BROOKINGS-The Mitchell High School track and field team battled soreness and eight other schools at the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet on Thursday.

It led to the Kernels placing eighth in both the boys and girls team standings. The boys scored 416.5 team points, while the girls totaled 375.5. Watertown took home the boys team title and Yankton won on the girls side.

"We're at that point in the same where we're starting to get a little soreness and stiffness from just getting back in the groove," Mitchell coach Joe Shepardson said. "I was proud of the kids for battling through the stiffness and competing hard."

Payton Olson and Ryley Johansen both had a pair of top-eight finishes for the Kernels. Olson took sixth in the 200-meter dash (23.86 seconds) and seventh in the 100-meter dash in 11.62 seconds. Meanwhile, Johansen took fifth place in the 300-meter dash, finishing in 38.35 seconds for the Kernels, and tied for sixth (5-10) in high jump.

"To see them have some early success is great," Shepardson said. "As we get in better shape, I think they'll even be better and more competitive as we go."

Caleb Lee paced the Kernels in distance events. He finished eighth (5:11.65) in the mile run. Mitchell finished the 400-meter relay in 50.79 seconds to place fifth.

In field events, Sam Jones (12-6) and Sutton Carpenter (12-0) placed fifth and sixth, respectively in the pole vault. Carly Haring had a productive day in field events on the girls side, too. She won the triple jump (32-4) and placed second in the high jump (5-6).

"They're competing at a very high level with very limited practice at this point in the season," Shepardson said. "Just glad to see them go out and compete at high levels with minimal practice."

The Kernel girls found the most success in sprints, though. McKenzie Norton (12.92) finished third and Caitlin Ostbye (13.1) took fifth in the 100-meter dash. Ostbye also placed sixth in the 200-meter dash as she crossed the line in 27.41 seconds. The Kernels placed sixth in the 400-meter relay with a time of 55.42 seconds, as well.

"I think we're realizing we're going to be strong (in sprints)," Shepardson said. "The kids have been working hard on their starts. As we get going, hopefully we can put together some strong relays and be competitive with the rest of the state."

Mitchell competes in the Huron Early Bird meet at 3:30 p.m. on April 5.