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TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

It was a fine season Cardinals!

The 2011 track & field season was, once again, very successful for the Boone Central Cardinals.
Despite a spring plagued by unpleasant weather conditions, the Cardinals produced a number of highlights, both on the track and in the field.
No overall Cardinal records (encompassing Albion and Boone Central) were established this year, but several new Boone Central marks were set. The BC girls added a third consecutive Mid-State Conference crown to the trophy case, and nine Card athletes competed in the state meet, bringing home a total of 11 medals.

Highlights

The pinnacle of the season was the conference championship. The Mid-State is annually one of the strongest leagues in the state and winning three straight titles is a rare and remarkable feat.
Along with the team honor came six conference gold medals for Lady Cardinal individuals, including ‘doubles’ by senior Sara Wells (discus, shot put) and junior Jaime Kennedy (long jump, 100 dash). Senior Bobbi Beckwith concluded her stellar Mid-State career with gold in the 200 meter dash and the 4×100 relay (freshman Brooke Anderson, Kennedy, junior Breann Thorberg and Beckwith) was victorious.
That’s called rising to the occasion.
Even more remarkably, the Mid-State performance closed a difficult and stressful week for BC athletes that included the annual “invitation-only” Central Nebraska Track Championships in Grand Island – an event that was pushed back a day (to Tuesday) by inclement weather.
Boone Central qualified more athletes than ever this year and brought home its most medals, chalking up eight season-best performances in the process. Then, all they had to do was repeat the process four days later.
Well done indeed.
Most notable of the CNTC efforts were gold medals by Wells in the weight throws, Kennedy’s gold in the 200 meter dash and a victory by the BC 4×400 relay team (Jade Gottier, Kennedy, Thorberg and Beckwith).
Note that all shined again in conference competition (the relay winning silver at Pierce).

Record Setters

When listing 2011 season superlatives, two new Boone Central school record performances must rank near the top.
Kennedy highlighted an outstanding junior season that saw her become one of Class B’s most powerful sprinters, posting a BC record 12.4 in winning the conference 100 meter dash and also establishing a 25.6 mark in the 200.
One of the most exhilarating storylines of the spring belonged to freshman Jade Gottier.
Running the 800 meters for just the second time, Gottier boldly charged to the front of the Mid-State field and missed holding on for a gold medal by just a few agonizing strides. The following week, she established a new BC event record of 2:30.6 in the Seier Memorial meet, then for good measure, lowered that to 2:29.3 while placing third in a very difficult B4 District and qualifying for the state meet.
Whew!

While there were no gold medals or state championships won in Omaha to close the season, the Cards performed most ably against the state’s top Class B competition, including season-best efforts by Kennedy (200 meter dash, 25.988) and the 4×100 (50.748) and 4×400 (4:07.44) relays. Wells culminated her Cardinal career with a discus medal and Cole Luettel scored for the BC boys in the high jump.
There were many additional medal efforts by Cardinals in 2011. Plus, athletes who made remarkable strides from season’s start to finish with personal, season and career bests, even without winning meet awards.

Appreciation?

Track & field is often an under-appreciated sport. The national allure of professional team sports like football, basketball and baseball and the huge popularity of college football and basketball filters down to the high school level, and that seems to be where the focus is aimed and spotlights shine.
Track & field, other than in Olympic years, is not as highly celebrated and falls into more of the ‘niche sport’ category.
These athletes and their achievements should certainly be lauded and celebrated with the same fervor as any others, however. In some ways, their efforts might be the most impressive of all. Consider …
Track & field comes at the end of a long and taxing school year. Most athletes, especially from smaller schools, are competing in a third straight season of sports which all but overlap each other. No breaks, no rest.
Crowds prior to the district and  state championships are often sparse. Athletes at many smaller schools don’t have enough competitors to realistically challenge for team honors. Quite a few schools still lack adequate facilities for practice and have no “home games”. Weather in Nebraska rarely cooperates.
This is a sport that takes individual commitment and the love of personal challenge. It becomes athlete vs. athlete and athlete vs. self. There are shiny medals to be won – and unrecognized personal achievements to be gained. There are no teammates to lean on when the starting gun is fired. You get out of it what you put into it.
Boone Central Cardinals have obviously put in the effort through the years and reaped the awards – often quietly, but proudly.
Congratulations to Coach Kris Pestel, her entire Boone Central staff and the Cardinal athletes on another job well done.
They deserve a little break now.

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