This is Part 3 of 3: Nebraska HS Track and Field State Meet Championships Notes
Kenzo Cotton, Fr, Papillion-La Vista: on May 21, 2011, he became the first freshman boy in 97 years to win a Nebraska State Track and Field Meet 200 meter or 220yd dash—the only one to ever win the 200m. His state meet championship 200m winning time (21.77) was the 5th fastest since 1980. Cotton also placed third in the Class A 100m with a time of 10.97, though he ran a faster time (10.92) to win his prelim heat the day before.
In the four years that I have covered Nebraska HS track through MHN, I’ve only seen two freshmen that I knew were destined for greatness: LaQue Moen-Davis and Clara Nichols. By “greatness” I mean athletes capable of posting times and/or marks that no Nebraskans before them have achieved.
The identifying physical and intrinsic qualities that both Moen-Davis and Nichols possessed as freshmen are all clearly evident in Kenzo Cotton. However, unlike the two girls, I cannot say with confidence that Cotton will realize the same destiny on the track.
Physically, Kenzo is a fourteen-year-old man-child who, most likely, has not gone through his major growth spurt. How much bigger will he get? In addition, according to several news stories, he is planning to play football this season: Will he start lifting weights to get bigger and, then, fall in love with the results to the point where his increased muscularity and bulk become a determent to his track speed? I’ve seen it happen far too many times.
The aforementioned reasons are why I hesitate to proclaim future track greatness for this young man. His potential for greatness may be best realized on the football field. It’s just too early to tell.
If Kenzo makes it through next winter and the rest of his high school career without a dramatic increase in bulk or height and he remains focused on the track, he has the talent to set records in the 200m and 400m. And if he gets his start down in the 100m he could become one of the best ever in that event too.
Cody Rush, Jr, Grand Island Northwest: he ran a near all-time chart season’s best 48.38 in the Class B 400m finals to take home the all-class gold medal in the most completively loaded event at the 2011 state meet. He took third in the Class B 200 (22.37).
Even though he reportedly registered a hand held 21.5 200m time during the season, his state meet times did not reflect such prowess. Rush’s success lies more with his fluid form and strong will rather than his speed. But he will need more of both if he desires to hold onto his crown, because the 2012 field of 400m competitors will be stronger and more seasoned.
Sean Pille, Jr, Oakland-Craig: he delivered the biggest upsets of the 2011 state meet when he set a new Class C record in the 110m HH (14.39) and edged out state leader Nehemiah Wilkins for the all-class gold. In doing so, Pille demonstrated outstanding form over the barriers: little if any air between his bottom and the hurdle, good body lean over the lead leg, quick hind leg snap down and quick steps in between. Pille also won the Class C 300m IMH (39.68).
It will be very difficult for anyone to beat Pille in the hurdle races next season. If he sets his mind to the task he has the skill to at least climb into the all-time charts in the 300 and maybe the 110 if his speed is there.
Mo Hamdan, So, Lincoln North Star: the underclassman had the task of having to register a phenomenal drop in his 1600m PR if he wanted to beat season leader Jacob Olsen (Kearney) and take home the all-class gold. A perfect recipe for excitement if you were part of the overflow crowd at Burke Stadium that was treated to an outstanding Class A 1600m race where they witnessed Hamdan dig down deep for that PR (4:18.90) to pull out the win over Olsen in a close finish. Hamdan ran another PR 1:54.66 PR to finish 3rd in the 800m.
Mo Hamdan has two more seasons in high school to establish himself among the greatest Nebraska boys middle distance runners of all-time. Or maybe he could just become the best ever.
Mach Dojiok, Jr, Omaha Benson—he was the star of the best race at the 2011 state meet, winning a thrilling three-way two-lap battle to the finish for the 800m all-class gold medal. The 800m season leader outlasted Mo Hamdan and out-gutted Jacob Olsen for the title with a 1:53.81 PR—only .41 away from making the all-time chart.
The only things that can prevent Mach from making the 800m all-time chart as a senior are injury, loss of focus or some unforeseen calamity. However, a chart performance next season won’t guarantee a ACG with Olsen and Hamdan still hanging around.
