When the runners line up for the Nebraska State Cross Country Championship at Kearney Country Club on Friday, there will be some changes.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same.
One big change this season is the scoring.
The top three runners for each team will count toward the team score compared to the top four in years past.
Take the Ainsworth Bulldogs, for instance. Gone is Rylee Rice, but a couple of young faces and a veteran return.
Freshman Katherine Kerrigan won the D-4 district individual title, and her classmate, Tessa Barthel, was 14th, but in the middle was the glue of the team, CeeAnna Beel, who placed third.
“She’s been a part of every team the last four years,” Ainsworth coach Jared Hansmeyer said. “She’s been part of a group that has come in and done some tremendous things for us. She’s one of those practice leaders that just gets it done each and every day.”
As for the freshmen, simple is the way to go, according to Kerrigan.
“I’ve just got to prepare and not get injured,” she said. “And not get the virus.”
Bloomfield/Wausa, which won the team title in D-4 by four points over the Bulldogs, will certainly fit in the mix for contenders in Kearney.
Ainsworth and Bloomfield/Wausa traded places at last year’s state meet with the Bulldogs winning the title.
“It’s been a nice battle the past few years with them,” Hansmeyer said. “It’s gone back and forth, and it will be fun to go against them one more time.”
One thing unchanged for Bloomfield/Wausa is the coach, Duane Wilken, who isn’t necessarily ecstatic about the scoring change.
“We’ve got great depth. Unfortunately when they changed the rules, it really hurts the teams trying to promote depth,” Wilken said. “It makes it a more individual race than a team race.”
His approach heading to state is simple as well.
“ ‘Keep them healthy,” he said. “I really look forward to competing again at the state meet. I feel we have set ourselves up in really fine position to do extremely well.”
Crofton is a regular in Kearney, and this year is no exception.
The Warriors finished on top of the standings in the D-2 district and are also paced by a freshman.
Jordyn Arens won the individual title in the district over a minute and a half in front of runner-up, Chaney Nelson of Oakland-Craig.
“You get better by running,” Arens said. “And I like to run.”
In the boys race, Hansmeyer has Ty Schlueter to pace the Bulldogs, who also won the D-4 title.
“He’s one of those guys who has come on and run well in October,” Hansmeyer said.
He also predicts the best is yet to come for this team.
“There aren’t any seniors in the group so it’s for our boys just to get down there,” he said. “We’re looking at building into next year, and we hope we get a nice state meet that springboards us into building and being better next year.”
Osmond, and another Kearney regular, Joe Ortmeier, will be competing at state on Friday.
The Tigers finished three points behind the Bulldogs in D-4.
“Our number three, four and five runners usually run pretty close together, and they help push each other,” Ortmeier said. “Johnson Chishiba and Graysen Schultze have been a solid one and two all year.”
Wilken probably summed up the upcoming event better than anyone.
“I love this sport,” he said. “I wouldn’t be out here at 70 years old if I didn’t.”
50 area girl qualifiers
Albion Boone Central: Jordan Soto-Stopak, senior; Alicia Weeder, sophomore; Samantha Weeder, senior; Autumn Simons, senior; Morgann Johnson, junior; Tessa Hamling, junior. PIERCE: Alexus Sindelar, junior; Callie Arnold, junior; Payten Simmons, junior; Savannah Gilmore, senior; Katie Vogt, junior.
Battle Creek: Afftynn Stusse, sophomore. North Bend central: Hannah Williams, senior; Sydney Emanuel, junior; Aleya Bourek, junior. O’Neill: Ashley Dickau, freshman. Wayne: Laura Hasemann, sophomore; Frantzdie Barner, freshman.
Ainsworth: Katherine Kerrigan, freshman; CeeAnna Beel, senior; Tessa Barthel, freshman; Moriah Beel, senior; Molly Salzman, senior. BLOOMFIELD/WAUSA: Christina Martinson, sophomore; Darla Nelson, junior; Carrylee Martinson, freshman; Madie Ziegler, sophomore; Ella McFarland, senior. CROFTON: Jordyn Arens, freshman; Elizabeth Wortmann, freshman; Kiera Altwine, junior; Kelsey Schieffer, senior; Abigail Steffen, senior. North Central: Daisy Frick, junior; Mariah Ost, sophmore; Keira Taylor, freshman; Hunter Wiebelhaus, senior. WiSNER-PILGER: Alea Rasmussen, freshman; Allie Hassler, freshman; Kayla Svoboda, junior; Riley Theroes, junior; Sarah Von Seggern, senior.
Atkinson west holt: Madison Davis, freshman. BOYD County: Natasha Zeisler, sophomore; Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family: Daisy Korus, senior. Humphrey St. Francis: Christina Brandl, freshman. OAKLAND-CRAIG: Chaney Nelson, sophomore. Pender: Alexis Bodlak, junior. PLAINVIEW: Abigail White, sophomore. Summerland: Kaci Wickersham, senior.
62 area boy qualifiers
PIERCE: Mason Sindelar, senior; Gavin Geneski, sophomore; Christoper Efta, junior; Brock Bolling, junior; Ashton Koch, sophmore; Blake Bolling, sophomore. O’Neill: Brady Thompson, junior; Ty Rainforth, junior; Kullen Cartella, sophomore; Joseph Yates, sophomore; Kyler Dean, sophomore; Jude Maguire, freshman; Dylan Parks, freshman.
Albion Boone Central: Bradley Schindel, senior; Harrison Dodds, junior. Battle Creek: Hunter Oestreich, junior. HARTINGTON-NEWCASTLE: Carson Noecker, sophomore. WAYNE: Jesus Zavala III, freshman. WEST POINT-BEEMER: Brandon Mitzel, senior.
AINSWORTH: Tylan Schlueter, junior; Thomas Ortner, junior; Trey Appelt, freshman; Benjamin Flynn, junior; Corbin Swanson, sophomore. ATKINSON WEST HOLT: Aaron Kraus, senior; Joseph Albrecht, senior; Tyler Jelinek, sophomore; Carter Gotschall, freshman; Rylan Olson, junior. Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur: Caleb Schlichting, sophomore; Zachary Hegge, senior; Micah Henschen, senior; Brayden Hegge, freshman; Braden Hardin, freshman. CROFTON: Connor Arens, senior; Austin Guenther, junior; Colby Zuhlke, senior; Zachary Arens, freshman; David Phillips, senior. OSMOND: Johnson Chishiba, senior; Graysen Schultze, senior; Karter Johnson, sophomore; Robert Aschoff, sophomore; Kaden Polt, junior.
BOYD County: Isaac Koenig, senior; BLOOMFIELD/WAUSA: Addison Smith, sophomore. Chambers-Wheeler Central: Ethan Moses, junior. HOMER: Grant Lander, junior. Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family: Caleb Preister, senior. Humphrey St. Francis: Brock Pfeifer, freshman; Garret Zach, sophomore. NELIGH-OAKDALE: Griffin Clauseen, senior. north central: Raden Orton, sophomore. PLAINVIEW: Jordan Mosel, sophomore; Kyler Mosel, sophomore. PONCA: Brody Taylor, freshman. STANTON: Kolter Van Pelt, sophomore; Abraham Larson, junior. Summerland: Eli Thiele, senior. TILDEN ELKHORN VALLEY: Hunter Bennett, senior; Waylon Warneke, freshman. WiSNER-PILGER: Payton Biermann, senior.