By Nathan Heuer
All eyes were on Thayer Central’s Aubrey Fangmeier entering Friday and Saturday’s state track meet at Omaha Burke Stadium
And for good reason. The Husker walk-on track commit entered the year with three state titles to his name – all coming from his extraordinary performance at the 2017 state meet. Fangmeier claimed a gold in the 800, 3,200 relay, and 1,600 relay at last year’s state event and the 2018 meet presented the same opportunity. Only this year his was in the open 400 instead of the 1,600 relay.
Fangmeier started the meet off with a bang, earning his fourth state gold with a first place finish in the 3,200 relay as the anchor leg. To do so, the future Husker overcame at least a 25-meter deficit when he received the baton from Keegan Casey, who ran the third leg of the race.
Was there any doubt that Fangmeier wouldn’t be able to come back in the race?
“We knew he had it,” the 3,200 relay team said collectively said after the race. “We had no doubt. We were confident.”
Thayer Central boy’s head coach Bryan Solomon wasn’t fazed by the deficit either. Solomon saw Fangmeier complete a similar comeback at districts and knew he was primed to do the same at state.
“I didn’t have any doubt in my mind what he could do. At districts, he may have been about the same distance or a little further behind and the way he went out at districts, made me feel comfortable at the state meet,” Solomon said. “Any time a team has a guy that is capable of running a 1:56 split, all you ask everyone else on the team is to do their job and keep Aubrey close.”
Fangmeier completed the comeback in style, passing Nebraska Christian’s Noah Boersen before he finished his first lap. Thayer Central’s 3,200 relay clocked a time of 8:13.03 to win the face by over 5 seconds.
Excitement from the victory embraced throughout the day by the group and when they got back to the hotel, the four finally got a chance to let loose.
“We just do a lot of fun things. Like at the hotel last night when we got back after winning the 4x8 (3,200 relay) we’re all just screaming and whooping. We had the hotel guys come in and tell us to be quiet but we really have fun with it. We make the most out of it we possibly can. We just have a lot of fun together,” Fangmeier said.
One teammate that the Husker commit holds close to his heart is fellow 800 placer Koss. Fangmeier said that the junior has not only pushed him to become the runner he is today but a special friendship was formed along the way that he would like to see continue into the future.
“Zach, he’s a very special teammate to me. I’m really going to miss him next year, I’ll be up at UNL,” Fangmeier said. “He’s a special person to me. I really never want to lose contact with him because he can do great things and I love him to death.”
On Saturday the four-year state track qualifier received his second gold medal with another come from behind performance.
With 200 meters left in the 800-meter run, Fangmeier sat in second place behind Bridgeport’s Jack Linders. He then began to make his move and on the final 100 meters Fangmeier pulled away to capture his fifth state gold medal with a time of 1:59.36.
Koss added a seventh place medal in the event – the same place he took last year in the 800 – by clocking a 2:03.68 time in the race.
Fangmeier capped the Thayer Central boy’s fourth place finish as a team by claiming a bronze medal in the 400-meter dash. In his first appearance in the event at the state meet, Fangmeier crossed the finish line in 50.71, just .63 seconds behind the state champion in the event, Dundy County-Stratton’s Phalen Sanford.
The finish is something that Fangmeier was pleased with considering it was his first time running the event at state and at districts.
“It felt really cool. I never qualified in the 400 so I wasn’t expecting to make a lot of noise in it and I qualified and I took third in the entire state, which is pretty awesome. I was just really excited to see what I could do because I just never qualified before,” he said. “It is what it is and I’m happy with my performance at state.”
Solomon recalled Fangmeier as a freshman and how far he has come as an athlete. One of the traits that he will miss most is his subtle leadership.
“Aubrey has been an athlete that has been fun to watch him grow. As a freshman, he was a bit timid. But as he matured, he developed into a very good leader for our track team. Coach Andy Long saw a lot of potential in him and would often refer to Aubrey about needing to become a “big dog”. In reference to embracing how good you are, but needing to trust the process and go out and get it done,” Solomon said. “Aubrey has worked so hard his senior year. There are different kinds of leaders. Aubrey isn’t the leader that likes to yell at teammates. He was more of the lead by example and the leader that encourages his teammates. So for him to go out the way he did was very special to see.”
