The small village of Giltner may be home to one of the most impressive dynasties in Nebraska high school sports, and its fifth consecutive girls track championship is only the beginning.
Yes, that tiny blip on the map just off Interstate 80 on mile marker 324 is where nearly 400 people call home. That’s where champions are born, bred and displayed.
Saturday was another celebration under ominous skies and dripping rain. That put no damper on Giltner’s party. They’ve got plenty of reason to celebrate.
The girls track championship won at Omaha Burke Saturday was the fifth in a row for the Lady Hornets, dating back to 2015 when the streak began with a single point victory. It wasn’t that close on Saturday.
Five consecutive track titles is a rarity for girls participants. It had only happened twice since girls started competing in track dating back to 1971.
Hastings St. Cecilia won seven in a row in Class C from 1971-77, coincidentally the first seven years the girls state track championships were held. The other time came in Class A with Omaha Central winning five in a row from 1986-90.
Giltner, the tiny school that houses 28 girls according to the NSAA grades 9-11 enrollment figures, became the third school to ever do it and the first Class D school with the honors. That’s enough to pop some confetti, but there’s more.
That impressive streak previously mentioned? Yeah, that was extended on Saturday, too.
Giltner has now won a state championship in at least one sport for the last nine seasons.
Let that one sink in for a second.
Going back to 2010, the Hornets have won an NSAA championship in at least one sport every year.
This was a streak that was especially close to the heartstrings of former Hornet and current Wood River coach Jeff Ashby. Every year for at least half of this streak, he would remind people that it was still alive. Even though he’s no longer donning the orange and black, the streak continues to live on.
The streak started during the 2010-11 boys basketball season and continued the next year as the Hornets won back-to-back hoops championships under former coach Matt Drew.
The aforementioned Ashby coached the Hornets to an 8-man football crown in 2012 while former coach Kurt Polt and the Lady Hornet volleyball team won back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014.
The end of 2015 not only started the streak for the girls track team, but the boys won for double Hornet gold at Burke that year. The last four years the championship that has kept the streak alive belongs to coach Nancy Lockmon and the girls track team.
Lest we forget that all of Giltner’s track success over the past five seasons comes without the luxury of a track at all. No, all that’s necessary is a football field and the roadways surrounding the school.
It’s just uncanny to see how Lockmon operates the Hornet track team, almost as if she’s three steps ahead of everyone else.
Take the Lady Hornet 400 relay for example. That grouping of Aubrey Leichty, Brayden Rhoades, Sydni Watson and Brooke Good finished second Saturday with a time of 52.65 and more importantly, earned eight valuable team points.
However, the name Sydney Janzen was missing from that foursome. The junior is arguably the fastest girls athlete Giltner has to offer. Why wouldn’t she be in one of the most important races of the meet?
It frees her up to run the open 100, 200 and 400 without stretching her too thin in such a short timespan.
How valuable is that?
Janzen finished fourth in the 200 meter dash along with fifth place finishes in the 100 and 400.
That’s the kind of depth Giltner displays, which is almost unheard of at the Class D level, and a big reason why they’ve accomplished something nearly no other schools in the state have.
Then there’s Hannah Preissler, who continued a streak of her own by winning a third straight pole vault title with a vault of 11-06.
The fun came soon after that as she jumped the bar up to 12-03, which if cleared would have constituted a new Class D state record. She’s attempted the mark earlier this season without success.
She was unable to find the mark Saturday, too. In the end, that didn’t matter. She’s now competed in and won three pole vault gold medals at the state track meet.
She will chase four in a row next year and close out her Giltner track career in style, like several of those before her, whether that’s Kelbie Lyon, Jordan Hansen, Reagan Janzen, Alexa Preissler, Brooke Wilson and many more.
Does that mean both Giltner streaks have a chance to live on next year? The small-town Hornets aren’t lacking for confidence.
It’s how they got here in the first place.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.