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‘Cats earn personal bests at Pierce meet

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HARTINGTON — The Tom Martin/Wausa Invitational was definitely a challenge for the Hartington-Newcastle track teams last week.

The girls finished in eighth place and the boys 12th in the 13- team field as a loaded field definitely lived up to its billing.

“This was a big meet and many of our freshmen went in doubting,” HNHS girls coach Laura Noecker said.” (Assistant coach) Mandy Hochstein said, ‘this was the meet that put our kids’ confidence over the top.’ We have been telling them for weeks that they can do this, but they never really bought in until this meet.”

“We had so many personal records at this meet. I heard many good stories from the tent and despite it being a really long meet, we had a great time.”

The highlight was the Lady Wildcats capturing the throwing relay and earning a first-place box of doughnuts, Noecker said.

Junior Jessica Opfer continues her strong campaign as she finished fourth in the 3,200 run (13:33.22) and sixth in the 1,600 run with a 6:21.41 to lead the Lady Wildcats efforts.

Opfer has risen this year under the encouragement of her coaches and is one of the bright spots this year.

“During the COVID I had a lot of time at home by myself and I really just spent a lot of time outside and focused on what I really love to do,” Opfer said. “I found I really like running. My mom had encouraged me to do cross country and I just tried something new and I loved it.

“We are all working the best we can to decrease time and get more PRs. We are getting at it and going hard. It’s different being back and difficult too having to be a leader to both the freshmen and sophomores. It’s been a learning experience for all of us.”

Opfer admits being very dialed in to winning and has been taking on all the different workouts coaches have offered to her.

“When I run, I don’t leave anything left on the track,” Opfer said. “I am a very competitive soul and I don’t like to lose. I just love the feeling after running or working out. I just feel accomplished after the fact. It’s the adrenaline and that sick-to-your stomach feeling. It’s fun.”

Daisy Sage (ninth, 300 hurdles, 57.0), Keanna Korth (10th, 100 run, 18.50), Mani Lange (sixth, long jump, 14-04; eighth, pole vault, 7-02) and the 4x800 relay (fifth, Sage, Abby Anderson, Kennedy Gotch, Zoey Gratzfeld, 12:00.07) were other top showings for the Lady Wildcats.

The Wildcat boys also caught the eye of their coach, Blair Kalin.

“We have been improving as the season has progressed,” Kalin said. “We are lowering some times on the track. I think if this weather would improve this would also help with results.”

Kalin emphasized the performances of Jake Peitz (fourth, shot put, 47-00) who improved his throw in

the event by two-plus feet.

Peitz also took sixth in the 200 run (23.83), Lane Heimes (fourth, high jump, 5-08; ninth, pole vault, 10-08), Bennet Sievers (eighth, high jump, 5-06), while Mayson McIntosh took 10th in the 300 hurdles (46.06)

“We are staying healthy which will help us moving forward,” Kalin said. “We have a really tough conference meet in Hartington Saturday with 16 teams. The kids will need to perform well. The sprints at this meet are going to be strong.”

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