OMAHA - Four boys. Ten Events. Fifty-two points. One State Championship.
The Hartington-Newcastle boys returned home from the State Track and Field Championship at Omaha Burke Stadium on Saturday with the Class C State Championship trophy.
The Wildcats bested the defending champions, Norfolk Catholic by six points on the way to victory, and the seniors led the way.
Cole Schmidt and Brian Santiago are no strangers to Omaha Burke Stadium, in fact the two could probably help with directions on the best way to get there. Both seniors have made it to the State meet all four years of high school, and that persistence each year paid off with a state championship this year.
Schmidt led the way with 34 points. The senior that signed to run track at Hastings College next Spring placed first in the long jump, and second in the triple jump, 100 and 200 meter dashes. Schmidt figured out early on Saturday what was needed from him for the boys team to win the team trophy.
While competing in the long jump finals, Schmidt watched Mitchell upset Norfolk Catholic in the 400 meter relay. He instantly ran over to the fence line to talk with his coaches Blair Kalin, Marcus Messersmith and Cody Stappert. The senior had a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eye as he ran over to them.
"If I place first her [in the long jump] and second in the 100 and 200, then Brian only needs to place eighth in the mile for us to win," said Schmidt.
One of his coaches then said, "well go do it," and there was a feeling that Schmidt was going to do exactly what he said. And he did.
Schmidt went on to win the long jump, and finished second behind Dylan Kautz of Norfolk Catholic in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Before the 200 meter dash though, Santiago made things easier on Schmidt by finishing third in the mile, breaking his own school record along the way.
“I came in being ranked 19 in this race and my team needed more than one point, so I had to come out and run my heart out," said Santiago after the race. "I wasn’t running just for me I was running for the whole team out there.”
Schmidt now only needed to finish sixth or better, but the senior is a man of his word and finished second.
“It lifted a big weight," said Schmidt. "There was not as much pressure on me because he stepped up and made a good run and it made it easier for me. I had a lot less nerves.”
The two seniors combined for 46 total points, enough to tie Norfolk Catholic on their own. The seniors weren't alone though, with juniors Lincoln McPhillips and Turner Korth making the trip to compete at State as well. McPhillips was tied at 6' 6" as the top qualifier in the high jump, and finished in third to give his team another six points. In the long jump, McPhillips finished in 11th, just three spots short of making the Finals. Turner Korth competed in the 300 meter hurdles, but his time of 43.04 was not fast enough to qualify for the Finals.
"It feels amazing," said McPhillips. "We are a small but mighty team. Us four always dreamed about getting it, but then we actually thought we could do it and did it."
Santiago had some of the biggest words about his teammates performances this weekend.
“Our four competitors, to me, they are the best in school history," said Santiago. "They worked hard, they cheer me on and I cheer on them, and we have a great friendship and team. This past week, Lincoln and I would joke around saying it would be pretty awesome if we win a state title, and now we came out here proving that we can and might pull this off.”
This is the second boys track and field championship for the Wildcats in the last five years, and third in school history. HNS was one day shy of the 70 year anniversary of Hartington High winning the 1948 Class C State Championship. There was then a drought until in 2013, it was still just Hartington High School at the time, and this year's athletes wanted to make sure to get a picture with their trophy next to the 2013 state champion Hartington banner that is one of many championship banners along the fence line of the track.
“It took great performances to get this one and we really got them all meet long.," said HNS head coach Blair Kalin. "The 2013 one we had a few surprises which was nice, but the kids competed with pressure down here on this one. Both are equal in that regard, but this one we knew we had a chance if our kids performed well.”
The boys surpassed their own high expectations, and were able to walk off the track with a true feeling of success.
“It was awesome," said Schmidt in between deep breaths after his second place finish in the 200 meter dash. "Just the way I want to go out. Why not go out as a champion.”
Wildcat Boys Results
Long Jump: Cole Schmidt, 1st place, 22-02.25
Triple Jump: Cole Schmidt, 2nd place, 44-11.50
100m: Cole Schmidt, 2nd place, 11.21
200m: Cole Schmidt, 2nd place, 22.74
1600m: Brian Santiago, 3rd place, 4:31.69
3200m: Brian Santiago, 3rd place, 9:56.83
High Jump: Lincoln McPhillips, 3rd place, 6-05
Long Jump: Lincoln McPhillips, 11th place, 20-04.25
300m Hurdles: Turner Korth, 19th place
800m: Brian Santiago, 21st place, 2:09.68