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Area standouts excel in 2019 CNTC

Riverside’s Alix Bloom (center) runs to victory in the girls 100-meter dash as (from left) Kailyn Scott of Broken Bow and Lauren Hedlund of Boone Central/Newman Grove give chase during the Central Nebraska Track and Field Championships on Tuesday at Grand Island Northwest High School. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

When parties gather at Grand Island Northwest High School for the annual Central Nebraska Track and Field Championships, you know there will be plenty of exceptional performances by outstanding athletes from high schools of all classes in the Grand Island Independent’s coverage area.
The 2019 event certainly lived up to the billing.
Among the athletes parlaying their talents into CNTC gold medals April 23 were Riverside senior Alix Bloom and senior Jon Merten of Boone Central/Newman Grove.

Merten heaved the shot put a season-best 53’3 to win that event by more than three feet, and just missed a second gold in the discus, where his throw of 147’2 trailed event champion Dylan Soule (High Plains) by just seven inches.
Merten led a contingent of Cardinals who reaped a total of eight medals in the 2019 CNTC. Fellow senior Dalton Rasmussen placed third in the discus (145’3) and took fifth in the shot put (47’3). Sophomore Jordan Soto-Stopak dialed long distance for a second-place medal in the 3200 meter run in a season-best time of 12:23.05. Senior Jett Stuhr placed fifth in the triple jump (41’7½) and the Lady Cardinal 4×800 meter relay (Samantha Weeder, Autumn Simons, Soto-Stopak, Lauren Pugh) took fifth with a season-low time of 10:20.33. Junior Lauren Hedlund finished eighth in the 100 meter dash (13.59) and Weeder was 10th in the 800 meter run.

Bloom’s final Central Nebraska Track and Field Championships began in somewhat disappointing fashion, as she placed second in the long jump with a mark of 16’2¾ – well behind her earlier season-best of 17’10.
That only provided the Charger senior with further determination for her specialty, which she turned into a third straight 100 meter gold medal performance in a time of 12.92.
That victory capped a CNTC career that included eight total gold medals. Along with the three 100 dash golds, she won two golds in the 200 meter dash, two in the long jump and, as a freshman, helped Riverside’s 4×100 meter relay team win gold in a CNTC and Class D record time of 49.12.
Pretty heady stuff for a Class D athlete competing against athletes in an all-class invitational event.
“I never thought I would win that many medals in this meet,” Bloom told reporters following her latest 100 meter win. “It’s pretty amazing.”

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