A Link to 1968- Cross Country Team Repeats as Class C State Champions!
Winter 1996 Michaeleen p.4
Relying on a mixture of hard work and talent, Mount Michael’s cross country team repeated as Class C State Champions at the State Meet held in Kearney on October 25th. The Mount Michael harriers outdistanced runner-up Grand Island Central Catholic by a score of 35 to 52. Pierce was third with 63.
Individually, juniors Joe Wolpert, Ben Luettel, and Wes Schiber earned individual medals by placing 7th, 11th, and 14th respectively. The last time a Mount Michael cross country tram placed three runners in the top fifteen was in 1968 when Richard Kaup, David Hahn, and Alber Liekhus led a team which also repeated as Class C State Champions. Senior Sean Moylan, who overcame a leg injury that forced him to miss four regular seasons’ races, sealed the Knights’ 1996 victory by placing 27th overall. Amazingly, Moylan’s time of 18:20 was 17 seconds faster than his tame at last year’s State Meet. Placing 30th and 57th respectively, seniors Jeremy Hall and Ben Lage rounded out the State Championship team.
During the season the varsity relied on the strong front running of Wolpert, Luettel, and Schieber to capture the Bennington, Nebraska City, and Boys town Invitationals. At the District Meet, held on a cold, windy day in Wayne, Nebraska, the team repeated as District C-2 Champions by outdistancing runner-up Pierce by a score of 25 to 41. Wayne was third with 45. Wolpert, who placed 2nd, was followed closely y Luettle’s 3rd place finish. Schieber then placed 8th, Hall, out kicking two Pierce runners in the final stretch, sealing the team victory by placing 15th. In the first race since coming off this injury Moyland placed 21st while Lage, who had tied all season with other top junior varsity runners for the sixth spot on varsity placed 28th.
As it did during the 1995 season, the junior varsity made its presence known during the 1996 season by winning the junior races at Bennington, Nebraska City, and Boys Town Invitationals. At both the Bennington, Nebraska City, and Boys Town invitationals, the team raced to a perfect score of 10 by having its top four runners finish first, second, third, and fourth. Individually, Ben Lage won the junior varsity race at Bennington, while senior Nick Sachs won the junior varsity race at Nebraska City: sophomore Michael Pecha captured the Boys Town junior varsity title. Other junior varsity stand-outs were senior Riley McNiff (Mount Michael current record holder in the triple jump); juniors David Ostronic, Joe Salzbrenner, and Brandon Tamisiea; and sophomores John Levy and Kevin Clanton.
Sixth-year coach John Gathje, credited the teams success to a lot of self-discipline demonstrated by the number of miles the team put in over the summer months. He also felt the seniors’ leadership was key factor for so many successes, “Hall, Lage, Moylan, McNiff, and Sachs knew what it took to be successful and showed the rest of the team how do it,” Gathje said, “ I was extremely impressed by their work ethic.”
Since the Knights lose three seniors from their top six runners, Coach Gathje will be looking for help from the underclassmen to support the front running of Luettel, Schiber, and Wolpert. “If we train like we did this past season and summer, I am confident we will be a force to contend with next fall.”