With the school year complete, all-star season has officially begun.
Antelope County athletes will be busy throughout the summer competing in volleyball, basketball and football all-star games across the state, starting with this past Friday night's NVC vs MNAC Basketball game.
See below for a complete list of all-star participants, with more possibly rolling in.
NVC vs MNAC Basketball Game - Friday, May 26 at St. Mary’s High School, 5 p.m.
Coach Frank Gade
Striv All-Star Basketball Game - Saturday, June 3 at York High School, 6 p.m.
Northeast Nebraska All-Star Volleyball Game - Saturday, June 10 at Cox Activities Center, 5 p.m.
Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher
Northeast Nebraska All-Star Football Classic - Saturday, June 10 at Memorial Field in Norfolk, 1 p.m.
Northeast Nebraska All-Star Basketball Game - Friday, June 16 at Cox Activities Center, 6 p.m.
Coach Frank Gade
Sertoma 8-Man All-Star Football Game - Saturday, June 17 at Hastings College, 6 p.m.
Grant White - Chose not to participate
Coach Ron Beacom
The Neligh-Oakdale boys and girls basketball coaches will be hosting a basketball skills camp May 30 through June 1 for all incoming fourth graders through seniors.
Coaches Frank Gade, Ethan Larsen, JJ Wagner and Landon Bloedorn will team up to work with the Warrior athletes before the upcoming season. They will also have the help of Jonathan Baehr, head boys basketball coach for North Bend Central, as well as Brent Frauen, head girls basketball coach for Cozad.
The cost of the camp is $30 per athlete. Incoming fourth through eighth graders will work from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. while incoming high schoolers will take the court from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. each day. The deadline to register is the first day of the camp, May 30.
Now that summer is upon us, that means it's time for baseball, softball and all-star games. All through the summer, basketball, volleyball and football's best seniors will compete in all-star games across the state for one final show before heading off to college. That all gets started on Friday when the best of the Niobrara Valley Conference take on the Mid Nebraska Athletic Conference all-stars in an annual battle in O'Neill.
1. The who and when
There will be a heavy Antelope County presence when the NVC vs MNAC All-Star games tip off at St. Mary's gym on Friday, a direct correlation to the strong basketball play fans saw throughout the year. Neligh-Oakdale will have the heaviest influence after a state runner-up season for the boys. Frank Gade will roam the sidelines as a coach for the NVC while four of his five starters from this year - Tyson Belitz, Grant White, Alex Kerkman and Chris Bentley - will participate in one last game together. They will be joined by Elgin Public/Pope John's Chad Bode, who broke numerous Wolfpack records throughout his career.
On the girls side, EPPJ will be represented by Baylee Wemhoff, a senior leader from the program's state-qualifying team this year. She will be joined by two Clearwater-Orchard standouts in Kinzly Macke and Kylie Thiele. Game time for the girls is set for 5 p.m. while the boys will tip off at 7 p.m. with a 3-point shoot out in between the two games.
2. Will NVC keep it rolling?
The Niobrara Valley Conference had little trouble edging out the MNAC last season as the girls won 66-51 and the boys took home a 40-point victory. With few conferences in the state boasting as much top-end talent and depth, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the trend continue, with double-digit victories expected for both the girls and boys.
3. Who wins the 3-point shootout?
The two teams battle it out between games with a fun 3-point shootout to establish scoring dominance between the two conferences and the lineup that the NVC can trot out may be unmatchable. For the girls, Wemhoff, Thiele, Jacie Laetsch of CWC and Harlee Fischer of Stuart were all strong from beyond the arc throughout their careers. The boys have even more sharpshooters at their disposal with White, Belitz, Kerkman, Caleb Rihanek of Boyd County and Connor Croxen of CWC having strong strokes from deep.
