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Kernels shooting for third at ESD meet

It's been a strange year for the Mitchell High gymnastics team.

The Kernels have had three meets since Christmas with weather canceling the majority of their scheduled dates. Mitchell has had a home triangular with Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Wagner, a triangular at Brookings and a meet last weekend at Pierre.

MHS head coach Audra Rew said her team has been able to find consistency despite the cancelations.

"Things have been going well," she said. "The season is going by very fast. Since Christmas, the girls have been working on their new skills and getting into their routines. I like them to be very consistent on their new skills in practice before putting them in for competition. We're getting to the point where I feel there's a lot more consistency. Our scores were up in Pierre. They still had some falls on some things.

"I let them try some things that I normally wouldn't if it was a bigger meet by taking that chance. It didn't go their way. It did kind of give me a gauge as to how I want them to compete for the ESD."

The Kernels will be at the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet at 1:30 p.m. today in Yankton. Rew called Watertown the favorite with Brookings having an outside shot at the title.

Rew's goal for the Kernels is to finish third. MHS will most likely have to fight it out with Huron for that third spot.

"It's going to be tough because Huron is going to be a big adversary for us," she said. "That's going to be a battle. If we have the meet like I expect us to, we should be able to take third. We could break 140. But the odds of everybody being perfect on the same day are slim. At least the kids know that the potential is there."

Mitchell can use seven gymnasts at the ESD meet. Some of the top athletes include Emily Paulson, Ellie Rew, Rebecca Sadler, Mercedes Geraets, Nicole Wittstruck, Abby Sudbeck and Kelsey Tagg.

Paulson won two events and took second in the all-around Saturday at the Pierre quadrangular. The Kernels won the meet with 136.75 points.

Rew feels all of her gymnasts can score higher than they have been.

"I do think they're starting to realize what their potential is and I see that carrying over to their work ethic and practice," Rew said. "Hopefully we'll have a good end to the season. We have eight kids on varsity, so this weekend will be good for a lot of kids to break into the lineup."

After the ESD meet, the Kernels are host to the Region 3AA meet Feb. 12 at MHS. Mitchell will be going up against Huron and Aberdeen Central at the meet. The top two teams from the region move onto the state meet with a wild-card entrant to be determined later. The Region 2A meet will also be going on the same day at Mitchell.

"The region meet is going to be tough. Unfortunately, Aberdeen lost a senior who is very strong on their team to an injury," Rew said. "That dropped them down. Otherwise they would've been right there."

The Class AA state meet is Feb. 19-20 in Aberdeen. Time is running out to prepare for the biggest meets of the season.

"Practice gets a little redundant," Rew said, "but we've missed a lot of practices. When we've had snow days, we can't practice. It's kind of like starting all over again sometimes. That was kind of rough for awhile. I think they're ready, though. They're realizing that their work is paying off. They're seeing the results. That's kind of the good thing about meets because it gives you a gauge of where you're at."