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Mitchell head coach Audra Rew coaches freshman Josie Dierks during the state gymnastics meet Friday in Aberdeen. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

CERSOSIMO: Third time's the charm for Rew

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sports Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

This isn’t Audra Rew’s first time coaching a group of gymnasts to the top of the podium.

But Friday’s state championship team ranks atop her list.

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The state meet crowd could easily sense the joy on Rew’s face throughout the day as her gymnasts stuck their routines. She wore her emotions on her sleeve with fist pumps, high fives and cheers until the very end.

The coach has worked with every gymnast on this year’s Kernel team since day one -- something she hadn’t done with her previous two state title squads. She’s developed these current gymnasts into respectable competitors and people.

“This one is special to me because these are kids that haven’t had any other coach besides Christy (Wittstruck), me and others at home. They have been developed in Mitchell by our program not other places,” said Rew, who’s worked with her gymnasts from the time they were young through MEGA Gymnastics, her club program. “That makes me extra proud that this is what Mitchell can provide.”

The now-veteran Kernel squad has worked its way from being the inexperienced “new” team at the state tournament, and Rew has been there every step of the way from first cart wheels to twisting tumbling passes.

“To know these kids and to be coaching them since they were six and seven years old means a lot more than coming into a high school program when kids were older and I wasn’t their original coach,” she said.

The eighth-year coach took over the Kernel program in the fall of 2006 and has coached Mitchell to state titles in 2007, 2008 and now 2014. When Rew began heading the program in the mid-2000s, the Kernels were on the rise, taking second the year prior to her joining the program.

For Rew, those experiences of coaching the back-to-back state championship team will always be memorable, but the third championship outweighs what’s been done in the past.

“The first ones were a fantastic experience because I was able to take those athletes and their skills and develop them further with the help of some other people,” she said. “But this is special for this group because they’ve worked their tails off from the time they were little, watching kids who won the previous title, and that’s what they wanted.

“That goal was set in their heart at that point and then it was our job as coaches to lead them to that.”

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