Class A: Lincoln High boys win first state title since 1960; Lincoln Southwest girls win fourth title

Lincoln High's Darius Luff, second from right, celebrates with teammates Zion Perry, second from left, Isaiah Winston, center, Leeaaron Berks, left, and CJ Jones, right, after they discovered they placed first overall.

Lincoln became the capital of Nebraska track and field Saturday, when two of the city’s schools swept the Class A titles.

A 24-point victory over their nearest competitor gave the Lincoln Southwest girls their fourth team title in school history and first since 2015. The Silver Hawks outscored Kearney 105-81, and defending champion Millard West was third with 68 points.

“It means so much,” Southwest senior Carson Fischer said. “No one has trained harder than us. We definitely earned it. We went by a code: ‘Success isn’t given, it’s earned,’ and we earned it.”

For the Lincoln High boys, the wait was a bit longer between championships. The Links edged Lincoln Southwest 76-75.5 after finishing three places ahead of the Silver Hawks when the results of the two sections of the 1,600-meter relay were combined.

Not since 1960 had the Links won the Class A boys title. 

Junior Darius Luff led the Links with a pair of individual hurdles championships, sweeping the 110 highs (14.08) and 300 intermediates (38.73).

Two other track athletes won two individual event gold medals apiece.

After winning the 3,200 on Friday, Omaha Creighton Prep senior Ryan Eastman added the 1,600 title Saturday by moving to the front of the pack on the final lap to win in 4:17.71. Eastman also won the all-class gold in both races.

Elkhorn South senior Alex Nelson matched Eastman’s feat in sprint races. The Nebraska recruit came from behind to win the 100 in 10.63 before crossing first in the 200 in 21.52.

Nelson had a noticeable limp from tightness in his upper leg.

“About 175 (meters) it started to tighten up a little bit,” he said. “I went for the lean at the end, and it just felt funny afterward.”

Nelson still ran the leadoff leg of Elkhorn South’s 1,600 relay team, but the Storm didn’t finish in the top eight. Earlier in the day, Nelson ran the anchor for the 400 relay team that finished third in 42.74.

Overall, Nelson was pleased with his final high school meet, even with the 100 final in which he had to catch Lincoln High’s Zion Perry in the final 20 meters.

“I thought it was a really good day,” Nelson said after the 200. “(The 100) was the one I was super concerned with, but this one I was pretty confident about. I’m glad I got to finish the season out strong.”

Southwest’s girls had a strong overall day and gradually pulled away as each event became final. Silver Hawks coach Brett Schuster said everyone did a good job of balancing the ups and downs of the final day.

Both Schuster and Fischer said that having their district meet at Burke Stadium steeled them for the pressure of a state meet. Southwest, Kearney and Millard West — the top three finishers Saturday — all were in the same district and each has won one state title the past three years.

“That district meet gave our girls a lot of confidence,” Schuster said. “We always emphasize to our girls the importance of getting better every day. They continued to do that throughout the year.”

Fischer said the May 9 meet gave her and her teammates a good idea of what they needed to do when they returned to Omaha.

“I think we had, by far, the hardest district, but it was good,” Fischer said. “It made us better and we were going against good competition. We treated it like a dress rehearsal.”

Five girls each won a pair of individual gold medals, including Fischer’s Southwest teammate, Caelyn Christiancy, who won the 100 high and 300 low hurdles.

Omaha North senior Dariauna Lewis won the long jump and triple jump, and Elkhorn South sophomore Eliana Akough swept the shot put and discus titles.

Omaha Marian freshman Lauren Harris won the 200 and 400 after finishing fourth in the 100 . Omaha Westside senior Jaylen Knight, who won the 100, was second in the 200 and third in the 400.

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