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Hartington-Newcastle earns NSAA Cup title

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HARTINGTON - It has been a month since the Hartington-Newcastle boys’ track team won the Class C State Championship, and the Wildcat boys have already won another accolade, in part because of that work in Omaha.

The Wildcats won the NSAA Cup for Class C to recognize the school’s superior performances in both athletics and fine arts this year. The HNS girls finished in seventh, and Cedar Catholic girls finished in tenth. Overall, Hartington-Newcastle finished in fifth, and Cedar Catholic finished in 11th.

This is the second time the Hartington Wildcat boys have won the NSAA Cup, but the last time was in 2013 before the school merged with Newcastle.

Not so coincidentally, in 2013 the Hartington boys also won a track championship, this time in Class D. State Championships are worth 50 points in NSAA Cup standings. 

This year, Hartington-Newcastle earned 50 points in play production, speech, and boys’ track. The school also earned 40 points in boys’ cross country, 15 points in girls’ cross country, and 10 points in music.

The combined 100 points for play production and speech has almost become normal for the Wildcats. Supt. A.J. Johnson coaches both fine arts programs, and has created an atmosphere that is consistently competing for a state title.

“He is a tremendous drama and speech coach,” said HNS athletic director Blair Kalin. “He gets a lot out of the kids and gets them excited for participating.”

Kalin is also the boys’ track coach as well as a co-head coach on the football team. Kalin says winning the NSAA Cup can be a great motivator for students to continue pushing forward next school year.

“I think it gives the school and the participants a lot of confidence,” said Kalin. “Being able to compete with other schools regardless of classes hinges a lot on what your self esteem or motivation is. So this is a great motivator.”

With HNS finishing in fifth overall, and Cedar Catholic finishing in 11th, it is clear both schools had tremendous school years with outstanding participation from their students. 

HNS principal Corey Uldrich says each school really helps push the other school’s students to be great.

“I think it says a lot about the fact of having both schools in town is ultra competitive for our kids, and it’s not even so much that they are competing against each other but that they want to top each other all the time,” said Uldrich. “So, I think their level of expectation rises because they can see what is happening across the street, either way. Competition in town, having two schools in town is so unique that I think it shows how good of athletes in town and it makes you wonder if they were all together what would happen because they are great kids.”

The Cedar Catholic girls finished in tenth, and Cedar finished in eleventh overall. The school earned points in volleyball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, music, girls’ basketball, girls’ track, and boys’ golf. With a lot of overlap of students participating in a multitude of activities, there is a strong sense of community that helps them be successful.

“We have a lot of students that participate in a wide variety of activities in our school and that really shows the great pride the students have in representing our school and church in everything they do,” said Cedar athletic director Chad Cattau. “Participating in a wide variety of extracurriculars is a great aspect of the learning experience in high school and it really teaches the students to be well rounded in their lives.”

Lastly, Cattau agrees with Uldrich that a strong sense of community in Hartington has helped build outstanding programs at both schools. this has also created a friendly competition where students are always trying to best each other.

“There is a lot of talented kids in our community right now and I hope everyone takes the time to really enjoy the accomplishments of these students,” said Cattau. “The kids in both schools have great talents in all aspects of extracurriculars and it was on display throughout this past school year.”

According to a press release from the NSAA, “the NSAA Cup is presented to the winning schools in the four classes of the All-School Division, Girls Division and Boys Division during special ceremonies the following fall.” There is no date scheduled for that special ceremony at this time.