TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

Weather Part of Track/Field Seasons

More cold and snow, sure doesn’t feel like track season, huh?
Oh, wait a minute. This is Nebraska track and field. Guess we’re just about par for the course then.
Anyone who has participated in track and field in our fair state, and parents/grandparents/fans who have attended early spring meets, knows the elements are all part of the experience. Like it or not.
Before all is said and done with the 2011 campaign, it’s a sure bet track aficionados will “enjoy” biting cold, moisture of some type, bracing winds and searing sun. We’ll run the gamut from parkas to sunscreen. Just another spring in Nebraska.
Track and field competitors in our part of the country are a hardy breed, by necessity. And, even if no one is anxious for the long days of inclement conditions, the 2011 season has been eagerly anticipated by many in our area.
It’s no wonder when you look at the many stellar performers returning from a year ago. The next two months should feature an abundance of great competition around the News region. Records anyone?
Looking back at the 2010 area performance charts shows that area leaders return in 16 of 17 girls events. On the boys side, it’s 9 of 17. Quality and quantity.
When speaking of quality, you have to begin with Holy Family junior Andrea Weeder, who led the Lady Bulldogs to a second consecutive Class D state championship last year by winning the 1600 and 3200 meter runs for a second straight year.
Holy Family looks primed for a shot at a three-peat this spring. Along with Weeder, the ‘Lady Dawgs return all four members of its gold medal 4×800 relay team and individual medalists Breanna Korus, Melissa Schumacher and Stacy Beller. LHF lost just one of its 2010 qualifiers and has added some talented freshmen who will provide even more team depth.
Can you say loaded?
Our area has quite a number of state meet performers back this spring, including a trio of Cardinals who would like to duplicate or surpass their record-setting 2010 performances.

Senior Bobbi Beckwith will have her sights on lowering the Boone Central 400 meter dash standard she set in Omaha. In addition, juniors Jaime Kennedy and Breann Thorberg are back to team with Beckwith on the record-setting 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
The list of state performers goes on from there. Cardinals Kennedy (100, 200), Kattie Cleveland (shot put), Sara Wells (discus). Newman Grove junior Troy McCuiston (100, 200, triple jump) and senior Tatem Fowlkes (400). Shawn Korth of Holy Family (110 highs). Spalding/Spalding Academy’s Steve Schmeits (100, 200, 4×100), Dustin Henry (800, 4×100) and Levi Connelly (4×100). A pair of sophomores who burst onto the varsity scene in 2010 – Blake Slizoski of Boone Central (only Class B freshman in state 100, 200) and Trent Braun of Cedar Valley (110 highs). And, of course, all those ‘Lady Dawgs – Weeder, Korus, Schumacher, Beller, Melanie Fehringer, Tessa Kurtenbach, Taylor Bender, Vitoria Wiese.
It doesn’t take much imagination to sense the type of competition fans can expect in 2011. The battles to top area charts will be fierce. Slizoski-Schmeits-McCuiston in the sprints. Braun-Korth in hurdles. Numerous relays. Even among teammates – Beckwith-Kennedy (sprints) and Cleveland-Wells (weights).
Plus, there will always be some new standouts as young athletes mature and improve.
Competition breeds performance and the competition in this area should take athletes to new heights this spring.
Fans can get an early-season glimpse of many of the mentioned performers Saturday in the annual Mansfield Invitational. Just a little teaser of what lies ahead.
You may need to brave cold, wind, rain, heat and even snow, but it will be well worth your while to attend area track and field meets this spring.
If we’re lucky, we’ll even see a few “nice” days sprinkled in.

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