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Local Athletes Chasing NSAA Medals in Omaha

Mike Motz, Sidney Sun-Telegraph

Burke Stadium in Omaha will be bustling on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week as the NSAA holds their annual State Championship Track and Field meet, and Cheyenne County will be well-represented in the event as it send the best of their track and field standouts to compete for a medal.

It begins with Sidney High School, the class B entrant, and their slate of seven boy and seven girl qualifiers. For the girls, all eyes will be on Karsyn Leeling and Chloe Ahrens, with both athletes having very good chances for gold medals in numerous events. Leeling is a heavy favorite in High Jump and Triple Jump, and is also a strong competitor in Long Jump. Leeling's personal best in the High Jump is 5' 10", a full five inches more than number two ranked Kelsey Miller of Seward's personal best of 5' 5" in Class B. In Triple Jump, Leeling's personal best of 37' 4.5" is tops in Class B, with number two ranked Maria Connealy of Omaha Gross Catholic as the only other athlete in Class B to get past the 37 foot mark this season. Leeling is also strong in Long Jump, with the second best distance this season in Class B at 17' 10.5". But it will be a tall order to get past senior Taylor Bredthauer of Norris who had a personal best jump of 19' 2.5" this season. Chloe Ahrens will have to be at her best in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles to take home golds, as she has the best time this season in Class B in the 100 Meter Hurdles at 14.68, but it is only .24 of a second faster than Paige Horne of Scottsbluff's and Kelsey Miller of Seward's best times. Ahrens has the third best time in Class B in the 300 Meter Hurdles at 45.10, and will have to run her best race to beat the 44.85 time of Karyn Burkholder of Cozad. Both Leeling and Ahrens are on the 4X100 Meter Relay team, but the Sidney girls have only put in the 13th best time this season, so medal chances are slim in this event. Ahrens is also on the 4X400 Meter Relay team, but their best time is only ranked 12th in Class B, so medal chances in this event are also slim.

For the Sidney girls, other qualifiers include junior Talissa Tanquary in the 400 and 800 Meters and the 4X400 Meter Relay team. In the 400 and 800 Meters, Tanquary's best times have not broken the top 10 in Class B, so she will need to run her best races for any chance for a medal. The rest of the qualifiers, Katie Dowse, Jordan DeNovellis and Payton Schrotberger are all on the Relay Teams or are alternates, and again, the teams would have to run their very best races for any chance of winning medals.

For the Sidney boys, junior Isak Doty has qualified for the 100, 200 and 400 Meter sprints and is part of the 4X100 Meter Relay team. In the 100 Meters, Doty is ranked 7th, so a strong performance will put him in the running for a medal. Doty is ranked 11th in 200 Meters, so again a very strong showing could earn the junior a medal. Doty is ranked 6th in the 400 Meters, and although nearly a full two seconds behind number one ranked Braxton Smith of Waverly, a strong performance could land Doty in the top three. Doty anchors the number 3 ranked 4X100 Meter Relay team, a strong performance by the team should land them a medal. Senior Jacob Dowse has qualified in High Jump, the 400 Meters and the 4X100 Meter Relay team. Dowse is the second-ranked Class B jumper, with a best jump only two inches lower than number one ranked Nolan Studley of Hastings. A strong performance could earn Dowse a gold medal in this event. Dowse is the number 9 ranked runner in the 400 Meters, and again a strong performance in Omaha could put Dowse in medal contention. Cam Leeling qualified for Long Jump, and is ranked number 11 in Class B this season. Leeling has flirted with the 22 foot mark all season, and he will need to get past that barrier if he expects to take home a medal. Landon Riddle qualified for Long Jump and 4X100 Meter Relay, and is ranked 16th in Class B in Long Jump. He still has a five inches to go until he breaks the 22 foot barrier, so he will need a very strong performance in Omaha to have a chance for a medal. Freshman Keian Kaiser qualified for Long Jump, and is ranked 15th in Class B. He will need to add a few inches to his 6' 1" personal best jump if he is to be in medal contention. Lance Holly is part of the 4X100 Meter Relay team that has a good chance for a medal, and Vernon Graham is an alternate for the 4X100 Meter Relay.

