LINCOLN, Neb.- Nebraska Wesleyan tracksters Kaylee and Elizabeth Jones, team members on seven national championships in the 1600-meter relay over their college careers, were introduced Friday night as the 2019 Cornhusker State Games (CSG) Mystery Torchlighters.
Nebraska Wesleyan tracksters Kaylee and Elizabeth Jones (Source: 1011)
The twins from Millard North made a lap around Seacrest Field before igniting the CSG caldron. The caldron-lighting was the climax of the Opening Ceremonies for the 35th annual multi-sport festival. More than 10,000 athletes of all ages and abilities are registered to compete, mostly over the next two weekends.
In the Games’ longstanding tradition of honoring outstanding athletic achievements with the Torchlighter role, the Jones twins were the perfect choice according to Games Executive Director Dave Mlnarik.
“Kaylee and Elizabeth are perfect role models for Nebraska athletes. The fact that they won the title all seven times they raced [the 1600-meter relay] at nationals over four years is truly remarkable, and oh, by the way, they are both three-time Academic All-Americans as well,” Mlnarik said.
The twins also finished as individual All-Americans a combined 23 times since 2016. At the 2019 championships, Kaylee was national runner-up in the 400, finishing in a time of 54.78. Elizabeth took fourth in the 400 in a time of 55.33. They also racked up 16 conference championships over their careers.
In high school, Kaylee and Elizabeth, led the Mustangs to two straight all-class gold medals in the 1600-meter relay in 2014 and 2015.
The twins’ caldron-lighting highlighted an Opening Ceremonies program that included the parade of athletes, skydivers, national anthem by North Platte vocalist Rachel Young and an exhibition by the Flippenout trampoline team. Legendary Clarks/High Plains High School wrestling coach Norm Manstedt served as the honorary marshal for the parade of athletes.
Prior to the caldron-lighting, the Concordia University Women’s Basketball Team, which won the 2019 NAIA National Championship, was recognized with a victory lap. Governor Pete Ricketts was on hand to declare the Games open before a fireworks finale.
This weekend is the Games’ busiest competition weekend with 41 sports taking place Saturday and 22 Sunday. More information, including Opening Ceremonies details and competition schedules, can be found at CornhuskerStateGames.com.