SIOUX FALLS-Cross-country teams from across the state are set to descend upon Yankton Trail Park today in Sioux Falls for the penultimate meet of the season, the South Dakota High School Activities Association championship meet.
In total, six races will take place with the Class B boys starting at noon, followed by Class A boys (12:30 p.m.), Class AA boys (1 p.m.), Class B girls (1:30 p.m.), Class A girls (2 p.m.) and Class AA girls (2:30 p.m.)
Schroeder looks for strong finish in Class B
Freeman Academy/Marion senior Thaniel Schroeder took third in last season's Class B boys race and he's the top returning runner in the field.
He's coming off a first-place finish at the Region 3B meet and feels he's running as strong as ever. Schroeder won the region race by one minute over Mitchell Christian's Alec Nelson.
"I had pneumonia a year or so ago and took my (personal records) down for a while," Schroeder said. "But now they are coming back. I ran a couple PRs this year and I want to praise the Lord for those. I want to give him the glory in all my races."
Now in his final cross-country race, Schroeder intends to enjoy the experience.
"I had a couple of times where I just got caught up in the competition and thinking that I have to do great," Schroeder said. "The races didn't turn around very good because I wasn't focused on what I enjoying what I loved to do."
The Bearcats placed second at state last season and could be in line for another strong finish today. FAM had four of the top eight runners at the region meet. Titus Roesler placed third (19:14.57), Luke Allison took fifth (19:39.61) and Connor Epp finished eighth (20:03.51).
The Canistota boys placed second in the Region 2B meet and qualified five runners for state. Tate Tieszen took seventh place in the region meet, while Trey Ortman finished 12th at state last season.
In Class B girls, Andes Central/Dakota Christian eighth-grader Isabella Brouwer won the Region 3B meet and looks to use that as a catapult to a top finish today.
Brouwer intends on keeping pace with Gayville-Volin's Madison Fairley, who placed eighth at state last season.
"I will definitely try to stay with her," Brouwer said. "We've ran about like the same times, but we've always been in different places. I seen her last year throughout track season, but overall I want to stay with her and Josie Olsen from Deubrook."
Kimball/White Lake won the girls Region 3B meet with 16 points. KWL's Sidney McCord and Christine Gaulke (12th place in 2017) are projected to pace the WiLdKats today. Gregory's Emma Thomas is also back after placing 19th a year ago.
Byers among Class A favorites
In Class A girls, Chamberlain's Ella Byers appears to be regaining her form after an injury-riddled junior year kept the 2015 state champion from competing in last season's meet. Byers cruised to a win in the Region 4A meet, besting Winner standout Sidda Schuyler-who placed fourth at state last year-by 24 seconds.
"I didn't want to set any goals this season because I just wanted to focus on my health," Byers said. "Overall, I'm just happy that I'm feeling like myself again and maybe now I can start thinking about some bigger goals for state."
The Cubs are also looking to be one of the top-five teams at state, as Byers is joined by eighth-grader Allison Hough, who was 10th at state last season and seventh-grader Kinsey Evans. All three girls placed in the top four at the region meet.
Ethan/Parkston's Lindsey Roth could also be in the mix for a medal at the state meet. Roth took second in the Region 3A meet.
In Class A boys, Platte-Geddes junior Caden Tegethoff led the Black Panthers to a Region 4A team championship. Tegethoff won the race and could be in position to medal, while teammate Nate Whalen took eighth place. Winner's Kade Watson, who finished second to Tegethoff in the region meet, is back after placing 15th at state last season as an eighth-grader.
Mitchell Christian boys aiming for top-10 ending
The Mitchell Christian School boys cross-country team is making its first appearance at the state meet since head coach Mark Miedema took over in 2010. The Golden Eagles placed second in the Region 3B meet, with three runners in the top 10.
Alec Nelson headlines the group after placing second in the region meet and has an opportunity to be a medalist at state, according to Miedema. Sophomores Max Reynen and Nathanael Anderberg, along with senior Braeden Nydam have a chance to place within the top-eight teams in Class B.
While many coaches stress shooting for the best time possible during the regular season, Miedema wants his runners to focus on getting the best position possible during the race.
"There are meets where we shoot for good times and there are other meets where it's all about getting your position," Miedema said. "They both play a part in the race. Whether it's fast or slow race for time, we still want to get into the position we want."
Kernels sending 14 runners
The Mitchell cross-country teams qualified 14 total runners-seven boys and seven girls-in the Class AA portion today.
Tayler Factor, Alexis Haiar, Tyann Hart, Kennedy Olsen, Adelyn Prunty, Annika Vermeulen and Madeline Vogel will run for the Kernel girls.
For the Kernel boys, Derek Factor, Grayson Hetland, Nate McCormick, Dawson Miller, Carter Moller, Lucas Moller and Dawson Schroeder will compete.