The Lincoln North Star boys cross country team put in the miles during the summer that gave them a chance to be a district championship team, and that’s what they accomplished Thursday.
The Gators won the A-3 district meet at Pioneers Park by getting their five scoring runners across the finish line in the top-20 of the race.
North Star junior Liem Chot won the race to lead the Gators. The other top North Star runners were Asim Ali in fifth, Daniel Pierce in seventh and Ethan Zaborowski in eighth.
It was during the summer when North Star coach Matt Musiel thought this team might be impressive.
“I’ve never had a group of kids in my 30 years at Bellevue West or (North Star) that put in the high miles over the summer like this group did,” Musiel said. “And that means putting in the 10 to 12 to 13 mile runs.”
Liem Chot won the A-3 district cross country division in 16 minutes, 15 seconds Thursday at Pioneers Park.
North Star won by nine points over second-place Grand Island despite not having its No. 5 runner, Grant Wasserman, due to an injury.
Chot came back strong after finishing fourth at the Heartland Conference meet last week. Before that he’d won every race this season.
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“He went out and he wanted to prove a point that he still is one of the best runners in the state,” Musiel said.
The top three teams and 15 individuals from each district qualify for next week’s state meet.
In the girls race North Star freshman Jaeden Webb finished fourth.
A-1 in Papillion: The top-ranked Lincoln East girls will head to the state meet with a lot of confidence after a 1-2-3-4 finish at the district meet. Freshman Berlyn Schutz won in 19:06, and was followed by teammates Kylie Muma, Jenna Muma and Taylor Searcey. When Izzy Apel finished ninth, that meant East had three freshmen in the top-10 of the race. East had 19 points, with runner-up Lincoln Pius X next with 68. Lizzy Kramer led Pius X in fifth place. In the boys race, No. 1 Lincoln Southwest put all five scoring runners in the top seven for a dominating 21-78 win against runner-up North Platte. Southwest senior Tyler Boyle won, and has finished first or second in every race this year.
A-2 in Papillion: The third and final qualifying spot in the boys team race came down to two Lincoln schools, with Lincoln East edging Pius X by just four points to finish third. Lincoln East senior Thomas Oliver won the boys race in 16:37. Thomas had never won a race before last week, but now has two wins in a row. Fremont put five runners in the top six to win the girls race with 19 points. Lincoln Southwest finished second, led by Brianna Rinn in second place.
C-3 in Aurora: The Lincoln Christian girls finished third to get the final team qualifying spot from the district. Christian was led by Amanda Meers in eighth place, and Sadye Daniell in 10th. In the boys race Gavin McGerr from Lincoln Christian finished 10th.
-- Brent C. Wagner