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Runners either wrap up season or head to State

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KEARNEY — The Kearney Country Club will be the place to be Friday when the 2020 State Cross Country championships take place and plenty of area talents will be looking to make their mark on the course.

One of those is defending Class C boys champion, sophomore Carson Noecker.

The girls and boys will run the 1:30 and 2 p.m. Class C meets in Kearney.

Head coach Mandy Hochstein had a young boys team this year as Riley Kuehn is the lone senior while junior Parker Albers wraps up the representation of elder harriers.

“We graduated six seniors last year and had Carson as the only returning runner from the six varsity runners in 2019,” Hochstein said. “We have talented and dedicated runners who showed improvement throughout the season. Riley and Parker are great leaders to our young team.”

Noecker took first place medals home from each meet the Hartington-Newcastle team ran in this season.

Albers earned medals at Bon Home, Battle Creek, and Bloomfield.

Hochstein said Alan Santiago and Lukas Wortmann are sophomores that continue to improve their times each meet.

The girls were led this year by seniors Sara Burbach and Makenzie Arens leading the way while junior Jessica Opfer and freshman Kaydence McCray helped set the tone.

“Sara Burbach medaled in seven of the 10 meets we competed in,” Hochstein said of Burbach who had two top 10 finishes this season. “She ran her fastest time of the season at districts this year. Though she fell short of the medals and qualifying for state, we couldn’t be more proud of her.

Hochstein said Opfer medaled in half of the meets she competed in. She finished just two seconds over her best time of the year at the district meet.

“She is dedicated and we look forward to seeing her get stronger and faster for next year,” Hochstein said.

While Hartington-Newcastle is only sending one athlete to State, Bloomfield/Wausa is sending its entire team.

Head coach Duane Wilken’s teams will compete in the Class D girls (noon) and boys (12:30 p.m.) races at State.

“We are thrilled to have gotten this far with the season with all of the COVID cases around and just the uncertainty of the year,” Wilken said. “The girls and boys on the squad really set themselves up to have a successful season by running all of the miles they did during the summer and having joyous and grateful hearts to be able to run and compete.

“The girls squad has competed very well and set themselves up to do well at the state meet next week. The boys squad had a great year which was capped by being conference champions, but the youth of the squad eventually caught up with them and they didn’t qualify for the state meet by the narrowest of margins.”

The defending state runnersup girls are paced by Christina Martinson (20:21), Darla Nelson (21:03), Carry Martinson (21:19), Madie Ziegler (21:59) and Ella McFarland (21:59).

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