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Mitchell opens under new coach for 2nd straight year

Mitchell Kernel senior Derek Miller (23) goes up for a shot as senior Jon Jamison guards him during the first day of boys’ basketball practice Monday at the high school. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

For the second time in two years, the Kernel boys’ basketball team has answered to a new coach.

First-year head coach Erik Skoglund directed the young team experience-wise in its first practice of the season Monday. Although Monday was the first official practice, Skoglund is no stranger to his new team.

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“We’ve seen these kids for 12 weeks of open gym, and it’s not like there are any huge surprises, but we can finally get under the whistle,” said Skoglund, who was the head coach at Spearfish before taking the Mitchell job. “I’ve seen kids make strides in their strength and conditioning. That’s what I was looking for here are kids who want to learn and are sponges for knowledge.”

The Kernels return four letter winners from last year’s squad, which was knocked out in districts, in seniors Derek Miller, Ethan Jones and Jon Jamison and junior Beau Brown — the only returning starter. Mitchell also has two other seniors in Ryker Kreutzfeldt and Neil Schlimgen to help lead the team.

Skoglund’s first day of practice was fast-paced with loads of drills, and Brown said his style of coaching will help the team.

“All these other teams today know what to expect,” Brown said. “It’s the same coach and same routine, and that’s why coach wants us to be enthusiastic and chatter because he wants us to build chemistry quickly.”

The team will participate in two-a-day practices this week and into next week, before taking on reigning state champion Pierre Dec. 13 on the road.

“I’ve been a new head coach at a couple different spots and I understand where these guys are at,” Skoglund said. “We had a nice summer of workouts and camps and understanding how we’re going to play. This stuff wasn’t new to the guys today. It was a great first day and we have a ton of work before Saturday.”

The Kernels break up the two-week span of practice with an exhibition-like jamboree Saturday at the Corn Palace.

Girls and boys teams from Mitchell, Sanborn Central/Woonsocket, James Valley Christian and Mount Vernon/Plankinton will scrimmage against each other Saturday as a part of a preseason test for officials.

“It’s our version of an exhibition, which you don’t get in high school sports,” Skoglund said. “It’s just a chance to see how our kids react under a little pressure.”

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