Nebraska 2003 outdoor
Nebraska State Meet
May 23-24, 2003 at Burke Stadium, Omaha NE
Kearney boys repel Benson for 10th straight championship
by Brad Hansen
Held Friday and Saturday at Burke Stadium, the Nebraska State Track Meet always brings a great deal of fans to the Omaha metro area. This year was no different, and those in attendance witnessed some of Nebraska's all-time best athletes perform.
Friday's conditions were fairly decent for track and field. Variable breezes and cool temperatures (high in the upper 60s) were welcomed by athletes, but it was pretty humid. Saturday was a different story. Constant rain plagued performances, but a crowd of about 20,000 braved the sloppy conditions.
Kearney's boys started strong in their quest for their tenth straight Class A (largest) state championship. In the first event on the track, Kearney's quartet of Vince Sickler, Kyle Tonniges, Colby Wissel, and Mike Bjornsen (7:52.92) edged a determined bunch from Omaha Benson (7:54.98) in the 4x800 relay. Colby Wissel jr, the state record holder in the 3200, brought the Bearcats into the lead with a strong third leg, but Benson's anchor, Jack Lemke jr, stormed in front of Kearney's Matt Bjornsen jr. Lemke (1:54 split) kicked too soon though, and Bjornsen passed the Benson junior on the stretch. The race seemed symbolic of Benson's unsuccessful quest to unseat Kearney as Class A kings. Lemke would recover to win the Class A 800 meter run on Saturday in 1:55.22.
Kearney's distance sensation, Colby Wissel, continued his dominance over Nebraska runners. The junior easily swept the distance races and helped the previously mentioned Kearney 4x800 relay to a gold medal. Wissel won the 1600 in 4:12.22 and the 3200 in 9:20.26. He will go into next season as the top-ranked 3200 runner in Nebraska history (9:03.09) and the second-ranked 1600 runner (4:12.22).
The Class A sprints were dominated by Lincoln Southeast's Andy Birkel sr, a Nebraska football recruit at wide receiver. Birkel, who missed last track season after transferring from Lincoln East, was the first 'A' boy to sweep the 100, 200, and 400 in 22 years. Birkel won the 100 in 10.74, the 200 in 21.60, and the 400 in 47.76. The 400 time will go down as #2 all-time in Nebraska state history behind P.J. Grosserode's 47.25 for Lincoln Pius in 1997.
In Class D, Missouri-bound Bobby Musil sr of Pawnee City awed the rain-soaked crowds with a meet record toss of 193'0". He also holds the Class D all-time record of 197'4". The 6'7" Musil won the Class D discus by over 43 feet.
The boys team champions were:
On the girls' side, there were plenty of stellar performances as well. Omaha Marian's Candice Mills sr took home four Class A gold medals. Mills took the 100 in 12.49, the 200 in 25.93, the long jump with a leap of 18'0-1/2", and the triple jump with a jump of 36'11-1/4".
Kearney's Ashley Brown jr broke the state record in the 100 meter high hurdles prelims at 14.66. She won the event with a 14.88 finals performance.
Wilber-Clatonia's Melanie Uher sr, competing in Class C, broke the all-class state meet record in the discus with a toss of 163'10". She holds the all-time state record as well at 185'4".
The vast majority of the excitement came from the girls' distance races. In the Class A 1600 meter run, Lincoln Pius jr Liz Lange and Millard West fr Meredith Snow became the first two Nebraska girls to break 5:00 in the same race. Lange edged Snow at the tape 4:58.09 to 4:58.89, breaking the Class A state meet record. The lanky junior also holds the all-time state record in the event, running a 4:49.22 earlier this season. Lange would add the 'A' 800 title (2:17.12), and Snow would easily take the 3200 run (10:48.86). Unfortunately, Snow has competed in her final race in the state of Nebraska. Meredith and her family are moving to St. Louis this summer.
In Class B, Gering's Sara Ensrud jr blasted the competition in the 800 and the 1600. Through the downpour, she blitzed a 2:14.62 in the 800. She came back later in the afternoon to break the Class B state record in the 1600 with a 4:58.13. Ensrud took the event by over 22 seconds. All told, three girls broke 5:00 in the 1600 on Saturday. No girl had broken 5:00 in the 1600 in Nebraska since 1985 before this track season.
The girls team champions were:
Complete state meet results are available at http://www.nsaahome.org/track.htm.
DyeStat Elite Performances - marks qualifying for DyeStat Elite top 100 national rankings.
results from NSAA web site