlyn Swartz and freshman Marissa Garcia finished together at 20:21 and 20:24. Isabelle Hartnett of Millard West impressed with a 17-second PR of 19:11, and Millard West saw strong results from sophomore Brianna Hernandez (20:13), Sammy Ulman (20:52) and freshman Kate Ebmeier (also 20:52). Isabella Bricker of Gretna was the other Nebraska girl under 20:00, finishing 19th in 19:39, a 24-second PR. If I’m not mistaken, Isabella is a senior and this is her first season in cross country.
In the 42-team boys race, Nebraska’s top two teams came to play, with Millard West winning the team title with just 65 points over Iowa power-house Sioux City North. Fremont was third in 117, Gretna was 5th with 182, and Papio South was 13th. While the field was three times as large as the Class A state meet, the quality at the top end looks pretty consistent with what we’ll see in Kearney this October. We’re guessing that the Class A winner will need three medalists and all five in the top 25, and that’s just what Millard West did on Saturday. Sam Kirchner dropped a bomb with a 15:40 (3rd), just 3.5 seconds out of first. Teammates Piercze Marshall (7th, 15:50), Seth Fey (13th, 16:02), Jack Witte (19th, 16:17) and Cole Haith (23rd, 16:22) were not far behind. Joey Hartnett (28th, 16:31) and Porter Bickley (34th, 16:36) were not scorers, but Millard West continues to prove that any one of their top 7 can be a top-5 runner when needed. Fremont also ran well, paced by Braden Taylor (11th, 15:59), Carter Waters (16th, 16:06) and Nolan Miller (20th, 16:20). Gretna stepped it up at this meet, with Colby Erdkamp (9th, 15:53) and Evan Liewer (17th, 16:10) both medaling.
On occasion in prior years, the Heartland course has measured short, but the times from the girls and boys races appear to be right on the nose for a competitive race. After a few down races, it’s great to see Sam Kirchner knock out a Kirchner-type performance. We’re excited to see what Deavion Deleon will do next after her 50-second PR in Pella.
Harold Scott, 9/16
This was the biggest Class A meet of the week with no shortage of top-notch talent on either side. Class A #1 Gabe Hinrichs won the boys race at Pioneer Park in 15:50, followed by 2nd-ranked Daniel Romary (16:18), 9th-ranked Juan Garcia (16:33) and watch-list Max Myers (16:34). Class A #13 Luke Johnson (16:35) and #15 Joe Volkmer (16:49) were 5th and 6th. Perhaps the most surprising result for me was Lincoln East’s team title; they outpaced LSW 61 to 99. Lincoln East placed 6, 7, 14, 15 and 19 to capture the title with only two seniors in the top 7.
The girls race was a bit more competitive, with Elli Dahl and Jaci Sievers re-enacting their battle from Fremont last week. Dahl created a six-second gap very late in the race to win in 18:54, followed by Sievers in 19:00.00 (is that good luck?) and Mia Murry of Lincoln East in 19:31. Claire White finished in 19:41, Lucy Dillon of Fremont in 20:16, and Lindsey Neill of Elkhorn South was a surprising 6th in 20:21. This race had seven ranked runners but the finishers did not include ranked runners Bri Rinn, Maris Dahl or Aibgail Burger, all who appeared to be DNF’s or DNS’s. Lincoln East won the title with 50 points on 3-7-11-14-17 placing, while Elkhorn South (95 points) edged Westside (100) and Fremont (101) for 2nd.
Alliance Invite, 9/18
This was a relatively small meet with Class B #12 Hans Bastron of Scottsbluff winning by a wide margin in 17:29 and Class C #7 Makinley Fuller of Chadron winning the girls race in 21:19. However, the most notable item occurred in the JV race, which Class B defending champ Madison Seiler of Gering won in 21:06. Madison broke her foot playing basketball on July 1st, and the original goal was to have her back in time for Districts. She’s four weeks ahead of schedule, and this 2021 debut suggests that she’s not going to give up her title without a fight.
