Memories of Chadron girls’ early track days remain vivid

Memories of Chadron girls’ early track days remain vivid

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As Chadron sports fans know, the spring of 2020 was expected to be a banner season for the Chadron High School girls’ track and field team. But those high hopes dissipated when the coronavirus invaded, sidetracking all athletics from middle school through the pros.

The Lady Cardinals were coming off one of their best seasons in years and might have been even stronger this spring. A year ago, Coach Blakelee Hoffman’s girls won both the Best of the West and the Western Conference championships for the first time and scored 112 points to miss winning the title at the rugged Bayard B-C-D Meet by two points.

Chadron’s hopes were high because all of the team’s mainstays with the exception of thrower True Thorne were returning and a promising group of freshmen would be joining the team.

“We weren’t just looking forward to repeating as Western Conference champs, we were looking at the bigger picture,” Coach Hoffman said in April. “Now, we had a good shot at being district champs and we were looking at scoring lots of point at the state meet and finishing in the top five. My heart breaks for all of our seniors who would have contributed to a great season.”

Of course, nothing can be done about the lost season and everyone in Northwest Nebraska should feel blessed that the coronavirus has not invaded our territory so far.

Girls had to wait a long time before being allowed to compete in track and field as well as most of the other sports.

Information from “way back when,” is sparse, but with the help of Nebraska High School Sport, which was published in 1980, it’s known that a Chadron High boys’ basketball team won its first game at the state tournament in 1915 by a 7-6 score over Ohiowa.

And, the Cardinals’ 1926 football team finally beat Crawford for the first time 3-0 and finished the season with a 7-0-1 record since they played to a scoreless tie when they met again on a frigid Armistice Day. A Chadron newspaper reported “the ball was frozen so hard neither team could do much offensively.”

Girls’ high school track and field teams began forming in the late 1960s and some area meets took place, but the first state meet didn’t happen until 1971, about the same time as the initial volleyball teams were emerging in the western end of the state. Four years later--and 60 years after the boys had gone to state--Chadron High’s first girls’ basketball team, at least in “modern times,” took the court and won three of its four games that season.

Jan Baumann Smith, now of McCook, was a junior on the ’71 Chadron High track team and has some special memories of that season, not all of them pertaining to the races she ran and often won.

One involves the uniforms.

“They were one-piece, kelly green-striped PE rompers,” she recalls. “Who would have ordered green for us? They made us look like pickles. They sure weren’t a fashion statement, but I certainly remember them being a topic of conversation.”

The team was a good one. Chadron State hosted a meet in mid-April when Robyn Goff, then a senior, won the 50-yard dash in 6.7 seconds and Baumann the 50-yard hurdles in 7.8. Both of those runners still owned the school records for those events when they were eventually phased out after it was finally recognized that girls could run just as far as boys without collapsing.

A Chadron High team comprised of Goff, Baumann, Mimi Norman and Karen Brown also won the 440-yard at the CSC Meet in 53.8 seconds.

The Class B District Meet was at Ogallala. Bridgeport was the team champion with 48 points while the Lady Cardinals were fourth with 33. Six Chadron girls placed high enough to qualify for the inaugural state meet that would be in Grand Island.

Goff became Chadron’s first female state champion track athlete when she won the Class B 50- yard dash in 6.3 seconds for the school record that was never broken. Baumann was third in the hurdles in 7.8 seconds and the 440-yard relay team made up again of Goff, Baumann, Norman and Brown finished second in 52.0 seconds, less than a stride behind Blair.

Goff also got to run in the Junior Olympics in Omaha a bit later that spring and placed second in the 100-yard dash in 11.9 seconds. She recalls that Jan Halstead Bashaw, a young PE teacher at the high school, loaned her the red track shoes Bashaw had worn while competing at numerous AAU meets, including two on the national level, before high school track in Nebraska was finally established.

Goff, now Robyn Stewart and still a Chadron resident, believes she developed speed while chasing after sheep that had jumped over fences on her family’s farm in the Deadhorse community.

Baumann also has another memory involving the 1971 state meet. It was the same day as the Chadron High prom and her dad, Bob Baumann, had Chadron pilot Lyle Kime fly her and a couple other team members home so they could make it to the prom. More good news is that Jan’s date was 1971 Chadron High grad Dave Smith, her husband now for almost 46 years.

The next year, the Cardinals won the Class B District Meet in Alliance by scoring 42 points, two more than runner-up Gering. Baumann won the hurdles again and two Chadron relay teams were victorious. They were the 440 relay made up entirely of freshmen--Jane Tangeman, Cindy Jansen, Joy Lembke and Dee Mykris--and the 880 relay comprised of sophomores Traci Goff, Julie Kruse and Kerry Norman and freshman Shauna Lemen.

