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SIOUX FALLS—Ninety-six-year-old Harold Thune's basketball story finally came full circle. From his time in Murdo to the University of Minnesota and back to South Dakota, Thune was found in the Gophers locker room again for the first time in 75 years. The opportunity was possible when the Gophers honored him during their game at the Sanford Pentagon last weekend when Minnesota played Vanderbilt.
The Mitchell Marlins boys hockey team enters a new season in 2016-17 with a goal of playing a faster and more aggressive style of hockey. The team is under new leadership this season, with Cody Denne transitioning over from the girls varsity to the boys head coach role, replacing Chris Tronnes. "It's always been my dream to coach the boys varsity, so this is exciting for me," Denne said. The team has two large offensive holes to fill after Jacob Thill graduated and Spencer Neugebauer decided not to play this season.
With its win on Saturday to get past a pesky Villanova team, the South Dakota State University football team is now in unchartered territory. They're in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. And for the first time in the team's six trips to the playoffs since 2009, SDSU is now something they haven't been before: National title contenders. I don't know if that could be said with the other talented SDSU teams earlier in this decade, even with the nation's best running back in Zach Zenner for a couple of years.
TYNDALL — Sierra Mesman's hard work starts before the sun comes up. Never mind the fact that she's a student with a grade-point average above 4.0, a member of the National Honor Society, plays trumpet in the school band and is a talented high school volleyball player. Instead, before all of that takes place, Mesman is at the Tyndall Bakery, working her part-time job of icing and frosting donuts. She's up at 4:15 a.m., at the bakery at 5 a.m. and works a few hours until school starts.
As the 2015-16 Kernel girls basketball season came to an end, Mitchell coach Wes Morgan issued a challenge to his team to take the opportunity of the offseason to improve. In the early days of the season, it appears that challenge has been met. Bringing back 12 returning letterwinners from a team that made the Class AA state tournament, the Kernels have a mix of depth and experience and a team Morgan expects to be balanced.
BROOKINGS — In his first season with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Wes Genant has exceeded even his own expectations. The Parkston native has played in nine straight games and hasn't looked the part of a true freshman one bit. Genant has played his part in rotating at right tackle to help SDSU to its first Missouri Valley Football Conference championship.
In almost any way to break it down, the 2016 Mitchell High School volleyball season will go down as a success.
Many of the top players in Class 9B football in South Dakota in 2016 were on the top teams, as the South Dakota Football Coaches Association has selected its all-state team. Of the 23 all-state selections, 14 players were from the teams of the four semifinalists in Class 9B this season: Colome, Corsica-Stickney, Harding County and Langford Area.
It's a new season for the Mitchell High School gymnastics. And that brings about new challenges for the three-time defending Class AA state champions. The Kernels bring back seven members of the 2016 championship team—including three of them that finished in the top 10 of their respective individual event at the state meet. But Mitchell's two seniors a season ago, Quinci Herll and Emily Prill, won four of the five individual championships at the state meet, which is individual production that will be difficult to replicate or replace.
HURON—For a second straight year, both Platte-Geddes and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket met in the fifth-place match at the Class B state volleyball tournament. For a second straight year, it went five sets, with neither team going away easily. And like a year ago, the Black Panthers of Platte-Geddes emerged as the winners of the consolation bracket in a 3-2 match at the Huron Arena. Set scores were 25-14, 17-25, 25-13, 24-26 and 15-5.