The Nebraska Track and Field Coach’s Rankings are presented by the Nebraska Track & Field Festival and Nebraska Elite Track Club with the help of numerous Nebraska High School Coaches from around the state. The rankings are based upon how teams in each class will ultimately do at the Nebraska State Track Meet in May. The goal of the rankings are to recognize the hard work of teams and athletes in all classes across our state.
2019 Pre-Season Top 5
1. Lincoln High – The 2018 Class A Boys State Championship literally went down to the last event. Even after the finish, coaches had to put both 1600m Relay heats together to figure out that Lincoln High had won the Championship by a 1/2 point. We will see if 2019 has the same dramatic finish. The Links return a group that has a chance to repeat. Until proven otherwise, the Links start 2019 atop our standings with state potentials back in the 65-70 point range. 110m High Hurdle State Record Holder Darius Luff returns and it will be tough to keep him from 20 points in the hurdles. Leeaaron Berks also brings at or near 20 point potential in the 400m and 800m respectively. The real variable for the Links will be their ability to continue to fill out strong relays and see state qualifiers like Isaiah Winston and Vincent Wieser bring in needed individual points to replace those who graduated.
2. Fremont – Fremont had some very strong individual finishes at State in 2018 with gold medals from Wes Ferguson (800), Lucas Arps (400), and Jacob Sellon (PV), but could not put all their relays and distance points together to beat fellow HAC teams Lincoln High and Lincoln SW. Coming off a 2018 State XC Championship and returning both Ferguson and Arps, the Tigers should be in the hunt again. Fremont will likely bring a bevy of opportunities to score in the field and will rely on distance seniors Ferguson, Jose Gonzalez, and Ben Schulz to catch 3200m Relay, 800m, 1600m, and 3200m points.
3. Lincoln SW – The Silverhawks had one their strongest boys finish to date. LSW will be led by a very strong group of distance runners who captured a top 5 XC finish in 2018. From that group, juniors Tyler Boyle, Jack Nolley and Trevor Acton will look to score more points in 2019 and replace the loss of Luke Nolley. The Silverhawks return all around jumper Jesse Lewis who could score in all 3 jumps but must replace the losses of vaulter Zach Bennetts and thrower Anthony Banderas. Being able to have 2018 qualifiers returning in the sprints and hurdles to step up and score points and fill out relays will likely be the biggest factor in the ‘Hawks flying back to the podium in 2019.
4. Omaha Burke – The 2018 Metro Conference Champions finished 4th at State in 2018 with a very strong 63 points. We will see the strength of the Bulldogs again in the hurdles, sprints, and short relays. Burke returns hurdle scorers Lyndon Harrison and Myles Thompson. Both made the finals of both hurdle events and will likely bring home big points if they can repeat those performances on their home track. Sprinter Michael Payne is a year older and could contend with Arps and Berks in the 400m. The Bulldogs also won the 1600m Relay and were runner-up in the 400m Relay. Returning most of those from 2018 will also push Burke up the standings.
5. Kearney – The Bearcats have another strong squad coming back for 2019. The ‘Cats usually bring sprint, hurdle, and field event points home after the State Meet and 2019 should be no exception. Miko Maessner will lead the relays and could be very strong in both sprint events. Look for field event improvements in the pole vault and high jump where multiple state qualifiers return. Absent in 2019 could be ‘Cat throws points that were once the foundation of more than a dozen state championships. It will also be interesting to see if Kearney loses a bit of its notorious team depth with the addition of baseball at the high school this spring.
1. Papillion-LaVista South – The Titans get the preseason nod at the top of the rankings. Winning the state meet comes down to star power and this team is stacked with it. Olivia Sattlefied and Sekiya Simmons are set to score big in the hurdle events all year long and Sunday Thiyang is coming off a stellar freshman campaign in the jumps. We haven’t even mentioned the 2018 cross country Class A champion Kaylie Crews and the points she will put on the board. This team is stacked and will try to get the Titans their first Class A State Track Championship come May.
2. Lincoln Southwest – The defending state champions easily distanced themselves when all the dust had settled last May at Burke and look ready to try and defend their title this year. While they lost a large portion of their points from last year’s team they still will be bringing back a loaded lineup that will put them in the running. Katie Dilsaver and Lindsay Biehm will lead the charge on the track for the Silverhawks and Abbie Squier is back trying to win a state championship in the shot. While this team will have to fill a few holes to compete with the Titans this spring their track record over the last ten years shows they are more than capable of doing so.
3. Kearney – Sammie Scarlett proved last year that she was a force to be reckoned with in the sprints and comes back for her junior campaign with the fastest time in Class A in the 100-meter dash. Hannah Goodwin will lead the distance crew and with Ellie Dahlgren sitting as the top returner in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles they will put up the points. This squad could easily vault to the top spot in the rankings if they show that they can find a supporting cast that will be able to put up a few more necessary points come May.
4. Millard West – The Wildcats have enjoyed quite a bit of success over the last ten to fifteen years at Omaha Burke in May. They return some great athletes from their state runner-up team in Lindsay Adams, who will be challenging for the top spot on the podium in the hurdles and Long Jump, and Katie McNulty, who will lead their distance squad. This team will have to find some more firepower though to contend will the three teams above them in these rankings. If they can do that they will be in the mix.
