The Mitchell High School cross-country teams are laying down building blocks for the future.
The Kernels are littered with seventh and eighth graders and they are gaining experience each time on the course.
"That seventh and eighth grade group, as long as they stick it out and they stay together, that group is going to have a fun four years once they get to high school," first-year Mitchell head coach Katie Buschbach said.
The young Kernels will compete in the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet on Saturday at Yankton's Fox Run Golf Course. Buschbach considers it another building block for the team.
"We don't concentrate too much on the team standings just because we don't have that luxury yet to have that amount of numbers to be able to pick from," Buschbach said. "Our numbers are just limited. So we don't focus too much on the team scoring as we are right now the kids personal records and bringing their times down each time we go out."
After the ESD, the Kernels will have two meets left on the schedule. Mitchell competes at the Huron Invitational on Oct. 11 and the state meet on Oct. 20 in Yankton.
Buschbach likes the overall direction of the teams leading into the final stretch of the season.
"Everything is going well," Buschbach said. "Our girls team has made huge strides as far as numbers and as far as our times."
Eighth-grader Kennedy Olsen has been leading the girls runners this season. Girls runners senior Annika Vermeulen, seventh-grader Adelyn Prunty and seventh-grader Madeline Vogel have all recently hit personal records to pace the girls team.
"They are making a ton of progress and we are actually being able to score as a team, which in past years we didn't even have the numbers to do," Buschbach said.
On the boys side, senior Derek Factor has been slowed by an injury this season. Sophomore Lucas Moller has led the pack this season.
"Right now our boys numbers are pretty low," Buschbach said. "But we still have Lucas Moller and he does great things for our team. He always pulls in good numbers and good places for us."