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‘Cats earn runner-up trophy at own Invite

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HARTINGTON — The host Hartington-Newcastle Wildcats wanted to leave their mark on their own track and field invitational.

Consider that goal accomplished.

The boys team stormed to secondplace in the eight-team field and the girls finished seventh, but not before some strong performances as the season is now truly off and running.

“We are coming along nicely figuring where the athletes will fit best,” HNS boys coach Blair Kalin said. “Getting second in this meet was a very good team accomplishment. This should give us some confidence moving forward.”

The boys were sparked by Mayson McIntosh in the 300-hurdles (46.89) and Kobe Heitman in the 100-meters (11.68).

Bennet Sievers (third, high jump, 5-08), Lane Heimes (third, pole vault, 11-00) and Heitman (third, long jump, 19-03.5) were also top finishers for the Wildcats.

The girls were led by Caroline Nelson (third, pole vault, 7-00) and Jesse Opfer (second, 3200-meter run, 13:10.20; third, 1600-meter run, 6:16.37)

“The athlete of the week was hands down our distance runner, Jesse Opfer,” HNS coach Noecker said. “Jesse, who is a junior, decided after the COVID year to try cross country instead of volleyball and she found out that she truly is a distance runner. Jesse has proven to herself that she is in fact a great long distance runner.

Opfer has a bright future, Noecker said.

“After watching her perform in both her races on Tuesday I’m convinced that colleges better start recruiting this girl.”

Noecker was pleased with the Lady Wildcats despite not scoring a bevy of points as the season is still young.

“We are still trying to put athletes in the right events,” Noecker said. “Coach Brody said it best: “What kids often don’t understand about track is that it is a chess game to place all the pawns into the right positions against the field of other teams.

“Some areas that we need to shore up on would have to be confidence. Our younger kids are very talented athletes yet they lack the confidence to experiment with new events. A few of them are going to have to convince themselves that trying new events is the way to athletic success.”

The Wildcats headed to Cedar Catholic Tuesday – see the full recap next week in the Cedar County News – and now it’s about making that turn to improvement.

“Successful track teams are built around a few great athletes, but successful track programs are built around solid athletes that are willing to train in a variety of scoring positions,” Noecker said. “Time will tell what these young athletes are willing to commit to.”

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