Osmond fielded its first cross country team in 2012 with just three runners.
The Tiger program has progressed in numbers and talent over they years and this year, coach Joe Ortmeier is taking a full team to Kearney for the first time as district champions.
“It’s one of those things, you set a goal early in the season, the kids work hard in practice, and then all at once, you hear your name announced, you see the look in the kids’ eyes and it’s fantastic,” Ortmeier said.
Ortmeier depends on senior Mason Bykerk and junior Johnson Chishiba to be at or near the front of the pack in most meets with junior Graysen Schultze close behind.
“Mason had a really good spring track season, running the 3,200 meters, and that’s why he decided to come over (from football) to run for us this year,” Ortmeier said.
Friday will mark Chishiba’s third trip to the state meet. “It was interesting in practice, as he was running around, he was telling (his teammates) what to expect, what to look for.”
The Tiger coach described Schultze as “very athletic” and said the No. 4, sophomore Ryan Schmit, has gotten stronger and more confident all season.
Aaron Chishiba, the No. 5 and Johnson’s brother, is a senior. “Back in junior high, nobody could beat Aaron until his younger brother came along,” Ortmeier said with a laugh.
The Tigers’ No. 6 is Spanish foreign-exchange student Octavio Palacios. “We didn’t know about him until he showed up at school,” Ortmeier said. “He’s been a real solid runner for us.”
Ainsworth’s Qwentin Kappelmann and Ty Schlueter finished second and third in the district race and coach Jared Hansmeyer is looking for the duo to perform well in Kearney.
“It’s always good to be running well late in the season and (Kappelmann and Schlueter) put together some of their best races at the end of the year,” Hansmeyer said.
Class D cross country teams are permitted to send six runners to the starting line with the top four scoring points.
But Stanton fielded a varsity team of just four runners this season, so there was no room for error.
Two pairs of brothers – Abraham and TJ Larson, and Kolter and Kelton Van Pelt – will proudly wear the orange and black in Kearney.
Coach David Ernesti said he knew at the beginning of the year that the top three — Abraham, Kolter and TJ — had a lot of talent.
That trio finished second, fourth and eighth in the D-3 district at Pender, while Kelton crossed the line in the middle of the pack, just fast enough to help the Mustangs edge Logan View for the third team qualifying spot.
“We’d done our requisite work in the summer to get ready for the season and I hoped we could get to a district and everything would work out, and that’s kind of what happened,” Ernesti said.
Traditional cross country power Crofton failed to qualify for state as a team, but junior Connor Arens won his district race and will look to earn a medal in Kearney.
“In the middle of the season, I had some injuries, so I’m just getting back into form,” he said.