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High school seniors may have seen their last competition

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Alan Dale Cedar County News

HARTINTON — COVID-19 has had no empathy for any walk of life across the planet while sports have taken a big hit across the globe.

This includes high school sports throughout America and the state, as the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) has halted all practices in Nebraska until the end of the month, and competition until April 2. 

The Cedar Catholic track team had plenty of hope for this season – ones that are still intact today – and await the state’s decision on going forward.

“This is all uncharted waters for us, so we are trying to go on at this point,” Trojans head coach Chad Cattau said. “We have created a Facebook page for our team members, and we are placing daily workouts on there for them to follow.” 

“The thought process on that is if we do get the chance to come back and compete, we want them to be in decent shape at least. I am really hoping  this will all get better soon, and we can return to normalcy on a daily basis,” siad Cattau.

Senior Sara Reifenrath returns as a state champion, winning the 100, and 400-meter runs last year at State, and was hoping to exit her high school career with more hardware before heading to the University of South Dakota to continue her career.

“I am hoping for the best and will keep training,” she said. “It hasn’t hit yet, but I am lucky I get to run in college, but it would be nice to have that last season. 

“I wish I had the opportunity to run my last races (with her teammates). Losing goes away if there are no races to run, but I think it’s worth it to run. I’d prefer a shortened season than none, but if this is saving people then it’s the right thing to do.”

For now, Cattau will keep plugging along in the face of a lost season.

I know I haven’t given up hope on having our season yet,” Cattau said. “I know at the best we will end up with a shortened season but that would be better than losing the entire year. We have some very high expectations for our teams this year and it would be crushing for the coaches and athletes to not get the opportunities to compete.”

IF the season starts…

Cattau has seen plenty of success during his tenure as the Cedar Catholic track coach and last year was no different.

The boys won the district title while the girls took second and a lot of firepower returns.

Reifenrath is not only a defending state champion, she also plays a huge role in the state calibre 1,600 relay team.

Sara Burbach and Jayda Bernecker qualified in three and two state events respectively, as Abby Hochstein, Makenzie Arens and Mackenzie Sudbeck all went for one event.

All of these young ladies are back for the Cedar Catholic program.

“We will need some of our girls to step up in the field events this year,” Cattau said. “That is an area where we haven’t been able to score a lot of points in the past couple of years.  As coaches, we need to try and find some girls that can help us out in those areas as the season progresses.”

Jacob Keiser (100, 200, triple jump) is the top state qualifying returnee for the Trojans, while Rex Becker, Brayden Kathol, Dagen Joachimsen, Cole Becker, Owen Heimes and Charlie Schroeder return following state appearances.

“I will say that Carson Noecker will be a top newcomer in the distance runs for the boys,” Cattau said. “We will have quite a few freshmen on the teams so we will have a lot of expectations for them to contribute to the teams. I think the boys should be pretty balanced in all the events, but we will need to have some younger kids step up and score us some points.  

“I really believe we will have some very strong numbers this year in both the boys and girls sides.  This should create a lot of opportunities for us to score in a variety of events.  We should have excellent depth because of these numbers,” Cattau said. “It’s exciting to see that we can really have some legitimate competition for events and who will get the opportunities to compete in those at our meets. We should also be able to fill in a full three members on most events because of our numbers.  This is something that we haven’t been able to do in the past years and it will help make our team that much better.”

If the season can get back and running, Cattau is feeling positive about the 2020 campaign.

“As long as the kids come with a great attitude and work ethic every day, we can get better each day as the season progresses,” Cattau said. “Once we have a couple meets, we can really see what our strengths are and how we stack up against other teams.  My biggest expectations are that our kids come ready to compete on a daily basis and they battle against themselves to accomplish the goals that they will set up for themselves.  

“We will be setting some high goals this year as teams and individuals, so we need to stay focused on accomplishing those goals. I really believe that in track your biggest competition is yourself.  We try to improve each meet as an individual so that no matter where you start the season, you improve yourself each meet and work hard each and every day to accomplish the goals you have in mind.”

The Trojans still lack a state championship or runner-up trophy in track, but the goal is to stare that accomplishment in the eye and make a run.

“We feel we have enough kids that can score at the state meet to make that a legitimate goal for ourselves,” Cattau said. “We really pride ourselves as a team that works to improve ourselves each and every meet.  If our times/distances are improving on an individual basis, then that means we are becoming better athletes and that our team as a whole is improving.  We will challenge our athletes on a daily basis to get better and to be positive and supportive toward each other.  That is something we are really going to stress this year.”