If any Chadron girls placed at the 1972 state meet, the results didn’t make the Chadron Record or the high school annual.

Baumann knows she didn’t place. She recalls that during the finals of the hurdles, the girl in the next lane tripped over a hurdle, her arm caught Baumann’s trail leg and they both went sprawling onto the track. A photo of the “wreck” was on the cover of the state meet program the next year.

The Lady Cardinals weren’t as potent in 1973. The only state qualifiers were Rhonda Larsen in the long jump and Mykris in the 220.

The 1974 girls’ team tied with Rock County for first place in the Rangeland Conference Meet with 46 points. Kruse set the meet records in the preliminaries of both the 50- and 100-yard dashes, in 6.3 and 11.8 seconds, then shared first place in the 50 finals and was nipped by Mykris in the 100 finals.

Kruse, Mykris, Theresa Osborn and Cindy Jansen also set the Rangeland 440 relay record of 52.4 seconds, but Kruse, who was second in both the 50 and 100 dashes at the district meet, was the Lady Cards’ only 1974 state meet qualifier.

Things picked up again in 1975, when the Chadron girls edged Bassett 46 to 45 points at the Rangeland Conference Meet. Karen Brisco set both the school and conference records of 11.5 seconds in the 100-yard dash and anchored 440-yard relay team that was timed in 51.8 seconds to break the record the Cards had set the previous year. Osborn, Jansen and Patti Gieseler were the other relay runners.

In addition, Kelli Larsen won the 220 in 27.7 seconds and the broad jump by going 15-9 ¼.

There’s no mention of the 1975 District Meet in the Chadron Record or the school annual, but a story in the Record reveals that Larsen, Shirley Haynes, Kris Brown and Brisco placed third in the mile relay in 4:12.3 seconds and Brisco was sixth in the 100 in 11.8 seconds. This time the state meet was at North Platte.

During the early years, the boys’ and girls’ meets were never at the same location and that included the state meets.

Brisco’s 11.5 at the Rangeland Meet remains the girls’ 100-dash record and it also converts to the best time by a Chadron coed in the 100 meters.

The Chadron girls apparently did not place at the state meet again until 1981, when freshman Jennifer Amen was third in the Class B long jump by going 17-2 ½.

When she was a junior, Amen won the long jump in Omaha by going 17-4 ½ and also ran on relay teams that placed at state in both 1982 and 1983. The ’83 relay quartet that also included Teresa Cockrell and sisters Brenda and Karla Scholl still owns the school record of 51.22 seconds in the 400-meter race.

The Chadron girls, coached by Tom Ritterbush, finished third in the Class B team standings that year, then won all the marbles at state in 1984 by scoring 48 points. Three teams shared second place with 32 points apiece.

Although Gering used its depth to win the Western Conference championship, the Lady Cards outclassed the Bulldogs 107-82 to easily win the District Meet.

At state, sophomore Sara Rhoads won both the 1600 and 3200 meters, classmate Robbin Muller was second in the 3200 and fourth in the 1600. Amen also was fourth in the long jump and third in the 400 while Susan Roll claimed third in the discus.

Roll and Mueller also were the leaders of Chadron golf teams that won four straight Class B state championships.

In the late 1980s, Caryn Martin won the 300-meter low hurdles at the state meet as both a freshman and a sophomore. She also was second in the high hurdles as a sophomore and fourth in the long jump as a junior.

Unfortunately, Martin contracted mononucleosis as a senior in 1989 and couldn’t compete at that state meet. But she had already been designated to lead the Parade of Champions on Saturday morning and was able to fulfill that honor.

Her track career also was far from being over. Now Caryn Ziettlow, she became a seven-time All-American, topped by winning the bronze and silver medals in the heptathlon at NAIA National Meets her final two years at Chadron State College.

The Lady Cardinals coached by Mike Lecher had another big surge in 2005 and 2006, when they made their presence felt at the state meet. Highlights including winning the Class B 1600 relay in 2005 and both the 1600 and 3200 relays the next year.

In 2006, the Cards finished second in the Class B team standings and the 3200 relay’s time of 9:38.01 was the all-class best.

A complete list of the Chadron girls’ placings at the state meets follows:

Chadron High School Girls’ State Meet Placings:

1971--Robyn Goff, 1st, 50 yards, 6.3 seconds; Jan Baumann, 3rd, 50 hurdles, 7.8; 440 relay, 2nd, (Jan Baumann, Robyn Goff, Karen Brown, Mimi Norman), 52.0. (Team tied for 3rd place, Class B).

