Every girls high school track season, a middle school athlete comes along and shakes up the scene. A year ago, Harrisburg’s Erin Kinney, then a seventh-grader, established herself among the best sprinters in the state.
Before last season, it seemed that Pierre’s Courtney Dowling would have no equal. When an injury sidelined the record-breaking state champion, middle-schoolers like Kinney, Brandon Valley’s Krista Bickley and Rapid City Central’s Hannah Young filled the void.
Kinney finished sixth at the state tournament in a wild weekend where she was nearly disqualified for holding hands with Lincoln’s Mollie Kersten as the two crossed the finish line in a meaningless race. Track officials ruled the two would race one final time on Friday, the state meet’s opening day, and Kinney nipped Kersten and went on to a sixth-place finish on Saturday.
This season, Kinney appears ready to take another step forward.
“Erin is starting the year where she left off last year,” said Coach Kevin Kroger. “She has looked good at practice and her times in the few meets we have had have been impressive.”
Kinney won titles in the 100- and 200-meter dash last weekend at the ESD invite. Even though she’s still a year out from high school, it’s clear she’s earned her varsity keep.
“Every meet we attend will have quality kids for her to run against, but she can compete with all of them,” Kroger said. “The other sprinters definitely know who she is now.”
ERIN KINNEY | HARRISBURG
Events: Sprints (100 and 200 meter dash; 400 and 800 relays)
Accolades: Finished sixth at state in 100 meter dash; won 100 and 200 titles at ESD meet last week