Bulldog Cross Country Team Defends Title
Rice & Arens Win Gold
The Ainsworth girls cross country team defended their 2017 state title by capturing the 2018 Class D state championship on Friday. Ainsworth used top five medalling performances by Rylee Rice and CeeAnna Beel for the win. Meanwhile the boys were led by an all class gold performance by Ben Arens and a runner-up finish by Trey Schlueter as the boys finished 5th in the team race.
Rylee Rice paced the girls’ team to the win by capturing her third consecutive class D individual title. With the win, Rylee becomes just the 11th girl in state history to ever win three individual titles. As she had done in previous years, Rylee would win her title in comfortable fashion. Rice finished in a time 19:25.6, which would hold-up through the C and B race before being overtaken in time for the all class gold in the Class A race. Page Steinman from Pender would finish as the runner-up as she crossed the line in 20:03.4. CeeAnna Beel had the best race of her career as she moved from outside the medals at the mile mark into the top five. Beel would cross the line in 5th place as she ran to a time of 20:43.9. Madison Welch, who came back from injury earlier in the year, finished 50th in a time of 22:17.4. Molly Salzman would finish right behind Welch and would complete the scoring with her 51st place finish. Salzman’s time was 22:19.0. Senior Mikki Arens closed out her career with a 77th place finish in a time of 23:05.3. Freshman Kylie Higbee gained her first state meet experience by finishing 106th with a time of 24:07.7.
Ainsworth’s 63 points was good to hold off North Platte St. Patrick’s 77 points. McCool Junction finished in third with 91 points. Bloomfield and Malcolm rounded out the top five with 101 and 117 points.
“I’m proud of the girls,” commented Coach Jared Hansmeyer. “When you return so many from a title team the year before, there is always added pressure. The girls did a great job of staying loose and doing what they needed to do. To capture a title you always have to have a complete team effort. For us it all starts with Rylee’s win, and she just keeps adding to those unbelievable career numbers. Still undefeated with three titles puts her in very rare company. I thought CeeAnna looked as strong as ever today. Where she is now compared to her middle school years is just amazing. Maddie left it all out on the course today. She was turning pale with less than a 1k to go and I was scared for her. Molly bounced back after a rough stretch around the 2 mile and picked-up the places we needed for the win. Then Mikki and Kylie just battled well down the stretch to give us the needed insurance of victory. As we have found out over the years, it’s not easy to bring home state trophies. The girls’ team has a state runner-up and two championships in three years, and I think those accomplishments speak volumes for their competitive spirit.”
Meanwhile, as the girls were waiting to hear final team results, the Ainsworth boys took to the course. Runner-up a year ago, Ben Arens ran away from field and become the fifth male to join the fraternity of Ainsworth male state champions. Arens’ time of 16:02.4 would break the Class D State Record by over 14 seconds. The time would also hold-up in the time comparison for the all class gold medal, as Arens would become the first male in from a Class D school to win the award. As Ben ran away from the field and left no one wondering about the outcome of his race, a charging Trey Schlueter down the final straightaway would provide much for the Bulldog faithful to cheer about. Schlueter’s final stretch would take him from 4th to the runner-up spot. Schlueter’s time was 17:11.9. Qwentin Kappelmann would cross the line next for the Bulldogs as he finished 53rd with a time of 18:50.1. Freshman Ty Schlueter was 107th in 19:53.6. Ben Flynn was 126th in 20:55.8, while fellow freshman Tommy Ortner was 130th in 21:20.5.
Malcolm boys would win the team title for the second straight year by finishing with 46 points. Norfolk Catholic would edge West Holt for the runner-up trophy, finishing with 78 and 79 points. Thayer Central was 4th with 106 points. Ainsworth would collect another top five finish by scoring 108 points.
“We had a tremendous pair of individual finishes today,” said Hansmeyer. “I am very proud of what Ben and Trey did today. All the time, effort, and miles Ben has put in over the years showed. He made it look easy, but there were an awful lot of miles and time spent getting to this point. I’m glad he got the opportunity to prove he’s not only the best in class D, but also all-class. To push pace like he had to on his own is not easy. What Trey has done over the past year is also nothing short of amazing. To go from 68th at state last year to a runner-up medal is a great testament to his work ethic and to him believing in himself. For the rest of the boys, today was a tremendous learning experience. We gained a lot of state meet experience for some young freshman and sophomores which will serve us well in the years to come.”
NSAA State Cross Country- Class D
High School Girls
High School Boys