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SIOUX FALLS—As the defending team champions in Class B, Zach Pettit wasn't afraid to admit that the Platte-Geddes boys track team was feeling some pressure. "I about peed my pants before the first meet," he said. "But we've put in a lot of time to prepare for this moment." The Black Panthers seized the moment on Friday in the 4x800 Class B boys relay at the 91st annual Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls.
SIOUX FALLS — Burke native Tyler Frank noticed the cheers at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays Friday night. Not just from the people standing around the high jump bar, but instead, it was the whole stadium cheering on the University of South Dakota long jump standout to get it done, to tie the school record and raise his personal best. "I noticed it right before my last jump," he said. "It's something you don't really get to experience, even as an average college athlete."
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.