North Platte cross country prepares for District A-1 meet

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Coming into the 2019 season, the North Platte cross country team was well conditioned, having worked hard over the summer in preparation for the season. However, being in shape physically was not the only concern for the team coming into the season.

The North Platte cross country team will compete in the District A-1 meet on Thursday, hosted by Papillion-La Vista (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

"I think especially staying strong mentally is a big thing that we've really been working on. The physical side has been really important also, but just believing in themselves, and believing they're capable of greatness, and believing in their teammates as well, has just been huge for us," head coach Jake Hasenauer said.

The hard work in the off-season, and continual hard work during the season was especially beneficial to freshman Zarah Blaesi.

"I feel like I've gotten better, like I've pushed myself to my limit, or to a limit that I can push my first myself even farther from. Running wise, I've definitely improved in breathing skills and getting a faster pace," Blaesi said.

As a freshman, Blaesi became the first North Platte girl to run a sub-20 minute time in a 5K, when she ran 19:59.81 at the GNAC meet. Blaesi said she enjoys setting records, so that she can continue to improve, and that others have goals to strive for as well.

Also at the GNAC meet, sophomore Evan Caudy finished in first with a time of 16:22.93, finishing just .6 seconds ahead of second place, and senior Joel Bradley finished strong, coming from behind to finish in third place, with a time of 17:03.90, beating fourth by just .02 seconds.

"When you have two guys finish in the top three, in the loaded conference meet as well, that shows their character and shows their experience, and willingness to work hard," Hasenauer said.

For Bradley, the team gets along well, which helps everyone do better.

"We've worked at being more of a team, and we really have that family mentality going on," Bradley said.

Bradley also said his accomplishments are not just for him, but for everyone around him.

"I'm doing this for my school, I'm doing for this for my classmates, for my community, for my whole town. It's not just about me trying to compete on this level, I'm just trying to do it for everyone really," Bradley said.

Both the boys' and girls' teams will have tough competition at the A-1 District meet, but the runners are confident in their abilities as individuals, and as a team.

"We're at a tough standpoint right now, but I definitely think we can push through it," Blaesi said.

"I feel good. I feel good as a team, just in general, and I feel good personally," Bradley said.

The Bulldogs will head to Walnut Creek Recreation Area for the Class A-1 District meet, hosted by Papillion-La Vista. The girls start at 1:00, the boys start at 1:35.