State cross country spots on the line in Albion
State cross country hopes are on the line in Albion on Thursday afternoon for a handful of local schools.
Scotus Central Catholic will be looking to extend several streaks for both its boys and girls teams while Lakeview High is hoping to keep a mini-streak alive for its boys while making it two in a row for the girls.
The Shamrocks have sent their girls to state every year as a team since 2009, while the boys had a run of seven team qualifications in a row snapped last season.
Lakeview advanced its boys team to Kearney three years straight until last season. The girls qualified two runners a year ago after not having any Lady Vikes at state since 2018.
Both figure to be in the mix Thursday in an 11-team field hosted by Boone Central.
“Our girls were in the discussion last year, but through the course of the year, we just had too many injuries. We weren’t able to do our best,” Scotus coach Merlin Lahm said in an interview Tuesday. “The boys did not qualify for state last year. That’s the thing we really want to change this year.”
The girls have dominated throughout the course of the regular season schedule, winning all but once. Frustratingly, the lone runner-up trophy came at the Scotus Invite on Sept. 13.
But though the Shamrocks are slightly less than perfect, they are loaded with talent. Their top two runners, senior Kelsey Faust and sophomore Olivia Fehringer, have their own share of high finishes and have each competed at the state meet every year of their varsity careers.
Juniors Brea Lassek and Liza Zaruba can say the same. Sophomore Abai Aydt and freshman Liz Adamy have typically been chasing that group of four but have produced enough quality finishes of their own to make Scotus a formidable group top to bottom.
On the boys’ side, Elliott Thomazin is coming off a runner-up finish at the Centennial Conference Tournament and has three years of state experience under his belt, as well.
SCC isn’t quite as seasoned on the boys’ team due to a large contingent of seniors from a year ago, but the ’Rocks have been progressing to the point where Lahm said he believes they’ll definitely have a shot on Thursday in Albion and after.
“We think we’re in contention. I would say there’s probably four girls teams that have a decent chance of winning a state championship, and I think we’re in the conversation,” Lahm said. “For the boys to do well as a team, our top four have to run well.
“Elliott and Michael Gasper have medaled throughout the season and have been real regulars for us. Sometimes after that, things shuffle around a little bit.”
Lakeview’s experience in performing on the doorstep of state is as good as its been recently.
Brenden Henggeler ran at state when the Vikings qualified as a group two years ago. Junior Makenna Frenzen and sophomore Alison Loseke qualified as a pair last year. The Lady Vikes hadn’t sent the team or any individual runners since 2013.
“I think we have two boys that have a really good shot of getting there. Brenden has been running really well lately. He’s had some good times, some good practices and is running with some confidence,” coach James Brock said. “Cody Schaad, if he runs well, I think we could get him there, too.”
Lakeview didn’t have the greatest finishes in terms of placings last week at the Central Conference Meet in Holdrege, but that’s all relative, Brock said.
As the smallest school among the 10, many of which are Class B schools, the Vikings may have been overmatched.
He likes the team’s chances much more on Thursday.
“On the girls’ side, we have two girls who are right on the bubble of getting in. Allison Loseke has been having our top finishes lately, and she seems to be running strong. Makenna Frenzen had a pretty nasty injury earlier in the season but has been working on bringing her times down,” Brock said.
“I thought our third and fourth runners (on both teams) would be up closer earlier in the year. I was just expecting that. But the fact the whole team is running better, that’s satisfying to me that we’re doing things right to get kids better.”