Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

Smith gets on track in final season

Posted in:
  • Lincoln senior Bentley Smith joined forces with Ashton Lyne, Hazel Metz and Alyssa Lopez to form a record-breaking 400 meter relay team. She also ran to a fifth place finish at state track. (Photos: Submitted)
    Lincoln senior Bentley Smith joined forces with Ashton Lyne, Hazel Metz and Alyssa Lopez to form a record-breaking 400 meter relay team. She also ran to a fifth place finish at state track. (Photos: Submitted)

Special to Kansas Pregame 

Destiny greeted recent Lincoln High graduate Bentley Smith this spring and she welcomed it with open arms and sprinter’s legs.

Smith, who had never gone out for track, answered destiny’s call, and just in time, too. 

“I went out for track because my friends convinced me, along with my track coach who was the assistant coach in basketball,” the current intern for Kansas Pregame said.

So in March, she listened to her teammates and coach. She donned the Leopard track uniform for the first time.

On March 28, she awoke excited yet nervous for the Bennington Invitational, her first track meet as a prepster. 

“I was really excited, but I was definitely nervous considering it was my first meet,” Smith said. “I was more excited when I got to the meet knowing that this would be fun.”

In her first 100-meter dash, she finished second in 13.27 seconds and eighth in the 100 hurdles in 19.62 seconds. Her first outing in the 4x1 started with a hiccup after the team was disqualified in the second leg.

Her winning medals at track meets were just beginning as the Leopard cinders’ season unfolded.

“I was definitely pleased with my 100 time,” Smith said. “I honestly didn’t expect to be that fast.”

Her fun times on the track, though, had just begun.

“I think Bentley improved in the 100-meter dash this year because as a senior coming into track and field, Bentley knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get to Cessna,” sophomore Easton Good said of Smith getting to the state track meet at Wichita’s Cessna Stadium. 

“But she put in a lot of hard work to get there,” Good continued. “Going up against some of the best sprinters in Kansas in 2A, Bentley knew she could compete. Being the last leg in a state qualifying 4x1 helped Bentley gain support from her team. Bentley worked hard and improved so much to place at state.”

“I believe I was a force in the 100 early in the season, I knew it was my race,” Smith said. “However, I think I became a greater force or threat in the 100 throughout the season, as I worked harder.”

Teammate Alyssa Lopez, who ran a leg of the Northern Plains League record-breaking 400 meter relay team, pinpointed directly why Smith improved each meet.

“Throughout the track season, I think Bentley got a lot better at her block starts and the effort that she puts into her races,” Lopez said. “If she wants it, she will work to achieve it. Even though it was her first season, she has broken records and she strives to be the best.”

Smith began to accrue confidence in qualifying for the state meet at the April 19 Kaser Relays in Osborne.

“That is where I first competed against the girl who placed fourth at state,” Smith said of Ellis’ Evelyn Merriman. “I ended up second place at that meet to her.”

Merriman was clocked in 12.44 seconds at Osborne, .2 of a second faster than Smith’s 12.64 effort which was two-tenths of a tick quicker than the third-place runner, Bethany Simmelink of Rock Hills.

Her involvement in the 400-meter relay came about from necessity.

“We were short of girls this season,” she said. “We only had six runners and one thrower. We played around with our 4x1 due to injuries, so it usually changed.”

The unit of Lopez, Smith, Hazel Metz - a state placer in the 200 meter dash last season as a freshman - and Ashton Lyne teamed up to be formidable threats as postseason neared. 

At league, Smith placed first in a time of 13.07 seconds. The 4x1 also won gold and set the meet record and Smith added a fourth-place finish in the long jump. 

One week later at regionals, the Leopard Sensation finished second in the 100 and anchored the relay team to fourth. 

“She was a good anchor because she was able to catch up,” Lopez said of Smith.

She qualified for state in the 100 and 4x1. 

“We didn’t do our best (in the 4x1) but I had a great run with my team,” Smith said. “I was really excited at regionals when I found out we made it!”

Smith did take home a fifth-place state medal in the 100 to cap her track career that may not be over yet. 

“I was really proud of myself and I definitely shocked myself when I placed fifth at state,” Smith said. “My original (seeding) going into state was ninth place. I knew I had to compete in my prelims in order to make finals.”

Does she regret not going out for track previously?

“I do a little bit, just because I am curious how I would’ve done back then,” she said.

Her future, though, could be as explosive as her exploding from the blocks as she contemplates running at Cloud County next year. 

“I am thinking about it! I’m happy to see my improvements from high school level competition to college,” Smith said.

Her message to younger Bentley fans is this.

“I would tell them to try and go out for everything in high school. You could end up falling in love with whatever it is you tried,” Smith said. “I would also tell them to listen to your coaches when they say you should go out for a sport. Lastly, I would tell them to trust the process and growth, and there will be bad days but you grow from them.”

Metz and Lopez return for their third season of high school track next spring where they'll look to add two new legs to the 4x1. Metz will continue to run as one of the top sprinters and jumpers in the smaller classes while Lopez will look to make it to state in pole vault.