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Crago caps Kernel career with 400 runner-up finish

Mitchell's Kyla Crago (116) placed second in the 400-meter dash on Saturday. Brandon Valley's Kennedy Nuebel (35) is at the left. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

RAPID CITY -- Mitchell High School track and field coach Joe Shepardson spoke highly of his outgoing senior Kyla Crago on Saturday.

The sprinter capped off an outstanding Kernel career with a runner-up finish in the 400-meter dash and an eighth-place finish in the 200-meter dash at the South Dakota State Track and Field Meet.

Shepardson called Crago one of the state’s best 400-meter runners from the last two seasons and it’s because of her drive to succeed.

“It’s all because of her work ethic, toughness, grittiness,” Shepardson said. “She wasn’t a state champ, but she has an awful lot to be proud of and her name is spread all over the Mitchell High School top-10 (record book).”

In the 400, Crago was edged out once again by Brandon Valley’s Krista Bickley, who clocked in at 57.40 seconds. Crago ran 58.66, finishing second to Bickley for the second straight season in the event. Bickley holds the Class AA meet record, which she set in 2016 with a time of 54.08.

“Bickley is the only person to beat Crago the last two years in the state and Bickley is the fastest girl ever in the 400,” Shepardson said. “That’s pretty cool to say that’s the only girl that has beat her the last two years.”

Crago, who entered the weekend with the event’s fastest time, couldn’t quite best her own personal record. She ran a 58.1 last season.

However, she was still pleased with her performance.

“I am proud of myself,” Crago said. “I worked really hard to be where I am and the coaches really help a lot. It’s been a really good season. I can’t complain at all.”

Saturday’s hot and windy afternoon also didn’t help matters in the event.

“I think it was good with the wind,” she added about her time. “It was definitely on the back stretch that it was a little harder, but coming down the home stretch it was nice.”

Crago was Mitchell’s lone competitor on Saturday.