By placing second in the day’s final race, the Wahoo Neumann boys celebrated being first.
The Cavaliers, seeking their first Class C boys team title since 1997, had 37 points going into the final event, the 1,600-meter relay. Four teams were within four points of the lead, and two others had relay teams in the fast heat.
But Neumann also had a team in that heat. And the Cavaliers knew exactly what they had to do.
“We knew we had to get as close to first as we could to give ourselves a chance at the overall title,” said Noah Vedral, Neumann’s anchor in the relay.
When Vedral got the baton for the final lap, Neumann was in third. Vedral sprinted into the lead, and while West Holt eventually won the race, Neumann finished second and won the team title.
“Basically it was catch first as quick as I could and try to hold on,” Vedral said. “I’ve got to give it to my teammates (Jordan Fujan, Luke Haberman and Cole Prohaska); they kept it close so I had a chance to catch them.”
Neumann won the title with 45 points, followed by David City Aquinas (39), two-time defending champion Thayer Central (36), Ainsworth (36) and Nebraska Christian (35).
Ainsworth led the team standings until the 300 hurdles midway through the afternoon. Fujan won it 39.44, while Vedral was third in 40.03.
Aquinas was led by junior Kenton Kobza, who won the shot and discus. Ainsworth’s Brady Delimont finished second in the 1,600 Saturday after winning the 3,200 and anchoring the victorious 3,200 relay Friday.
In the girls team race, Crofton locked up its second straight team title early in the day. Crofton finished with 71 points, while Lincoln Lutheran was a distant second with 44.
At one point Saturday morning, Crofton had 51 points while the second-place team had 20.
Crofton scored all of its points in the throws and distance races. Senior Allison Arens was one of Crofton’s leaders: She won the 1,600 Saturday. On Friday, Arens placed fourth in the 3,200 and was on the winning 3,200 relay.
“I never dreamed of winning a state championship in track, especially not two years in a row,” Arens said.
State titles aren’t a foreign concept to the Crofton girls.
Arens, who will play basketball at South Dakota next season alongside her sister Bridget, was a standout on the school’s basketball team that has won four consecutive Class C-2 titles. The Warriors’ volleyball team was runner-up last November.
In the 1,600, Crofton scored 16 points as Allison Arens won and her cousin Haley Arens was third. Allison Arens ran behind race leader Madison Quist of Doniphan-Trumbull until the final lap. She won going away in a season-best time of 5:16.60, three seconds better than Quist.
“I would have liked to get out a little quicker. I got boxed in a couple of times where I couldn’t get around,” Arens said. “But the plan was to stay with (Quist) and hopefully catch her at the end.”
Bayard junior Jessi Smith as the only Class C girl with an individual double, taking the 400 and 800 for a second straight year. She was second in the 200.
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