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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.
SALEM — In her first year running varsity track, Jacy Pulse set the bar high. After all, it doesn't get much better than a state championship. But the McCook Central/Montrose eighth-grader is seeking more success in 2016. And she's looking quite capable. A few weeks into the season, Pulse has already qualified for the state meet in three events — the 200 and 400 meter races and in the 100-meter hurdles — and the Fighting Cougars' young sprinter appears to be headed to the medal stand once again.
LAKE ANDES — For Andes Central/Dakota Christian golfer J.J. Cooney, winning the Class B boys state golf championship was only the start of his work in 2015. The champion had to become more consistent and more competitive. So, he spent almost all of his summer playing golf in Arizona and worked continuously on his game. Over his Thanksgiving and Christmas break from school? More golf, in warmer climates.
For the first time in 16 years, South Dakota State University is looking for a new coach of one of its major athletic programs. The school had a nearly-unheard-of-streak from 2000 to 2016 of not having a coaching change in football, men's basketball and women's basketball. But that changed Sunday, and happened rather abruptly. Scott Nagy, the Jackrabbits' coach for 21 seasons, left SDSU officially Monday for a job at Wright State (Ohio) University, a team in the Horizon League which has been competitive but has made the NCAA tournament two times in the last 30 years.
The Mitchell High School girls golf team will look to see its youth emerge into leaders during the 2016 season. With a team of mostly sophomores, first-year head coach Keri Munsen said the team will have to make whatever strides they can during the short season. "We're going to look to improve, even if it's just a little bit," said Munsen, who was an assistant coach with the team a year ago. "The girls are really young and it's going to be kind of hit or miss with them, in some ways."
First-year Mitchell Christian track and field coach Jodi Asbenson isn't totally sure how the Golden Eagles' season will turn out. But she's pretty sure the team will be exciting and will grow over the course of the season, laying the foundation for future MCS track teams. There's no question the team will be small — it has just 11 members total with the men's and women's teams. Many of those athletes are in junior high and will compete at that level, if needed.
BURKE—In each of the last two seasons, it's been a case of "close but not quite" for the Burke/South Central girls golf team in their pursuit for a Class B state team title. There's reason to believe the Cougars will be in the hunt again this year. The team brings back four key state qualifiers from last year's team, which didn't have a senior on the roster and coach Billie Jo Indahl said her team is hungry for more success after a pair of state runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015.