KEARNEY, Neb. – A trio of Northeast Nebraska athletes closed their cross country seasons with top three finishes at the Nebraska State Meet on Friday at Kearney Country Club.

Hartington/Newcastle senior Brian Santiago and Crofton senior Haley Arens each raced to state runner-up finishes to cap careers that included four state meet medals.

South Sioux City junior Zekariya Abdela, meanwhile, grabbed his second individual state meet medal with a third-place finish in Class B.

Santiago, the Lewis & Clark Conference champ, covered the 5,000-meter course in 17:09.9 to finish his prep career. He was 13th as a freshman, ninth as a sophomore and third last year behind Minden’s Aidan Wheelock, who repeated as state champ in 16:44.9.

Hartington/Newcastle finished third in the Class C team standings with 79 points as Holdrege claimed its second straight state title with 35 points.

Santiago’s classmate Seth Wiebelhaus, a three-time qualifier, earned his second state meet medal with a 12th place finish in 17:55.3 after placing 15th as a junior.

The Wildcats team also included Dagen Joachimsen in 46th and Bode Noecker in 60th.

Arens closed out a prep career that saw her finish all four seasons in the top three as this season she recorded her second runner-up finish. She ran 19:43.3 to finish behind Ainsworth sophomore Rylee Rice who repeated as state champ while leading her team to the title while running an all-class best 18:44.7.

Arens was the runner-up as a freshman, the state champ as a sophomore and finished third last fall.

Crofton finished 10th in the team race while Bloomfield/Wausa was 11th in Class D.

South Sioux City, the defending state champ in Class B, finished seventh on Friday with just two guys back from last year’s group.

Abdela, who was 15th as a sophomore, ran 16:41.4 to finish third behind York senior Luke Stuckey (16:25.2) and Omaha Gross senior Jackson Larsen (16:35.2), the champion two years ago.

The Cardinals had senior Lencho Abdurahman finished 31st, senior Firomsa Mohamed in 55th, junior Mubarek Abdela in 57th and freshmen Aman Abdella in 69th and Juan Balderas in 75th.

Hartington/Newcastle senior Allie Rosener also earned a state meet medal with a 11th place effort in Class C in 20:53.2, just ahead of Wayne senior Andrea Torres in 12th.

Fort Calhoun junior Taka Skelton captured her third state title, running 19:33.2, while Holdrege girls won the team championship.

Aquinas Catholic senior Elijah Frasher won his second state title, bouncing back after being disqualified as a junior, to win the Class D boys race in 16:33.4.

Crofton was fourth in the team race behind champion Malcolm as the Arens brothers, Tanner and Connor each earned state meet medals. Connor, a freshman, finished eighth in 17:33.1 while Tanner, a junior, was 10th in 17:41.4. The Warriors also had Tyler Janssen in 49th and Colby Zulhke in 106th.

Winnebago senior D’Von LaPointe finished 26th in his second state meet while Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons Decatur-Northeast was led by Zachary Bridges in 52nd.

Repeat team championships went to Aurora in Class B and Millard West in Class A on the girls side. Papillion-La Vista South won its first-ever state title in Class A boys while Omaha Skutt was the team champ in Class B, also its first-ever in cross country.

South Sioux City had two girls compete in Class B, both first time qualifiers, as junior Sadie Rocha was 33rd in 21:40.8 and freshman Emane Ahmed was 56th in 22:20.1.


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