Five Sheridan County individuals and a relay team placed at this year’s Nebraska State High School Track and Field Meet, while four girls from the southern portion of the Panhandle won events while joining with Chadron High’s hurdlers to help the West shine in Omaha last week.
Two Gordon-Rushville seniors set school records while earning medals at state, and the Mustangs’ 4x400 relay team also reset that school record while placing fourth in the final event during the four days of state meet action.
Franklin Johns was third in the Class C 800 in 1:57.01 while breaking the Mustangs’ record of 1:57.38 set by all-time great Cole Wellnitz in 2011, and Aydon McDonald was fourth in the 300 hurdles in 39.29 seconds to become the first Sheridan County contestant to dip under 40 seconds in that grueling race.
Johns’ 800 time also is the best ever in northwest Nebraska annals. Wellnitz previously had the lead, about a second faster than Chadron’s Olen King ran at the state meet in 2007.
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Johns and McDonald also ran the final two legs of Gordon-Rushville’s 4x400 relay team that was timed in 3:28.81 for the school record. The other runners were Jace Freeseman and Austin Child. Freesman barely missed making the finals of the 400 dash, finishing ninth in the preliminaries in 51.78.
Gordon-Rushville’s McKinley Grover, a junior, also placed at state, finishing seventh in the Class C discus at 128 feet, 11 inches. She also barely missed placing in the shot put. Her mark of 37-7 ¼ was ninth. Bridgeport’s Ruthie Loomis-Goltl was fifth in the Class C discus at 135-8.
Two Hay Springs boys earned points in Omaha. Gage Mintken, a junior, matched his season best of 20-5 ½ to place fifth in the Class D long jump and sophomore Dylan Raymer was sixth in the 110 high hurdles in 16.09 seconds. Raymer ran the preliminaries especially well, placing third in the 15.66.
Crawford’s Ty Brady also placed at state, finishing eighth in the Class D 1600 for the second year in a row. His time of 4:43.08 this year is his career-best by more than five seconds and is about eight second faster than last year’s state meet mark of 4:51.29.
Although she did not place at state, Hemingford freshman Dakota Horstman had her season-best times of 5:36.88 in the 1600 and 12:27.88 in the 3200.
Without a doubt, several Panhandle girls were among the state meet stars.
Senior Madison Seiler, also a three-time state cross country champion, won both the Class B 1600 (5:05.13) and 3200 (11:01.12) and was second in the 800 (2:14.30). All three of her times are third in the all-class standings.
Two juniors from Sidney also proved they were among the state’s standouts in their events.
Karstyn Leeling matched Seiler by scoring 28 points at state when she won the Class B triple jump (37-2 ½) and the high jump (5-8) and was the runner-up in the long jump (17-5 ½), and Chloe Ahrens won both the 100 hurdles (14.78) and 300 hurdles (45.13). Ahrens’ high hurdles time led the all-class rankings and Leeling’s high jump is second on that all-class list.
Another Cheyenne County girl, sophomore Zaili Benish of Leyton, won the Class D 300 hurdles in 46 seconds flat. She also has posted the highest scoring average among female basketball players in the Panhandle the past two years.
On the boys’ scene, another Sidney junior, Isak Doty, proved he has speed by placing fourth in both the Class B 100- and 200-meter sprints and adding a seventh in the 400. Mitchell’s Bryce Hodsden cleared 14 feet in the pole vault to claim the Class C silver medal. In addition, Eli Marez of Gering was third in the Class B 800 to rank among the Panhandle leaders.
Cody-Kilgore’s Dylan Naslund was fourth in the discus and fifth in the shot put in Class D. A foreign exchange student from Lithuania, Urte Noreikaite, placed third in the discus at 126-2 for Cody-Kilgore Cowgirls. She had never touched a discus before coming go Nebraska last fall.