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Mitchell Kernels win state gymnastics meet

Mitchell junior Ellie Rew competes on the vault during the state gymnastics meet Friday in Aberdeen. (Sean Ryan/Republic)1 / 2
Mitchell eighth-grader Bailey Roden competes on the uneven bars during Friday's state gymnastics meet in Aberdeen. (Sean Ryan/Republic)2 / 2

ABERDEEN – As the Mitchell Kernels were announced state champion Friday, tears of joy ran down each gymnast’s face.

“We honestly didn’t think we had it,” Mitchell junior Rebecca Sadler said. “This is the best day of our lives. We’ve worked so hard for this and we really think we deserve it.”

Mitchell’s gymnastics team won the Class AA state gymnastics title Friday with a team score of 146.55, edging defending champion Rapid City Central by .075.

The Cobblers, who finished with a 146.475, led the Kernels by just under two points heading into the final rotation.

“I had told them when they finished beam that I was proud of them and not to expect anything,” said Mitchell head coach Audra Rew, whose team last won the state championship in 2008. “I told them we were behind by quite a bit because I wanted to prepare them. They hadn’t seen any scores, so I think that was the emotion, pure joy. They had no idea.”

When the Kernels unknowingly needed it most, freshman Josie Dierks handled the leadoff spot on beam.

“It was the best beam performance of her life and it was at a great time,” Mitchell head coach Audra Rew said. “After that, our girls stayed focused and just nailed routines one after another.”

The freshman recorded a 9.05 to set Mitchell up for solid scores. Mitchell hit routine after routine to finish out the meet, putting pressure on the defending champion Rapid City Central, which followed the Kernels on beam.

Central’s first routine, which counted for the team total, suffered a fall. Alaina Klapperich hit her routine, which left Chelsey and Colette Christensen only having to average just over a 9.0 to lock in the championship – normally a routine performance for the sisters.

Chelsey, the younger of the two, struggled on the four-inch-wide beam, falling twice and counting an 8.4.

With the Cobblers already counting three falls on beam, Colette needed a 9.7 to tie the Kernels’ 146.55 mark. She delivered a solid routine with one wobble and received a two-score average of 9.65, leaving the Cobblers finishing runner-up.

From start to finish, the Kernels strung together solid routines, beginning with floor. With the energy the gymnasts and fans brought to the venue, everyone knew the Kernels were competing with determination.

Mitchell hit all 20 of its routines Friday, something it hasn’t done all season.

“I’m not sure we have put together a meet all year where we have hit all 20 routines,” Rew said. “We didn’t have a mistake all day, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Sioux Falls O’Gorman finished third with a 145.475, followed by Brookings, Aberdeen Central and Yankton.

The Kernels and the rest of the field have one final day of competition. The Class AA individual meet begins at 4:30 p.m. today at Aberdeen Central High School.

Class AA results: 1. Mitchell, 146.55; 2. Rapid City Central, 146.475; 3. Sioux Falls O'Gorman, 145.475; 4. Brookings, 135.3; 5. Aberdeen Central, 133.525; 6. Yankton/Bon Homme 133.35; 7. Watertown, 132.675; 8. Huron, 130.175; 9. Pierre, 125.975.

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