Freshman Mitchell leads Rockets' sprint-oriented squad to title

Freshman Mitchell leads Rockets' sprint-oriented squad to title

CATLIN – "She's going to make someone a great coach."

That was veteran Unity assistant track coach Gary Wieneke's assessment of freshman Lydia Mitchell's performance in Friday's Class 1A Salt Fork Sectional.

The Rocket freshman was the standout of the meet, winning the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and anchoring teammates Jennifer Kraft, Migee Hyong and Emily Bickers to victory in the 1,600 relay. The 10 points for the relay win allowed the Rockets to outscore St. Teresa 70-63 for the team title. Paris was another point back in the 17-team field.

"I had a good seed, so I figured I'd do well," Mitchell said after posting times of 16.44 seconds in the 100 hurdles and 47.81 in the 300s. "This is my first year of running the 300s. They are definitely my favorite race. I've improved progressively in them all season. It's takes a lot of physical work and endurance to run them, as well as a lot of confidence.

"I find the 100 hurdles more difficult. It takes more technique and rhythm to run them. You get a step off in the 100s and it's hard to get back on track. Coaches like (head coach Dave) Bass, Wieneke and (assistant Tim) Gately have really helped me."

Mitchell isn't making any bold predictions as far as next week's state meet in Charleston.

"I'd really like to place in the 300s," Mitchell said, "but I don't want to put my expectations too high and come away disappointed."

Mitchell wasn't the only Rocket singled out for praise from Bass' sprint-oriented team.

"They all ran great," Bass said. "I'm proud of them all. The hard work they put in all season paid off tonight. Lydia is a warrior. She's not going to give up on anything. (Ashlee) Shroyer did a great job (winning the 100 and anchoring the 400 relay team of Emily Clennon, Brooke Stabler and Hyong to a second-place finish). Emily Bickers has been an outstanding leader. She set the standard and the younger runners followed her lead."

Shroyer was all smiles after her victory in the 100.

"I'm really excited," the Rocket junior said. "I qualified for the state meet in the 4x200 relay last year, but this is the first time I've ever made it in an open event.

"I really like running in open events where I depend on myself and I can see what I can do. You have other people to think about in relay races. I've improved a lot since last year. The biggest improvement has been in my starts. Coach Gately has really worked with me there."

Shroyer said she's looking forward to next week.

"I'm real close to breaking our school record in the 100. I'd really like to get it next week. I already own the 400 relay record with Katie Daly, Hyong and Dani Gooch."

Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman senior Kaci Lierman joined Mitchell as a qualifier in three events, finishing second in the 200 and anchoring Lindsey Swick, Shelby Porter and Jade Beals to victory in the 400 and 800 relays.

"I'm real pleased with my times," Lierman said. "This is the third time I've qualified for the state in relay events but the first time I've ever made it in an open event. It's real exciting. I can't wait for next week. I think we have a chance to place in both relays."

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