MHS hoping for good weather for annual Corn Palace Relays
The Mitchell High School track team is preparing for Saturday's Corn Palace Relays like it does any other year. The Kernels are working hard in practice, setting up their relays and, most importantly, praying for good weather. The Corn Palace Rel...
The Mitchell High School track team is preparing for Saturday's Corn Palace Relays like it does any other year.
The Kernels are working hard in practice, setting up their relays and, most importantly, praying for good weather.
The Corn Palace Relays were canceled last year after a snowstorm during the week, and the forecast for Saturday -- which includes a strong likelihood for rain -- doesn't seem like it will do any favors for the meet, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. until about 5 p.m.
"I grew up in Mitchell, and I think I got to compete in the Corn Palace Relays one time in four years," first-year Mitchell coach Geoff Gross said. "It's a cursed weekend, and it sounds like we're going to have some damp conditions on Saturday."
Gross indicated that it would take a pretty steady downpour to completely call off the meet. He said he hoped Mitchell's all-weather track could endure periods of lighter rain, and that the ground, which is not saturated or frozen, could absorb a decent amount of water.
"We'll do what we have to do, and we're not going to have a quick trigger to cancel it, that's for sure," Gross said. "The kids deserve to compete here."
If the meet does go on as planned, it will be the Kernels' first home meet in two years. The Kernels are also slated to host the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet on May 16.
"There's something special about being at a home meet, and we have two of them this year at the varsity level," Gross said. "We didn't have any home cross country meets this year either, so that type of kid that runs cross country and track, they haven't had a home event in a long time, so they're getting excited about it."
The unique format of the Corn Palace Relays, as always, will pit Mitchell and a small group of "AA" teams up against smaller schools from around the area. In all, 19 teams are expected to compete.
In addition to Mitchell, the large schools scheduled to compete are Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Yankton and Huron. Other area teams scheduled to compete are McCook/Central Montrose, Ethan/Parkston, Platte-Geddes, White Lake, Hanson, Winner, Kimball, Sanborn Central, Plankinton and Mitchell Christian.
Other schools in attendance will be Webster, De Smet, Hitchcock/Tulare and Faulkton.
"We're in a very good location because we have the nucleus of a lot of area towns here," Gross said. "That's evident with the amateur baseball tournament in the summer, and that's why it attracts such a big crowd. A good portion of the state's population lives within a 150-mile radius of us, so it's a natural thing for us to host these smaller schools."
The Corn Palace Relays will also have a small change this year that will allow some smaller schools a chance to test themselves against the big schools. In the relays only, there will be a "B" division for Class A and B schools, and instead of a "AA" division for the big schools, there will be an elite division instead. That division will include the Class AA schools, as well as smaller schools that petition up to compete at that level.
"If they have a good 4x1, for instance, they can run that against some tougher competition for them and hopefully better their times," Gross said. "And it obviously makes for a better relay with the more teams you have out there."
The 100- and 110-meter hurdles, the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, the 3,200-meter run, the high jump and the pole vault will all be open events, with only one division. The 800-meter run and the 1,600-meter run, as well as all the other field events, will have a "B" division for the smaller schools and an "A" division for the bigger schools.
Gross said he's excited to see his team perform at home, and, two meets into the season, he's happy with the progress his team has made.
"I keep mentioning our girls, but our boys are going to come along, and they're going to continue to improve," Gross said. "I'm excited because I think we have some relays set up on Saturday where we can run some nice times and hopefully beat a couple teams, and bring home a couple gold and silver medals in a couple relays."