Today was to be the opening day of the 2020 NSAA state track and field championships. The meet held at Omaha’s Burke Stadium has long been one of the great spectacles and events each year for Nebraska High School sports. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, athletes were not given the opportunity to compete in track and field this year and today Burke Stadium is empty.
While no records will be broken this year and no medals or trophies will be handed out, we can take time to remember past moments. Central Nebraska’s Sports Source visited last week with long time Arnold and now South Loup track coach Rick Peterson. The purpose of our visit was to reminisce about the South Loup boys winning the Class D team championship in 2017. Before we began to reflect, coach talked about the disappointment of not being able to see the athletes compete this year especially the seniors.
The 2017 Class D boys team race was one of the most competitive in recent memory. In the end, three points would be all that would separate the top five teams. South Loup would win the team title with 38 points followed by BDS with 37 points then Exeter Milligan with 36 and Axtell and Fullerton would tie for fourth with 35 points. We asked coach Peterson if coming out of districts that year he felt like they could make a run at the team title.
The team title that year would basically come down to the final event on the track – the 4×400 meter relay. The strength of South Loup’s team in 2017 was their relays. Earlier in the meet the Bobcats placed 2nd in the 3200 meter relay and were 3rd in the 4×100 but they would save their best relay performance for last. Coach Peterson told us he was crunching the numbers during the day and the boys knew what they needed to do in that race. He said that he felt very good about South Loup’s chances entering the race.
South Loup would win the relay in a time of 3:32.6 and secure the team championship. Receiving the championship trophy was certainly special but coach Peterson told us that the person that presented it to them made it even more special.
Listen to our full conversation with coach Peterson