Gothenburg’s cross country teams are making tracks in their first couple meets of the season and have taken no prisoners.
"The kids are working hard and I think the work we put in over the summer is very evident to this point," said Swede head cross country coach Tony Neels. "We need to keep getting better but I would say that we are off to a very good start. I am very pleased with how both the boys and girls are competing so far."
That approach to the season has earned the Swede boys cross country team the No. 8 spot in the Class C-1 State rankings.
"It is nice to be recognized but the team and coaching staff all understand that we need to show up ready to compete every meet because in this sport, anything can happen," Neels said. "We are really only interested in where we end the season in October. That ranking is the one we are working on."
The Swede runners picked up a meet on Sept. 7 at Lexington to replace the Invitational that was canceled due to weather the week prior.
Parker Graves and Ethan Olsen finished 13th and 14th respectively to be the Swede boys’ medalists.
Avery Salomon crossed the line in 10th place in the girls’ race to be the lone medalist for the Lady Swedes.
Shania Wear placed 24th.
Then on Sept. 11, Gothenburg hit the road again to compete in the Broken Bow Invitational.
Traditionally a large meet with several of the states’ best teams in attendance, the Swede boys rose to the occasion and as a team, won the runner-up trophy.
Graves placed fifth, Olsen ninth, freshman runner Yahriel Gaeta placed 13th and Nathan Sager placed 17th to give Gothenburg four runners in the top 20 finishers.
"The Boys knew going in that Broken Bow was going to have a tough team," Neels said. "Our goal was to keep them close and see where we shook out in the end. We did a really good job of sticking to the race plan and just came up a little short at the end. That is a team that we see several more times and hopefully can find a way to beat them in the Championship portion of the season."
In the girls’ race, Salomon brought home the 11th place medal, Wear placed 26 and Arissa Ackerman placed 17.
"For the girls, we focused primarily on finishing in the top half of the teams at the meet," Neels said. "This was the first time having all six girls competing on the same day so it was good to see what we were capable of."
Neels went on to say that he was pleased with the improvements in time out of his runners from the Lexington meet to the Broken Bow meet.
Part of that, he said, is the differences in courses with Lexington being more hilly and Broken Bow being relatively flat.
"But give credit to the kids, many of them are just getting better each and every race," Neels said.
The Swedes will head to Geneva on Sept. 16 to compete in the Fillmore Central Invitational at the Hidden Hills Golf Course.
"Heading into this week, the kids are more hungry," Neels continued. "They all want to see their times getting faster and themselves placing higher."
The junior high race will begin at 4:15 p.m. followed by the girls’ junior varsity and varsity race at 5. The meet will wrap up with the boys’ race, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.