Bison track trip to Gothenburg delayed
Mother Nature flexed her spring muscles April 14-15, causing headaches for area high school activities directors, spring prep sports teams, coaches and fans.
The McCook High School track and field teams were scheduled to visit Gothenburg Friday, April 15, for the Dutch Zorn Invitational. But Gothenburg school officials decided, with help from Ma Nature's influence, to postpone the meet until Monday, April 18.
The Zorn Invite will start Monday with field events at 4 p.m., with running events opening at 4:45 p.m.
The Bison boys and girls and host Swedes are expected to join Lexington, Ogallala, Sidney, Valentine, Kearney Catholic and Kearney HIgh School junior varsity at Monday's rescheduled event.
The postponement probably made everyone involved with the McCook track program pretty happy, as they didn't have to go face chilly conditions in Gothenburg Friday.
The weather.com forecast for April 15 called for early-morning snow and high temperatures of just 43 degrees, plus nearly 40 mph winds. Monday's forecast is a high of 63, partly cloudy skies, east winds at 13 mph and, most importantly, no snow.
"This time of year, we really need weather where we can try to improve times and continue to get people in better shape," said McCook girls head coach Steve Clapp.
The drawback to having the meet Monday for the Bison is McCook is scheduled to compete in the Lexington Invitational Thursday, April 21. The Lex meet is usually held on a Friday, but was moved up one day before the Easter holiday.
McCook boys head coach Tom Sughroue said the three-day gap between two big competitions probably won't have a major effect on his squad.
"Monday would probably be a hard workout day anyway," Sughroue said.
It's hard to predict if the Monday competition, coming off the weekend, will have an effect on Zorn Invite athletes. But both Bison head coaches are expecting quality competition.
"This meet is where the competition level steps up just a little from where we've been," Coach Sughroue said. "It's been increasing as we go along. Our kids have risen so far to the level of competition that we're in. It's going to continue to be that way, I think. The Gothenburg meet is a difficult meet. The level of competition increases."
Coach Clapp said his Bison girls usually have strong outings at the Zorn Invite.
"That's usually a meet where we improve times because of the competition we end up with there," he said.
Happy Bison head coaches
Both Bison coaches have been overjoyed with the efforts of their athletes in the opening weeks of the spring campaign. A solid list of McCook boys and girls have hit personal-best marks in their respective events. Several have recorded times and distances good enough to crack the respective Bison boys and girls Top 10 all-time charts. The Gazette hopes to publish the updated Bison track and field Top 10s in Monday's Sports pages.
"I think, from a coaching standpoint with our girls, we really can't ask for any more right now for where we're at," Clapp said. "We've had improvements week to week. The kids are competing hard and seem to get themselves ready to compete in whatever event they're in. Our hurdlers last week (at Broken Bow) all improved times, tremendous improvement in the hurdling events for us from where we started the season. Who knows where we might end up going.
"As you look down the road and see some of the times that everybody (other Class B teams in the state) is running, you say, 'Boy those are really good.' Then we look at ours and we have some really good times, too.
"Obviously our top kids are going to be in contention as we go down the road. But we've got a lot of kids that are right on the edge that can put themselves right in position to qualify down the road for state or to win medals in our regular meets. It will be interesting to see, with some of them whether they reach a point where they plateau and stand still or whether they keep on improving and getting better."
Some of the Bison girls who have all-time efforts this spring include senior Jessa Sughroue in the 1,600-meter run (5 minutes, 30.3 seconds, third on the Top 10 chart); freshman Molly Sughroue in the 400-meter dash (1:00.3, sixth) and 800-meter run (2:25.9, fifth); and senior Erin Premer, who improved her career-best and seventh-best discus throw with a toss of 126 feet, 9 inches.
The Bison girls 3,200-relay team also cracked the school's all-time chart, with the Sughroue sisters, senior Kelsea Geschwentner and junior Emilyne Nichols combining for a 9:56.8, the sixth fastest in McCook girls track history.
Several McCook boys are also on the all-time charts, led by junior Matt Chitwood in the long jump. Chitwood went 22 feet, 1/2-inch earlier this season for ninth on the Bison Top 10 chart. Sophomore Jake Schlager came close to the all-time list with his career-best leap of 21-9.
Senior Cody Goltl also has marks on the 110 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles with times of 15.1 in the highs and 41.2 in the 300s, tied for fifth in both events. Sophomore Austin Cherry is also close to the 400-meter dash all-time top 10, and Cherry will also look to improve his third-best mark in the 800.
"I'm very pleased with the way we're performing," Coach Sughroue said. "We had some awful good marks early on in the season. It's a nice thing to see. You just hope that we can continue to improve on those marks, that's the biggest thing.
"Sometimes those marks can hamper a kid a little bit. He sees those marks early and then not see them for awhile through the rest of the season. They have to understand we're doing a lot of work through the season. As the season tails off then you back out a little bit so they have a little time to recover and hopefully exceed those marks again."
Not concerned about bad weather
Sughroue said it's good that Gothenburg postponed the meet for hopefully more favorable conditions next Monday. But he knows his Bison squad would have been ready to run Friday regardless of the weather.
"That's never really been an issue," Sughroue said. "When they are out here they compete very, very diligently, and they focus in pretty well. Of course, each individual is a little different -- nerves bothers some a little more than others. That's just something they need to learn to get over and adjust to a little bit.
"For the most part our kids are very competitive. Kids love to compete. You put them in front of a crowd, some kids handle that a little bit different. They all love to go out there and compete. We've never had an issue. Regardless of weather, they know what's expected of them. That's something that I love about our kids. They are not afraid to get a little cold, to get a little wet, to hurt a little bit, for the betterment of themselves and the team, as far as the team goes.
"I just really appreciate them putting in all the effort that they do."
Sughroue also knows that no matter what the weather conditions, it's the same for everyone.
"Everybody has to compete in it," he said. "It's not like one guy gets to have different weather conditions than you do. You just do what you can do. We just control the things we can control and go on from there."
Busy JV schedule
Next week will be hectic for the Bison junior varsity teams. McCook will enter JV competitors in the Medicine Valley Invitational Monday, April 18, at the McCook High School stadium. The Bison reserves are also scheduled to compete at the Hayes Center Invite Wednesday, April 20, at the Bison track.
The Medicine Valley meet was also scheduled for April 15, but school officials decided to push it back to Monday due to the weather. Field events are scheduled to begin April 18 at 9:30 a.m. at the stadium just west of McCook High School.