HERSHEY — For the fourth year in a row, the Gordon-Rushville boys track and field team won the Class C, District 11 championship on Thursday in Hershey.
The Mustangs tallied 92 points to edge Bridgeport, which finished runner-up with 86.
Gordon-Rushville also received a strong finish by its girls’ squad, which placed second — just three points behind district champion Perkins County.
“I knew our boys had a pretty good chance of competing for the title, but I was pleasantly surprised by our girls getting runner-up,” Gordon-Rushville coach Joel Nelson said. “We had a tremendous amount of kids that did a great job. It was just a real nice team effort by our boys and girls.”
Cole Wellnitz paced the Gordon-Rushville boys with a pair of top finishes. Wellnitz won the 800-meter run in a time of 2 minutes, 2.1 seconds and placed first in the 1,600 in a time of 4:46.7. He also ran to a second-place finish in the 3,200 in 10:48.8.
Wellnitz, a senior, won a state title in the 3,200 last year and finished second in both the 800 and 1,600.
“Cole’s goal is to go down and bring home three golds,” Nelson said. “He’s got his work cut out for him, but hopefully he will be able to at least bring back three medals.”
In addition, Wellnitz anchored the Mustangs’ 4x800 relay that finished first in a time of 8:32.0. Wellnitz was joined on the relay by Matt Downing, James Neeley and Gary Kaplan.
Kaplan also qualified individually in the 800 with a second-place finish in 2:05.9.
Also winning a district championship for the Gordon-Rushville boys was Lemur Gardner. He placed first in the discus with a distance of 138 feet, 7 inches.
The Mustangs’ Lex Haller also earned an individual qualification in the high jump with a second-place jump of 5-8.
“Overall everyone just did a great job,” Nelson said. “You have to get some third, fourth and fifths in there as well. We just had a lot of different kids step up and do a great job.”
A number of other local athletes earned state qualifications in the boys division.
Kimball’s Brent Bussinger swept both hurdles’ events. He won the 110 high hurdles in a time of 15.9 and placed first in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 43.2.
Morrill’s Nathan Rice also was a double individual-event winner. He placed first in the 200 in 22.1 and claimed first in the 400 in 49.7.
Bridgeport’s Cody Franklin ran to a district title in the 3,200 in a winning time of 10:17.6. Franklin also qualified for state in the 1,600 with a second-place finish in 4:47.2.
Other district champions included Morrill’s Joseph Hoffman in the pole vault (13-6), Bridgeport’s Dylon Busskohl in the triple jump (40-11) and Kimball’s Dalton Lockwood in the 100 (11.0).
Additional automatic state qualifiers with second-place finishes included Bayard’s Brandon Stuart in the pole vault (13-0) and the 300 hurdles (43.2), Bridgeport’s Jaime Gonzales in the long jump (20-0), Kimball’s Lockwood in the 200 (22.3) and Morrill’s Larry Uttecht in the 110 hurdles (15.9).
Uttecht was also a state qualifier in the pole vault with a height of 13-0.
Hemingford’s Kelsy Wood proved to be the top performer in the C-11 girls division.
Wood, a junior, won district championships in four different individual events. Her top finishes were recorded in the long jump (16-5 ¼), 100 (12.6), 100 high hurdles (15.2) and 300 low hurdles (46.6).
Gordon-Rushville freshman Dani Wellnitz sparked the Mustangs to their runner-up finish in the team standings with two individual titles. She won the 1,600 in 5:52.5 and placed first in the 3,200 in 12:25.0.
Also claiming a district title for Gordon-Rushville was junior Sara Marlatt, who won the discus with a mark of 118-7.
Other district champions included Morrill’s Alex Howell in the shot put (36-9 ½), Hemingford’s Kaitlyn Jespersen in the triple jump (34-2 ¾), Bayard’s Breanna Korell in the 200 (27.2) and Bridgeport’s Jessica Kildow in the 400 (1:02.7).
Bayard’s Alanda Kildow recorded a pair of second-place finishes to qualify for state in two events. Kildow placed second in the high jump (4-8) and second in the triple jump (33-11).
Other local girls who earned state qualifications with second-place finishes included Bayard’s Megan Stuart in the pole vault (9-0), Morrill’s Sabrina Austin in the long jump (15-3), Morrill’s Howell in the discus (118-0), Kimball’s Kelly Green in the 100 (12.9), Bayard’s Katie Fibelstad in the 200 (27.6), Bridgeport’s Jaslyn Livingston in the 400 (1:02.8), Gordon-Rushville’s Hannah Andersen in the 800 (2:31.2), Gordon-Rushville’s Denie Jacobson in the 1,600 (5:57.5) and Kimball’s Laura Flores in the 3,200 (13:03.4).
The Kimball 4x100 relay team of Green, Brooke Hager, Shelby Vogel and Annie McCloud ran to a district title in a time of 52.8.
Also winning a district title was Bridgeport’s 4x400 relay team of Livingston, Jada Huck, Kassidy Kildow and Jessica Kildow. The Bulldogs’ winning time was 4:22.1.
Additional state qualifiers will be announced by the Nebraska School Activities Association today.
The state meet will be held May 18-19 at Burke Stadium in Omaha.