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If winning is a habit, don't expect the Mitchell High School boys tennis program to be giving it up anytime soon. While the school's varsity team is 15-1 and is led by a strong nucleus of upperclassmen, the Kernels continue to mix those players in with young players. Mitchell has 28 junior varsity players and entering this week, the Kernels' JV players had a record of 141-11 in matches this season, recording 10 wins for every loss they've accumulated.
Mitchell's Kaelyn Kaul loves to run. And she's not one to turn down a race. Kaul, a senior for the Kernels, can run the 200, 400, 800-meter races and has been a key cog in the team's distance relays. Those types of runners — who can seemingly do it all and do it well — aren't easy to find. "She's exactly what we look for," said Mitchell coach Joe Shepardson. "She sets a great example and she stays late at practice. She does everything she can and then asks what else she can be doing to get better."
When Dakota Wesleyan University women's golf coach Chris Gomez heard rumblings around the clubhouse at Wild Oak Golf Course Monday, he began to feel disappointed. "I didn't want us to come in second," he said. But the scores were still being added and good news soon followed: the Tigers didn't finish second, they finished first, winning their eighth consecutive Great Plains Athletic Conference women's golf championship at their home course Monday in Mitchell.
PLATTE — Troy Kirsch can't help but be a little jealous of kids these days. Unlike when he graduated from school in Platte, high school students now can participate in one of their favorite hobbies as a club sport: trapshooting. "I would have loved to do this as a kid," he said. "This is a pretty great thing for so many kids to be a part of."
Dakota Wesleyan University had a nice event Wednesday to recognize the career and contributions of athletic director Curt Hart, who will retire at the end of May. And while the ceremony was held at the university's campus hub, the Sherman Center, the more symbolic location might have been across campus. Because for all of Hart's contributions to the athletic programs and the university in his tenure, it's the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex that is likely the most significant.
BROOKINGS — The defensive line is expected to be a strength of the South Dakota State football team in 2016. And a bunch of local South Dakota players will likely be a major reason why. Salem's Shayne Gottlob joins Dell Rapids' Cole Langer and Yankton's Kellen Soulek as likely starters on the defensive line when the Jacks open the season at Texas Christian University in September. Behind them, Freeman's Caleb Lang and Plankinton's Matt Fry are working to be in the mix for the Jacks, as well.
WINNER — The seventh test of the season was set to be the toughest for the Winner/Colome prep baseball team Sunday, meeting the three-time defending Class B state champions from St. Thomas More. After opening the season at 6-0, the Royals passed the challenge with a late rally and a walkoff victory over the Cavaliers 5-4 in Winner. It's another example of just how far the Royals have come and just how good the Winner/Colome baseball team could be by season's end. The Royals (7-0) are one of two teams that remain undefeated in Class B, along with Bennett County (3-0).
I'm a fan of the news from this week about the shot clock being added to small-school basketball in South Dakota. It's not so much the shot clock change itself — although I do like that, too. Instead, I like that it's a change is being embraced and our coaches and administrators aren't afraid of trying something new. It's often said about so many things in South Dakota, that we're slow to change. On some subjects, we deserve that label. The shot clock situation is a small thing in our big world but it's refreshing to see South Dakota take on a challenge.
Professional basketball is returning to the Corn Palace. Plans are in place for the Dakota Magic to play its home games in Mitchell in the newly formed National Basketball League of America, with plans for a 20-game schedule to start in September using former NCAA and NAIA college basketball players who have regional connections.
SCOTLAND — Practice always starts the same way for Scotland's Maggie Fiscel. First, she hits 50 shots from the 100-yard mark on a given hole at Dawson Creek Golf Course in Scotland. Then she hits shots from 50 yards out and then works on chipping before honing her putting with about 30 practice strokes from around the green. It's a regimented routine for the Highlanders' junior golfer and so far this season, it's working.