KEARNEY, Neb. — In the same spot where his legs gave out a year ago, David City Aquinas senior Elijah Frasher began gradually pulling away from his opponents Friday.
Frasher, who was the Class D champion as a sophomore in 2015, wasn’t able to defend his title. With about 600 meters to go in last year’s race at the Kearney Country Club, Frasher collapsed and was disqualified, unable to finish the race.
That’s the kind of history he wasn’t going to let repeat itself. Frasher instead became a two-time Class D champion by winning Friday’s race in 16:33.38, a time that was just over 20 seconds faster than his winning time in 2015 and 17 seconds better than runner-up Benjamin Arens of Ainsworth.
“It was big that I could come back and be on top this year to kind of avenge last year’s loss,” Frasher said. “All year you kind of train with that in the back of your mind, and to make it happen, when the odds are against you on a windy day, it’s pretty special. Icing on the cake.”
Ainsworth sophomore Rylee Rice didn’t have much of a push in defending her title as she cruised to her second Class D state girls title by finishing in 18:44.62, nearly one minute ahead of runner-up Haley Arens of Crofton (19:43.22).
That time also gave Rice the all-class gold medal. She finished 4.98 seconds faster than Class A winner Gabrielle McGinn of Millard West.
“It was tough out there,” Rice said. “I just had to put my head down and go into the wind. We get some practices with the wind, so that helps a lot.”
Rice said she jumped right to the lead but thought afterwards she should have stayed back with the pack a bit longer because of those winds.
“I probably shouldn’t have done that,” Rice said. “I should have stayed back a little bit and had help breaking the wind. I think it slowed me down a little bit.”
That first place finish helped Rice lead the Bulldogs to first in the Class D team standings. Ainsworth had 60 points, while Aquinas and Malcolm both finished with 90 points. Aquinas won the tiebreaker because its fifth runner finished in 43rd place, 13 spots ahead of Malcom’s fifth finisher.
Malcolm easily won the boys title with 36 points, while Thayer Central was runner-up with 83. Junior Devyn Beekman and senior Ty Shaw led the way for the Clippers by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Freshman Dillon Beach and Noah Twohig weren’t far behind in 12th and 13th.
The Clippers have just one senior — Shaw — in that group, and Malcolm’s fifth runner, sophomore John Swotek, was 19th.
Team scoring: Malcolm 36, Thayer Central 83, Bridgeport 113, Crofton 123, Doniphan-Trumbull 125, Gibbon 127, Dundy County-Stratton 129, Perkins County 129, Ainsworth 129, David City Aquinas 149, Boyd County 177, BRLD 200, Shelton 210, West Holt 211, Hastings St. Cecilia 216, Winside 219, Logan View 250, Lincoln Lutheran 278.
Individual medalists: 1, Elijah Frasher, Aquinas, 16:33.4. 2, Ben Arens, Ainsworth, 16:50.7. 3, Justin Vrooman, Hastings SC, 16:54.9. 4, Nathan Holcomb, Gibbon, 17:22.0. 5, Devyn Beekman, Malcolm, 17:30.1. 6, Ty Shaw, Malcolm, 17:32.0. 7, Jacob Sinsel, Ainsworth, 17:32.8. 8, Connor Arens, Crofton, 17:33.1. 9, Caden Waitley, Perkins County, 17:41.2. 10, Tanner Arens, Crofton, 17:41.4. 11, Colton Rowse, Ord, 17:42.3. 12, Blake Ahlers, Boyd County, 17:42.8. 13, Mason Timm, Yutan, 17:43.1. 14, Ry Cheney, Cody-Kilgore, 17:43.7. 15, Dillon Beach, Malcolm, 17:47.5.
Team scoring: Ainsworth 60, David City Aquinas 90, Malcolm 90, McCool Junction 99, North Platte SP 128, North Central 150, Tri County 150, Bayard 153, Bridgeport 153, Crofton 158, Bloomfield 165, Johnson County 166, Stanton 190, West Holt 191, East Butler 205, Gibbon 206, Hastings St. Cecilia 258, Bertrand/Loomis 292.
Individual medalists: 1, Rylee Rice, Ainsworth, 18:44.7. 2, Haley Arens, Crofton, 19:43.3. 3, Sable Lambley, Dundy County-Stratton, 19:57.5. 4, Kaitlyn Roach, Doniphan-Trumbull, 20:11.3. 5, Micheala Kelley, Burwell, 20:25.1. 6, Aleisha McDonald, Johnson County, 20:29.3. 7, Grace Jacobson, Fillmore Central, 20:29.6. 8, Ashlei McDonald, Johnson County, 20:37.5. 9, Madison Gerken, McCool Junction, 20:39.3. 10, Amanda Aerts, East Butler, 20:51.8. 11, Andie Koch, Tri County, 20:53.5. 12, Alison Stineman, Elkhorn Valley, 21:00.1. 13, Kloe Severance, Ord, 21:05.0. 14, Carlie Wetzel, West Holt, 21:09.6. 15, Karissa Benavides, Bridgeport, 21:11.8.