GOTHENBURG — You had to know it was only a matter of time before Scottsbluff erupted in Thursday’s Class B, District 6 track and field meet.
The Bearcats, who benefited from two runner-up performances by Jon Maag in the throws early in the meet, really got rolling later in the day, scoring a plethora of points in just about every track event to take control of the meet and earn its second district team championship in three years.
Scottsbluff, which has been superb on the track all season, easily overtook a solid McCook squad that had held the lead for a while before settling in at second place. Scottsbluff finished the day with 126 points; the Bison ended with 93.
“We’re very excited. It was a solid day for us,” Scottsbluff coach Jim Barker said. “I thought our depth really shined today. It was one of our better district-qualifying performances in a long time.”
Eleven Bearcats qualified for next Friday and Saturday’s Class B state meet in Omaha. Scottsbluff will have at least 12 scoring opportunities at state, and the Bearcats could have more than that after additional state qualifiers – based on the next-fastest times – are announced today.
Barker said he couldn’t have asked for his team to perform much better than it did Thursday.
“Our entire team really stepped it up,” he said. “A lot of people scored – in the afternoon especially. We were two deep in lot of events. It was just a great team performance.”
Although Scottsbluff has been competing well all season, the Bearcats seem to have shifted into an even higher gear recently. That’s probably not surprising, considering what was at stake Thursday and what will be on the line next week.
“We’re coming together at the right time,” Barker said. “Everyone is believing the same way – that we can really do this.”
Maag got Scottsbluff off to a nice start, earning runner-up finishes in the discus (145-9) and the shot put (51-6 ¾).
Scottsbluff later got an inspiring effort from members of the 4x800-meter relay team, who put together one of the best showings in the meet. The foursome of Tayler James, Justin Pritchard, Brendan Taedter, and Ben Willis-Teff crossed the finish line with a blazing time of 8:11.41 – one of the fastest times in the state. Sidney’s team of Marcus Hauge, Paul Beyer, Dane Aurich, and Chase Frerichs placed second in 8:16.93.
Scottsbluff’s scoring flurry really picked up when the finals started in the afternoon. Luke Worden bolstered the Bearcats’ team total when he swept the sprints, taking the 100 in 11.34 seconds and the 200 in 22.54.
Isaiah Castellaw joined Worden as an individual champion, cruising to the 300 intermediate hurdles title in 40.31 seconds. Matthew Klein also qualified for state in the event, taking second in 41.38. Castellaw was also sensational in the 400, taking the final state-qualifying spot – third place – with a solid time of 50.58.
In the 800, Tayler James enjoyed a runner-up finish in 1:59.25. Ben Willis-Teff was fourth (2:00.39) – just one spot out of automatically qualifying for state; however, his time should be fast enough to still qualify for state as a wildcard.
Scottsbluff was also impressive in the 1,600, taking three of the top six positions. Justin Pritchard led the way with a second-place finish in 4:42.15.
Another highlight for the Bearcats was qualifying all three of their relays for state. In addition to the 4x800 relay, the 4x100 relay team also put together a district championship performance. The combination of Matthew D. Klein, Worden, Matthew T. Klein, and Castellaw crossed the finish line with a sizzling time of 43.04 seconds – the fastest time in Class B.
Scottsbluff also advanced its 4x400 relay to state thanks to a fantastic finish. The Bearcats, who were in fourth or fifth place on the anchor leg, used a strong kick by Castellaw to pull into the runner-up position. The team of Jacob Delzer, Matt Klein, Warren Eubanks, and Castellaw finished the race with a time of 3:27.68.
Scottsbluff’s overall performance on the track was certainly impressive, especially considering the competition at the meet. Barker was elated to see his team come up so big on the track.
“The momentum just started moving when the finals started,” he said. “The momentum switch went our way.”
Alliance also enjoyed a strong performance en route to earning a third-place finish with 68 points. The Bulldogs had two champions – Mitch Pancost in the long jump (21-11 ¼) and Kyle Hooper in the triple jump (43-9 ¾).
Pancost added runner-up finishes in the 100 (11.45) and 200 (22.69). Also placing second for Alliance was Trevor Kamerzell in the 110 high hurdles (15.44). Alliance’s other state qualifier was Jason Berglund, who placed third in the triple jump (42-4 ¼).
Gering took fifth place with 51 points. The Bulldogs had a huge performance in the 4x400 relay, as Dillon Wademan, Ryan Schwartzkopf, Dillon DeMott, and Danny O’Boyle had a stellar first-place time of 3:22.80. Gering’s other victory came from O’Boyle in the 400. He once again lowered his school-record time to 49.10.
Adding a runner-up finish for Gering was Ryan Bustinza in the 3,200 (10:28.89). Gering also placed second and qualified for state in the 4x100 relay. The team of Wademan, Mark Pieper, Zach Smith, and O’Boyle finished the race in 44.21. Gering’s other state qualifier was Zach Bibb in the high jump (third, 6-3).
Chadron boasted two champions – Wade Reeves in the high jump (6-5) and Tyson Budler in the shot put (52-0).
Sidney’s state qualifiers were Marcus Hauge in the 800 (third, 1:59.69) and the 4x800 relay team of Hauge, Paul Beyer, Dane Aurich, and Chase Frerichs (second, 8:16.93).
The top three finishes in the field events and individual running events qualified automatically for the state meet. The top two relays also advanced. Additional state qualifiers – based on the next-fastest times among all Class B districts – will be announced today.