Norfolk Invite 9/17
The 7-team Norfolk meet included Harrisburg from South Dakota, and was a rematch of the Lincoln North Star, Omaha Skutt and Norfolk tussle from the prior Saturday in Omaha (Omaha Central meet). Norfolk is not a particularly easy course, but Isaac Ochoa won on his turf in 16:15. Grant Wasserman bounced back from a DNF six days earlier with a 16:22, and Jimmy Nguyen (4th, 16:39), Matthew Dunaski (7th, 16:52) and Matthew Montes (12th, 17:03) led Lincoln North Star to a 5-point win over Class B #1 Omaha Skutt. Skutt’s order of finish seems to change every week, and this week it was McCoy Haussler (5th, 16:46), Thomas Richter-Egger (10th, 16:58), Jack Wade (11th, 16:59), Alex Rice (13th, 17:09) and Alex Kennedy (15th, 17:17). Freshman Tommy Rice, a consistent high stick, did not run in Norfolk. Two notable performances from the meet: Norfolk’s Daniel Yowell ran a 16;50 for 6th, his first sub-17:00 if you don’t count the suspected short course in Yankton last year, and Burke’s Tommy Vasquez popped off a 59-second PR for 9th place. The Vasquez family (Andy is a Burke and Wesleyan alum, and father Tim, a Cornhusker Flyer coach) have made huge contributions to the running community, so it’s great to see Tommy have a breakout performance after missing last year due to the OPS ban on fun.
On the girls side, ignoring a few South Dakota athletes, Anika Richards of Skutt had the top mark in 20:40, just 10 seconds off her PR from 2020 State. Bri Travis of North Star was the 2nd Nebraskan in 20:47, a solid performance after her Omaha Central win last week. Norfolk easily won the team title with 35 points followed by Omaha Central with 83. Norfolk, which will soon be giving clinics in pack running (see last week’s article), placed four girls in the top 11.
O’Neill Invite, 9/18
This meet featured a fair number of studs, including Class D #1’s Ty Schlueter and Jordyn Arens. Schlueter won by 26 seconds 16:43 over formerly ranked Addison Smith of Bloomfield, and the Stanton boys Abe Larson (17:39) and Kolter Van Pelt (17:45) were close behind. Arens won the girls race in 19:16, followed by Class C #9 Darla Nelson (20:23) of Bloomfield, Class C #14 Callie Arnold (20:35) of Pierce, and Ainsworth’s Katherine Kerrigan (20:44) and Emma Kennedy (20:50). Kerrigan (ranked #6 in class D) has topped freshman Kennedy (#7) in 2 of 3 races, but the largest gap between the two has been six seconds. Class D #12 Maddie Davis of West Holt was the 4th Class D finisher in 20:52.
The most interesting part of this meet was the first match-up of the year between Class B #2 Kassidy Stuckey of York and the Norris duo of Ellie Thomas (#5) and freshman Kendall Zavala (#4). Zavala won a speedy race in 19:43, followed Thomas is 19:58, Stuckey in 19:59, and previously-ranked Laci Havlat of Norris in 20:16. Norris’ 4th runner was freshman Atlee Wallman in 20:50, which bodes well for their State chances. Class D #8 Emily Frey was 5th in 20:28 while Class B #12 Taylor Grasz of Elkhorn was 8th overall in 20:59. Norris easily won the meet with 18 points, and the Papio South JV team was second with 68.
Class B #3 Colin Pinneo won the boys race in 17:05, followed by Norris’ Riley Boonstra in 17:11. Boonstra finished 35th at 2020 State but I don’t show him racing before last Thursday, so that’s a pretty impressive debut over a solid field. Class B #6 AJ Raszler of Platteview was 3rd in 17:15, and Mt. Michael’s Jude Storch gets on our radar with a 17:22 4th-place finish. Class D #11 Drew Moyer finished 16th in 18:03 but he was the 1st Class D finisher. Norris edged Mt. Michael for the team title, 37-40, with Norris placing boys at 2nd, 7th, 8th and 20th.
Conestoga’s Danie Parriott was 5th at State last fall but started off the season with a subpar performance that dropped her from her pre-season #4 ranking. She’s bounced back with a 3rd place finish at Arlington and now a 20:44 win at Bennington. Class D #10 Brekyn Kok of Cornerstone Christian was second in 21:28, followed by a legion of Bennington girls. Bennington’s Gabriella Calderon, ranked #3 in Class B, did not compete in this meet.
