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Kernels turn program around from year ago

RAPID CITY -- The Class A state wrestling tournament didn’t go as planned for Mitchell last year.

The Kernels took seven wrestlers to the state tournament, but only one managed to advance to the second day of competition. The lone placer was Tyson Sprinkel, who finished eighth at 220 pounds.

Fast forward a year and many of those same wrestlers donned Mitchell singlets, but this time, the Kernels came away with five state placers after starting with nine state qualifiers.

“I think this year we learned to be a little bit tighter knit,” Mitchell junior Ethan Parr said, adding experience played a key role in the turn around. “Last year, we were pretty separate but this year we all came together and pushed each other to do our best at all times.”

After its 2011-12 season, which saw two Kernels claim state titles en route to a fifth-place team finish, Mitchell was without many wrestlers who had gone deep in the state tournament.

“The first year I didn’t know what to expect,” Parr said. “But coming back this year, I learned that if you give it your all, you will win.”

Senior Tyson Sprinkel agreed with Parr, saying the team had great chemistry this season.

“We got in the room, came together as a team and busted our butts in practice,” Sprinkel said. “We were also there for each other and that is huge on a wrestling team.”

Sprinkel added the squad wanted to come back to the state tournament this year and show what Mitchell can be.

Kernel wrestling coach Travis Carpenter was happy with his team’s performance at the state championship, but like all coaches, he knows his team could have done better. While the Kernels placed five wrestlers in the top 8 at the state tournament, Carpenter was hoping to place six or seven.

Still the coach admitted his squad performed well.

“I think the kids took it upon themselves to get better,” Carpenter said. “In the offseason, they worked hard and each week throughout the season we progressed. They came into the room with a better attitude than they had last year, and it showed throughout the season.”