KEARNEY — In what has become commonplace, if two years can be considered commonplace, Crofton's Jordyn Arens ran away from the field again at the 2021 Nebraska Class D Girls cross country race here at the Kearney Country Club on Friday afternoon.
What can definitely be considered commonplace is that the Warriors came away with the team title for the 19th time in school history — also the 19th time in the past 40 years.
"We knew if we all ran our race, we could be right up there in the end," Crofton coach Mickey Doerr said. "I really think if you ran this race 10 times, the top five teams or so in this class could have won, but we had our day today."
The Warriors slipped by Nebraska Christian 46-48 with Ainsworth right behind at 52, and North Platte St. Patrick's one point back of the Bulldogs at 53.
Eight of the Warriors’ titles were in Class C before Class D was established in 1994.
As for Arens, there was little doubt.
Arens led wire-to-wire and eventually hit the finish line in 19 minutes, 11.5 seconds with the runner-up, Hannah Swanson of Nebraska Christian, crossing the tape in 20:05.8.
"I felt like I ran a pretty good race here today, good, not great," said Arens, who won her first title last season as a freshman. "I really enjoyed the race, and I enjoy running with my teammates. You make lifelong friends when you run cross country — that's why I like it so much."
Riley Arens was 12th and Kiera Altwine was 32nd in the team scoring to account for the Warriors' total of 46. Elizabeth Wortmann and Ashley Tramp also ran through the hills in Kearney.
"Kiera and Ashley set the pace for this team all season and honestly have been a huge part of this team for the past four years," Doerr said. "They showed everyone the way in practice and showed the younger girls the amount of hard work it takes to compete at this level — we will miss them."
Ainsworth came in third after finishing as the team runner-up in 2020 and winning Class D three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019.
"We lost our number three runner here today, but we had girls step up and run well," Ainsworth coach Jared Hansmeyer said. "We ran well, Crofton just ran better here today — it was their day."
Katherine Kerrigan was the top Bulldog, finishing in sixth place, while teammate Emma Kennedy was 12th.
"I need to work on running a smoother race," Kerrigan said. "I'll keep training and learn to pace myself better."
Kerrigan, a sophomore, placed third as a freshman and enjoyed reuniting with her former middle school teammate, Kennedy, who is a freshman this season.
"We have always gotten along and trained together," Kerrigan said.
"We really push each other to make us each better," Kennedy said. "When one of us has an off day, the other one is there to pick us up."
Another multiple medal winner in Kearney was North Central's Daisy Frick.
Frick placed sixth back in 2018 as a freshman and placed seventh in her final season in high school at state after running to a fourth-place showing in the D-3 district meet in Ainsworth last week.
Madison Davis of Atkinson West Holt, a sophomore, brought home her first state hardware with a top 10 finish Friday at No. 10.
Pender freshman Kairece Morris made the most of her first trip to state, placing 12th.
"I just decided to come out for cross country and try it out," Morris said. "It helps keep me in shape for basketball."