Thomas Feichtinger, Jr, Mount Michael Benedictine: only Sean Pille’s winning the ACG 110 HH over Wilkins was a bigger state meet surprise to me. Feichtinger ran the second best time of the season (9:32.50) to win his Class B heat to beat out Class A season leader Danny Aldaba (Fremont) for the big prize. Feichtinger also took 3rd in the Class B 1600m (4:28.26).
He will be in the mix for the title again next year, but he better bring his A game. Something tells me that Aldaba is going to light it up next year.
Dennis Barfield, Jr, Omaha Central: he did not win an individual ACG, but he did win two ACGs as a member of the No. 5 all-time chart Central 400m relay team (41.97) and their 1600m relay (3:20.03). Barfield also won the Class A 400 meter title with a very impressive PR 48.47.
This young man immediately caught my eye during his 400m win at the Metro. He is a true warrior who continues to post PR after PR: if a college coach is looking for a 400 man to build upon—here he is!
Sorry Rush, but this Dennis Barfield beats you in a heads-up race. He is the most impressive boy 400m sprinter I saw on the track at Burke Stadium!
If Barfield keeps his hunger and trains smart—he can make a very deep run into the all-time chart next season.
Devin Barfield, So, Omaha Central: He won ACG medals as a member of the Eagles’400 and 1600 relay teams. In a close loss to Kenzo Cotton, he posted the meet’s second best 200m time (21.84). He was the only other boy besides Cotton to even come reasonably close to going under 22 seconds—let alone to do it. Devin also sprinted to a 5th place finish in the Class A 100m (11.03).
It must run in the family because this young man has every bit the talent and warrior spirit his older brother possesses. He stands in rare company as being one among a handful of Nebraska high school sophomores that have ever run a legitimate electronically-timed sub-22 200m. It should also be duly noted that at the state meet Devin closed the gap of victory by Cotton compared to the outcome at the Metro. As long as he keeps his focus and health Devin is going to have his day in the sun.
Devin and Kenzo could take the 200m to a whole new level in Nebraska.
Marshall Anderson, JR, Papillion-La Vista: he won the 3200m ACG in 2010 with a time nearly 5 seconds better than than the 2011 champ. Yet Anderson couldn’t manage to come anywhere near that time this entire season; he could do no better than a Class A 7th place finish at state (9:46.04). What happened?
Ones To Watch
Danny Aldaba, So, Fremont: posted the season’s best 3200m (9:29.30) but he couldn’t quite come close enough to his best at state to beat Class B’s Feichtinger’s time; he settled for the Class A crown with a time of 9:34.15.
Aldaba has the ability to become one of the best.
Blake Micek, Jr, Hastings St, Cecilia: won Class C 100 (10.86) and 200m (22.22). Among the early favorites to win 2012 100m ACG.
Michael Wickham, Jr, Bennington won Class B 200m (22.27) 3rd 100m (11.12).
Anton Rice, Jr, Omaha Gross Catholic: won Clas B 800m (1:56.05) third 400m (50.29).
Justin English, Jr, Grand Island, placed 2nd in Class A long jump 23-6.25.
Levi Gipson, Jr, Lincoln Christian: won Class C 400m (48.68).
Jacob Olsen, Jr, Kearney: 2nd Class A 1600 (4:19.74) and 3200m (1:53.96).
Mike Schoff, Jr, Cambridge: Iowa football recruit won Class C discus (159-2) and shot put (56-1) seasons’ best (58). He could become a sixty-footer.
Logan Clonce, Fr, Centennial: the freshman won Class C High Jump (6-4).
Sam Foltz, Jr, Grand Island: 2nd Class A 400m (48.68).
Garrett Teel, So, Lincoln Pious X: 3rd Class A 400m (49.11.)
Will Bamesberger, Jr, Grand Island: 4th Class A 400m (49.18).
Terry Grigsby, Jr, Omaha North 5th Class A 400m (49.70).
Alex VanLent, Jr, Omaha Westside: 6th Class A 400m (49.91).
Jordan Nelson, Jr, Omaha Burke: 4th Class A long jump (21-10).
Fernando Hilderth, So, Boys Town: 2nd Class B 300m IMH (39.86).
Next Season Looks to Be
A War on the Track