The Fremont High School boys cross country team continued their long run of success at the Heartland Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships at Pioneer Park on Thursday.
The Tigers battled through rainy weather and poor course conditions to earn seven individual medals, including two runners who finished in the top three overall.
Jose Gonzales was the top finisher for Fremont, coming in second place behind Lincoln Southwest’s Luke Nolley. Gonzales was followed closely by teammate CJ Martinez who earned the third place medal for the Tigers.
Along with Gonzales and Martinez at the head of the pack, a trio of Tiger runners displayed a knack for group running as they finished one after another to all earn top-10 medals.
Fremont’s Ben Shulz, Manuel Harmon, and Jayden Kumm finished as a pack, earning the sixth, seventh, and eighth place medals respectively.
“Going into the race I had a good feeling, I’ve seen our kids come together and practice really well,” McMahon said. “As a group they have good lifestyle habits and they share that with each other and keep after each other in a positive way to do well in school, take care of themselves and be ready to race. They came out today and showed they were the most prepared team.
Along with taking five of the top ten spots in the race, the Tigers impressive day was rounded out by Chase Cate and Wes Ferguson who also medaled.
Due to the rainy conditions in Lincoln the boys, girls, and JV races were all ran at the same time which caused delays in the official scoring for the event.
“We ran everybody in one race, so they will be unfolding results for hours,” Fremont coach Sean McMahon said. “It was a slosh fest, there was mud everywhere.”
According to McMahon, although official results were not available at press time, with seven runners finishing with medals, the Tigers are projected to win the overall title for the 17th straight year.
“They have really done all the little things right and learned how to compete together as a team, and they were also so proud to be running for Fremont today and of course everyone is thinking about the streak,” McMahon said. “The question is, is that going to weigh heavy on you, or are you going to take your best shot and see how things land, and that is exactly what they did.”
McMahon attributes the programs sustained success to runners continually buying into the team mentality, in a sport that is often viewed as an individual endeavor.
“We haven’t won for 17 years in a row because we were the most fit, the most talented, or the smartest,” he said. “It’s because we have had guys that believe in running for the right reasons for their team and it has stuck. It’s a culture that has been established by tremendously dedicated people to the team which dates back to 1999 and 2000.”
After almost two decades at the top of the Heartland Athletic Conference, next year will be a little different as the conference adds three new teams to the mix. Norfolk, Lincoln Pius X, and Kearney are set to join the HAC beginning next year, which will also create a change in venue for the annual HAC invite.
“Next year it moves to Kearney which is a little bit sad because it won’t be rotated amongst the conference schools anymore,” McMahon said. “We have learned to love Pioneer (Park) it is kind of a home away from home and a fantastic place to race. It will be sad but it will be a new chapter and we will be looking forward to starting something new next year.”