District titles have been few and far between for the Stanton boys. But on Thursday afternoon, the horsepower kicked in for the Mustangs.
Stanton qualified 10 individuals for state and ran away with the boys team title, edging Howells-Dodge by more than 40 points.
"When we sat down and thought about what our kids could do, most of it happened," said Stanton coach Dave Ernesti. "We thought we would get kids into the top two places in several events, and we did. That pretty much happened."
Senior Sutton Pohlman was a quadruple gold medalist, winning the 100, 200 and 400, besides being the second leg on the winning 4x100. Freshman Mitchell Hupp is a three-time qualifier with the 100, 200 and relay. Also on the relay are Connor McCarthy and Brennan Wragge.
"This was polar opposite of conference,: Ernesti said. "At conference, we could not get out of our own way. It was just one thing after another, and we couldn't go a couple of events without having some issue. We were able to put everything together at districts."
In the distance races, the Mustangs also had a strong showing as Kolter Van Pelt and Abraham Larson went 1-2 in the 1,600. Larson also won the 3,200.
In field events, Kamden Dusatko qualified in the shot put while Adam Arens leaped a foot past his PR to qualified with a second-place finish in the long jump.
Ernesti said the spotlight will likely shine on the boys team since it dominated the running events, but Ernesti said he was very proud of the girls, too, who qualified a pair of athletes. Madison Knudsen was the first qualifier, finishing second in the pole vault while Sylvia Cunningham ran a strong 3,200 to qualify with her runner-up finish.
"I'm so proud of the kids and how well they competed," he said. "Both the girls and boys teams worked really hard."
The Mustangs will compete in the Class C state meet on Friday and Saturday at Omaha Burke.
Look for full results and coach’s comments and athletes quotes in this week’s Register.
100: 1. Sutton Pohlman, 11.53; 2. Mitchell Hupp, 11.55.
200: 1. Sutton Pohlman, 23.06, 2. Mitchell Hupp, 23.49.
400: 1. Sutton Pohlman, 51.71.
1,600: 1. Kolter Van Pelt, 4:47.30, 2. Abraham Larson, 4:51.30.
3,200: 1. Abraham Larson, 10:41.84.
3,200: 2. Sylvia Cunningham, 12:59.74.
4x100: 1. Stanton 45.55 (Sutton Pohlman, Connor McCarthy, Brennan Wragge, Mitchell Hupp)
Long jump: 2. Adam Arens, 19-4 1/4.
Shot put: 2. Kamden Dusatko, 48-1.
Pole vault: 2. Madison Knudsen, 7-10.
Stanton senior Sutton Pohlman and freshman Mitchell Hupp have both been added to the Norfolk Classic on Thursday in the 100-meter-dash, which will feature two heats.
Hupp had already qualified in the 200, so the freshman Mustang will compete in two events on Thursday afternoon.
Pohlman, who actually has the No. 1 time in the area in the 400, will not be competing in that event due to the submission error. He also will not be competing in the 4x100 with Mitchell, Brennan Wragge and Connor McCarthy. The 4x100 will remain a one-heat event, and Stanton was not added to that event despite having one of the top eight times.
It was 1997, and I was part of Orchard’s 4x800 team.
It was 24 years ago, but I still remember the butterflies I felt as my spikes hit the track at Johnny Carson field at the Norfolk Classic. That first step felt like crossing the finish line first. Of course, we didn’t — my team ended up second to last that day. But just being considered among the best in the area felt like we had won a gold medal.
It was a few years later when I was the assistant sports editor at the Norfolk Daily News that Gary Schuurmans asked me to share my story with his team at Norfolk High. (Gary — the “that” was for you because you always told me I used “that” too much when I wrote!)
Gary wanted his athletes to know how much the Classic meant to those of us from small towns. Those like me.
Gary got it. He understood. And that’s why he started the Norfolk Classic. He wanted a mini-state meet. A place for athletes of all classes to compete on a level playing field.
That’s why I’m heartbroken for Sutton Pohlman, Brennan Wragge and Connor McCarthy. These three Stanton athletes should have qualified for the Norfolk Classic; however, a submission error has cost them the opportunity to experience the elite meet this year.
For Sutton and Brennan, COVID-19 robbed them of the opportunity last year as juniors. This year, as a seniors, they should be there. They would be there, if not for the error.
