KEARNEY — The Lexington boys cross country team brought home a trophy from the state cross country meet last year.
This year, they have their hopes set on getting a bigger trophy.
Omaha Skutt Catholic won the Class B state ttile with 42 points, beating Lexington by 32 points. However, the Skutt squad included three seniors. Lexington’s team had none.
But coach Sam Jilka says his team has work to do.
The Minutemen are an "experienced group that needs to step up their intensity in performance and effort," he said.
The Minutemen are led by running mates Alexis Hernandez and Yanni Vasquez. They ran side-by-side throughout cross country and track last year. Hernandez finished fourth at state last year, while Vasquez ran seventh.
The state meet team included Cyrus Rhea and Gavin Strauss, who join Hernandez and Vasquez in a dominating senior class. Elmer Sotelomunoz and Sean Worthman are also back for their junior and sophomore seasons, respectively.
In addition, Jilka said a younger group is pushing for varsity spots.
Lexington’s girls look to be competitive as well with five runners back from last year’s team that finished sixth.
Senior Madi Smith leads the way. The Hub Territory Track Athlete of the Year while competing in sprints and jumps, is also a two-time medalist in the state cross country meet.
Other returning state qualifiers are senior Jessica Virgilio, junior Priscilla Castenada and sophomores Kayla Barrios and Kennadi Ureste.
Jilka said the Minutemaids are a "younger group that has strong potential, needing to solidify the depth with quality."
The Lexington volleyball team hopes the escalator keeps climbing.
After winning one match in 2016 and three in 2017, the Minutemaids jumped to the 12-win level last season. Even better, the bulk of that team returns.
"We are really excited for this season," coach Samantha Hammond said. "We are returning six of our eight main players. ... We will again be small but the team has really bought into playing well on the defensive side of the ball. We hope to again make huge gains in our record."
Lexington will be without its leading hitter, Cordie Harbison, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, until midseason as she comes back from injury. But the Minutemaids start with experience at setter with 5-9 sophomore Liah Hains, and outside hitters Taylor Woehrle, a 5-8 sophomore, and Jackie Ostrom, a 5-8 junior. Brisa Garcia, a 5-5 sophomore defenseive specialist fills a key spot in the back row.
All started last year.
Other returning letter winners are 5-5 sophomore defensive specialist Sarah Treffer and 5-9 sophomore middle hitter Mia Rowe.
Graduating just three seniors from last year’s 12-20 team, the Lexington softball squad comes into this season looking for more.
"We are going to be powerful team that will compete with every team we play," second-year coach Katie Ruwe said. "I have high expectations for this season.
The Minutemaids return six starters and two other letter winners led by sophomore shortstop/outfielder Klair Fagot, who batted .508 last year with six home runs.
Third baseman McKinna Moats entered the starting lineup as a freshman and hit five home runs.
Other returning starters are first baseman Madison Sutton, second baseman Addison Sund, catcher Alyssa Winter and pitcher/utility Macey Johnson.
Sophomore outfielders Emily Jimenez and Leslie Maravilla lettered last year.
Lexington’s golf team didn’t have much to brag about last year, but with four returning letter winners, hopes are higher this year.
"We have some experience this year and home to be more competitive," coach Lauren Daberkow said.
Lexington returns two seniors, Maritza Calmo and Daniela Lopez, and two sophomores, Zoey Salem and Sadii Ringenberg, from last year’s team.
Lexington last qualified for state as a team in 2007.
Lexington football coach Jeff Rowan has a number of holes to fill from his 4-6 team that made the Class B state playoffs last year for the first time in more than a decade.
The Minutemen graduated quarterback Jake Leger, five of their top six rushers and their top two receivers from last year. But a positive vibe from last year can’t be erased.
Lexington returns five starters on offense and six starters on defense who can keep things going.
Dylan RIchman, a 5-9, 165-pound senior, caught 33 passes for 474 yards and six touchdowns last year. Kaleb Carpenter, a 6-2, 185-pound senior, caught 21 passes last season.
The line may be Lexington’s strength as Wilmer Holsinton (6-3, 255, Sr.), Cameron Gibbons (6-2, 240, Sr.) and Simon Brock (6-0, 200, Sr.) return.
On defense, Richman and Carpenter are the anchors along with senior defensive backs Christian Dominguez and Javier Magana; and linebackers Brady Fago (5-10, 140), Edgar Lopez (6-2, 230) and Fredy Velasquez (5-8, 150); and defensive end Austyn Stewart (6-4, 200).
Lexington returns four of the six players who represented the school at the state tournament last year, but only senior Eli Young experienced a victory at state, teaming iwth graduated Trystan Berry at No. 2 doubles.
Hoping to mak the next step are junior Efren Aguirre and sophomores Henry Goodwin and Keith Allen.