Thayer Central took for fourth place in the boy’s division with 28 points. They edged Chase County who ended with 27 points. 
The Thayer Central girl’s team broke a three-year drought of having no athletes qualify for the state meet, sending six girl’s to state meet. The accomplishment in itself is something that head coach Deb Vorderstrasse was very proud of.
Sydny Havel made it in the 300 hurdles, Kaizley Krupicka participated in the 1,600 relay, Bridget Linton was on the 1,600 and 3,200 relay team’s, Kylie Pachta was the second leg of the 3,200 relay, Katelyn Richardson participated in the 800, 1,600 relay, and 3,200 relay, while Chloe Souerdyke took part in both relays and the high jump.
“It was very gratifying to see the hard work of the girls finally pay off. We have been stuck in those third place or fourth place finishes at districts in the past few years, so close to qualifying, but not making their goals. Our relays have been just tenths away from that extra qualifying mark, so for the girls to make it to Burke on their own merits and as extra qualifying was a great moment for the team,” Vorderstrasse said. “Their motto for the year was #BurkeBound, and the excitement that went through the team when their goal was realized was exciting for everyone.”
The freshman Souerdyke came away from the meet as the only placer out of the six qualifiers. The school record holder in the high jump cleared 5 feet to tie for fourth place. Though it was 4 inches below her school record, Vorderstrasse was pleased with her outing on the sport’s biggest stage.
“Chloe jumped with great composure on Saturday. A freshman coming into this meet, never having been in the stadium, and with less than ideal conditions, did well to complete the first heights with no misses,” she said. “I know she was disappointed at not clearing 5-2, but the attempts were solid attempts.  Moving forward, Chloe is a hard worker, and hard on herself.  Her goal moving forward will be to consistently clear 5-2 and work toward great attempts at 5-5 or better.”
Havel finished with the 13th fastest time in the 300 hurdle prelims (50.29). The time left her out of finals by .80 seconds. The sophomore will have an opportunity to place in the event next year as four runners who finished ahead of her graduated.
Richardson, who will be a senior next season, crossed the finish line in the 800-meter run in 18th place (2:32.91). She’ll have an even greater opportunity than Havel to place next season. Ten of the Class C girl’s 800 runners who finished ahead of her were seniors.
Thayer Central’s 3,200 relay team placed 14th (10:34.96), and the 1,600 relay team placed 15th (4:20.70).
The Lady Titans ended the meet tied for 33rd place (3.5 points).
Wilber-Clatonia’s Riley Wehrer did more than impress on Saturday during the Class C pole vault competition. He set a school record by clearing 14 feet in the event and the result was a fifth place finish.
The Doane track and cross country signee had a personal best clearance of 13 feet heading into Saturday’s competition.
He was also the second leg of the Wolverines’ 3,200 relay team (Cooper Bates, Thomas Lokken, Dawson Hoover) that took 16th place with a time of 8:40.39.
Anoulin Souvannavong set a personal best by 7 inches in the triple jump to bring home a bronze medal as a junior. The three-time state qualifier leaped 35 feet 10 3/4 inches to claim her first state medal. She earned the Wilber-Clatonia girl’s six points with the finish and the total left the Wolverines in 28th place, as she was the team’s only placer.
Katie VanLaningham, who was the team’s only other qualifier, finished in 14th place in the shot put (36-4 1/2) and 24th place in the discus with a toss of 93 feet.
On the boy’s team, Tyler Hooper just missed out on a state medal, finishing in ninth place with a throw of 130 feet 10 inches. Hooper will have a chance for redemption in years to come as he is only a sophomore.
Michael Pulliam III took 14th place in the pole vault with a 13 foot clearance. The junior cleared the height on his third and final attempt.
The Wilber-Clatonia boy’s tied for 40th in the team standings with four points.