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Local champions crowned on day one of State Track Meet

Local4 News at 10
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 11:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (KSNB) - With both State Baseball and State Soccer wrapping up this week, we saw the start of yet another state competition Wednesday as the 2022 State Track & Field Championships kicked off from Omaha. On day one, the event played host to both Class A and B.

In Class B, there’s likely no more of a sure bet champion than Aurora’s Gage Griffith. The big man entered the day trying to repeat as champion in the boys shot put, and while he was pushed all the way to his final throw, he did win the event with a throw of 57′ 4.5″ allowing him to bring home another gold medal.

”(It) feels good, a lot of nerves for sure,” Griffith said after winning the event on his final throw. “Kind of made the whole crowd worried, so it is what it is. I’ll take it. I’ve been here before. I know what’s going on. Just took a lot of deep breathes to find that moment. I worked for it. (It) means a lot.”

We then hit the track for the Class B Girls 3200 Meter Run, which ended with a neck-and-neck finish, but it was York’s Kassidy Stuckey pulling through for the first place finish with a winning time of 11:22.87. Lexington’s Ian Salazar-Molina also took home gold in the Class B 3200 Meter Run.

“It’s such a blessing to be here competing, and I just want to thank my coaches and my teammates for pushing me because I could not have done this without them,” Stuckey said.

In the Class B Boys High Jump, Adams Central is home to this year’s state champion as Breck Samuelson recorded a new personal record at the meet. He was the only jumper to clear the bar at 6′8″ to win the gold and end his high school career on top of Class B.

”My mind was just racing,” Samuelson said. “I was pretty nervous, just knew I had to give it everything. Just ending it on a high note. That’s obviously what everybody wants to do. It’s really just a blessing that I got to do that.”

We’re still not done with our local champions from day one as the Class B Boys Triple Jump ended in dramatic fashion. Both Aurora’s Carsen Staehr and McCook’s Adam Dugger jumped exactly 46′6″ to lead all jumpers, forcing the championship to a tiebreaker. Staehr’s second furthest attempt was farther than Dugger, which gave the Aurora Husky the championship.

“I’ve been dreaming about this all year because making it down here last year and missing out on a medal by one spot — first place, that’s the best I could have hoped for,” Staehr said. “I mean, I’m just speechless. I’m still just kind of star-struck.”

Central Nebraska was well represented the rest of the way on a warm Wednesday at Burke Stadium, with several local athletes standing on the podium today. Kearney High’s Will Vanderbeek tied for 7th in the Class A Boys High jump with a jump of 6′4″. We also saw local finishers in both Class A and Class B girls pole vault as Grand Island’s Briannah Kutschkau took home 6th in the Class A vault, while Holdrege’s Bradie Medina earned a bronze medal with a vault of 11′ in Class B.

The girls also fared well in the long jump Wednesday as Kearney Catholic’s Ashley Keck went from the first flight to fourth overall on the day with a leap of 16′ 11.75″. In the Class A girls long jump, Grand Island’s Emma Ruach-Word PR’d with a jump of 17′11″ which earned her a bronze medal on the day.

Finally, we also saw St. Paul’s Olivia Poppert earn her team some points with a fourth place finish in the Class B girls discus with a throw of 126′10″.

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