ALBION - Hartington-Newcastle will have four representatives at the state cross country race, but for the first time in four years the Wildcats won’t be competing as a team.
The top three teams from each District qualify for State, and the boys' team finished 28 points back in fourth place. The girls did not have enough runners to qualify as a team.
Both the boys and girls teams qualified last year, and it was the fourth consecutive qualification for the girls' team.
Instead, Brayden Kathol, Dagen Joachimsen, Sara Reifenrath, and Sara Burbach will be racing as individuals at the race in Kearney on Friday.
“I hope we can still get the momentum we need to do good and keep going,” said Joachimsen.
The Wildcats sure do have plenty of momentum, with eight runners posting personal record times at the District race last Thursday, including all four state qualifiers.
“I say we are the fittest we have ever been,” said Kathol. “I’ve never seen a team pull off all PR’s at the same race. We didn’t have anyone over 19:00. I was super proud of my team. It’s insane and amazing how are we have come from the beginning of the year.”
Sara and Sara will be going down to State without Jayda Bernecker, just falling shy of a goal the three set earlier in the season. Reifenrath says it will be interesting not traveling down with a team like she is used to from years past.
“It will be kind of weird because I am used to having all six people down there with me and this time I will have only one person,” said Reifenrath. “I think it will still be fun and we will still run really well down there. We will miss Jayda though.”
Reifenrath, Bernecker, and Burbach have run in a close pack most of the season together until Burbach was sidelined with an ankle injury. It left the other two to run in the conference race without her, but she now says it is fully healed and feels fine after Districts.
Burbach’s shares a similar goal to Reifenrath, a good thing since the two set a pace off of each other since the goal is no small task.
“I hope to medal, which is pretty hard to do but I think it can be done, and I want to PR,” said Burbach.
Kathol and Joachimsen both set a goal to PR at the event, with Kathol saying he wants to “shatter 17:30.”
The runners that did not qualify for State ran strong times for themselves. Jayda Bernecker finished in 24th with a time of 22:24. All of the boys earned personal bests. Bode Noecker came in 24th in a time of 18:07. He was followed by teammates Riley Kuehn and Cole Noecher who both ran an 18:23 and finished in 31st and 32nd, respectively. Chase Lammers was the final HNS boy across the finish line, coming in 35th with a time of 18:38.
Four seasons still continue for one more race on Friday. The race will be held at Kearney Country Club, and Hartington runs in Class C. The girls will run at 2 p.m. and the boys will run at 3 p.m. Times are approximate.
Girls Team Scores
Scouts, 21; Boone Central, 33; O’Neill, 53; Wayne, 87; Ord, 88; St. Paul, 100; Lakeview, 113; West Point-Beemer, 122; North Bend Central, 130. Hartington and Pierce did not have enough runners to qualify as a team.
Girls Individual Top 15
Jordan Stopak, Boone Central, 18:53; Alexus Sindelar, Pierce, 19:17; Olivia Fehringer, 19:49; Sam Weeder, Boone Central, 20:07; Kelsey Faust, Scotus, 20:09; Sara Reifenrath, Hartington-Newcastle, 20:17; Valaree Busse, 20:25; Liza Zaruba, Scotus, 20:26; Callie Arnold, Pierce, 20:28; Morgan Ritz, Ord, 20:30; Whitney Watson, O’Neill, 20:45; Brea Lassek, Scotus, 20:50; Sara Burbach, Hartington-Newcastle, 20:53; Liz Adamy, Scotus, 21:03; Faith Williamson, O’Neill, 21:04.
Boys Team Scores
Scotus, 46; Boone Central, 47; St. Paul, 50; Hartington, 78; Pierce, 91; Lakeview, 97; O’Neill, 116; Ord, 120; West Point-Beemer, 132; Wayne, 141; North Bend Central, 216.
Boys Individual Top 15
Mason Sindelar, Pierce, 15:59; Jonny Lindgren, Boone Central, 16:42; Elliot Thomazin, Scotus, 16:44; Jeffrey Moody, St. Paul, 16:47; Bradley Schindel, Boone Central, 16:57; Michael Gasper, Scotus, 17:09; Brady Thompson, O’Neill, 17:14; Brenden Heggeler, Lakeview, 17:16; Brayden Kathol, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:20; Colton Rowse, Ord, 17:21; Brandon Mitzel, West Point-Beemer, 17:26; Jacob Wells, St. Paul, 17:35; Dawson Lawver, St. Paul, 17:39; Dagen Joachimsen, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:42; Oscar Lopez, O’Neill, 17:45.