4. Points will be plenty
If there is one thing that nearly all of the competitors in the game did well throughout their careers, it was score. Wemhoff averaged double-digit points throughout her career, Macke and Thiele were the leading scorers for O-C this year, St. Mary's trio of Logan Connot, Hattie Blumenstock and Taylor Colman were elite scorers and the list goes on. For the boys, Belitz, White and Kerkman all scored more than 1,000 points throughout their careers, Bode set records for EPPJ, Rihanek proved he could drop in points in droves and Bryce Summers of Ewing led the Tigers for much of his career. The only thing stopping the teams from dropping 100 points will be the clock.
5. One last hurrah
There are many young up-and-comers in the county that will step up in the coming years, but basketball fans are losing a ton of talent to graduation this year. Wemhoff, Macke, Thiele, Bode, Kerkman, Belitz, White and Bentley all had fantastic careers, setting records, busting through plateaus and putting on performance after performance on the hardwood for four years. Antelope County fans were spoiled by the great play of the eight Antelope County athletes in the game and it will be fun to watch them do battle one final time, this time as teammates.
Clearwater-Orchard sophomore Ryan Wilhelm parred four holes on Wednesday to wrap up his first state golf appearance.
At North Platte, Wilhelm carded a 94 on the second round to finish with a two-day total of 187 to finish tied for 52nd in Class D.
Wilhelm parred three straight holes - 2, 3, 4 - on the day as he finished +22 on the round and +43 for the tournament.
Clearwater-Orchard's Ryan Wilhelm has room to improve, but the sophomore sits at a good spot after the first day of the Class D State Golf Tournament.
Wilhelm ranks 42nd out of 94 golfers at the Class D Tournament at North Platte's Lake Maloney Golf Course. Through the first round of play, he sits at 93, a plus 21 for the course. Only one player, Humphrey St. Francis's Trevor Kosch, currently sits at even.
Wilhelm birdied holes one and two before picking up a par on three and four. A double bogey on five set him back, as did a bogey on six. However, his best hole of the day came when he shot an eagle to gain back two strokes on the par five seventh hole. He posted a bogey on the two remaining holes to finish the front nine.
On the back nine, Wilhelm posted a par on 10 and 13, but was unable to duplicate the feat the rest of the way, bogeying or double bogeying each of the remaining holes.
He will look to make up some ground on day two on Wednesday. He will tee off at 9:40 a.m.
The theme of the day for Clearwater-Orchard at the State Track and Field Championships in Omaha was redemption.
After being upset at districts in the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays, the Cyclones were able to edge their way into the state meet as wildcards. Both teams proved they more than deserved to be there.
The 4x100 team of Kylie Thiele, Katie Stearns, Skye Schroeder and Kinzly Macke nearly took home gold on the day. After taking first in their heat with a wild finish down the stretch by Macke, they waited the results of heat two. They ended up being edged out by .8 seconds to slide to third place and take home bronze.
The final race of the day was the 4x400 meter relay. The team of Macke, JoCee Johnston, Alexis Pokorny and Thiele flew around the track, with Thiele making a big push on the final lap, edging out Stuart to give the Cyclones seventh with a time of 4:16.1.
Thiele was able to show off her skills in more than just the relays on Saturday as well. The senior was a perfect 4-for-4 in medalling in her events, thanks to and incredible 800 meter run time of 2:24.1 that gave her third. In the 400 meter run, she stayed with the pack throughout the race, finishing sixth with a time of 1:00.3.
Vanessa Carpenter was the only other Cyclone to take part in the competition on Saturday. The first-time qualifier was unable to clear the opening height at the pole vault, taking a no mark on the day.
Despite a dreary start to the day, Elkhorn Valley tracksters shined among the competition on day two of the State Track and Field Championships at Omaha Burke.
The day got started on a slow note, with Amber Miller scratching on all three of her attempts in the triple jump. Dylan Wilkins also performed short of his expectations, throwing the discus for 127-02, finishing in 13th.
