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CERSOSIMO: Success of Kernel girls flying under the radar

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CERSOSIMO: Success of Kernel girls flying under the radar
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

In most cases, the accomplishments of female athletes are overlooked compared to the same accomplishments of a male athlete.

When watching television, it's a rarity when a female game or match is showcased on a main channel.

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As a society, we've grown accustomed to watching male-dominated sports. From local to statewide, or on national and international scales, women's athletic feats are frequently bypassed by the bigger, stronger and faster male athletes.

For example, the WNBA started its season two weeks ago and it's been lightly covered -- like always -- because the almighty NBA playoffs, which extend over a two-month time span, are all stations talk about.

Now on a local level in Mitchell, within the last four years it seems the Kernel girls have outshined the boys.

From 2009 to this year's graduating class, 14 athletes at Mitchell High School have gone on to compete at the Division I level, and eight of those athletes are female.

When people think of Kernel athletics, the boys' basketball program automatically comes to mind first, given its history and success in the past 40 years. Yet, the last player to compete at the top collegiate level was Mike Miller, who graduated from MHS in 1998. He went on to play at University of Florida and now is a member of the Miami Heat.

The success of the MHS boys' basketball program shouldn't be downplayed, but frequently good girls' teams -- and even individuals -- aren't as hot of a discussion topic.

Try to name the eight female athletes who went on to play Division I sports from Mitchell High School. At the end of this column, there will be a list with all 14 athletes from MHS who have gone on to Division I sports since 2009.

Here's a hint for the girls:

They are four swimmers, one gymnast, one basketball player, one volleyball player and one track and field athlete have taken their talents to Division I schools. After the conclusion of next year, two more girls in the 2014 graduating class will join the list.

Great Kernel girls' athletes have flown under the radar and maybe that's what makes them so special and fun to talk about.

Not only individuals, but girls' teams at Mitchell High School -- with maybe the exception of the Kernel girls' basketball program in the past two years -- usually aren't gloriously talked about in the state or really even in Mitchell itself.

This year, even team success has been on the girls' side with three strong finishes at state.

The girls' basketball team took second, the gymnastics team finished third and the volleyball team landed in seventh. The boys' best finish this year was the tennis team, landing fifth at state.

"Looking at the last couple of years, girls are riding a higher wave right now, but several years ago it was the boys' teams that were," Mitchell Activities Director Geoff Gross said. "It's a typical wave that happens in a school our size."

The strength of the Mitchell girls' programs are beginning to establish themselves statewide and a big part of that is because of the Division I caliber athletes that are building strong MHS teams.

And as the teams have continued to improve in the last several years, it will be interesting to see if these athletes continue to roll through the programs, or if it's once again just a wave.

Here's a list of the 15 Division I athletes Mitchell High School has sent to colleges since 2008:

Girls -- Kerri Young, South Dakota State basketball; Megan Farnham, SDSU volleyball; Trina Young, SDSU swimming; Andee Budahl, SDSU swimming; Reva Bork, Northern Iowa swimming; Rhennetta Bork, Northern Iowa swimming; Caitlin Way, Oklahoma State track and field; Amelia Rew, Arizona State gymnastics.

Boys -- Brent Havlik, Wyoming wrestling; Nick Young, SDSU baseball; Kendall Patrick, Michigan baseball; Cody Horton, USD swimming; Shea Patrick, SDSU swimming; Brett Young, SDSU baseball

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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