FIRTH — Injuries continue to hamper Seward senior pole vaulter Chase Berry, but the former Class B boys state champion is maintaining a positive attitude and his sense of humor through it all.
“I’d rather have my ankle a little sore like it is now than having the room spinning,” said Berry, who cleared 15 feet in his first outdoor meet of the spring Wednesday to win the eight-team Norris Invitational track meet.
Berry has endured two serious injuries since his victory at the state meet in 2017 as a sophomore. He suffered a life-threatening head injury when he missed the pit and his head hit the runway competing in the Cornhusker State Games in July 2017.
He was still feeling the effects from that brain trauma last spring in the form of vertigo every time he jumped. Berry still managed to go a personal-best 15-9 last season and finished fourth at state. Fellow senior Tyce Hruza won it, breaking the Class B state meet by going 16-½, which is seventh on the state’s all-time charts.
The vertigo is gone now, but Berry’s still dealing with issues from a broken right ankle from last summer when his foot caught on the bottom of the pit and turned into the pole box while he was competing in a Junior Olympic meet.
He tweaked the ankle competing in the long jump last Friday at the Fairbury Invitational, causing him to drop out of the pole vault for precautionary reasons.
“I was having a lot of problems just running last week. The ankle was a little sore today, but it wasn’t serious enough to keep me out,” said Berry, who plans to go to Concordia next year where his father and current coach, Jason Berry, also coaches.
High winds made the pole vault a tricky event Wednesday, another reason why Berry was satisfied with his mark.
“This was a good start coming back from the broken ankle,” Chase Berry said. “I feel everything is right there to go 16 feet or higher one of these days.”
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Another junior, Ashland-Greenwood all-state running back Bryce Kitrell showed off the strength and speed that make him attractive to Division I college football coaches.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Kitrell won both the shot put (49-4) and discus (138-6), but also placed third in the 100-meter dash with a wind-aided time of 11.11 seconds. Seward junior Davon Brees won the race in :10.98, while Beatrice junior Andrew Mahoney, who finished in :11.03, took second.
Mahoney returned the favor in the 200, winning in :21.98, with Brees taking second in :22.16.
Norris’ Ashton Hausmann, an all-state running back who was fourth at state last year in the 100 as a sophomore, is still recovering from sports hernia surgery and was unable to run Wednesday.
“I love track because it’s great cross-training for football,” said Kitrell, who rushed for 1,242 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall in leading the Bluejays to the quarterfinals of the Class C-1 playoffs. He’s getting recruiting interest from Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota State and North Dakota.
Lincoln Lutheran senior Colton Meyer swept the boys hurdle events, winning the 110 highs in :14.96 and the 300 intermediates in a personal-best :39.24, a fast time for early in the season. He joined teammates Noah L’Heureux, Trevor LeGrande and his brother, Jacob Meyer, to win the 1,600 relay (3:33.02).
On the girls side, Warrior senior Josie Puelz took home three individual golds in the pole vault (12-0), 100 high hurdles (:15.25) and the 300 lows (:47.13).
Aurora captured the girls team title by a 102-100 margin over Elkhorn, while Crete edged Norris 111-110½ for the boys team championship.