Johnston and Santiago medal in Class C


Norfolk Daily News/DARIN EPPERLY


Brian Santiago of Hartington runs in the boys Class C race at the state cross country meet in Kearney Friday afternoon.

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2014 10:25 pm



KEARNEY – O’Neill’s Grant Johnston and Hartington-Newcastle’s Brian Santiago grabbed medals in the Class C Nebraska State Cross Country Meet here Friday at the Kearney Country Club.

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Johnston crossed the finish line seventh and Santiago came in 13th. Johnston, a junior, improved on his 11th place showing last year as a sophomore and plans to use the improvement as a springboard for next season.

“I’m a little disappointed right now,” Johnston said. “I really had to fight mentally today to get around the course. Sometimes that happens and you’ve just got to battle through it. My body just kind of shut down but I just worked through it.”

According to his coach, he has the mental makeup to keep moving forward.

“He has the attitude and work ethic to use this experience to get better,” Eagle coach Cole Hilker said. “Today was extremely hot but everyone ran in the same heat. He’ll learn from this.”


Santiago came out of nowhere to grab his medal. The Wildcat freshman placed ninth in last week’s district meet but gutted his way to 13th in his first state meet.

“I surprised myself out there today,” Santiago said. “I got deep into the race and thought gee – I’m in the top 15. I just had to finish and stay up there.”

He also plans to use the experience to improve on his young career.

“I will work hard this summer – put in some miles and lift weights,” he said. “I’ll try to get back here and finish better.”

O’Neill was the lone area team that qualified for this year’s meet and Hilker likes where his program is heading.

“We’ve got Grant and Blake (Johnston) coming back and some young kids who aren’t afraid to get out and work,” the coach said. “We got great leadership from our seniors, Kyle Fowler and Blake Walters this season and the younger kids will follow their path. I’m excited for next season already.”

The Eagles placed sixth in the team race behind Grant and Blake who placed 22nd. O’Neill finished with 104 team points in the meet won by Milford, which was led by Medalist Tylin Masco, with a total of 47 – Columbus Scotus was second with 58 points.