Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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Simulating a golf course in a gymnasium is challenging, but Mitchell High School girls' coach coach Rob Marchand and his team are making the most of it. Marchand, who is in his first year of coaching with the Kernels, said being indoors allows the players to break down their swings. This spring, the Mitchell golf team has been stuck inside like most other sports. The wintry weather and large snowfall totals have forced the Kernels indoors instead of on the course for practice. "It's actually a really good teaching environment," he said.
The Cadwell Sports Complex is a haven for baseball most days, but this week, it's better for building snowmen. On Monday afternoon, the Mitchell High School spring baseball team (2-2) spent one hour clearing off Drake Field, forming giant snow balls near the east fence. Head coach Luke Norden compared the activity to voting. "If you don't come out and try to do something, you can't complain about the field being too wet and snowy," he said.
Recent weather has made it unbearable for the Mitchell High School boys' tennis team to practice outside. So the Kernels have taken their practices indoors, thanks to Wayne and Mary Puetz. "The Puetz family has been very generous in support of the girls' and boys' tennis programs," Mitchell tennis coach Pat Moller said. "Anytime we need to use it, it's always been available to us.
Last year, runs per game dropped in high school and Class B baseball amateur games, likely a direct correlation of switching from metal to wooden bats in both leagues. The trend is something coaches and players predicted before the change, which happened before the start of last year. "With the wood, it's a small-ball game instead of waiting for the big hit," said Parkston Mudcats manager Dave Roth, whose team won the Class B state amateur tite last year.
Last baseball season, high school and Class B amateur teams had to adjust to wooden bats. It was the first time in years players in either league had to swing something other than metal bats, as officials in both associations decided a change was needed. After a full year of the switch, local retailers are finding wood-composite bats are being purchased more commonly by players than any other wooden bats such as ash, maple or bamboo.
Hard work does pay off. And Amelia Rew garnered the benefits of it last weekend in her final meet of her gymnastics career at the NCAA Regional Gymnastics Meet in Corvallis, Ore. In working alongside her day in and day out from 1998 to 2008, I can honestly say she's one of the hardest working athletes out there. From 1998 until spring of 2003, we carpooled to practice and competed in the sport at All American Gymnastics Academy in Sioux Falls.
It's one of the state's most prominent sports awards, and Gary Munsen earns the honor this weekend. The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is inducting the legendary former Kernels basketball coach at a banquet at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. "Of course I'm honored," said Munsen, who will be accompanied by three of his children, Shana, Sam and Scott. "It's probably the highest honor you can get in South Dakota." Munsen coached for 47 years and was at the helm of the Mitchell High School boys' basketball team for 39 years.
This week's weather forecast is making it difficult for outside sporting events to occur. Today's forecast will start with rain, which could turn into freezing rain, before changing to snow tonight. The Mitchell High School track and field triangular has been canceled and the Kernel boys' tennis match against Sioux Falls O'Gorman will be postponed -- no date has been set for rescheduling.
Michael Lukkason stepped up to the plate and swung on the first pitch without hesitation, sending the ball into right field for a single Saturday. That's the way he's been all season. "I like to be aggressive when I'm thrown a fastball," said Dakota Wesleyan University baseball player Lukkason, who bats in the Tigers' fourth spot. "I don't see many fastballs in the spot I'm in but when I do, I like to take advantage of them." Lukkason leads the Tigers and Great Plains Athletic Conference in batting average at .413, ahead of Northwestern's Corey Van Gorp, who's batting .412.
The new sheet of ice is sending a message that hockey is here to stay in Mitchell. And it can't come soon enough for all those involved in the Mitchell Hockey Association. The goal is to have the second sheet completed by Oct. 1 of this year, according to Mitchell Hockey Association President Doug Beck. "Everything is positive about it with the media and city council," Mitchell boys' varsity coach John Lord said.