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Fremont boys, Elli Dahl capture conference crowns in Kearney

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Fremont's Aaron Ladd runs at the Fremont home meet earlier this fall. Ladd was one of six Fremont runners to medal at the Heartland Atlhetic Conference meet Thursday in Kearney.

The Fremont boys Heartland conference dynasty continued Thursday as the Tigers ran away with the HAC team title with five runners inside the top 10 at the Kearney Country Club.

“Now that we’ve had a few races where they’ve reacquainted themselves with what our team tradition has always been, it almost like it’s coming nature now,” said Fremont coach Sean McMahon.

This is Fremont’s 20th conference championship in the last 21 years.

“That was one of the more sweet victories we’ve had since 2001,” McMahon said.

Carter Waters led the pack of Tigers, placing fourth with a time of 16:21.23, barely edging out teammate Braden Taylor, who crossed the line in 16:21.47 in fifth.

Nolan Miller became the third-straight Fremont harrier across the line, clocking in at 16:28.14 for sixth place.

McMahon believes this is the first time Fremont has had three sub-16:30 runners at the conference meet on the Kearney course.

Aaron Ladd, who ran in the conference’s junior varsity race a year ago, notched eighth place with a time of 16:39.16.

“He has always been a championship season racer,” McMahon said. “He starts rounding into shape right when October hits and he is tough as nails when it comes to a 5,000 meter race.”

Juan Gonzalez continued his standout freshman campaign with an all-conference time of 16:44.85 to finish 10th.

“He got himself a little detached today and had to dig himself out of a little hole,” McMahon said. “What was impressive was he didn’t settle and just accept that he was in 14th place.”

Gonzalez’ time sets the new Fremont record freshman record for the course, becoming the first to go below 16:50 since 1987.

Fremont won the team title with 33 points, 46 points better than runner-up Lincoln East.

Junior Garcia also found his way to the medal stand, taking home 14th place with a time of 16:59.62.

This is just the first time that Fremont has medaled six runners at the conference meet since 2018 when

On the girls side, Elli Dahl remained unbeaten on the year, book ending her conference career with her second HAC individual title.

“We tried a little different of an approach today, we tried being a little bit more aggressive early,” said Fremont coach Jake Smrcina said. “Some of those early races we tried to be a little bit more patient and I think what that has done had put more weapons in her arsenal and help prepare her for anything we might see in the next two weeks.”

Dahl ran her second fastest time ever at 18:32.36—19 seconds faster than her winning time at the UNK Invite on the same course 10 days ago and 14 seconds faster than the field Thursday—to take home the conference crown for the first time since she was a freshman.

“We knew we needed to start to explore the deep end of how fast she can run this year,” Smrcina said.

Dahl finished runner-up as a sophomore and 11th as a junior.

Fremont took second to Lincoln East in the team standings, with 51 points to the Spartans 33.

The Tigers got a boost in the team standings from a stellar performance from Mia Wagner, who ran a 19:44.55 to place sixth.

“She might have runner faster once, but that is without a doubt the best race Mia Wagner has run as a Fremont Tiger,” Smrcina said.

Lucy Dillon finished out the trio of Tigers in the top 10, logging a 19:56.54 to take home eighth place.

Maris Dahl claimed a conference medal with an 14th place finish, clocking in at 20:22.02.

Avry LaFavor rounded out the Tigers team score with a 21:21.26, claiming 22nd place.

Chloe Hemmer and Taylor McCabe finished back-to-back in 26th and 27th place with Hemmer running a 21:23.76 and McCabe running a 21:24.49.

Fremont will run next at the district meet on Oct. 14.

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