Cameron Jurgens and Noah Vedral each could probably be considered elite at the high school level in two sports, and really, really good at a third.
So maybe that’s part of the reason why they each compete in three sports, when some other elite athletes are only in one or two. They also just really like doing three sports.
Jurgens, a Beatrice junior and Nebraska football recruit, and Vedral, a Bishop Neumann senior who recently began his next chapter as a Central Florida football player, are the Lincoln Journal Star boys co-athletes of the year.
Neither Jurgens nor Vedral ever really considered not doing three sports in high school, even as they saw their stock rise as potential college football players and the different ways that can pull a player’s time commitments.
Vedral proudly says he earned an award for being a letterwinnner in three sports for all four years.
“At my school, I think it’s a culture thing,” said Vedral, who was born in Texas but moved to Wahoo when he was 2 years old. “My school really does encourage our athletes to be in multiple sports, and that’s probably why. All my friends, we all grew up knowing we were going to play football, basketball and track. We all knew we were going to do all three sports.
“That’s the way things were here, and I feel fortunate enough that my friends were multi-sports athletes with me, which made it easy for me to go out for sports when that’s where your friends were anyway, and they weren’t off doing their own thing. I was always with them.”
Part of the appeal to do all three sports for Jurgens is the chance to compete all year.
“I’m a very competitive person, and all the sports bring that out in me,” Jurgens said. “I just love hanging out with my friends and teammates. I have a lot of friends in football, basketball and track, and I just enjoy doing those sports with them.”
1 of 12
Grant Bruner, Gretna
6-0 | 205 | Senior | College: Washburn (football)
Football: Received first-team Super-State honors at linebacker after racking up 134 tackles, including 51 solo stops. Offensively, he had 219 carries for 1,432 yards and 19 touchdowns, and caught 12 passes for 290 yards and three other scores.
Wrestling: Clinched a state championship at 195 pounds with a 3-2 victory against Boys Town's Trevor Walton in the Class B tournament. Bruner finished the season 51-2.
Baseball: Was the Dragons' starting catcher and earned Class B all-state honors after hitting .317 with 26 hits, 21 runs scored, and 20 RBIs entering the state tournament.
RILEY HOMOLKA, Wilber-Clatonia
6-0 | 260 | Senior | College: Doane (football)
Football: First-team Super-Stater was the center for an offense that generated 4,264 yards, a 13-0 record and a Class C-2 state title. He also anchored the line for a defense that registered eight shutouts.
Wrestling: An injury prevented Homolka from competing in his third-place match at 285 pounds at the Class C state meet, but he took fourth and went 33-4.
Track and field: Finished fourth at state in the Class C shot put with a toss of 52-10. He also finished 10th in the discus.
Seth Hirsch, Millard West
Senior | College: Wisconsin (cross country/track and field)
Cross country: Repeated as the Class A and all-class gold medalist at the state meet. He won the state meet in 15:04.9, and earlier in the season, Hirsch became the first Nebraska runner to finish a 5,000-meter course in under 15 minutes, crossing the finish line in 14:56.
Track and field: Solidified his title as the best long-distance runner to come through the Nebraska high school ranks. He set the all-class state-meet record in the 3,200-meter run, finishing in 8:57.20, breaking a 40-year-old mark of 9:08.3. Earlier in the season, he finished the 3,200 in 8:54.12.
Dylan Kautz, Norfolk Catholic
5-8 | 170 | Sophomore | College: Undecided
Football: Was the Knights' starting running back, his speed giving him the ability to break off for a long run at any moment. In one of his best of games of the year, Kautz rushed for 228 yards against Boone Central/Newman Grove ... in the first half. He finished with 1,253 yards on the ground for the season.
Track and field: The fastest athlete in the state, he set a Class C state meet record during prelims with a time of :10.79, and the won C gold medal the following day. Kautz also won the 200-meter dash in :21.8. Kautz's best times in 2017 were :10.4 (100) and 21.4 (200), which ranked atop the boys season charts. Norfolk Catholic won the boys team title.
Brett Kitrell, Ashland-Greenwood
6-4 | 285 | Senior | College: Ohio (football)
Football: Received Super-State first-team honors after finishing with 20 solo tackles and 25 assists, with 16 tackles for loss, including five sacks from his defensive tackle spot. He also was a key cog on an offensive line (played at guard) that paved the way for 2,833 rushing yards.
Track and field: Finished second in discus in Class B with a toss of 177 feet, 3 inches. Only defending state champion Cameron Jurgens of Beatrice threw farther. Kitrell also added a third-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 54-2. Kitrell finished second on the state charts in the discus and fourth in the shot put.
Hayden Miller, Lourdes Central Catholic
6-1 | 175 | Senior | College: Nebraska-Omaha (basketball walk-on)
Football: A dual-threat quarterback, Miller threw for 1,900 yards and 27 touchdowns, and rushed for 779 yards (4.7 per carry) and 12 touchdowns en route to Class D-1 first-team all-state honors.
Basketball: Was a key cog in Lourdes' run to back-to-back Class D-1 state titles. He earned first-team all-state honors after averaging 17.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.0 steals per game, and made 68 threes.
Baseball: Playing for Nebraska City, earned Class B all-state honorable-mention honors after hitting .309 with 17 hits and 10 runs; also pitched, finishing 5-0 with a 1.40 earned-run average.
Hunter Miller, Cross County
6-3 | 285 | Senior | College: Nebraska (football walk-on)
Football: Anchored Cross County's offensive line, and recorded 56 total tackles, picked off three passes and had three fumble recoveries on defense. Was named a Class C-1 all-stater as an offensive lineman.
