The improvement from her sophomore to junior year has been nothing short of remarkable for Logan Thomas.
After competing in one event at state her freshman year, the distance specialist from Malcolm failed to qualify during her sophomore campaign. A better mental approach this year helped Thomas become a double medalist at the NSAA State Championships held May 17 and 18 in Omaha.
Thomas lined up for the 3,200-meter run with the best Class C qualifying time from districts but, knowing the race field included a well-known conference foe. Ashlei McDonald from Johnson County Central is the only runner to beat Thomas at that distance this season. The sophomore got the best of Thomas opening week at Nebraska Wesleyan by 22 seconds, and again at the East Central Nebraska Conference meet by 12 seconds.
At the state meet, it was closer, but McDonald still came out on top with a winning time of 11:37 with Thomas not far behind with her silver medal finish in 11:42. Her time shaved 15 seconds off her previous best and stands as the new school record.
“It took me a while to finally pull way from the pack I was with, but once I did, I was going for Ashlei,” Thomas said. “Once I challenged her, she started her kick and created some distance between us.
“With about 150 meters left, I kicked it in to the finish line and came in not too far behind her.”
Thomas was joined on the medal stand by a teammate. Reagan Wondercheck earned the eighth place medal with a time of 12:29.
“Reagan had an amazing freshman season,” Thomas said. “I can honestly say without her pushing me every day at practice and in our races this year I wouldn’t have learned my limits to how fast I could run.”
Thomas also broke the school record in the 1,600-meter run while earning the fifth place medal with a time of 5:31. Her time beat her previous personal best by nearly nine seconds.
“I set goals this year to break both school records,” Thomas said. “Achieving those goals would not be possible without the ability I’ve been given by God to be mentally strong and overcome my fears and doubts.”
Wyatt Loga finished his career as a silver medalist in high jump. The senior cleared the bar at 6-5.
“Wyatt capped off a great high school career with his best performance yet,” Malcolm head coach Dustin Tobey said. “His freshman year at state he didn’t even clear opening height and then he had a two-year mental block at six feet.
“This year he got strong both mentally and physically and showed what he was capable of.”
Devyn Beekman joined Thomas as a double medalist. The senior matched his spot from last year with a third-place finish in the 800-meter run and a few hours later placed fourth in the 1,600-meter run.
While his place in the 800 was the same as last year, Beekman shaved over two seconds off his state meet time from last season while running his first sub-two minute race with a finish of 1:59.2.
“One of my goals this season was to break two minutes,” Beekman said. “Racing against the best in the state definitely pushed me to a faster time.
“I tried to make a move on the leader on the back stretch, but he knew what I was doing and pulled away. I was giving it all I had at the finish and just got edged out for second place.”
Beekman was joined by two teammates – John Swotek and Dillon Beach – in the 1,600-meter run. Beekman tied his personal best at 4:34. Swotek crossed five seconds later to earn the eighth-place medal.
“Having Dillon and John right next to me at the start was a great way to line up for my final race,” Beekman said. “I am beyond proud of my younger teammates’ accomplishments and can’t wait to watch them compete these next couple years.”
Beekman finished his career as a five-time state medalist.
“Devyn will definitely be missed,” Tobey said. “Everyone looked up to him for the example he set as a hard worker and just being a great person on and off the track.”
The Clippers earned a total of 11 medals during the weekend. Brooklyn Minzel earned sixth place with a triple jump of 35-3.5. John Boesen was sixth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:18. Wondercheck was joined by McKenzie Teten, Laura Reiling and Jaiden Helms as eighth place medalists in the 3,200-meter relay.
The Malcolm boys finished eighth overall with 23 team points while the girls scored 18 points for a 15th-place finish.
“Overall, it was a really good season for both our boys and girls,” Tobey said. “Our boys really came on at the end and surprised some people.
“We lose a lot of really good seniors. They’ve meant an awful lot to this program and they’ll be tough to replace.”