O’NEILL – The Wildcats cross country team made history on Thursday in O’Neill. For the first time, the school will be sending both the boys and the girls teams to the state competition in Kearney.
The boys team will be heading down to State as a team for the first time in school history. HNS finished as the District Runner-up, and everyone stepped up big.
“Honestly, it could have happened the last three or four years,” said head coach Mandy Hochstein. “We have been so close. To finally get them there just means a lot, because we have been telling them ‘you can do it you just gotta believe it.’ I think they actually believed it this year.”
Seniors Brian Santiago and Seth Wiebelhaus have had this as a goal all year, and to see it all come together was priceless.
“It feels amazing,” said Wiebelhaus. “After all of the years of working on it we finally got it so I am pretty stoked for that.”
The Wildcats were close two years ago, but came up seven points short. This year, Santiago won the boys race, and Wiebelhaus placed fifth.
Santiago finally wins the District race. He came in second last year, and has been determined throughout the season to win Districts, get his team to State, and now he wants to win State.
“It feels great, but there is always that pressure because I have always had the goal of taking a team to State,” said Santiago. “No boys team has gone so I wanted to be the first boys team to take one. We are contenders to go in there, and it feels great. It is way more important, and I have had another goal and that is to win a state title, and I haven’t done that yet so this year might be my year.”
Those finishes by Santiago and Wiebelhaus were huge for the boys team, but the team was able to finish in second, in part, because of how strong Dagen Joachimsen and Bode Noecker finished.
“It feels great, because this year our freshman, Dagen, has been doing a good job,” said Santiago. “With a little summer training he will be our top runner next year.”
Joachimsen is just a freshman but he has stepped up big this season. He finished in fourteenth, helping seal a trip to the state competition.
Noecker finished in thirtieth, less than a minute behind Joachimsen.
This is the third straight year that the girls team will be making the trip. Something that means a lot to senior Allie Rosener.
“I was really nervous [before the results were announced],” said Rosener. “Our whole team has gone since my sophomore year so it was just scary that only two of us might have been going this year.”
Rosener and freshman Sara Burbach are the two girls that medaled individually and would have competed at State regardless. Rosener finished in fourth and Burbach finished in eleventh.
The girls race needed a restart to begin the District competition. There was a group of girls that fell shortly after the start, including Sara Reifenrath. The restart added early worries to the spectators, as they wondered if the girls that fell were okay.Reifenrath was able to bounce back, and finished in twenty-first.
Both District races were really close as schools tried to tally up results before the official announcement. Superintendent A.J. Johnson had the girls in third by two points, and the boys in second by four. He was right on the money, and everyone was able to give an exuberant sigh of relief.
Hochstein has been telling both teams that they had the capability to make it to State, and she couldn’t be more pleased with how her athletes ran.
“I’m a little elated, let’s just say that. It’s good. It’s really good,” said Hochstein. “Everyone has worked so hard, and it worked for us today. It just worked.”
Now both teams have a goal to place at State, and there are some individual goals by Santiago, Wiebelhaus, and Rosener to individually medal too. The team has experience at the University of Nebraska Kearney course, not just from competing at State last year, but from running it at an Invite this year as well.
At the Invite, Santiago finished in first, running past last year’s Class C State Champion Aidan Wheelock, of Minden. Last year, Santiago placed third in Class C. He ran a 17:05 this year at the District race, six seconds behind Wheelock’s District result of a 16:59.
The State Championships take place on Oct. 20 in Kearney. The Girls race will start off the day at noon, and the boys race will start an hour later at 1 PM.
Boys Team Results
1 Norfolk Catholic, 41; 2 Hartington-Newcastle, 50; 3 Pierce, 54; 4 Columbus Lakeview, 64; 5 Columbus Scotus, 76; 6 Boone Central/Newman Grove, 87; 7 O’Neill, 111; 8 Central City, 137; 9 North Bend Central, 171; 10 West Point-Beemer, 176; 11 Wayne, 182.
Boys Individual Results (Top 15)
1 Brian Santiago, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:05; 2 Jonny Lindgren, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 17:21; 3 Rylan Rasmussen, Norfolk Catholic, 17:28; 4 Mason Sindelar, Pierce, 17:33; 5 Seth Wiebelhaus, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:43; 6 Elliott Thomazin, Columbus Scotus, 17:45; 7 Luis Neave, Columbus Lakeview, 17:53; 8 Elliot Eisenmenger, Norfolk Catholic, 17:59; 9 Wyatt Ash, Norfolk Catholic, 18:09; 10 Nathaniel Jennings, O’Neill, 18:15; 11 Ian Fisher, Pierce, 18:19; 12 Michael Gasper, Columbus Scotus, 18:20; 13 Cole Vogt, Pierce, 18:21; 14 Dagen Joachimsen, Hartington-Newcastle, 18:22; 15 Brandon Mitzel, West Point-Beemer, 18:26.
Girls Team Results
1 Boone Central/Newman Grove, 39; 2 Columbus Scotus, 51; 3 Hartington-Newcastle, 59; 4 Wayne, 61; 5 Norfolk Catholic, 62; 6 O’Neill, 83; 7 Columbus Lakeview, 111; 8 West Point-Beemer, 150; 9 North Bend Central, 163.
Girls Individual Results (Top 15)
1 Samantha Weeker, Boone Centra/Newman Grove, 20:17; 2 Jordan Stopak, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 20:20; 3 Andrea Torres, Wayne, 20:53; 4 Allie Rosener, Hartington-Newcastle, 21:05; 5 Kelsey Faust, Columbus Scotus, 21:22; 6 Olivia Fehringer Columbus Scotus, 21:29; 7 Alison Loseke, Columbus Lakeview, 21:31; 8 Whitney Watson, O’Neill, 21:32; 9 Gabrielle Meyer, Wayne, 21:34; 10 Audrey Stelling, Norfolk Catholic, 21:39; 11 Sara Burbach, Hartington-Newcastle, 21:40; 12 Makenna Frenzen, Columbus Lakeview, 21:31; 21:48; 13 Briaunna Parks, O’Neill, 21:59; 14 Autumn Simons, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 22:04; 15 Molly Burroughs, Norfolk Catholic, 22:05.
Hartington-Newcastle Complete Team Results
1 Brian Santiago, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:05; 5 Seth Wiebelhaus, Hartington-Newcastle, 17:43; 14 Dagen Joachimsen, Hartington-Newcastle, 18:22; 30 Bode Noecker, Hartington-Newcastle, 19:18; 45 Cole Noecker, Hartington-Newcastle, 20:45; 51 Brayden Kathol, Hartington-Newcastle, 21:07.
4 Allie Rosener, Hartington-Newcastle, 21:05; 11 Sara Burbach, Hartington-Newcastle, 21:40; 21 Sara Reifenrath, Hartington-Newcastle, 22:29; 23 Jayda Bernecker, Hartington-Newcastle, 22:43; 27 Karli McCain, Hartington-Newcastle, 23:01; 52 Deniz Ammon, Hartington-Newcastle, 29:34