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When Jacob Witter of Aquinas crossed the finish line in the D-3 district meet on Oct. 17 in Pender, it made history.

Of course, it meant a trip to state, another in a long line of recent qualifications. Yet, while the Monarchs have enjoyed their time in Kearney several times over the past decade plus, Friday will be the first time they make the trip as district champs in almost 20 years.

"This was a tough district that we knew was a challenge," Aquinas head coach John Svec said in emailed comments. "I hoped our schedule had prepared us. (The course was) not (a challenge) for the team.

"It was a beautiful course and day. Payton broke 17 and set a course record and Peter, Will, Terrence and Xavier all had personal records and Jake Witter killed it with a personal best and medal. What more could I ask?"

Aquinas scored 33 points to beat out BRLD by seven points and finish 29 ahead of third place Stanton.

Junior Payton Davis won the meet in 16 minutes, 39 seconds. 

Junior Peter Sisco placed third with a 17:14, junior William Eller took 14th with an 18:11 and Witter placed 15th with an 18:15.

"Our boys have set goals all year and have run with determination and resolve," Svec said. "They have gained confidence throughout the season." 

Aquinas freshman Jocelyn Stara will also be making a trip to the state after placing seventh in the girls race with a time of 22:15. 

"We set a goal of running in the 22's early in the season as a benchmark for districts," Svec said. "Jocelyn has worked hard, ran that time and earned her state meet run." 

Oakland-Craig won the girls meet with Pender and Logan View taking second and third. 

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Pender senior Piper Steinman won the meet with a 21:03. 

The state championships will be on Friday at the Kearney Country Club. Stara will race at 2 p.m. and the boys will begin their race an hour later.

This season has proven to be a successful year for the Monarchs. The boys won the conference championship for the first time in more than 30 years and were the team champions at Fremont Bergan. 

The Monarchs also earned runner-up trophies at their home invite and at Columbus Scotus.

Perhaps the most impressive feats was winning the Class C race at the Seward Invite on Sept. 5. 

Given all these accomplishments, the Aquinas boys will be one of the Class D favorites in Kearney.

Aquinas has a history of success at state. 

Davis will be looking to become the third individual Monarch champion. Dan Denson won the title in 1978, and Elijah Frasher won two titles in 2015 and 2017. 

Aquinas is hoping to bring the first team title back to David City since the Monarchs won back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003.

"This was the first district championship since 2003," Svec said. "A parent said to me, 'You guys are making history.' I corrected her and said we are making a name for ourselves. I hope for the chance to make history on Friday. It will take a Herculean effort that I am confident our boys will be ready for." 

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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