Wrestling: Lost just one match en route to a Class C third-place finish at the state meet at 285 pounds. At districts, Miller earned pinfall victories in :33, 1:02, 1:02 and 1:21. His final record was 47-1.
Track and field: Threw 153 feet in the discus to finish fifth in Class C at the state meet at Omaha Burke Stadium. He also scored points in the shot put with a seventh-place finish (49-9).
Lance Moore, Mullen
6-1 | 155 | Senior | College: Nebraska Wesleyan (football)
Football: Received Class D-2 first-team all-state honors after leading Mullen to a 9-1 record; threw for 579 yards and eight TDs and rushed for 507 yards and 11 more scores. Defensively had 41 stops and 4 INTs.
Basketball: Received Class D-2 first-team all-state honors after averaging 14.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in helping Mullen capture a state championship.
Track and field: Moore swept the Class D hurdle titles at the state meet. He won the 300 hurdles in :40.94, and edged BDS' Hunter Krehnke by one-tenth of a second to take gold in the 110 hurdles (:14.9).
Trevor Nichelson, Ashland-Greenwood
5-10 | 195 | Senior | College: Nebraska (wrestling)
Football: Shattered several school and Class C-1 records. He set a C-1 single-game rushing record with 474 yards and a C-1 career mark of 6,480 rushing yards. His 95 touchdowns also set a state record, and he finished fifth on the state's all-time rushing list. Nichelson finished with 1,917 yards and 25 touchdowns on 205 carries as a senior and earned first-team Super-State honors.
Wrestling: Nichelson dominated the competition before he was upset during the Class B 182-pound quarterfinals at state. He recovered nicely, earning a pinfall victory over McCook's Eric Langan to finish third and 42-4.
Zach Schlager, McCook
6-2 | 215 | Junior | College: Colorado State (football)
Football: Received first-team Super-State honors on defense after recording 68 unassisted tackles, 51 assists, eight tackles for loss and seven sacks. He passed for 557 yards and rushed for 1,134 yards and 16 TDs.
Basketball: McCook was a smaller team, so Schlager was inserted in the post and averaged 5.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He is a two-year starter.
Track and field: Finished third at state in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing in :14.9 in a loaded Class B field. His season-best time of :14.5 ranked seventh on the season charts.
Austin Schultz, Norris
5-10 | 180 | Junior | College: Undecided.
Football: Finished with 1,622 yards, and had games of 293 yards against Omaha Skutt and 237 against Elkhorn. Schultz received Super-State first-team honors as a punter after booting 26 punts for a 41.7-yard average.
Baseball: A leadoff hitter, Schultz was one of the state's top batters, hitting .440 with 40 hits, 24 RBIs, 38 runs scored, six doubles and five home runs. Schultz also was lethal on the basepaths, recording 25 steals in 29 attempts. He was named a first-team Super-Stater, as well as Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year.
Bryson Williams, Lincoln Southeast
6-2 | 270 | Junior | College: Uncommitted (has received several D-I football offers)
Football: Earned second-team Super-State honors as a defensive tackle. He finished with 58 tackles, including 41 assists, despite attracting double teams. Williams also had 3½ sacks and two pass deflections. He also played on the offensive line for the Knights. He's been clocked at 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Track and field: Won the Class A shot put title with a toss of 54 feet, 4½ inches. His top seasonal mark was 55-5½, which ranked sixth on the state charts.
Jurgens will be a senior in the fall. Each year a few Nebraska football recruits graduate from high school early to get a jump-start on college and to take part in spring football. Jurgens does not plan to be one of them. He says he’ll still be doing basketball and track next year.
“I don’t want to graduate early,” Jurgens said. “You have four years of high school for a reason, and I want to make the most of those memories with my teammates. I don’t want to skip out on anything.”
For this school year, Vedral earned first-team Super-State honors in football, second-team Super-State honors and Class C-1 all-state honors in basketball, and at the state track meet he was the sixth-best in the 300 hurdles for all classes.
He played on three state championship basketball teams, including this season.
In football, Vedral helped the Cavaliers to a state runner-up finish by passing for 2,000 yards and rushing for 800 yards.
As a senior, he competed on the final day of the season in all three sports.
“I told my mom I was grateful that I got to know when my last practices were going to be,” Vedral said. “For a lot of seniors, that’s sometimes the biggest blessing is knowing when the end is coming, and it not being a surprise or a disappointment.”
Vedral thinks he could have had the opportunity to play NCAA Division I basketball had he made that a priority. But football was the sport he loved the most. He reported to Central Florida, where he’ll be a quarterback, to begin workouts last week, a few days after playing in the Shrine Bowl.
Jurgens earned first-team Super-State honors in football, honorable mention all-state honors in basketball and continued to dominate the state in the shot put and discus.
He ranks seventh all-time in the shot put (63 feet, 3 inches) and eighth all-time in the discus (196-8). Jurgens said he has the option to do track in college, but right now is not planning to do so.
There was some disappointment this year though, as a broken finger ended his football season early and kept him out for the start of the basketball season.
For his senior year, Jurgens hopes he can stay healthy and help Beatrice make it to the state championship game in football. And he wants his opponents to be ready for the game to be over while playing against him.
“I want people to say, ‘Wow, he’s probably the most physical kid I’ve played against,’” Jurgens said.
Jurgens and Vedral have followed each other’s careers, and practiced with each other while each was in the Bison-Nebraska basketball program a few years ago.