The FC Sacred Heart boys’ track team gathered a tremendous 27 medals – six of them gold – and scored 150 points last Wednesday to win the Class D-1 District Track Meet at Auburn.

In doing so, seven different Irish guys – seniors Chaz Dunn, Yianni Haralabidis, Colin Niemeyer and Sean Strasheim, juniors Sawyer Kean and Austin Malone, and sophomore Henry Arnold – qualified for this weekend’s state track meet at Omaha Burke Stadium. The Irish will be represented in a total of 10 different events, starting at 10:50 a.m. Friday with Haralabidis and Kean in the 100-meter dash prelims. FCSH will be represented at Burke throughout the entire two days, all the way through the finale, the 1600-meter relay. And, perhaps, they’ll stick around when all is said and done and take the trophy stand. If, so it’ll be the first time since tying Axtell in 2006. The FCSH boys won team titles five different times in the 1990s (90, 91, 93, 94, 98).

“Hartington (last year’s champs) are probably the team still to beat,” FCSH Coach Doug Goltz said. “They have a lot of entries and quite a few in the charts for the season bests. They did not run that great of times in districts but probably didn’t have to. Their top runners still qualified.

“Others in the hunt are Wausa, Elm Creek, Sterling, Parkview, Twin Loup, Giltner, Kenesaw, Paxton, Howells-Dodge. All capable of scoring 20-40-plus points,” Goltz said. 

Even though the team has 14 opportunities to score, hopes of a seventh title rest largely on the slender shoulders of the jumpers and sprinters, which makes it hard to predict, as races are won or lost by fractions of a second. On paper, the record-setting Irish 400-meter relay team will again garner gold, as its :44.4 district title-winning time was the fastest of any Class D qualifier by half a second. That’s a substantial cushion and it would appear Haralabidis, Malone, Dunn and Kean need only hang on to the baton on their way to the infield platform. 

Individually, that’s not the case in the races. In the 100-meter dash, where Haralabidis and Kean ran 2-3, respectively, at Auburn with times of :11.1, the first order of business is making Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. finals. In the prelims, held Friday at 10:50 a.m., three runners, led by Wausa junior Austin Hagge (:10.9), enter with faster times, another, Christian Best of Elm Creek, also ran :11.1, and two came in at :11.2. Again, since only two-tenths of a second separates seven runners who ran on different tracks, in different wind/weather conditions, with different timers, its hard to make predictions in the 100.

Sacred Heart may need some points in the 200, where Haralabidis won the district with a time of :23.2. He runs the prelims at 1:35 p.m. Friday and finals are at 3:25 p.m. Saturday. Nine runners, led by Kolton Carlyle of Paxton (:22.5) enter with as fast or faster times than Haralabidis.  

Arnold won district in the 400-meter dash with a time of :52.5, which is the sixth-fastest time entering state. 

He’ll run that race at 11:30 a.m. Friday, about the same time he and Malone will compete in triple jump. Arnold’s 43-11 district championship mark tops the field. Malone, who jumped 42-8 and placed third at districts, owns the school record after going 44-7.25 to open the year at the Pioneer Conference Indoor Meet. 

Sacred Heart will know a lot about where it stands in team standings in the early afternoon Friday, following the 400 and triple jump. 

First thing Saturday morning, Dunn goes in the 800 after finishing third in districts with a time of 2:03.6. It was the fifth-fastest time in Class D.

After that, it’s the finals of the 100 and 400, and Malone and Dunn go in long jump at 1 p.m. The two Irish leapers finished 2-3, respectively, at districts with jumps of 21-0.75 and 20-10.25. The FCHS duo are two of seven Class D jumpers going around 21-feet. Like the triple jump on Friday, the results of the long jump, then, will also be telling in terms of the final team standings. 

Strasheim will vault at 1 p.m. Saturday and may need to clear 13-0 to medal. He vaulted 12-6 to win the district. Dustin Axline of Exeter-Milligan leads the field at 13-10. 

The finals of the 300-meter hurdles start at 3:10. Niemeyer placed third at districts and qualified with a time of :42.6. Thirteen hurdlers enter Friday’s prelims with faster times.

Then its the finals of the 100, followed by the often climactic 1600-meter relay. Dunn, Haralabidis, Malone and Arnold won the district with a time of 3:32.6. If it comes down to the final race of the event, Irish eyes will be smiling, as Sacred Heart enters with the fastest time in Class D. 

“If we perform up to where we have this year I think we can score some points,” Goltz said. “We won it once with 40. We also scored around 80 once but did not win it. I think 50 points could win it this year. We could score that many.  You never know though. A bad start in the sprints can keep a kid out of the final. In the jumps sometimes a kid might not be able to get on the board. One bad handoff in the 4 x1 can cost you a place. You never know. We have some talented athletes that are great competitors. I hope they have their best performances of the season this weekend. It should be fun to watch them compete.”

The Lady Irish finished fifth in the district and won’t be too concerned with the team standings at Burke, though they’ll still represent. 

Junior Elizabeth Magdanz will compete in the vault first thing Friday after going 6-10 for second place in the district. Twelve vaulters have cleared nine feet and four are in the 10s. 

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, Hill will long jump, where she placed second last week with a mark of 15-11.5. That puts her in the second of three flights at state. She’ll likely need to get in the upper-16s to medal. 

The Lady Irish are then done until Saturday, when Hill runs the 800 at 9:30 a.m. She ran 2:36.3 to finish second at districts and she’ll run in the first of two heats at state. 

Hill and sophomore Maggie Goltz were second and fourth, respectively, in the district triple jump with marks of 34-7.75 and 34-1.25. Four girls enter with jumpers better than 35-feet, led by Emily Everitt of St. Mary’s, who jumped 36-3 in districts.

The Class D girls’ triple jump isn’t on the schedule until 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 

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