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Gross to take over as MHS track coach

Pending Mitchell school board approval, Athletic Director Geoff Gross will take on a double-duty role and become the head varsity girls' and boys' track and field coach.

The school board meeting is tonight, and Gross said he doesn't see any reason why he won't be named the head coach.

"I heard earlier in the spring that Eric Palmer would be switching careers," Gross said. "Then, when I was hired as the AD I asked Dr. (Joe) Graves if he would hold off on hiring a track coach."

At that point, Gross said, he wanted to make sure he would be able to fulfill his duties as the athletic director as well as take on the head coaching position.

Gross then talked with the school board as well as Graves and told them he was interested in the position.

"They agreed that spring would be the easiest season to coach in for me," Gross said. "There are fewer activities."

Palmer stepped down as the track coach at the end of last season after 15 years as the head coach. Gross explained he would talk to Palmer about various insights about the team since he laid the track and field foundation in Mitchell for so many years.

This won't be Gross' first year as a head track and field coach, though. He has been coaching the sport for 10 years, and has won five state titles.

He spent the last five years in Pierre, where the team won back-to-back-to-back boys state titles in 2006-2008. In 2006 he was named the state track Coach of the Year.

He also coached in Winner, where he coached his team to two state titles, in 1999 with the girls and 2002 with the boys.

"I have a strong personal passion for coaching, especially for track," Gross said. "I don't know if we will be able to contend for a conference or state title this year, but we have a lot of good athletes."

Gross said that the No. 1 thing successful track and field program teams have is numbers. In recent years, Mitchell has had around 60 or 70 girls and boys athletes come out for track and field. Gross wants that number to increase to around 100.

"We're taking some steps to get kids excited about track in Mitchell," he said.

This includes an elementary track and field meet during the school year. Gross said he introduced this in Pierre, and it helped the program throughout the years.

As a head coach, Gross explained his main strength is the ability to motivate and inspire athletes. He explained core strength and injury prevention are two of his main focuses during the season.

"We have kids who are willing to work hard and raise their ability levels," Gross said. "I know how to push kids to the limit, but I know how to protect them, too.