Carson Noecker
Hartington-Newcastle's Carson Noecker competes in a meet in California last week. (Hartington-Newcastle Twitter)

Clark’s Corner: California terrain no match for Noecker; The impressive stat with Kearney football


Clark’s Corner, 9/20: After running a blistering time in a national meet in California, Carson Noecker aims for four state cross country titles.

Not much can slow Carson Noecker. The California terrain gave it a shot last Friday, but it was no match.

Noecker, a Hartington-Newcastle senior, impressed at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in Irvine, California, winning the boys rated division. Not only did Noecker hit the tape first, he crushed the 3-mile course in 13 minutes, 49 seconds. He finished 49 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. My, gosh!

“I guess running at night, it’s a little bit different,” Noecker told California MileSplit moments after the race. “It’s a lot different than running in Nebraska with those hills … but it’s a race in the end and you got to run to the best of your abilities.”

Noecker is back in Nebraska attacking those hills, and he’ll soon be chasing history. No boy has won four Nebraska state cross country titles. Noecker could be the first.

The question is just how fast can Noecker go in Kearney? He won all-class gold as a sophomore and finished the 5K course in 15:19 last year. He’s already shown he can go lower, winning the Norfolk Catholic meet in 15:01 on Sept. 9.

Noecker has a great opportunity to cement his place among the state running greats. His prep cross country career is near the finish line and we all should be watching. Runners like Noecker don’t come around very often.

Kearney QB

Kearney quarterback Treyven Beckman threw for 300-plus yards against Bellevue West. (Mike Sautter,

Here comes Kearney

Bellevue West, Omaha Westside, Creighton Prep and Elkhorn South were the teams receiving a lot of buzz in Class A prior to the start of the football season.

Kearney is crashing the party.

For the second time in three seasons, the Bearcats stunned Bellevue West, this time 35-34 last Thursday. Kearney took advantage of multiple Thunderbird turnovers and won with a 69-yard scoring strike from Treyven Beckman.

The No. 5 Bearcats are 4-0. They have forced 12 turnovers (three returned for scores) this season. Beckman is completing 65% of his throws, and he has playmakers around him.

But here is the most impressive number: One.

Kearney is wheeling and dealing with essentially a new roster. The Bearcats returned only one starter (DB Zander Reuling) from last year’s 4-6 team. A string of 11 straight playoff appearances appeared in jeopardy (on paper), but it’s looking like it will reach 12.

After playing three of its first four games on the road, Kearney has home games against North Platte and Grand Island before another big test – at No. 1 Omaha Westside on Oct. 7 – awaits.

Ziegler reaches 500

Sue Ziegler has accomplished a lot in her coaching career. She’s already in the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

The Lincoln Lutheran volleyball coach added another accomplishment over the weekend, recording her 500th career victory with the Warriors. Now the focus turns to helping Lutheran, ranked No. 1 in Class C-2, make a run at a third state title in four years.

Entering Tuesday, the Warriors had won 54 of their previous 56 matches dating to the start of the 2021 season.

It’s been a great couple of years for Ziegler, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020 and was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association national coach of the year last season.

Prayer answered in Elm Creek

They’ll be talking about this one at SADIES in Elm Creek for some time.

A prayer was answered Friday night in town. Trailing 48-46, Elm Creek’s Beau Knapp connected with Trent Watkins for a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown as time expired to lift the Buffaloes to a 52-48 stunner against Central Valley.

Knapp rolled to his right and uncorked a pass caught by Watkins, who slipped behind his defender in the end zone.

Our friends at Striv Sports have the video evidence (Viewed more than 11,000 times as of Monday night, by the way).

Not only did the Buffaloes celebrate a crazy win, but their perfect record stayed intact (4-0).

Saluting the military

Hay Springs and Arthur County shared a nice moment before their football game Friday.

Dragons still unbeaten

Let’s talk math and softball. Gretna is 24-0 after beating Millard West 9-2 on Tuesday evening. The Dragons have outscored their last nine opponents 82-5(!!).

The Dragons’ streak will be put to the test with Millard North (Thursday), Papillion-La Vista (Saturday) and Elkhorn South (Saturday) upcoming. But what started as a wide-open Class A race appears to be a two-horse race (Gretna and Omaha Marian).

More softball notables

The weather is hot, and so is Blair softball. The No. 4 Bears are 20-4 after picking up an impressive 11-0 win against No. 7 Hastings on Monday.

Blair is getting it done with a strong lineup and the bat and arm of Kalli Ulven, who struck out eight against Elkhorn and nine against Waverly last week. Ulven had a great summer with the Nebraska Quakes, and it has carried over into her junior campaign.

Monday’s win also marked career win No. 100 for Blair coach Jennifer Fangmeier.

How about this three-game stretch for Omaha Mercy’s Mackenzie Groninga: After pitching a perfect game, Groninga threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter. She struck out 30 in that stretch (12 innings).

Volleyball Coaches Poll: 09.19.22

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