For Sutton, his times in the 100 and 400 are Classic worthy. For Brennan and Connor, their time in the 4x100 with Sutton and Mitchell Hupp is also Classic worthy. Mitchell was added to the Classic late Monday night due to a scratch in the 200. He has the second-best time in the area — and almost missed his chance to shine.
You see, the Norfolk Classic doesn’t run heats. The top eight compete, and it’s final. That’s why sprinters can’t simply slide into a race. There’s literally no room.
On one hand, these boys could still make the Classic if another athlete is injured and scratches. But no one wants that. The bottom line is that these three should have qualified due to their times being among the best. Again, if not for a submission error, they would be on the list right now.
Is this a life lesson for these young men to be left at home? It absolutely is. But it can also be a life lesson if they compete. Sometimes changes are made to ensure good kids get their opportunity to shine when they deserve it. Maybe this is the year there are two heats — five runners in one and four runners in the other. It’s not ideal, but neither was canceling the entire track season or closing school last year due to the pandemic.
Five years from now will any of these athletes even remember the Norfolk Classic? Twenty-four years after I competed, I still remember how I felt. Maybe these boys will be men who remember the time they were given a once-in-a-lifetime chance — a chance to compete in the Norfolk Classic despite a submission mistake that nearly cost them qualification.
I hope “nearly” is the word they use in the future. I hope they compete Thursday.
I hope these Stanton athletes are given a chance. I hope they #FreeTheMustangs.
Carrie Pitzer is the publisher of the Stanton Register. She also is publisher for the Antelope County News and Knox County News.
Mitchell Hupp has qualified for the Norfolk Classic in the 200-meter-dash.
The Mustang was added to the list of qualifiers late Monday night, despite having the second-fastest time in the entire area. Hupp joins Kamden Dusatko, Abe Larson and Kolter Van Pelt as qualifiers for the meet.
Several other Stanton athletes potentially may qualify for Thursday's elite meet, pending scratches in other running events. The meet will begin at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in Norfolk.
Three Stanton juniors have punched their ticket to the Norfolk Classic.
Kamden Dusatko, Abe Larson and Kolter Van Pelt all have qualified for Thursday's elite meet. The three juniors were erroneously left off of the original qualifying list but have since been added among the area's best.
Van Pelt is sitting fourth in the 1,600 while Dusatko enters the shot put with the sixth-best throw in the area. Larson will compete in the 3,200 with the 12th best time.
Thursday's event will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Norfolk.
Sidney Mitchell of Stanton has qualified for the Norfolk Classic in both the Unified 100 and the Unified long jump.
The Norfolk Classic will be on Thursday, April 29, beginning at 4:15 p.m. The Unified 100 will be at 5:40 p.m. The Unified long jump is lated to begin following the girls triple jump at around 6:30 p.m.
Stanton boys basketball player earned all-conference honors from the East Husker Conference. Parker Krusemark was named to the honorable mention team.
The full list of honorees is below.
First Team All-Conference: Dylan Beutler- BRLD, Lucas Vogt- BRLD, Jason Sjuts- HLHF, Blake Sindelar- Howells-Dodge, Jaxon Wietfeld- North Bend Central, Gunnar Ray- Oakland-Craig
Second Team All-Conference: Carter Hanel- Clarkson-Leigh, Jacob Sjuts- HLHF, RJ Bayer- Howells-Dodge, Jakwon Webb- Madison, Brodey Johnson- North Bend Central, Weston Graham- Twin River
Third Team All-Conference: Toriano Bohannon, Jr.- BRLD, Ethan Keller- HLHF, Kyler Hellbusch- North Bend Central, Brock Rogers- Tekamah-Herman, Miguel Perez- West Point-Beemer, Regan Bellar- Wisner-Pilger
Honorable Mention: Eli Hays- Clarkson-Leigh, Kyle Kasik- Clarkson-Leigh, Lance Brester- Howells-Dodge, Breckin Peters- North Bend Central, Coulter Thiele- Oakland-Craig, Jaxon Maise- Pender, Parker Krusemark- Stanton, Jed Hoover- Tekamah-Herman, Ross Hebda- Twin River, Jesus Barragan- West Point- Beemer, Keegan Doggett- West Point- Beemer, Beau Ruskamp- Wisner-Pilger
Stanton girls basketball players earned all-conference honors from the East Husker Conference. Sylvia Cunningham and Savannah Seibrandt were named to the honorable mention team.
The full list of honorees is below.
