KEARNEY, Neb. — As the defending champion was helped into the medical tent at the finish line, the new champion went over to make sure she was all right.
Celeste Cardona, a freshman from Mitchell, won the Class C girls cross country title a week after she was a distant second to Gabi Gracia of Holdrege in districts.
“Winning is what I've worked for,” Cardona said. “Gabi pushed me to be a better runner all season long.”
Levi Avila gave Mitchell a sweep of the individual titles, a first in Class C. He outkicked Trevor Jacobsen of Minden in the closest race of the day.
“We were going crazy for (Cardona),” Avila said. “She set the bar high.”
Columbus Scotus' girls and Milford's boys were the team champions.
It was only the second win of the season for Cardona, following a title at the Western Conference meet.
She said she took the lead from Gracia, who struggled across the line in 15th, near the 2-mile mark on the Kearney Country Club course.
“She always has a good lead,” Cardona said. “She was 46 seconds ahead of me at district.”
Avila said he felt Jacobsen was starting to get away from him.
“Then I said, 'I'm a senior and I want to get away from him,' ” said Avila, who likes the 800 and 1,600 meters in track. “He pushed me. He was fast.
“I'm so happy with myself.”
Scotus scored 45 points to 60 for girls runner-up Norfolk Catholic and 63 for Wayne. Jessica Schaecher, a junior, was fifth as the winner's only medalist, but the Shamrocks had three finish between 20th and 24th — Carly Fehringer, Brooke Olmer and Kelsey Kessler.
Tylin Masco was fifth and Kohlton Gabehart seventh for Milford, which had 45 points to 68 for runner-up Mitchell. The Tigers were trying for their first state title since 1974. Mitchell Tucker was 21st and Ian Rempel 36th for Milford.
Video: Nebraska state cross country meet highlights