Only one beast tops Bison entering Class B state

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Sophomore D.J. Gross will be throwing both the discus and shot put for McCook during this weekend’s Nebraska State Championship Meet in Omaha.
Steve Towery


Don’t say the words.

Neither McCook’s Tom Sughoue nor most any other track and field coach will be talking loudly about winning a state team title this weekend.

Sughroue simply said “we hope to do our best” as the Bison enter Omaha’s Burke Stadium Friday and Saturday.

Senior Sam Smith was bold enough to suggest how crazy fun it would be if McCook made a Class B championship run.

With graduation done, school almost out and Bison like Smith owning some of Class B’s fastest times — why not get a little crazy on the spring season’s biggest weekend?

Because if sports really come down to “numbers games”, few Class B teams look better than the McCook Bison boys.

The Bison qualified 13 athletes for state while winning their third straight B-6 district team title last week.

That number ties the Norris Titans for second place in all of Class B. The Blair Bears, Boys Town Cowboys and Elkhorn Antlers have all qualified 12.

Only one B team will bring more: the two-time defending basketball champion Gretna Dragons with 14 state qualifiers.

Of course, it also comes down to how many are entered in multiple events.

Even those numbers appear close: Gretna shows 16 total while McCook, Blair, Norris, Boys Town, Elkhorn and the Bishop Neumann Cavaliers are all in double digits.

Yet numbers mean little to clutch performances on the ultimate big stage. Here are some matchups to watch throughout the weekend for McCook Bison fans:

— The fun starts Friday morning with McCook’s 3200-meter relay bringing a barely faster time (8:13.88) than Boys Town (8:14.15). Gretna (8:17.09), Elkhorn (8:20.18) and Blair (8:26.02) all trail the top two.

“And we feel like they (the Bison relay) can run faster,” Sughroue remarked after the district meet.

— Bison junior 110-hurdler Zach Schlager, district champ and school record setter, gets his shot against Neumann star athlete Noah Vedral. They’ll race in the third prelim heat Friday morning with Vedral’s 14.72 just slightly ahead of Schlager (15.06). Boys Town’s Tijah Davis boasts a 14.41.

— Smith starts the 400 prelims on Friday where he’s also run faster than his 50.37 district time. He ran under 50 at GNAC two weeks ago. Norris senior Parker Williams (50.93) will challenge Smith along with Vedral among others.

— Later Friday night, Smith enters with Class B’s fastest 200-meter district time (21.91). He’ll run the first heat against Williams again.

Bison fans also better watch that third and final heat featuring junior Ethan Wilcox (22.59). He definitely has finals-qualifying potential and matches up close against Norris senior Marcus Thimm (22.57).

The fastest 200 time overall besides Smith? Broken Bow’s Dylan Reynolds at 22 seconds flat.

On Saturday, Bison freshman Cameryn Berry appears to have an 800 edge (2:00.24) over runners from Elkhorn, Gretna and Boys Town. None enter with a faster time than 2:01.25.

McCook’s 400-meter relay (43.19) blazes into a fast second heat with Norris (43.67), Elkhorn (43.78) and Boys Town (44.03). Freshman Corban Jernigan ignites this fab four with Schlager, Smith and Wilcox following .

In the 1600, junior Steve Hinze (4:46.12) is not even a blink behind Norris senior Joshua Starr (4:46.11). Moving up could be huge for Hinze as Blair boasts three qualifiers who are all running 4:43 to 4:38.46.

The annual 1600-relay finale caps Saturday’s racing with McCook (3:29.79) also hoping to run a little faster during that first heat. A second faster heat features Boys Town and Norris teams.

Nobody’s forgetting about the field events were red and black will be represented.

Sophomore powerhouse D.J. Gross enters the shot put with Class B’s No. 5 distance (54’6”). He’d love to place higher and outthrow Bishop Neumann’s Evan Welsh (55’ 1/2”). Beatrice junior Cameron Jurgens is better than four feet ahead of everyone at 62’10”.

The discus should be fun as Gross (153’4”) isn’t far from medal range. Any points would be great since only Gretna senior Patrick Arnold (139’) has qualified among those expected team “contenders.”

Sophomore Morgan Fawver’s also fifth entering the triple jump at 43’2 1/2”. Watch out for Neumann’s Reid Jurgensmeier at 43’2” and Boys Town’s Cordell Cade at 42’11 1/2”.

Fawver, Jurgensmeier and Boys Town’s Ky-Mani Bell all enter the long jump at 21’3”. That’s about tied for eighth entering state, but no other contending team has a qualifier.

Senior Bryceton Trew enters his first state pole vault at 13’4” he cleared at district last week.

It will be another great test since 10 qualifiers have gone 13’10” or higher. Blair’s Dalton Ryan ranks second at 14’4” behind Crete’s Zachary Muff (14’6”).

Once again, no other top team (Gretna, Norris, Boys Town, Elkhorn) qualified a pole vaulter.

All this adds up to an exciting weekend for Bison fans.

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