The sophomore from Crofton finished with a time of 19 minutes, 2 seconds, a minute and 10 seconds better than the second-place finisher, Chaney Nelson of Oakland-Craig. Arens got off to a big lead early in the race and never looked back.
“It really hasn’t sunk in a whole lot,” Arens said after the race. “I had a lot of fun doing it and I went out there and I had fun and that’s the main thing.”
The Warriors also won the girls team title by 16 points over Wisner-Pilger. Crofton had four racers in the top 10, all of whom now qualify for the state meet in Kearney on Oct. 23. This was the team’s second straight district title.
Bad luck seemed to follow Crofton for much of its season. Not so much on the course, but in strange ways around it. Coach Mickey Doerr was happy to push through that to get the title.
“We’d order team gear, it would be late. Even today, the bus wasn’t here on time. Anything that could go wrong kind of did,” he said. “But our whole mantra has been ‘Control what you can control’ and they did that and it paid off for them.”
CC Kann was the top Norfolk Catholic finisher and was sixth overall with a time of 21:38. She will be the girls team’s only representative at the state championship in Kearney next week.
Not long after Arens crossed the finish line, the boys took off for their race. At the onset, Norfolk Catholic’s Ben Hammond looked neck-and-neck with Brody Taylor of Ponca as well as Kolter Van Pelt and Abraham Larson of Stanton.
However, as the race wound down, Grant Lander of Homer, the defending district champion, took the lead, which got bigger and bigger. It ended up being enough to win first place among individuals in the boys division.
“I ran a smarter race this year, maybe not go out and be in front of the pack this year,” Lander said. “This year, I kind of took a step back the first mile and a half to be more energized for the last 2 miles.”
Hammond finished third while Taylor crossed the line in sixth. Van Pelt and Larson finished in second and fifth, respectively.
The competition was something Lander feels he was able to feed off of.
“I love having good competition,” he said. “I feel like it makes me run better and get faster times to get more out of myself.”
Norfolk Catholic’s boys finished first as a team with a score of 18, which was 20 points better than second-place Stanton. The Knights had four racers in the top 10, and all five finished in the top 16.
After Hammond, Trey Foecking led a trio of Norfolk Catholic runners who finished in seventh, eighth and ninth place. Foecking finished seventh with a time of 17:31, followed by teammate Dalton Brunsing and Alex Foecking, who had times of 17:35.9 and 17:47, respectively. Nolan Thramer had a time of 18:32 to finish 16th.
Lutheran High Northeast placed 15th among participating teams. Kolby Nielsen led the Eagles and was 37th overall with a time of 20:29. Ronald Molina came in at 50th and David Rodriguez was 56th.
Norfolk Catholic coach Jon Krings believes that the competition within the team has helped to get the red and white where they are now.
“It’s so important that we keep pushing ourselves,” he said. “If we can’t be good within the team, it’s really hard to be competitive and good outside of the team.”
Expectations have been high all season for the Knights, and the opportunity to meet them comes at state. With only a matter of days between districts and then, Krings had one message for his team;
“Trust your training. Trust that we’ve worked this far. We can keep working,” Krings said. “If we keep working and sharpening each other, we have a good chance of success whatever that looks like.”
D-2 AT PENDER
Girls team scores: Crofton 10, Wisner-Pilger 26, Oakland-Craig 26, Homer 31, Norfolk Catholic 41.
Girls top 15: 1. Jordyn Arens (CRO) 10:02; 2. Chaney Nelson (O-C) 20:12; 3. Kairece Morris (PEN) 20:36; 4. Rylie Arens (CRO) 20:43; 5. Alea Rasmussen (W-P) 21:32; 6. CC Kahn (NC) 21:38; 7. Alexis Bodlack (PEN) 22:01; 8. Kiera Altwine (CRO) 22:08; 9. Ali Albrecht (HOM) 22:17; 10. Elizabeth Wortmann (CRO) 22:24; 11. Madison Mckie (STA) 22:42; 12. Tori Gaardner (HOM) 22:47; 13. Allie Hassler (W-P) 22:56; 14. Ellen Magnusson (O-C) 23:30; 15. Christina Brandl, (HLHF) 23:56.
Other Norfolk Catholic finishers: Jordan Aschoff, 24:46; Miranda Headley, 28:09.
Boys team scores: Norfolk Catholic 18, Stanton 38, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge 42, Plainview 53, Humphrey St. Francis 65, Oakland-Craig 66, Crofton 79, Wisner-Pilger 81, Ponca 87, Pender 89, Genoa Twin River 97, Homer 99, Madison 125, Randolph 139, Lutheran High Northeast 140.
Boys top 15: 1. Grant Lander (HOM) 16:50; 2. Kolter Van Pelt (STA) 17:03; 3. Ben Hammond (NC) 17:12; 4. Jackson Strain (GTR) 17:21; 5. Abraham Larson (STA) 17:24; 6. Brody Taylor (PON) 17:30; 7. Trey Foecking (NC) 17:31; 8. Dalton Brunsing (NC) 17:35; 9. Alex Foecking (NC) 17:47; 10. Preston Rose (LCC) 17:54; 11. Austin Guenther (CRO) 17:55; 12. Bryant Peck (W-P) 18:06; 13. Dillon Olson (LCC) 18:07; 14. Dawson Meyer (O-C) 18:14; 15. Jordan Mosel (PLA) 18:20.
Other Norfolk Catholic finisher: Nolan Thramer, 18:32.
Lutheran High Northeast finishers: Kolby Nielsen, 20:29; Ronald Molina, 21:05; David Rodriguez, 21:54.