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Kernels show off on senior night

Photos by Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Wagner's Justine Soukup tumbles down the floor during a routine.1 / 3
Photos by Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Mitchell's Nicole Wittstruck competes a back tuck during her floor routine. Above: Wagner's Justine Soukup tumbles down the floor during a routine.2 / 3
Photos by Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Mitchell's Ellie Rew performs on the uneven bars during a high school gymnastics meet against Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Wagner Monday at the Mitchell High School gymnasium. Also pictured at the bottom of the photo is Mitchell coach Audra Rew, who watching the routine.3 / 3

With an electric crowd, Mitchell seniors Nicole Wittstruck and Nakkia Johnston saved their best routines for last.

"It's always nice to see the girls go out on a high note," Mitchell coach Audra Rew said about Wittstruck's 8.9 and Johnston's 8.55 performances. "They both had the best floor routines I've seen them do, and the crowd was cheering. It made it such a special moment for them."

The seniors helped lead the Mitchell Kernels gymnastics team to a first-place finish against Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Wagner Monday at the Mitchell High School.

The Kernels finished with a 141.9 and were followed by Roosevelt (134.85) and Wagner (114.55).

Mitchell had the top four places in the all-around with Quinci Herll leading the way with a 36.15. Ellie Rew was second with a 35.65, Wittstruck finished in third with a 34.45 and Josie Dierks took fourth with a 34.25.

"I'm proud that the girls can come back after Saturday after having no practices and do what they needed to do," Rew said after the meet. "I hope this can really boost some confidence for them."

The Kernels began on vault and scored a team score of 34.85, which was highlighted by 8.9s from Dierks and Herll, who tied for first place. Mitchell carried its momentum over to bars where the team hit all five of its routines.

Rebecca Sadler, who returned to the lineup Saturday, hit her first routine of the season, placing fourth with an 8.65.

"There are key players on a team and Becca is one of those people for us," Rew said. "It's nice to have her back within the lineup, and hopefully we'll see her on the other events soon."

On beam, Mitchell counted a fall but was able to have the top four finishers on the event. Rew won the event with a 9.15 and Wittstruck hit her routine for the first time this season.

"It felt really good to hit," Wittstruck said. "I know I can do it now."

The Kernels finished the night on floor, tallying their highest score of the four events with a 36.05.

Mitchell's next meet is the Watertown Invitational Jan. 19 in Watertown.

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