Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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LARCHWOOD, Iowa -- In the past two years, Mitchell native Mike Miller has seen his donations to the Sanford Children's hospital come full circle. Two years ago, Miller's daughter, Jaelyn, was born with several holes in her heart and because of her fragile health, she was unable to watch her father and the Miami Heat win their first NBA championship.
Mitchell High School standout volleyball player Taylin Alm verbally committed to Pepperdine University Friday for the fall of 2014. "I wanted a place that was comfortable and Pepperdine did that for me," the 6-foot-4 middle hitter said. "It was the last place I ended up visiting and I could see myself being there." Alm is the first Kernel volleyball player to be offered a Division I full-ride scholarship directly out of high school.
Win or lose, Mitchell Legion coach Luke Norden knows his team benefits from the Gopher Classic. His team is one of 90 teams playing the Jim Hanus Gopher Classic Baseball Tournament, which begins today and concludes Tuesday. The Gopher Classic is the largest American Legion tournament in the country with teams from all over the Midwest and three Canadian provinces. This year, games will be played 15 different sites throughout the Twin Cities metro area. There are 15 pools and the pool winners, along with one second-place team, advance to the single-elimination championship rounds.
With several months left in the golf season, local and area courses have received positive feedback on recent additions and changes. Wild Oak Golf Club moved its tee boxes forward this season and Lakeview Golf Course has implemented new carts and has seen the benefits of a new putting green. Wild Oak moved its boxes forward as a part of the Professional Golfers Association's Tee it Forward program. "It speeds up play and people are able to have a more enjoyable round," Wild Oak Director of Operations Dave Backlund Jr. said, adding the course has implement senior tee boxes as well.
Blarney's Sports Bar and Grill will be hosting its fifth annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament Saturday. The most teams the tournament has hosted was 34 and has had as few as 16 teams other years. The players vary from grade school kids to adults. Blarney's Manager Scott Morgan expected up to 25 teams to play in the event this year. Three Dakota Wesleyan University basketball players joined to create a team for the tournament. "We like to be in a different atmosphere," DWU forward and Corsica native Luke Bamberg said.
Local businesses have donated nearly 96 percent of the Mitchell Skating and Hockey Association's Twice the Ice Fund. The fund was put in place to raise money for the new ice sheet, which is being built south of the Mitchell Activities Center. The addition -- which is projected to finish Oct. 1 -- costs an estimated $2.8 million and the association will pay the city $500,000 toward the project. "We have met our $500,000 obligation to the city," Mitchell Skating and Hockey Association President Doug Beck said.
The Mitchell High School volleyball program is hosting two camps this week. The first is the MHS volleyball camp, which begins today and concludes Tuesday and is at the high school. There are 65 pre-registered players, including local and area girls in grades seven through 12. The second camp the program is hosting is the Kernel Klassic Team Camp of Champs. "It's the biggest volleyball camp in the state," Mitchell Kernel head coach Deb Thill said, adding this is the 20th year of the team camp. This year, 62 teams from around the state will compete in four divisions.
For the last nine years, Mitchell gymnasts have come to know the teaching style, passion and knowledge of Tom Jones. Jones, who grew up in Ohio, recently became a resident of Woonsocket after moving from Cable, Wis., this week. Since 2004, Jones has served as a volunteer coach and offered his knowledge with MEGA gymnasts and staff. "At first, he was helping me see the errors the kids were making in high-level skills," MEGA and Mitchell High School gymnastics coach Audra Rew said.
Before the fireworks began Thursday night, many people were out enjoying the day with a golf club in their hands. For Mitchell's two golf courses -- Lakeview Golf Course and Wild Oak Golf Club -- it was one of the busiest mornings of the season. "Usually the morning is five times as busy as a regular day," Lakeview manager Dan Sabers said. "And the afternoon is a lot slower." Tee times between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.
On your marks. Get set. Go. Fifty-four runners set out Thursday morning during the Dakota Plains Running Club's second annual Freedom Run at the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex in Mitchell. "It's about the same number we had last year," said Scott Loecker, who is head of the local running club and race director. "With the fourth of July being on a Thursday, we were worried that people might be headed out of town for a four-day weekend, but it was a good turnout." Matt Heesch, who is a former Mitchell High School runner, was the top finisher in the 5K with a time of 16 minutes, 40 seconds.