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A Return to the Course: Delta Sophomore Qualifies for State Finals

MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) -- Delta High School sophomore Nicki Southerland qualified for the state finals for the second time in her high school career by placing first at last week's semi-state meet. Once again, she's the only runner representing the Eagles.

As a freshman, Southerland placed 9th at state, but this year, she's ready to sprint her way past the competition.

 "I'm hoping to get in the top three and just improve and get a better time than I did last year on the course,” said Southerland. "My times have gotten faster than at semi-state. I was about 10 seconds faster on the same course and I'm feeling better and focusing on all-around strength this year."

Since this is Southerland’s second appearance at the state finals, Head Coach Mackenzie Dye-Conley believes that Southerland can improve her state standings.

“I think it helps that she's been there once now,” said Dye-Conley. “She knows what to expect and what it's going to be like. I think she's also more familiar with how the competition is going to play out and that has helped her a lot to just embrace the idea that she's going to challenge herself on Saturday.”

The challenge is beating her semi-state time of 17:55. The goal is between 17:50 and 18:00, Southerland says. Coach Dye-Conley expectations for her are high, but she still wants Southerland to be excited to run against steep competition. 

“The biggest goal is still to have fun and enjoy it, as with any athlete but in terms of racing to put all of those things that we practice into play on the day that she needs to.”