Kernels headed to Aberdeen today for year’s first track meetMitchell High School track and field coach Geoff Gross is looking for a strong senior class to help the boys’ and girls’ track teams compete well this season. The Kernels kick off their season at 10 a.m. today at the Al Sahli Invitational in Aberdeen.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
Mitchell High School track and field coach Geoff Gross is looking for a strong senior class to help the boys’ and girls’ track teams compete well this season.
The Kernels kick off their season at 10 a.m. today at the Al Sahli Invitational in Aberdeen.
Returning seniors Jason and Justin Greenway are leading the way on the boys’ team and have plenty of state tournament experience from last season.
Last year, Justin Greenway won a state title in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.13 seconds. He also placed second in the 100-meter dash at 11.11 seconds and placed second in the 400-meter dash at 49.78 seconds.
Jason Greenway finished first in the 300-meter hurdles at state, but lost the title when he was disqualified for knocking a hurdle into an adjacent lane. He came in fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.14.
There are also some new faces that Gross will be looking to as well on both the boys’ and girls’ teams.
Austin Loes, who hasn’t been competed in track for a couple of years, is back, along with Nick Kummer and Jade Miller. Senior Kyler Frongner, who’s never been out for track, also joins the Kernels this year, and Gross said Frongner has a lot of natural ability.
“We’re hoping to develop some relays and get more teammates to help contribute there,” Gross said. “Jade Miller and Nick Kummer both have the capability of placing in the open 400 if the conditions are right and if they’re healthy.”
Gross said the coaches have been working with Miller in the high jump as another event he could excel in after many years of success on the boys’ basketball team.
Gross said there are about 35 boys on the roster this season. He is unsure of exact lineups for each event on both the boys’ and girls’ teams, but said the team will come to form as the season progresses.
“After this first meet, we’ll know who’s a contender and who’s a pretender,” he said.
On the girls’ team, which has about 40 athletes, Gross said he’s looking for success from a large group of seniors, including Lexie Weier, Dana Misiaszek, Olivia Willis, Tara Palmer, Ida Torbergson and Shelby Gunsch.
He said junior Megan Farnham will be a good competitor in the 400-meter dash and in the 200-meter dash. Farnham was the sole state placer from last year for the girls, taking fifth in the 400-meter dash. She also placed seventh in the 200-meter dash at the state meet.
Gross said Misiaszek has the potential to place in all of the jumping events — triple jump, high jump and long jump — but is nursing a foot injury she suffered during basketball season. Sophomore Emma Schmidt and junior Berkley Rietveldt will be competing in middle-distance events. Willis is also set to compete in middle-distance events, and Gross is impressed with how much she’s improved since last season.
Junior Jesse Volek had strong triple-jump scores last year and is continuing to work on her jumps this year.
So far, the team is off to a strong start, taking advantage of the nice spring weather.
“We’ve gotten a little more done than we have normally been able to in March in South Dakota,” Gross said. “We’ve gotten a lot more field-events work in than we normally would outside, and we’ve gotten over some hurdles already. We’ve gotten some more workouts in, so it’s just kind of nice to be able to take care of that.”
Gross also said a number of younger competitors are coming out for track this year.
“We’ve got a good crop of young high school and some middle school athletes who’ve come over to practice with us so we’ll see how they do,” Gross said.
So far, the team has been working on getting into the swing of things and using the outside practice time to prepare for the season and get ready to compete.
“We’re just trying to get everyone back in shape and stay healthy and have a good time,” Gross said. “Track is a social sport, it’s a lot of hard work and not a lot of cheers come from the stands, so you have to enjoy it and that’s our main goal at this point in the season.”
Gross said it’s a nice bonus to be able to practice outside, but it doesn’t give the team any advantage over anybody else.
“I think it helps the kids feel more comfortable, because we’ve been able to progress earlier in the season,” Gross said.
Gross said a long-term goal for the team this season will be improving from last year’s finish in the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet. This year’s ESD meet is scheduled for May 12 at 11:30 a.m. at Yankton High School. Last year, the boys’ team finished in sixth place with a score of 59 points, Watertown took first place with 147.83 points. The girls’ team finished in seventh place with 28.5 points, Watertown also finished first in the girls’ meet with 149 points.
Gross said other big meets for the Kernels include the Corn Palace Relays, the Pierre Invitational and the Aberdeen meet.
“Last year, we generally finished in the lower or middle half in our meets,” Gross said. “This year, we won’t be able to compete in the Howard Wood Relays because they’re remodeling and refurnishing the facilities, so that’s kind of bittersweet since we’re excited to see the new track, but we won’t be able to compete in that meet this year.”
With the returning senior class and the hard work the team is putting in, he’s confident the team will have a good season.
“I think we have a good chance of both the boys and the girls fitting right in the middle of the ESD,” Gross said. “And that would be a nice team goal for us to finish right in the middle of the pack.”