5. Lincoln East – When you have the top two returners in the state in both the 800 and 1600 you deserve to be on this list. Madi and Jenna Muma will put the Spartans in the conversation all spring and they will put on another show in the distance events like they have down the last couple of years, but the meet at Burke is more than a distance carnival and they will need to find some points somewhere else on the track or in the field if they want to bring home one of the two trophies come May. While the Spartans hands down have the best distance squad in the state they need to find their supporting cast.
1. Scottsbluff – The Bearcats finished third last year and with the return of almost every performer at State they want to use that Bearcat speed to move up the rankings in 2019. Senior Christopher Busby and Jeremiah Delzer will provide a strong core of leadership and experience. The success they have had on the football field and basketball court will carry over to the track and the field.
2. McCook – The Bison are strong. Led by DJ Gross and Colin Giron in the throws and Morgan Fawver and Alec Bunger in the jumps this group will make a strong charge at the Bearcats for that top spot come May.
3. Minden – The Whippets have their own dynamic duo of Aidan Wheelock and Marshall Chasek. Together they could score 40 points. To make a run at the title they will need to enlist a few more teammates to help them score those valuable points to put them over the top. It may take about 50 points this year to bring home the Championship. Time will tell.
4. Waverly – The Vikings have a solid core. Led by returning 400 Champion Trent Weatherwax the Vikes hope to improve on their 11th place finish from last year. It is never just one thing, but having the 4×100 score this year will automatically move them up into the top 10 at State and anything is possible, so don’t be surprised if they also move up from this preseason 4th ranking.
5. Gross Catholic – The Cougars will not be able to replace Jackson Larsen, but they have a solid core of mid distance runners that will make them a strong contender for a top three spot when everything is said and done at Burke Stadium in May. William Rice has a strong chance to win both the 400/800, which is one of the toughest doubles to do.
1. Syracuse – Syracuse is the defending Champions and with everyone back from the team last year they will be looking for back to back Championships. 2018 Runner-Up Elkhorn makes the jump to Class A in 2019. The Rockets will look to fly away from the rest of the Class B competition led by Lauren Meyer, Meredith Clark, Ellie Wilkinson, and Lauren Siefken.
2. Platteview – The Trojans look to improve on their third place finish from last year. Led by Carrie Simonson, Anna Koehler, and Teri Zanker they will need a strong core of teammates to step up if they want to reach the pinnacle and knock off Syracuse. Don’t count out the Trojans, they have the horses to mount a charge.
3. Lexington – The MinuteMaids could be renamed the Madisons. Madison Smith and Madison Sutton scored all of the 27 State Points last year. This dynamic duo may have the superpowers to knock off any nemesis standing in their way in 2019.
4. Aurora – The Huskies have become a fixture in the top 5 year in and year out at State. They always seem to have depth in the middle distance and distance events. Led by Junior Kyla Carlson Aurora could make the biggest jump this year with a well rounded team. Look for the Huskies to challenge for the 4×800 Relay again. If that looks likely, look for the Huskies to move up in the rankings throughout the year.
5. Waverly – The Vikings bring back some strong competitors in Abigail Clarke and Alex Danson. They finished tied for 10th last year and look to siege a spot in the top 5. Each competitor that competed at State last year is back which will provide experience and an opportunity to improve on that 10th place finish.
1. Norfolk Catholic – The 2019 Knights will be led one final time by the track and field event duo of Ethan Piper in the throws and Dylan Kautz in the sprints. Rylan Rasmussen also adds point potentials in the distance events that could provide the Knights further opportunities to outrun the rest of Class C.
2. Shelby-Rising City – S-RC is a team that has been on the rise the last two seasons. S-RC has depth in numerous events. Athletes Austin Coffin and Mason Schleis have strong point possibilities in the jumps with numerous graduations from 2018. Both will couple with junior Grant Lindsley that could keep up with Norfolk Catholic in the 400m Relay. Coffin will also look to move up in the 100m after a 7th place finish in 2018. Improving their 1600m Relay performance and adding another event for their top athletes will be necessary if they are going to keep up with Norfolk Catholic.
3. David City Aquinas – Aquinas Catholic will join Shelby-Rising City and Centennial in a very tough and competitive C-2 District Meet. The Monarchs are looking to move up from a 20 point performance in 2018 and they have the athletes to do just that. Numerous 2018 points came from 9th graders who showed they could handle the State Track spotlight. Now sophomores, Payton Davis and Keegan Lavicky in the distance events and Kyle Napier in the jumps are setting a strong foundation for years to come. Senior Andrew Lyons will lead the Aquinas sprint crew in the 400m, 400m Relay and could return in the 200m as well. We will see what Aquinas can put together as the season goes along.
4. Lincoln Lutheran – Lutheran returns 3 of their 4 legs on their 3:27 1600m Relay team in Noah L’Heureaux, hurdle stud Colton Meyer and middle distance runner Jacob Meyer. With the graduation of Phalen Sanford from Dundy County-Stratton, Colton Meyer has championship potential in both hurdle events. Jacob Meyer could move up in the distance events for additional points. If the Warriors can find some points in the field events, this is a group that could rise above our current ranking.
