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Kernel girls relay teams hoping to deliver at state meet

May 21—SIOUX FALLS — With competitors in 13 open events, there will be several opportunities for different Mitchell girls track and field athletes to place in the top-eight at an individual level at the Class AA state meet.

But arguably the Kernels' strongest opportunity to rake in the points during the three-day event is through the relays.

The Mitchell girls will field teams in all five relays in the Thursday to Saturday meet at Howard Field, and are seeded fifth in the 4x400-meter relay, 4x800-meter relay and 1,600-meter sprint-medley relay. The Kernels are seeded 11th in the 4x100-meter relay and 4x200-meter relay.

"I think we can accomplish some pretty big things in the relays," Kernel junior Emerson Smith said. " ... We'll have a very good chance at placing in all of them."

The success hinges on multiple athletes performing at a high level in several events. Smith, for instance, will run the 800-meter leg of the medley, anchor the 4x800, run the 4x400 and race the open 800 meters.

Tentatively, Carsyn Weich is in the 4x400, medley and 4x800, and Lainee Forst will race the 4x200, 4x400 and medley. Sprinters Danny Bora and Addie Siemsen will both run legs in the 4x100 and 4x200, and Londyn Schroeder is in the 4x800 while also racing the open 3,200-meter run and 1,600-meter run.

Those in the shorter relays may be running their races twice, because the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 all have preliminary rounds on Thursday.

To handle such a load may be a daunting task, but it's one the team feels ready for.

"We're such a close group, that we're all looking out for each other," Forst said. "And we all constantly remind each other to drink water, and be prepared to run all those races, because our goal is to run stronger each time going into finals on Saturday. So I think having our team together, we always just remind ourselves and push each other."

The Kernels have plenty to be confident about because they've improved their times in each relay within the past couple of weeks. They performed well at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays on May 3-4, posting season bests in the 4x400 (4:12.37), 4x800 (9.51.36) and the medley (4:20.15).

At the Wendelgass Relays on May 16, Mitchell had season bests in the 4x200 (1:47.45), and dropped its 4x400 time all the way down to 4:06.47.

While late-season improvement is expected with proper training, it's also a reflection of the team's improved cohesiveness in the relays.

Sprints and relays coach Amy Tyler felt the team may have left time on the table due to their handoffs at the Dakota Relays, and since then, clean handoffs have become a greater point of emphasis.

"We really needed to start working a little bit more diligently on the handoffs," Tyler said. " ... You can tell (they improved) because of our PRs the last couple of track meets that we've had."

During practices, the relay runners will come together after their respective workouts to work on their handoffs. The girls will also spend time practicing them during meets.

"It's kind of a bonding thing, and we love to do it," Forst said.

With the extra preparation, the team feels poised for its best showing yet.

"We know what role we all play," Smith said. "We've been cutting time all year, but I think we're going to have big cuts at state."