Hard work, sacrifice pays off for athletes
After winning four first place medals at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships, you might think Kyle Custer of Cambridge would be ready to rest on his laurels.
In the course of two days of competition, Kyle captured Class D individual titles in the 800-meter, 1600-meter and 3200-meter runs, as well as a state and meet record in the 3200-meter relay. He teamed with Brett Cribelli, Michael McHale and Grant Moore on Class D's best ever relay team.
As the winner of four first place medals, Kyle helped the Trojan boys' team score 61 points to earn the Class D championship.
But, as tempting as it would be to let up, Kyle has new goals to pursue as he looks forward to his college years. "I'm going to be walking on (as a track and field athlete) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln," he said. "I've always wanted to try the steeplechase. I'd like to give it a shot at the university."
It is this same kind of dedication which led to success in his high school track career. After being introduced to running as a grade school and junior high student, Kyle's interest in track increased in his high school years. "I've had lots of encouragement from the cross country coach, Laurie Farr, and the boys' track coach, Dan Keyser." Kyle also gives credit to his parents, David and Karen, for their support.
But, for long distance runners, there also has to be a lot of personal dedication and sacrifice. "No one else can want it for you," Kyle says. "You have to want it for yourself."
And Kyle did. Giving up other sports, Kyle ran throughout the winter, preparing himself for the track season which culminated with success at the state meet. Kyle had no set schedule, but ran steadily, with lots of miles covered on the county roads around Cambridge. "I crunched a lot of gravel," he said.
Kyle's four first place medals highlighted an outstanding performance at state by area athletes, including first place finishes by McCook's 400-meter and 1600-meter relay teams. McCook's relay performances helped the Bison to a second place finish in Class B. The Bison scored 52 points, to finish only four points behind Grand Island Northwest.
McCook's relay performances were outstanding. At 42.82 seconds, the McCook 400-relay team of Brendan Liess, Tony Purvis, Jeff Klug and Derek Ruppert not only had the best time in Class B, but the second best time among all classes.
In the 1600-meter relay, Craig Fritz, Purvis, Ruppert and Liess had a winning time in Class B of 3:22.41.
The other first place winner from Southwest Nebraska was Kaci Nickerson of Cambridge, who placed first in the girls' Class D pole vault.
The first place medal winners are representative of another outstanding performance at state by area athletes. For more facts and photos, see today's sports pages.