Familiar names in spotlight again at Norfolk Catholic invite
Norfolk’s Skyview Park was the perfect setting for Friday’s 35th annual Norfolk Catholic cross country invitational and a pair of familiar names were at or near the top of the leader boards: Arens and Weeder.
Dozens of Arenses have helped to forge Crofton’s cross country program into a perennial power over the last 40-plus years, while numerous Weeders have proudly carried the colors of Boone Central/Newman Grove over the hills and flats of courses throughout the state.
But this season, another name is looking to join them: Sindelar. Pierce siblings Mason and Alexus finished second and third in their respective races Friday.
In the boys 5,000-meters, Crofton’s Connor Arens pulled away from the pack while in the girls race, Jordan Stopak of Boone Central/Newman Grove outkicked her friend and teammate Sam Weeder for the gold medal.
In the team competition, Norfolk Catholic won the boys division, while Boone Central/Newman Grove finished in first among the girls teams.
Stopak and Weeder ran stride-for-stride for the first 4,900 meters, but in the final 100, it was Stopak who had the extra gear to cross the finish line in 20:40, less than a second ahead of Weeder.
Both Cardinals are sophomores, and both will likely have to contend with a Pierce freshman for the next three years. Alexus Sindelar finished third with a time of 21:12 and following the race, congratulated the BC/NG duo by declaring “I want to be like you.”
Stopak said the Skyview course provided a good test. “The course seemed long. The hills aren’t very nice, but it’s a pretty good course and it really pushes you mentally and physically, so it’s kind of nice to have a teammate to run it with,” she said.
That teammate, Weeder, liked the course for a different reason: “I like the dam, I like the water, I’m just an outdoors person.”
Weeder won last week’s Boone Central/Newman Grove invitational, four seconds ahead of second-place Stopak. The two agree that their biggest goal this year is to lead the team to state.
As freshmen, Weeder finished third and Stopak sixth in last year’s Class C state meet in Kearney. The team also finished sixth.
As in the girls race, teammates ran side-by-side at the front of the pack in the boys competition. But they weren’t just teammates, they were brothers.
Sophomore Connor and senior Tanner Arens led the pack early. Meanwhile, Pierce sophomore Mason Sindelar stayed within reach while spending the early part of the race in fifth, about 20 yards behind.
With a little less than a mile to go, “separation hill” southeast of the lake lived up to its name. Connor Arens lengthened his lead and eventually cruised to a winning time of 17:23, 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Sindelar. Tanner Arens was third.
Norfolk Catholic runners took four of the next five spots and won the boys team title convincingly.
Rylan Rasmussen — who won at Boone Central last week — had to settle for fourth place Friday. Dalton Brunsing, Elliot Eisenmenger and Wyatt Ash were all close behind in fifth, seventh and eighth respectively.
Norfolk Catholic coach Doug Zoucha said his boys team is a special group.
“They just improved from last week at Boone when we won that meet with 23 points,” he said. “All nine of our boys set their goal times, which was really impressive. I think we got a little better from last week to this week; we just have to keep improving throughout the season.”
The Knight girls finished fourth in the team race behind champion Boone Central/Newman Grove, O’Neill and Humphrey St. Francis.
Emily Faltys led the Norfolk Catholic team with an eighth-place finish. “Her time also tied her for top 10 on our all-time board that we’ve been keeping for 34 years,” Zoucha said.
Alison Stineman earned a sixth-place medal for Lutheran High Northeast.
Zoucha smiled when he reflected on hosting the invitational for 35 years.
“What makes it special is this is probably the best course,” he said. “If you want to give courses a difficulty of one, two or three, with one being the most difficult, this would be a one. If you look at 5,000 meters, you might have about 600 that’s flat, the rest is hills and a great place to watch it.”
1. Norfolk Catholic, 24; 2. Pierce, 45; 3. Crofton, 46: 4. Boone Central/Newman Grove, 92; 5. BRLD, 95; 6. Wisner-Pilger, 107; 7. Madison, 132; 8. O’Neill, 142; 9. Elkhorn Valley, 147; 10. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, 159; 11. Wayne, 171; 12. Stanton, 206.
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS
1. Connor Arens, Crofton, 17:23; 2. Mason Sindelar, Pierce, 17:36; 3. Tanner Arens, Crofton, 17:43; 4. Rylan Rasmussen, Norfolk Catholic, 17:51; 5. Dalton Brunsing, Norfolk Catholic, 18:01; 6. Hunter Bennett, Elkhorn Valley, 18:16; 7. Elliot Eisenmenger, Norfolk Catholic, 18:17; 8. Wyatt Ash, Norfolk Catholic, 18:23; 9. Isaac Lambrecht, Pierce, 18:27; 10. Jonny Lindgren, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 18:27; 11. Cole Vogt, Pierce, 18:29; 12. Tyler Janssen, Crofton, 18:33; 13. Colby Ruskamp, Wisner-Pilger, 18:35; 14. Bradley Schindel, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 18:48; 15. Brady Thompson, O’Neill, 18:56.
1. Boone Central/Newman Grove, 24; 2. O’Neill, 40; 3. Humphrey St. Francis, 59; 4. Norfolk Catholic, 74; 5. Crofton, 76; 6. Wayne, 85; 7. Stanton, 98; 8. Wisner-Pilger, 134; 9. Oakland-Craig, 134.
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS
1. Jordan Stopak, Boone Central/Newman Grove, 20:40; 2. Sam Weeder, Boone Central, 20:41; 3. Alexus Sindelar, Pierce, 21:12; 4. Daisy Korus, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, 21:29; 5. Callie Arnold, Pierce, 21:42; 6. Alison Stineman, Lutheran High Northeast, 21:54; 7. Whitney Watson, O’Neill, 22:02; 8. Emily Faltys, Norfolk Catholic, 22:04; 9. Katie Goodwater, Boone Central/Newman Grove 22:20; 10. Faith Williamson, O’Neill, 22:51; 11. Bailey Patterson, Stanton, 23:02; 12. Gabi Meyer, Wayne, 23:14; 13. Samantha Linder, Oakland-Craig, 23:26; 14. Leah Podliska, Humphrey St. Francis, 23:31; 15. Ashley Ternus, Humphrey St. Francis, 23:49.