Spearfish girls' track and field sprinter Mikayla Tracy isn't a stranger to the pressure of competition at the varsity level.
She's been competing at that level since she was a freshman, her first two seasons were with Cheyenne East in Wyoming, and then last season with Spearfish.
The Spartans were happy to have her last season, and now they look to her to lead a promising group of sprinters.
"She stepped in and has been running really well for us. She's placed in the Wyoming state meet and last year placed in the South Dakota state meet," Spearfish coach Aaron Nida said. "I think it’s been a good transition for her and she’s been a welcome addition to our program."
Tracy has gotten off to a good start this season, which included Thursday at the Custer Invitational in Belle Fourche.
She took first place in the 100 meter dash in 12.68 seconds, the 200 in 26.61, the 400 in 1:03.03 and as the anchor in the 4x100 meter relay in 53.70.
"That meet was a real rough meet because it was super windy out but I’m glad that I pushed through it and did what I had to do," Tracy said. "I was really proud of myself actually."
As a senior, Tracy said she relishes the role of being the anchor on a relay team. The pressure of either having to hold off a hard charge, or play catch-up hasn't gotten to her because she's seen it before.
"I’ve been on varsity since freshman year so it’d be weird if I wasn’t the anchor. I feel responsible when I run it, because if we get behind it’s my responsibility to catch us up," she said. "If I’m in front it gives me more motivation to stay in front, I’m pretty competitive and don’t like to lose."
Her experience has been valuable to other sprinters on the team as well.
"She’s been a good leader for our sprint core and we have some pretty good girls supporting her," Nida said. "I think she can help us with some relays, getting some other girls success that way and still have her individual events to place in."
As far as the season goes, Tracy said she's less concerned with where she places and more concerned with times.
She said she'd like to set personal records in all her events during her senior season, and improve on her places at the Class AA state meet last season in Rapid City.
She placed fifth in the 100 and sixth in 200 last season and her 4x200 relay team finished sixth.
The Spartans as a team are also off to a good start this season. Lifted by Tracy's finishes the Spearfish girls' team took first at the Custer Invitational with 163 points.
"We’re doing really good, we’re starting better than we did last year," she said. "We’re already hitting the times that we ended with, so I hope we all improve by the end of the year."
Nida said her leadership role has had to evolve this season, as she's looked at as more of a leader because she's a senior.
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He said she leads by example, and her actions have gone a long way in setting the tone for the Spartans this season.
"She’s been a great kid, works hard, good leader, good role model," he said. "She’s one of those where you wish you had a bunch more of them."
And she's embraced her leadership role as well.
"I know what I’m doing, I’ve been doing it for a long time," she said. "I try to help people by helping their confidence and pushing them through when they don’t want to do something, or giving them little tips if they’re doing something wrong."
Spearfish is next in action today as it heads back to Belle Fourche for the Northern Hills Invitational.
Other Athletes nominated:
Payson Birkeland, Belle Fourche girls' golf: The defending Class A state champion ran away from the field at the Belle Fourche Invitational Thursday, finishing in first with a score of 81.
The Broncs took second as a team to Hot Springs, and finished with a score of 410.
Hannah Young, Rapid City Central girls' track and field: Young won two events at the Pierre Legion Relays Thursday.
She won the 100 meter dash in 12.34 seconds and the 200 in 25.60.
Kellyn Kortemeyer, Custer girls' track and field: Kortemeyer swept the field events at the Custer Invitational in Belle Fourche Thursday.
She was first in the shot put by hitting a mark of 41 feet, 04.50 inches and won the discus with a mark of 109-09.
Jacob Hyde, St. Thomas More boys' track and field: Hyde was a multiple event winner at the Pierre Legion Relays Thursday.
He took home first in the 400 in 50.50 and the 200 in 22.30.
Karlee Simmons, Hill City Track and Field: Simmons had a big day at the Pierre Legion Relays Thursday, finishing first in two events.
She won the 1,600 in 5:23.35 and followed that up with a win in the 3,200 in 11:25.80.