KEARNEY — Carson Noecker of Hartington-Newcastle and Mason Sindelar of Pierce have battled on the cross country courses throughout the entire 2019 season.
They have alternated their finishing positions, but the freshman Wildcat outran the junior Bluejay to win the top spot in the Class D State Cross Country Championships here at the Kearney Country Club Friday.
The pair of northeast Nebraska runners outran the field as Noecker finished the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes and three seconds — Sindelar ran the race in 16:16.3.
The third-place finisher, William Anderson from Gothenburg, completed it in 16:51.9.
The duo was a second apart at the first mile and Noecker was ahead by four seconds after the second mile — a 5k is 3.2 miles.
“I stayed with him as long as I could,” Sindelar said. “He started pulling away after the second mile and I just didn’t fell anything in my legs — they were gone.”
In the final 1.2 miles, Noecker increased the advantage by nearly 10 seconds.
“First, I’m thankful to God,” Noecker said. “Mason brings out the best in me and I hope I bring out the best in him — I’m no different than any of these runners out here, it was just my day.”
Noecker proved he was wise beyond his years with his post-race comments.
“I don’t think I could have won this without Mason,” he said. “He has pushed me all year — it is just a lot of fun to run against him and with him.”
Although he pulled away at the end, Noecker never felt in command.
“I was never comfortable the whole race and I kept pushing hard,” Noecker said. “I’m thankful for this season — I can’t describe my happiness right now.”
Brady Thompson of O’Neill was also in the medals in Class C coming in 10th in his sophomore season.
“Brady has been our front runner all season,” Eagle coach Cole Hilker said. “He did it here again today.”
The Wildcats placed eighth in the team standings and O’Neill was 10th.
Hilker thinks the best may be yet to come for his young squad.
“We have 11 freshmen and sophomores on this year’s team,” Hilker said. “I really like where we’re headed.”
He knows the direction is good today, but he knows what it will take to move up the ladder in Kearney.
“The runners need to figure out these things are won over the summer and during the off season,” he said. “These guys need to commit to putting in the miles and I like where our older kids are taking us for the future — time will tell.”