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BROOKINGS—Forgive Chamberlain High School gymnastics coach Sherri Knippling if she didn't have the brightest outlook on Friday's Class A gymnastics team championships. The Cubs were missing some of their best gymnasts due to injury, meaning a high finish on the podium would be difficult. Knippling would find out what kind of depth her team had. She was quite pleased at day's end.
BROOKINGS—Back-to-back-to-back. The Mitchell High School gymnastics team brought home a third consecutive state championship in Class AA Friday at the Swiftel Center in Brookings, holding off a charge from Sioux Falls O'Gorman. The Kernels finished with 146.075 team points in the team competition, while O'Gorman finished second with 141.525. Annual state meet contender Rapid City Stevens finished in third place with 140.825 points.
There will be no surprises in the way the Mitchell High School gymnastics team approaches today's state meet. The routines have been finished for a while. And the Kernels are confident that if they execute the way they know how, they will be state champions in Class AA for a third consecutive time. The Kernels and eight other Class AA teams will take the floor at 11 a.m. today at the Swiftel Center in Brookings for the state championships. The team championship will be contested Friday, with the individual champions being crowned on Saturday.
Aside from being one of the state's top teams, the Mitchell High School gymnastics squad will have one other advantage when they take the stage this weekend at the South Dakota state gymnastics meet: they've been there before.
Saturday's Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball victory reaffirmed a theme of the 2015-16 season: when the Tigers put a full game together, they're tough to beat. That took until the third quarter Saturday against Nebraska Wesleyan, but when the Tigers outscored the Prairie Wolves over a 10-minute span, the No. 16 Tigers broke open a three-point game at halftime and won 79-56 at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
Quinci Herll is leading by example. And it's a pretty good example for the two-time defending state champion Mitchell Kernel gymnastics team to follow.
ALEXANDRIA — Standing at 5-foot-9 inches, Hanson's Kynedi Cheeseman is not exactly a towering presence on the basketball court. But in a starting lineup of teammates who happen to be shorter than she is, Cheeseman is frequently the center and leading forward on the Class B No. 2-ranked Beavers. It hasn't posed much of a problem for Hanson, which is 13-3 and hosts Class A foe Madison today in Alexandria. "I'll do pretty much whatever I need to do for us to win," she said. "Playing center doesn't bother me a bit."
In the Dakota Wesleyan University athletic training department, more is better. With the opening of the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, the school has expanded its athletic training space on campus, now with two locations to use and more than four times as much room for treating athletes. "Space is the biggest advantage with this training room," said Jarod Guthmiller, the Tigers' head athletic trainer. "This is obviously going to be more open and more conducive for rehab purposes."
Dakota Wesleyan University's softball team didn't have the pitching it needed in 2015 and because of deficiency, the Tigers were 10-34 on the season. But 2016 brings about a new outlook on the Tigers, which has more arms available to pitch and brings back some of the conference's best bats. The Tigers open the season today at St. Cloud State (Minn.) with a doubleheader and a four-game series with the Huskies inside the school's inflatable bubble. DWU head coach Ed Kieff said youth will be served early after the program brought in 13 freshmen in the latest recruiting class.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the final story in a three-part series on Dakota Wesleyan's new athletic fieldhouse and what it means for the future of Tiger sports. Count Great Plains Athletic Conference Commissioner Corey Westra among those who are fans of the new Dakota Wesleyan University/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex. "For our level of NAIA conference to have another facility of this quality, we're very lucky," Westra said last week. "This will be the new gem in the conference."