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Nelson leads Eagles at Class B meet

Mitchell Christian's Mariah Nelson has a goal to place in both the shot put and the discus at the Class B state track and field meet today and Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Mitchell Christian's Mariah Nelson has a goal to place in both the shot put and the discus at the Class B state track and field meet today and Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

The senior has the opportunity to do more than just place, though. She has a chance to win both events.

For the last three years, Nelson has placed in the discus at the state meet. Last year, Nelson finished in seventh place, and in 2009 she took fifth. Her best year in the discus was in 2008 when she was a freshman, finishing in second place with a throw of 119-feet-5 -- her best throw at the state meet.

This year, Nelson has the second-best throw in Class B at 130-feet-3. The mark is one foot behind Irene-Wakonda's Haley Hinseth.

Even though she is behind Hinseth, Nelson said she would like to finish with the championship in her final state meet.

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"I want to get first, but I am just going to throw my best and see what happens," she said. "Hailey is my main competition. I don't know if I can throw farther (than my best throw). I kind of surprised myself with that throw and I am just hoping to throw it again."

Earlier this year, Nelson set her personal best at the Howard Wood Relays -- the same place the state meet is held at for Class B -- on May 7 when she won the event.

Nelson said the reason her distance in the discus improved is because of experience.

"I worked a lot on technique, and I am perfecting that, plus I did a lot more working out and working on being more explosive," she said. "As you get older, you get wiser and learn what to do and what not to do."

Last year was Nelson's first time placing in the shot put. Her mark of 37-feet-9 was good enough for third place. This year she has the fourth-best mark going into the state tournament at 37-feet-2.25.

Nelson said she can throw farther than what she has this year, and she would like to move up a couple of places than where she sits now.

"I really have been working on my technique this past week and focusing more on that," she said. "I expect to stay in fourth or fifth, but I hope I can move up."

Mitchell Christian coach Jeff Lee said he thinks Nelson is prepared and ready to go for the state meet.

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"She threw well at regions and stepped up to the competition," he said. "Absolutely I think a top three finish in both is in the picture. We are pretty excited for her."

Nelson is leading a number of Mitchell Christian athletes at the state track and field meet. Freshman Becca Glanzer qualified in three events -- the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs -- but she is being held out of the 800 because it is about 45 minutes before the 3,200.

Glanzer's time of 12 minutes, 23 seconds is the sixth fastest going into the state meet.

Lee said he is holding Glanzer out of the 800 because she would not have enough recovery time in between the 800 and 3,200.

"This is her year in the two-mile ... and I think she can give it a good effort," he said. "She keeps beating the target time that we keep setting for her."

On the boys' side, senior Cristian Van Dyke could place in both the 1,600 and the 3,200. Last year, Van Dyke finished sixth in the 3,200 with a time of 10:36.63. Van Dyke has already beaten that time, going into the 3,200 with the sixth-best time of 10:22.20. He also has the eighth-best time in the 1,600 at 4:46.60.

"We are really working on his speed and endurance," Lee said. "We are trying to do the cornerstone workouts, and he has been training for the 800 to help him with the mile and two-mile, so hopefully that stuff will help."

Van Dyke anchors Mitchell Christian's 3,200-meter relay. The relay has the fifth-best time at 8:49.70. Freshman Aaron Lemon starts the relay, followed by sophomore Adam Rasmussen.

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Senior Luke Olsen is the third leg of the relay.

Lee said he feels very optimistic about the relay's chances of placing at the state meet.

"We ran our second-best time at region, and I feel we can compete," he said. "It comes down to the first two runners and if they can keep us in it."

Olsen is also qualified in the 800 with the eighth-best time of 2:12.90.

Lee said it is all about how Olsen paces himself on the first lap if he is going to place in the top eight

"If he runs (61 seconds) on the first split, I think he can get his time down," he said. "He has to try and finish strong, and I am trying to teach him to run smarter and not run the 800 like a fast sprinter; more like a middle-distance runner."

Senior Joe Bosworth qualified in the 300-meter hurdles and has the sixth-best time of 43.10 seconds.

"We have been helping Joe get his form and balance better and he has been getting faster as the year goes on," Lee said. "I think he will finish on the right foot."

The Mitchell Christian boys are also qualified in the 800- and 1,600-meter relay.

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