First Team All-Conference: Caragan Tietz- BRLD, Addison Schneider- HLHF, Kaitlyn Emanuel- North Bend Central, Sydney Emanuel- North Bend Central, Ashley Ostrand- Pender, Sidney Swanson- West Point-Beemer
Second Team All-Conference: Jordan Snyder- BRLD, Chloe Hanel- Clarkson-Leigh, Cierra Kluthe- North Bend Central, Chaney Nelson- Oakland-Craig, Sadie Nelson- Oakland-Craig, Reece Snodgrass- West Point-Beemer
Third Team All-Conference: Alyssa Buchholz- BRLD, Cassidy Hoffman- Clarkson-Leigh, Kennedy Settje- Clarkson-Leigh, Paige Beller- HLHF Jaedyn Ratzlaff- Howells-Dodge, Zoey Lehmkuhl- Pender
Honorable Mention: Isabel Freemont- BRLD, Alissa Kasik- Clarkson-Leigh, Kayden Schumacher- Clarkson-Leigh, Lexi Frauendorfer- HLHF, Whitney Zessin- Madison, Caitlyn Heise- Pender, Sylvia Cunningham- Stanton, Savannah Siebrandt- Stanton, Maggie Sheets- Tekamah-Herman, Katie Paczosa- Twin River, Rachel Groth- West Point-Beemer, Jadyn Meiergerd- West Point-Beemer, Brooklyn Weddle- West Point-Beemer, Lindsey Kneifl- Wisner-Pilger
The momentum flipped to Stanton as magically as Abe Larson’s pass flew through the arms of the defense and into Brayan Acuna’s hands for the 3-pointer in a heart-stopping 48-47 win Friday.
Down 39-37 with 5:20 to play, the Mustang junior grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled around the right corner before spotting Acuna open on the other side of the baseline. Larson heaved the dangerous pass through a battlefield of defenders and let his sharpshooter sink the a trey to take a one-point lead.
“It was a little bit of luck,” Larson said with a big smile when asked about his crazy pass. “I saw Brayan on the back side, and I just threw it up. I’m really proud of him. He’s really come a long way, especially for not having a varsity jersey at the beginning. He’s gotten a lot better.”
While Larson and Acuna combined to win that battle, the Mustangs didn’t claim the war until several more minutes and several more battles. As the teams matched each other point for point, junior Parker Krusemark was on fire, hitting back-to-back jumpers to keep the Mustangs alive.
Stanton was down 47-46 with 27 seconds left when the Mustangs pulled ahead for good. They stole the ball under their own hoop and watched Kam Dusatko lay it from the left side to take the lead and send the Mustang faithful to their feet. The steal was textbook Mustang basketball as Krusemark picked off the pass and flicked it to Adam Arens, who then tossed it to Abe Larson. The assist hero of the night then passed the ball behind his head to Dusatko for the easy lay up.
With 21 seconds still remaining, Tri County tried to force the ball inside on its next possession, but Mustang senior Brennan Wragge got a hand on the ball and forced it away from the Wolfpack. Dusatko pulled the ball inside and was fouled with 6.4 seconds to play. Dusatko missed the front end of the 1-and-1, giving the ball back to Tri County, who called a time out with 4.6 seconds left. The Wolfpack put up a hail Mary from half court and came up short to finally allow the Mustangs a chance to breath and celebrate their one-point victory.
“We had some trouble waking up in the first quarter, and that’s how we warmed up,” Mustang coach Cole Beebe said. “We got our poop in a group and were able to show face on who we are as a basketball team.”
Larson led the Mustangs with 13 points, but he was quick to credit the rest of his team, especially Krusemark for finding him when he was open.
“It was Parker who got me most of my shots. He’s the main reason I scored,” Larson said. “I think this game is big for everyone, but especially Kam, who hit the game-winning layup, and Brayan, who scored a lot.”
Beebe said his team played really smart situational basketball and executed the game plan to shut down the Wolfpack’s key scorers. That, he said, gave the team confidence heading into Tuesday night’s subdistrict against Howells-Dodge.
“They know we can come back from a deficit and pull it off,” Beebe said. “They just have to be really focused and keep their head in the game.”
Stanton 9 10 15 14 — 48
Tri-County 10 17 6 14 — 47
Adam Arens 1p, 5p; Abe Larson 13p, 5r, 1s; Brennan Wragge 3p, 1r; Parker Krusemark 6p, 3r, 1s; Kam Dusatko 10p, 4r, 2s; Brayan Acuna 6p, 2r, 1s; Mason Bruggeman 6p, 3r; Owen Vogel 3p.