However, the day really turned positive for the Falcons during the 800 meter run. Freshman Alison Stineman maintained a steady pace throughout the race to take home her first state medal, a fifth place finish with a time of 2:27.3. On the boys side, Tucker Hecht showed off his speed with the fastest mark in the first heat with a time of 2:05.7. After the second heat was ran and the final results were tallied, he ended up taking home eighth place.
Brayden Effle then competed in the long jump. The junior posted a best mark of 18-08.50 but was unable to bring home a medal.
Alyssa Rood represented the Falcons in the throws, competing in the shot put. The senior finished 21st with a best throw of 30-05.75.
Miller came back and earned some redemption in the afternoon at the pole vault pit. The sophomore easily passed the competition and nearly beat the 10-00 mark. She ended up third with a best vault of 9-08.
The final Falcon to take flight on the day was Austin Miller in the 1600. With much better conditions than in his 3200 meter run on Friday, the senior kept with the pack for much of the race. However, he was unable to make a charge late, finishing 20th with a time of 5:03.3.
Elgin Public/Pope John fans have to be impressed with the performance Lydia Behnk put on Saturday at the State Track and Field Championships, despite less-than-ideal weather.
For the second day in a row, Behnk battled through rain and dreary temperatures, this time competing in the triple jump. The junior impressed on the day, posting a best mark of 34-02.00, good for seventh place in Class D.
With four down at state, the only remaining Warrior to take to the field was sophomore Jayden Arehart in the long jump.
Arehart, competing in his first-ever State Track and Field Championships, made it to the field early and waited out the dreary weather before making his attempt at a state title. Unfortunately, he was only able to perform a best jump of 17-11.00 on the day, not quite far enough to earn a spot in the finals.
Friday didn't go quite as well as Lydia Behnk had hoped, but she still impressed at the State Track and Field Championships in Omaha.
The junior and returning state qualifier competed in one of her two events on Friday. She took to the long jump, showing off her explosiveness with a jump of 15-07.00. That mark didn't quite get her to the finals as she took 15th in the field.
She will be back at the meet on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. as she takes part in the triple jump.
Elkhorn Valley kept busy on a chilly day for a track meet, competing five of their nine competitors on Friday at the State Track and Field Championships at Omaha Burke.
Tyler Miller started the day off for the Falcons in the pole vault. The returning state qualifier finished in 17th place as he battle the cold and bested 10-06.00.
Hannah Ollendick hit the track next in the 100 meter hurdle prelims. The sophomore’s time of 17.60 was not quite enough to advance to the finals on Saturday.
Brayden Effle then took his turn at the hurdles in the 110 meter hurdle prelims. He too was unable to make the finals, running a time of 16.99. He later battled the downpour in the 300 meter hurdles, posting a time of 44.62.
Tucker Hecht was a bit busy on the day, competing in the high jump and the 400 meter dash. In the high jump, he tied for 18th with a best jump of 5-08.00. He then hustled over to the 400 meter dash prelims, falling short of the finals with a time of 55.08.
Austin Miller had arguably the toughest race of the day. The storms that had slowly built throughout the day unleashed their rain on the crowd just as the longest race of the day, the 3200 meter run, was about to start. That didn’t slow Miller down, however. He battled from a slow start to finish 12th in Class D with a time of 11:04.00.
Elkhorn Valley will get started early on Saturday as Amber Miller takes to the triple jump at 8:30 a.m.
As the weather slowly deteriorated throughout the afternoon, the Cyclones kept plugging along at the State Track and Field Championships in Omaha.
Chris Kester got the Clearwater-Orchard competitors started off on the day. The sophomore cleared 10-00 on his first attempt at the pole vault but was unable to beat 10-06, a mark that would have set a new school record.
Fellow sophomore Jacob Long got a busy day started with the triple jump. He was unable to keep up with the rest of the pack, finishing 14th with a jump of 39-11.00. He later competed in the high jump, an event that proved a bit more fruitful. Despite the wet weather, he bested the 5-10.00 mark to tie for fifth, earning his team three points in his first meet and becoming the Cyclones' first medalist of the meet.
