Cody Foreman had big plans for his first season at the helm of the Mitchell High School track and field program.
COVID-19 made sure they never came to fruition.
Two weeks after practices officially began last spring, the South Dakota High School Activities Association postponed the season and it was eventually canceled. So, his first year had to wait.
Foreman would have gone into the season cold, with little time to get to know his team. But during the last year, he has been able to build a report with kids and he is intent on not only ensuring those that compete for the Kernels are seeking success, but that the season is enjoyable for everyone.
“We want to have fun at practice, we want to have fun at meets, but when it’s time to do the workout, when it’s time for the race, we’re serious,” said Foreman, who spent a decade as an assistant for Dakota State University. “So far they’ve done a good job of having fun with each other before practice. During the warmup there’s a lot of joking, a lot of having fun, but once they step on the track and put their spikes on, it’s serious. It’s been great.”
Team numbers are still in flux as is normal for the early portion of the season, but Mitchell currently has nearly 90 boys and girls out for the squad and Foreman has been leaning on a plethora of veteran assistants and early indoor meets to decipher his lineup moving forward.
The Kernels had two placewinners at the state meet two seasons ago, but they have high expectations for multiple athletes this year. Senior Ryley Johansen posted a personal-best 6-feet-2 in the high jump during his first season in 2019, while Wyatt Winter also qualified for the Class AA state meet in the shot put. Parker Phillips should also be a standout for Mitchell in the sprints.
On the girls side, Aliyah Howard returns after qualifying for the state meet in the 100-meter dash as a freshman two years ago. Meanwhile, Lizzie Tyler placed fourth in the 800-meter run (2 minutes, 25.71 seconds) and fourth in the 1,600 (5 minutes, 23.11 seconds) in the Class A state meet as an eighth-grader at Wagner.
Foreman is also high on the future of freshman Mia Mullenmeister, who took second in the 55-meter dash (7.71 seconds) at the first meet of the season on March 23 at Northern State University.
“With so many kids, we’ll put them in a practice and watch them run certain things,” Foreman said. “You can pick out who’s faster at the beginning, who’s faster at the end, so you know your short sprinter -- you can kind of tell during the workout.”
While Foreman is still acclimating to his new charges and wants them to have fun, he is also looking to build Mitchell into one of the top programs in Class AA. Two seasons ago, the Kernels did not have anyone competing on the championship Saturday at the state meet and Foreman wants to make sure that does not happen again.
“I want to have as many kids competing on that last day at state as possible,” Foreman said. “I want that to be the expectation. If you come out for Mitchell track, we’re going to compete, we’re going to have fun and we’re going to win. I hope it happens.”
Mitchell competes in the Eastern South Dakota Conference indoor meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.