They went planning to win. Ignore the fact that Malcolm is the smallest school in Class C cross country. Ignore the fact that Aurora and Sidney, both former Class B teams, are the two largest schools in Class C. The plan for Malcolm was to win.
“It was fun to step up against new competition,” Malcolm head coach Brie Pulec said. “It was a challenge that I’m glad we were given.
“We may not have as many students as those other schools, but I believe in the talent we have. Our athletes have as much heart as anyone, which means they’ll always be in the mix to win.”
The Clippers came up just short in their attempt at a third consecutive state championship as they were edged out by Aurora by just eight points. The Huskies claimed the Class C crown with a 43-point team performance. Malcolm had 51 points. Sidney was third with 60.
As he has done all season, John Swotek led the way for Malcolm. The senior closed out his high school career with a fourth-place finish in 16:56.
“His final race was beautiful to watch,” Pulec said. “He ran strong from the start and just kept getting stronger. To run that kind of time on the UNK course is something to be very proud of.”
Ty Brockaus earned his first state meet medal with a 13th-place finish in 17:16.
“Ty has worked so hard and pushed himself into becoming a great runner,” Pulec said. “If he puts in the work he should next summer, he’s going to be unstoppable next year.”
Dillon Beach was the third Malcolm runner to cross as he finished 18th. Jacob Schweitzer was 37th, John Boesen was 53rd and Joey Brockhaus finished 74th.
Earning the state runner-up trophy continues a tradition of success for the Malcolm boys. In the 35-year history of the program, the Clippers have won 10 state championships and have been runner-up twice.
“Unfortunately, one of our key runners just didn’t run his best race,” Pulec said. “I still believe we have the best Class C team in the state, and no one can convince me otherwise.
“I don’t need a first-place trophy to tell me that.”
Logan Thomas was the lone Malcolm runner in the girls’ race. The senior made the most of her final race as she shaved more than a minute off her previous best time while setting a school record on her way to a silver medal finish. Thomas is the only Malcolm girl to ever run under 20 minutes in a five kilometer race at the Kearney course. Thomas finished in 19:50. Her previous best was 21:06.
“All I wanted this entire season was to break 20:00,” Thomas said. “I set a goal to get a 19:50, having no idea that I would actually get that exact time.”
Thomas chose to run her own race rather than let the other competitors dictate her pace.
“I knew if I tried keeping up with the girls that sprinted out to the front, I wouldn’t last,” Thomas said. “After the first loop, I started to pick up my speed while other girls lost theirs.”
After working her way into 10th place, Thomas used the hills to pick off more and more runners until she had the lead runner – Danie Parriott of Conestoga – in her sights.
“All year, she’s someone I’ve been wanting to beat,” Thomas said. “I kept my eye on her up every hill and around every turn and by the final straight away I knew I wasn’t going to catch, but staying close was going to get me the time I was hoping for.”
The silver medal was Thomas’ first state cross country medal. Last year, she finished one place away from hardware.
“I knew it was only a matter of time until she had her breakout race,” Pulec said. “What a time to have it.”