After the boys squad won the District D-9 meet and girls placed fourth, the Leyton Warriors are sending a good group to Omaha this season. For the girls, sophomore Zaili Benish qualified for the 100 Meters, the 100 and 300 Meter Hurdles and the 4X100 Meter Relay. In the 100 Meters, Benish is ranked number 24, nearly a full second behind Class D number 1 ranked Rori Wieseman of Osceola, so her chances of medaling in this event are slim. Benish in ranked 16th in Class D in the 100 meter Hurdles, more than a second slower than the top three runners, so she will need to run her best race to have any chance of medaling. Benish's best shot for a medal comes in the 300 meter Hurdles, where she is ranked fourth in Class D. She has a good chance for a medal here, and a particularity strong performance could land her in the top three. Junior Claire Watchorn qualified in Discus, 200 Meters and 4X100 Meter Relay. In Discus, her personal best throw of 104 feet is a full 35 feet shorter than Class D leader JessaLynn Hudson of Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, so her chances to medal in this event are slim. Her 200 Meter personal best time is nearly two seconds slower than the number six ranked runner, so she will need a very strong outing to have a chance for a medal. The other girls qualifiers, Macey Roelle and Shawnee Gamble, join Zaili Benish and Claire Watchorn, in the 4X100 Meter Relay. Coming in with the 19th best time in Class D, the team is a full three seconds slower than number one Osceola, so the odds are against the 4X100 team medaling.

For the Leyton boys, Zachary Anderson qualified for both Shot Put and Discus, but his best throws in both events are far from the top 10, so his chances to medal are very slim. Freshman Alec Watchorn qualified for High Jump, but his 5' 8" personal best is four and a half inches lower than the number six ranked jumper, so again his chances for a medal are slim. Dawson Juelfs qualified for Pole Vault, but his personal best height of 11 feet does not even put him in the top twenty in Class D, meaning he chances for a medal are very slim. The boys' best chances for medals rest with senior Justin Ernest, who qualified in the 400 and 800 Meters. In the 400 Meters, he is ranked eight in Class D, and is about a second and a half off the pace of the number one runner, Isaiah Zelasney of Osceola. A strong performance by Ernest should earn him a medal. In the 800 Meters, Ernest is ranked fifth in Class D, a little under three seconds behind number one ranked Addison Smith of Wausa. A strong showing by Ernest in the 800 Meters could land him in the top three.

Potter-Dix is sending a few athletes to the State Meet, led by senior Luke Kasten in the 100 Meter Dash and 200 Meter Dash. He is joined by senior James Pease in the 1600 Meters and freshman Dylan Tabor in the 300 Meter Hurdles. For the girls, senior Lily Tabor and sophomore Taylah Wilson qualified in Pole Vault. For Kasten, in the 100 Meters he is nearly a full second off the time of number one ranked Dillon Miller of Brady. His personal best is 11.49, and will most likely need to run his strongest race to have a chance of medaling. In the 200 Meters, Kasten is ranked 20th in Class D, and trails the number one runner, also Dillon Miller, by over two seconds. Again, it will require Kasten's best effort to medal in this event. Both James Pease and Dylan Tabor are not in the top twenty in rankings, and will require outstanding performances to be in medal contention.

Creek Valley is sending a pair of athletes to the State Meet, juniors Samantha Marin and Anna Speirs. Marin qualified for the 3200 Meters with her first-place finish at the D-9 District Meet and Spiers qualified in the 1600 Meters with her first-place finish at the district meet. Marin's best time this season in the event is 14:15.61 and would need to break the 14 minute barrier to be in the top 25 in times, so she would need to run her very best race and have everything fall her way to contend for a medal. Speirs is in a similar circumstance, with her personal best time of 6:13.90 being far off the pace of the top runners in the event in Class D. She would also need to run her best race and have everything fall into place for her to contend for a medal.

We at the Sun-Telegraph wish all of our athletes the best of luck in Omaha, and hope that all the hard work, training and dedication pays off and they are able to compete at their highest levels. We will have the results of the State Meet next week.


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