KEARNEY — Collin Meusch wanted to set the record straight.
After his third place finish in the Class C boys race at the Nebraska High School Cross Country State Championships, he said felt terrible — physically.
But mentally, he couldn’t have felt better.
“I’m happy with how I finished...but that was tough,” Meusch said, still trying to catch his breath.
Meusch pushed himself like someone competing in his last cross country meet. He hit the one-mile mark at 5:19, putting him three seconds off the lead.
He didn’t plan on getting off to as quick a start. But as Meusch saw, there’s a different level to be reached at state.
“Every time they’d make a little bit of a move, he’d make a move with them and he just gutted it out at the end,” said Kearney Catholic coach Don Liess. “He was extremely tired but he gutted it out at the end.”
The Kearney Catholic senior crossed the line just four seconds behind Mitchell’s Levi Avila and Minden’s Trevor Jacobsen, both of whom pushed each other to the finish.
With Meusch still looking to close the gap on the final stretch, he shattered his previous personal record at the Kearney Country Club by over 22 seconds at the UNK Invitational. A little home field advantage allowed Meusch to properly pace against the field.
“It was huge,” Meusch said of his UNK Invitational experience. “This was my fourth time on this course now since we run at UNK every year. It definitely prepared me.”
Last year, Meusch came to the state meet as a rookie. It was his first year on the Kearney Catholic cross country team. On top of that, he was sick.
A 20th place finish last year gave him some extra motivation on Friday.
“I wasn’t too happy with that,” he said. “But this year was a different story. I’m pretty pumped.”
It was a different outcome for a KCHS squad that earned its first state trip since 2007. Junior Zachary Jackson nearly medaled with his 20th-place finish while Austin McCoy and Dane Schmitt finished 44th and 52nd, respectively. Liam Murphy and Grant Murphy rounded out the Stars’ lineup, placing 53rd and 68th.
The Stars got a 37th place finish from Gabrielle Feldner in the Class C girls race. The lone KCHS girls competitor finished with a time of 22:05.3.
“All of our kids improved their times from the UNK Invite to now,” Liess said. “As a coach, that’s what you’re hoping for to run your best at the end of the year and every single one of them did.”
On an afternoon where the Stars came away their first top ten individual finish since 2005, Meusch’s performance stole the show.
“Leaving last year, we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘This is some raw talent right here,’” Liess said. “We wish we would’ve had him for four years but we’re thankful we got him for the last two years.”
A shortened cross country career ended beyond his own expectations. And while he could’ve given two more years to Kearney Catholic, he didn’t leave anything on the course Friday.
“I feel great. I couldn’t do any better,” Meusch said. “I gave it my all.”
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