Kinzly Macke was the first Lady Cyclone to hit the track when she took part in the 100 meter dash. The senior was unable to qualify for finals, finishing in a time of 13.56. She later just missed out on heading to the finals in the 200 meter dash when she ran a 27.93 in the pouring rain.
Kylie Thiele rounded out the day for the Cyclones. She finished with arguably the best performance, running the 400 meter dash in a time of 1:00.73 to lock up a spot in Saturday's finals.
On Saturday, Thiele will take part in the 800 meter run at 9:30 a.m. to kick off a busy day for Clearwater-Orchard.
Four of Neligh-Oakdale's five state tracksters battled less than ideal conditions on Friday at the State Track and Field Championships at Omaha Burke.
Tyson Belitz started the day with the high jump. A constant mist made for a slippery jumping surface, giving Belitz and many other jumpers troubles all day. He finished at 5-08 to tie for 16th.
Alex Kerkman then had the chance to showcase his talents in the 100 meter dash. The senior sliced through the mist but was only able to run 11.94, which was not good enough to advance to the finals.
Grant White took to the sand pit for the triple jump. He put forth a consistent effort, with his best mark being a 40-01.50 leap. That jump earned him 16th on the day.
Rounding out the Warriors on Friday was the lone female, Kristen Snodgrass. The sophomore showed some impressive speed in the 200 meter dash, but her time of 28.64 was not enough to make it to the finals.
The Warriors will return to Burke Stadium on Saturday to support one more of their own. Jayden Arehart will take to the long jump beginning at 1 p.m.
Neligh baseball - and food - fans can rejoice. The concession stand has been given new life.
Thanks to funding from the Neligh Ball Board, the concession stand at Riverside Park has been given a renovation and update.
“We wanted a bigger area so we could offer more items out of the concession stand,” said Diann Arehart.
The new area gives the Ball Board more room to work, which in turn means they can bring in more food options. The menu has not been finalized yet, according to Arehart, but she did confirm that ice cream will be one of the options.
The renovations, with the exception of the plumbing, were even done by a prominent Neligh baseball figure. Dan Murray and his brother Denny Murray did the work for the update.
Some of the improvements the Murrays did include the tearing out of walls to make the main area bigger, improvements on the electrical and lighting components, new paint, a new island, a new sink, a bigger hot water heater and a bigger air conditioner to keep the workers cool on the hot summer days.
Arehart said the improvements were greatly needed.
“It’s going to give us more options in the future and it gives us more room to work,” she said. “It was badly run down. It needed the face lift.”
The event that many high school athletes have been waiting for is finally here: the 2017 State Track and Field Championships. The annual gathering at Burke High School in Omaha signifies the end of the school year as well as the pinnacle of competition. Few, if any, meets have challenged the competitors throughout the season as the state meet.
1. The who and when
A total of 24 Antelope County competitors will take part in the meet that begins on Friday. Neligh-Oakdale sends Tyson Belitz, Alex Kerkman, Kristen Snodgrass, Grant White and Jayden Arehart. Lydia Behnk will represent Elgin Public/Pope John. Nine Clearwater-Orchard tracksters earned a spot as well: Chris Kester, Vanessa Carpenter, Katie Stearns, Skye Schroeder, Kinzly Macke, Kylie Thiele, Jacob Long, JoCee Johnston and Alexis Pokorny. Elkhorn Valley also sent nine competitors to the championships. Austin Miller, Tyler Miller, Amber Miller, Hannah Ollendick, Alyssa Rood, Brayden Effle, Tucker Hecht, Dylan Wilkins and Alison Stineman will all represent the Falcons over the weekend. Everything gets started at 9:00 a.m. on Friday with Belitz in the high jump and goes all the way to the end, with the Cyclone 4x400 meter relay competing in the final event of the day on Saturday at 3:55.