On the boys side, Class B #14 Kai Olbrich of Bennington won on his home course in 17:19. Justin Sherman of Class D Cornerstone Christian was 2nd in 17:40 and merits consideration for a spot in the rankings.
Central City, 9/16
After a slow start to the season that included a cancelled meet, the Lexington boys are finally hitting their stride. In what was largely a Class C meet, Lexington took the top three spots and 7 of the top 10. Class B #8 Ian Salazar took his shot at being #1 on the team, running a 16:42, while 4th-ranked Jayden Ureste was the 6th Lexington finisher in 17:25. The Lex boys between those two were Garret Converse (16:53), Oscar Aguado (16:54), Miguel Cruz-Mendoza (17:08) and Lazaro Adame (17:20). Jarit Mejia of GICC was 4th in the race with an impressive 17:03 that Athletic.net suggests is a 68-second PR for him. Northwest and St. Paul were at this meet, but I don’t see Caden Keller (Class B #2) or Connor Wells (Class C #4) on the start list.
On the girls side, Class D#2 Hannah Swanson of Nebraska Christian won in 19:40, followed by C #13 Ella Buhlke (19:57) of Central City and watch-list Jessie Hurt (20:30) of Minden. Class C #12 Elena Kuehner had an off day, finishing 7th in 20:52, while Class B #15 Lexi Lilienthal of Northwest was 8th in 20:55. Class C Minden edged Class B Lex for the title, 41 to 43.
McCook Invite 9/16
The McCook Invite was shortened to 3700 meters due to extreme heat, so the times mean little for this never-raced distance. Sidney swept the top four spots on the boys side, with Class C #3 Cameron Brauer winning by 21 seconds over teammates #9 Daniel Bashtovoi and #11 Mitchell Deer. Unranked Treyson Johnstone of Sidney was just 0.94 seconds behind Deer. Class D #10 Coulton Pouk of Perkins County was the first Class D finisher, while watch list Zeke Christiansen of Garden Country was the 2nd D finisher.
Class C #1 Lindee Henning of Ogallala won by three seconds over Class A #11 Zarah Blaesi of North Platte, with Marissa Holm 11 seconds behind. Class C #6 Talissa Tanquary of Sidney was 4th, Class B #1 Samantha Rodewald of McCook was 5th and Class B #10 Sienna Dutton of McCook was 7th. Class C #8 Lauren Henning was 12th. Freshman Rachel Harris of Class D Cambridge was solidly in the mix of ranked runners in 10th place, so she may be working towards a watch list spot if she can put together a solid 5k. North Platte won the girls title but Class C Sidney was a solid 2nd over Ogallala.
- I saw Arlington’s Keeli Green at the finish line at the collegiate Woody Greeno Invite on Saturday morning. The junior was a jumper and 200/400 runner last spring in her only track season, so she’s doing her best to learn more about this distance running biz. Based on her three gold medals in three tries, she’s a quick learner.
- Carson Noecker continues to run in races that are never reported to athletic.net, but he won the Wayne meet on Monday in 15:37. Class C Dyami Berridge of Winnbago was second in 17:47, followed by a number of currently or formerly ranked boys from Norfolk Catholic and Wayne.
- Peyton Paxton of Mullen wins again in 20:45 at the scenic Bridgeport meet (photo above by Alex Moore of Mullen). Her teammate Trevor Kuncl won the boys race in 17:25.
- We’ve watched Elli Dahl and Jaci Sievers run stride for stride the last two weeks. Last week Dahl won by 3 seconds, and this week it was 6 seconds. If my math is right, over 5000 meters Elli was 0.6% better than Jaci on Thursday. That’s impressive that they’re so evenly matched.
- Gabe Hinrichs is ranked #62 on some random national listing of distance running studs. He’s #1 in our hearts.
I know there’s more I could write, but I’ve been up since 4:30 and I’ve got a 6:30 meeting at work. Have a great week, Nerds!
For the best Cross Country Coverage in the State of Nebraska: Prep Running Nerd - www.preprunningnerd.com - Follow on Twitter: @PrepRunningNerd | Facebook: PrepRunningNerd and Instagram: PrepRunningNerd!