KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic’s girls cross country team returns all four runners that qualified for the Class C state meet last year.
Headlining the group of returners is junior Grace Oberg, who finished the state meet with a 12th-place finish with a time of 20 minutes, 54.26 seconds last year . Her time was only five seconds away from earning a top-seven finish.
Senior Nicole Messbarger is the Stars’ No. 2 runner, after she placed 35th with a time of 22:16.8 at state last year. State qualifiers Kelsey Borowski and Addison Pierzinaalso are back for their senior seasons.
As a team, Kearney Catholic finished seventh at the state meet. Improving on last year’s performance is the Stars’ top priority this season.
"We have a lot of potential," coach Don Liess said. "The whole squad is back and it should be a lot of fun. They have worked hard this summer."
Unlike the girls team, the Kearney Catholic boys cross country squad returns zero state qualifiers and just two letterwinners this season.
Last season, the Stars’ lone state qualifier was Camden Sesna. He finished the race in seventh with a time of 17:27.1. He fell less than seven seconds short of a top-five finish.
With the graduation of Sesna, the Stars’ top runners will be Jacob Svac and Joseph Vanderbeek, who are the team’s only returning letterwinners.
Despite featuring no state experience, Liess is confident in the roster assembled for this season.
"We graduated a really good senior class," Liess said. "But there is a lot of potential in this year’s cross country team."
Both teams begin the season Sept. 5 at the Lexington Invitational. They will compete in the UNK invitational on Sept. 30 at the Kearney Country Club, while the Centennial Conference meet is set for Oct. 8 in Lincoln.