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Kernel gymnasts powered by award-winning coaches

Mitchell Head Coach Audra Rew congratulates Emily Moody on her performance on the vault during the Class AA state team gymnastics competition Feb. 9 at the Watertown Civic Arena. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Mitchell High School had not one but two award-winning coaches on its gymnastics coaching staff this season.

On that basis, it's not a surprise the Kernels won a fourth state championship in five years and dominated most of Class AA gymnastics all season long.

At the South Dakota State Gymnastics Meet last week, Mitchell head coach Audra Rew was named to the South Dakota Gymnastics Coaches Association's Hall of Fame as a 2018 inductee. Earlier this year, she was one of eight finalists for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association's Coach of the Year award, which will be awarded in July.

In addition to the honors for Rew, Mitchell assistant coach Christy Wittstruck was named the South Dakota Gymnastics Coaches Association's Assistant Coach of the Year at the state meet.

"We're fortunate to have the coaches that we do," Mitchell gymnast Maria Krall said. "They give a lot of their time to help us be our best and I can't thank them enough."

Both of them are passionate about gymnastics at the youth and high school levels. Rew owns the MEGA gymnastics gym in Mitchell, while Wittstruck is one of the coaches for that venture, as well.

"She literally consumes her whole life with gymnastics and thinking of ways that they can improve and get better," Rew said of Wittstruck, noting that area gymnasts come to Mitchell for private lessons with her. "The gymnastics community is growing and her knowledge is growing and you really can't say enough about what she's doing for kids in our area."

Wittstruck is herself a former Mitchell gymnast and a state champion, winning the first two state championships in Rew's tenure in 2007 and 2008. She coached youth gymnastics with MEGA at that time and officially joined the MHS gymnastics staff in 2013.

"It's exciting because it's voted upon by the other coaches, too," Wittstruck said. "It's nice that they recognize my work. It was a nice surprise. I just love gymnastics."

In her 12 seasons as Mitchell's coach, Rew has built quite the resume. She's coached 17 individual state champions and has been a part of seven state championship teams — six as the head coach and one as an assistant. She's operated the MEGA gym since 2005, which moved into a larger facility a few years ago. Rew is a three-time MHS coach of the year and is up for the national coach of the year award for the second time.

"It's rewarding to be recognized for the work you put in," she said. "You do it for the kids and the families and you don't really do it for the recognition but it is nice when people take notice of the hard work."

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