5. Centennial – With numerous graduations in the pole vault, Centennial’s 9th grade duo of Cooper Gierhan and Wyatt Collingham could bring home a dozen or more points in this event. Likewise, Quinn Butzke and Reece Foreman could find themselves with tons of point potentials in the throws and jumps with numerous top performers from 2018 no longer around. Foreman also will lead the Broncos on the track in the hurdles and will hope to help bring their 400m relay back to State in 2019.
1. Lincoln Lutheran – Lincoln Lutheran was the runner-up in 2018 and will start 2019 atop our rankings. Hope Leimbach is the top returning long jumper in Class C and Marriah Buss returns after a 5th place triple jump in 2018. Josie Puelz should contend for the All-Class Gold in the pole vault again and should be near the top in both hurdle events. Finally, all 4 girls on the 400m Relay return from last year’s 4th place finish. 2019 could be their year.
2. David City Aquinas – We didn’t have Aquinas Catholic as our #1 going into 2018 State Track and they proved us wrong in 2018 with a convincing 16 point victory. The Aquinas 2018 Championship formula relied on strong track performances and a sprinkling of field event points. That will likely be the same in 2019. They return a pair of 10’+ vaulters but many of the girls ahead of them also return in 2019. Three of the 4 girls from their championship 400m Relay team return. Larissa Sellers returns in the hurdles and sprints, but finds herself once again in tough fields with numerous returners back. Junior Isabella Hilger will now replace Rebekah Roh as their top sprinter and best relay leg along with Sellers.
3. Kearney Catholic – The Stars are on the rise in 2019 after a 7th place performance in 2018. Like Aquinas Catholic, they will rely on the track and little on the field events. Three of their top 4 legs return to their runner-up 400m Relay performance and should be right there with Aquinas and Lincoln Lutheran. Kayla Lee will be a strong contender in the sprints along with senior Nicole Messbarger. Look for another strong medal performance in the 1600m Relay with numerous Stars returning.
4. Ainsworth – Ainsworth will go as far as Erin Kuchera and Rylee Rice will take them. Kuchera had a strong 2018 performance in the throws highlighted by a 128’ 4th place discus toss. Rylee Rice is now a junior and should rebound strongly from a few disappointments at the 2018 State Meet. CeeAnna Beel is the only other potential state returner in the distance events. With Rice doing work on the track and Kuchera in the rings, look for Ainsworth to earn a top 5 spot at the 2019 State Meet.
5. Hartington Cedar Catholic – There is strong track tradition in the Hartington area with Cedar Catholic and Hartington-Newcastle. Both schools scored a lot of points at the 2018 meet. The Cedar Catholic girls return Abigail Hochstein in the throws and Sara Reifenrath in the sprints who is looking to repeat as the 200m Champion. Sara Burbach is looking to move up in the distance events with numerous girls graduating from 2018. Three of their 4 legs return from their 1600m Relay squad and being in the fast heat in 2019 would undoubtedly help their chances for a potential relay win.
1. Axtell- The preseason boy’s race looks to be between Axtell, Shelton, and North Central. The relays will make a huge difference this year as to who comes out on top in May at the State Meet. Last year’s state champions from Axtell return 51 points from last year’s team. Axtell will again be led by Creighton Krings and Lane Bertrand who scored 40 between them at State.
2. Shelton- With the infusion of Ry Cheney from Cody-Kilgore look for Shelton to make a serious push for a championship. Coupled with returning medalists Jesus Saceda, Sterling Wright, and Remington Wright, Shelton is a team to watch in 2019.
3. North Central- Last season’s third place team returns a core of athletes including 110m Hurdles champion Colton Munger.
4. Johnson-Brock- Johnson-Brock looks to be a team on the rise in 2019. With Ty Hahn’s sprinting and Seth Moerer’s throwing Johnson-Brock could find themselves well within the Top 5 in May.
5. Sterling- Led by sprinter Tristian Dirks and distance runner Logan Jasa it should be another good year for Jets.
Class D Girls
1. Plainview- The Class D girls race is wide open and could be first to 40 wins. The Pirates get the early nod with the return of distance specialist Jade Rickard and all-around athlete Caroline Akinigbagbe
2. Sandhills-Thedford- Closely behind is the Knights with sprinter Carlie Collier and Johannah Christie, is the girls from the Sandhills who may have a chance for a championship if things fall correctly.
3. Riverside- Led by 100 and 200 meter champion Alex Bloom, the Chargers could find their way to the top if Bloom can find a way to score enough points in 4 events.
4. Giltner- A familiar name in our Class D Girls Top 5, Giltner lost most of its points from last year’s championship team but as Class D knows this is a team that usually finds enough finish in the Top 5.
5. Diller-Odell- A testament to how open Class D Girls may be this year, Diller-Odell returns 3 possible State medalists. With points spread across so many squads, teams that are able to have a few state medalists and couple that with some relay points could very well make the Top 5.