2. How's the weather?
Last year, it was impossible to avoid a sunburn at the state meet. However, this year, fans will have to worry more about keeping dry clothes. The early forecast for the weekend includes lots of rain. For Friday, expect a 90 percent chance of rain with temperatures in the mid-50s. It'll be more of the same on Saturday, with a 60 percent chance of storms in the morning and temperatures in the 60s.
3. Don't sleep on the wildcards
Clearwater-Orchard got big news last Thursday when it was announced that the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams qualified for the state meet as wildcards after being upset at districts. The Cyclone runners will be busy - Thiele and Macke will be competing in four events each - but expect those two competitors to lead the relay teams to a big day on Saturday.
4. Bringing home the hardware
A number of factors, beyond simply the athlete's capabilities, will lead to medals in Omaha. Nerves, experience and focus will all play a role in it. As such, expect the veterans to lead the way at the meet for Antelope County. A number of competitors are in great spots to bring home hardware by the end of the day on Saturday, but here's one from each school to keep an eye on:
Neligh-Oakdale: Grant White, triple jump
Clearwater-Orchard: Kylie Thiele, 800 meter run
Elkhorn Valley: Amber Miller, pole vault
Elgin Public/Pope John: Lydia Behnk, triple jump
5. Neligh-Oakdale seniors are right where they deserve to be
Going back to football season, Neligh-Oakdale's boys have been nothing short of incredible all year. The core of that success was a strong senior class that included White, Kerkman and Belitz. After White and Belitz led the football team to an undefeated season and the trio took N-O to its first state championship game in boys basketball history, it is only fitting that they wrap up their athletic careers in Omaha. They each will have one shot at adding one final accolade to their names, but they are already etched into Neligh-Oakdale history.
Ryan Wilhelm will tee off bright and early Tuesday morning at the Class D State Golf Championships in North Platte.
The Clearwater-Orchard sophomore will tee off at 10:00 a.m. at Lake Maloney Golf Course. He will tee off from hole one.
Wilhelm, who has consistently been among the best golfers all year for Clearwater-Orchard, locked up his first berth at the state golf tournament on Tuesday after taking eighth at the D-3 District Meet in Atkinson.
After posting an impressive 40 through the first nine holes, Wilhelm held on with a 46 on the back nine to finish with an 86 on the day.
Ryan Wilhelm saved his best golf of the year for the moment he needed it most.
The sophomore, who has consistently been among the best golfers all year for Clearwater-Orchard, locked up his first berth at the state golf tournament on Tuesday after taking eighth at the D-3 District Meet in Atkinson.
After posting an impressive 40 through the first nine holes, Wilhelm held on with a 46 on the back nine to finish with an 86 on the day.
He was nearly joined by teammate Gage Clifton. The freshman took 12th on the day with a 93. Blake Hoke was on the edge of the top 10 after the first nine but struggled through the back half of the day to finish 16th with a 97.
Travis Rudloff finished 41st in the field with a 123. Clay Thiele took 45th with a 127. As a team, the Cyclones took fourth with a score of 399.
Wilhelm will take to the course at the Class D state meet beginning Tuesday. The meet will be held at North Platte's Lake Maloney Golf Course. Tee times will be announced within the next couple of days.
Neligh-Oakdale's Julien Hearn and Dawson Kaup entered the Nebraska Championship Meet anticipating a strong performance and that is exactly what they did.
Both Warriors, competing in triple jump, placed among the top 15 junior high competitors in the state at the meet in Gothenburg this past weekend.
Hearn, entering the meet with the top qualifying mark of all competitors, finished fifth. His jump of 38-09.00 placed him just outside of the top 10 all time marks at the meet after the updated standings were released.
Kaup was impressive as well, taking 15th. He finished with a jump of 36-05.25, just behind Mason Sindelar of Pierce.