KEARNEY, Neb. — Kearney High is moving forward with a familiar face at the helm of its girls cross country program.

The school announced Friday, one day after announcing the retirement of longtime coach Pat McFadden, that it appointed Nate Polacek as girls cross country head coach. Polacek already serves as the girls track head coach and was an assistant on the cross country team.

“With his love for the sport, dedication to athlete development, and his strength in motivating his athletes to compete at a high level, I am very confident Coach Polacek will carry on the strong successful tradition of our Girls Cross Country program,” Activities Director Ryan Hogue said in a statement.

McFadden was boys cross country head coach from 1989-2009, was head coach of the girls program from 1989 through this fall and was head coach for girls track from 2007-2019. Under his leadership, the Bearcats won 16 team state championships.

“I am thrilled to be able to carry on the 15-year legacy that Coach McFadden has created within this program,” Polacek said.
It has been an honor to be able to coach alongside Pat on the cross country team for the past three years.”

Polacek is a former state champion pole vaulter for Kearney High. He went on to become an All-American and team captain at Nebraska. He started his coaching career in 2013 at Columbus High and returned to Kearney in 2017.

Kearney placed eighth as a team at the 2023 state cross country meet.