EDITOR’S NOTE: On Monday, March 16, the Nebraska School Activities Association suspended all activity practices until March 30 and all activity competitions until April 2 due to COVID-19.
These suspensions may be extended should the conditions warrant.
Until an official decision has been made in regards to spring sports, the York News-Times sports department will be running its spring sports previews for girls and boys track and soccer, as well as boys golf and girls tennis, in the daily sports section.
MCCOOL JUNCTION – The McCool Junction Mustangs girls track team will be led by defending Class D state 1600-meter champ Madison Gerken.
In 2019, Gerken scored 21 of her team’s 26 points as a junior at state. The Mustangs finished eighth in the Class D team race.
Gerken, who signed to run cross country and track starting next fall for the Hastings College Broncos, won the 1600 crown last year at Omaha Burke with a clocking of 5 minutes, 27.53 seconds, which is the third-best time among York News-Times’ area runners.
Gerken came close to a second state title with a runner-up finish in the 3200 with a time of 12:21.21. She also took sixth in the 800 with a 2:28.14.
The only other returning state qualifier for the Mustangs is junior Aly Plock, who was on the 3200 relay that qualified. Plock and Gerken will have to find two more running mates in the 4x800 as the other two have since graduated. The Mustangs’ 10:19.96 they ran at districts last spring was the top time in the 3200 relay posted by local teams.
With Gerken poised to add to her individual medal total and a few other veterans and newcomers chipping in points, McCool Junction could be right there when the points are counted up on the second day of the state track meet.
McCool Junction will have a total of six returning letterwinners and just two seniors. Head coach Jeff Germer says the success of the cross country team last fall should help the track and field squad, too.
“We have a good nucleus of distance runners coming off a successful cross country season. A few others should contribute to other events,” Germer said. “We only have two seniors, and both should be strong contributors. The youngsters will play a significant role if we are to do some big things as a team.”
The list of returning letterwinners includes Sara Vodicka (SR., jumps/sprints/hurdles); Madilyn Stacy (SO., jumps/sprints); MelAnne McCoy (JR., throws) and Olivia Johnson (JR., middle distances).
Vodicka recorded a season-best time of 13.9 in the 100 in 2019 while also posting a distance of 30 feet, 6 inches in the triple jump. Stacy set a mark of 14-5 ¼ in the long jump and 30 feet even in the triple.
McCoy will have a year under her belt in throws with her top toss in the shot put being 28-1. Johnson competed for the York Dukes in 2019 and will add some depth to the middle distance stable of Mustang athletes.
Two newcomers who could break on to the scene include Yom Mapieu (SR., throws/sprints) and Payton Gerken (FR., distance). The younger Gerken helped McCool Junction to a third-place team finish at the Class D state cross country championships by placing 11th individually.
“We’ll need to have a few of the newcomers contribute to the team, both at the local and state level,” Germer said. “As always, the Crossroads Conference will be highly competitive. If you can survive that meet, you should be able to compete at the state level. Additionally, our district is always one of the toughest in the state.”
Assistant coaches include Ryan Underwood and Scott Yates.
“We should be competitive in local meets, and we could do some damage at the state meet,” Germer said. “We have a strong nucleus of girls who can score at both large meets and small. We’ll look for contribution from newcomers to compete in team races, and make some noise at the state level.”
The start of the 2020 season is currently on hold due to COVID-19.