There’s an unexpected golden opportunity this year for girls cross country runners.
Stella Miner, last year’s all-class gold medalist at the state meet, transferred late from Omaha Marian to Omaha Westside and is ineligible for varsity competition this fall.
The void she leaves could be filled by Lincoln Southwest senior Brianna Rinn, who finished four seconds behind Miner in Kearney in 2020. By Westside sophomore Claire White, Elkhorn South junior Jaci Sievers, Millard West senior Emily Gilbert and Fremont senior Elli Dahl.
Or by the heart of Lincoln East’s returning state championship team — juniors Izzy Apel, Kylie Muma and Berlyn Schutz and sophomore Peyton Svehla. They’ll be in the sights of Fremont, which has been runner-up the past three years.
Class A’s boys also will have a mad scramble to the top. Liem Chot of Lincoln North Star is at Temple University after winning Class A the past three years, but the next seven behind him last year are back, and all but one has his last chance to be champion.
Also back is last year’s gold medalist, junior Carson Noecker from Class C Hartington/Newcastle.
In the Class A pack are seniors Gabe Hinrichs of Elkhorn South, Sam Kirchner of Millard West and Evan Caudy of North Platte — who were 2-3-4 behind Chot — and Daniel Romary of Lincoln Northeast, Juan Garcia of Grand Island and Grant Wasserman of North Star. Fifth-place Isaac Ochoa of Norfolk is a sophomore.
Fremont will defend its Class A boys team title with five returning seniors from its state lineup. Runner-up Millard West loses only one runner.
Class B Omaha Skutt is trying to be the first boys team to win five consecutive championships in any class but must replace the 1-2 winning combo of Isaac Richards and Ryan Zavadil. McCoy Haussler, who was ninth, will be the SkyHawks’ top runner.
Seward will defend its Class B title with its top two runners back, juniors Tandee Masco and Keegan Beisel. Three teams that bring back all of their state-meet scorers are McCook, Elkhorn North and Gering. The Bulldogs’ Madison Seiler, a senior, is the defending individual champion.
Milford’s boys have their top four back from last year’s Class C champions. Douglas County West will be among the contenders in Class C girls, in which Boone Central is the defending champion.
Class D boys will have new champions, as David City Aquinas graduated its lineup that included champion Payton Davis. Class D’s returning champions are Crofton sophomore Jordyn Arens and McCool Junction’s team.