1975—Karen Brisco, 6th, 100, 11.8; mile relay, 3rd, (Shirley Haynes, Kellie Larsen, Kris Brown, Karen Brisco), 4:12.3.

1980--Races changed from yards to meters.

1981—Jennifer Amen, 3rd, long jump, 17-2 ¼.

1982—400 relay, 5th, (Barb Welsh, Teresa Cockrell, Karla Scholl, Jennifer Amen), 51.72.

1983—Jennifer Amen, 1st, long jump, 17-4 ¼; Jennifer Amen, 5th, 400, 59.51; Sara Rhoads, 3rd, 3200, 11:57.89; Susan Roll, 4th, discus, 120-6; 400 relay, 4th, (Karla Scholl, Teresa Cockrell, Brenda Scholl, Jennifer Amen), 51.22.

1984—Sara Rhoads, 1st, 1600, 5:22.25; Sara Rhoads, 1st, 3200, 11:41.50; Robbin Muller, 4th, 1600, 5:25.0; Robbin Muller, 2nd, 3200, 11:56.55; Jennifer Amen, 3rd , 400, 59.86; Jennifer Amen, 4th, long jump, 16-10 ¼; Susan Roll, 3rd, discus, 126-3. (Class B championship team).

1985—Karla Scholl, 6th, 100 hurdles, 15.99; Susan Roll, 4th shot put, 38-4; Deb Blundell, 3rd, high jump, 5-5.

1986—Caryn Martin, 1st, 300 hurdles, 45.97 (3rd all-class).

1987—Caryn Martin, 1st, 300 hurdles, 45.92; Caryn Martin, 2nd, 100 hurdles, 15.97.

1988—Caryn Martin, 4th, long jump, 17-3 ½.

1993—Dionne Holmquist, 4th, discus, 121-4.

1994—Bethanie Clark, 5th, high jump, 5-4.

1996—Sarah Keim, 4th, 400, 60.93; Bethanie Clark, 4th, high jump, 5-2.

1997—Bethanie Clark, 5th, high jump, 5-2.

1998—Amy Kubo, 1st, long jump, 17-4; Mariah Clark, 5th high jump, 5-2.

1999—Mariah Clark, 5th, triple jump, 35-6 ¾.

2001—Amy Kubo, 2nd, long jump, 18- ¾.

2003—Katelyn Moore, 6th, 400, 60.40; Angela Osborn, 6th, 300 hurdles, 48.08; 1600 relay, 4th, (Cassie Humphrey, Chelsea DeHaven, Heather Haug, Katelyn Moore), 4:08.81.

2004—Katelyn Moore, 5th, 400, 59.07; 1600 relay, 3rd, (Cassie Humphrey, Chelsea DeHaven, Leslie Foral, Katelyn Moore), 4:04.22, (6th all-class).

2005—Angela Osborn, 3rd, 100 hurdles, 15.31; Angela Osborn, 4th, 300 hurdles, 47.45 (46.69 in prelims); 1600 relay—1st, (Cassie Humphrey, Angela Osborn, Chelsea DeHaven, Katelyn Moore), 4:01.99 (4th all-class); 3200 relay—3rd, (Katelyn Moore, Leslie Foral, Cassie Humphrey, Chelsea DeHaven), 9:47.42.

2006— Katelyn Moore, 2nd, 400, 58.95; 800—Katelyn Moore, 3rd, 2:20.13 (6th all-class); Angela Osborn, 3rd, 100 hurdles, 15.76 (5th all-class); 300 hurdles—4th, Angela Osborn, 46.01; 1600 relay—1st, (Cassie Humphrey, Angela Osborn, Sydney Moore, Katelyn Moore), 4:02.56, (3rd all-class); 3200 relay—1st, (Cassie Humphrey, Leslie Foral, Jessica Johnson, Katelyn Moore), 9:38.01 (1st all-class). (Chadron 2nd in Class B team standings with 44 points. Pierce had 50).

2009—Ashley Reisen, 7th, 1600, 5:19.90.

2013—3200 relay, 4th, (Nicky Applegarth, Briley Hannaford, Hannah Anderson, Jayden Garrett), 9:54.53.

2015—Chandler Hageman, 7th, 300 hurdles, 48.38 (ran prelims in 47.71).

2016—Kiya Passero, 6th, 3200, 11:47.77.

2018--True Thorne, 6th, discus, 126-8.

2019--Tatum Bailey, 4th tie, high jump, 5-2; Olivia Reed, 6th, 400, 1:00.79. (both freshmen).

(All placings in Class B.) Completely updated in 2020.

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