Sports: New beginning for MHS programs

There were a lot of job openings that Mitchell High Activities Director Scott VanDerMillen has had to fill within the last two months. Now, with the majority of them filled, VanDerMillen said he is trying to focus on the upcoming school year, whi...

There were a lot of job openings that Mitchell High Activities Director Scott VanDerMillen has had to fill within the last two months.

Now, with the majority of them filled, VanDerMillen said he is trying to focus on the upcoming school year, which starts in four weeks.

The Mitchell Board of Education will approve the hirings of Travis Carpenter as head wrestling coach, Mark Budahl as head boys' golf coach and assistant girls' golf coach, Mark Horan as head girls' golf coach and assistant boys' golf coach, Audra Rew as head gymnastics coach and Joshua Davies as freshman girls' basketball coach at the Mitchell school board meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Mitchell Technical Institute cafeteria.

Other new hires at MHS within the past two months include Bob Lemon as head girls' soccer coach and Jody Childs as head cross country coach. Lemon's hiring was approved in May and Childs' was approved in June.

"It's a great feeling to have these folks in place," VanDerMillen said. "I think it will be more of a relief for the kids that are involved in these sports than anything else. They know it's time to move forward. They have a direction now and it's just a matter of getting the kids together and carrying out a successful season.


"When you have all your coaches on board, you always have some sort of relief. Now we have everybody on board and have the ship headed in the right direction."

The only position remaining open at MHS is for a head cheerleading adviser. VanDerMillen said the assistant volleyball coach position that had been open will be retained by Tricia Neugebauer.

VanDerMillen said he didn't have a large number of applications for the openings, but had a fair amount between all of them.

"More doesn't always mean quality," he said. "You have to go into the process with an open mind. You like to bring in people who have experience and have passion for what they do. All of our candidates bring both of those traits to the table."

Carpenter takes over the head wrestling job from Andy Tate, who resigned from the school district last week. Tate had coached the wrestling team since 1988. Carpenter, 32, has been an assistant wrestling coach at MHS for 13 years and also has been an assistant football coach at MHS for the past eight. Carpenter graduated from Dakota Wesleyan in 1997.

Carpenter said he's looking forward to taking over the MHS program, which he wrestled for in high school himself.

"I'm excited. My goals for the team are going to remain the same as the past 14 years that I've been involved with the program," he said. "We want to compete for a state title. We think we have a good nucleus of kids back and we should be able to compete like we've done in years past. We've gotten together as a coaching staff and talked about where we want to go. We want to keep the tradition going."

As soon as the position opened, Carpenter said he applied for it.


"You always want to be a head coach, it's just a matter of when the opportunity arises," he said.

Returning seniors to this year's MHS wrestling team includes Adam Aslesen, Stratton Havlik, Mike Larson, Matt Russell, Marcus Rothlisberger and Dusty Warnke. The Kernels won the Eastern South Dakota Conference title last season and took fourth at the Class A state tournament.

Carpenter said his experience with the athletes and around the state in wrestling will benefit the team.

"I think the knowledge of our system and the kids will help me in this situation," he said. "I grew up in the ESD and I've coached in it for 14 years now. I think that's definitely a bonus. The biggest thing we'll have to do is make the transition from one way to the next way. Our ultimate goal next year is to win a state title."

VanDerMillen said Carpenter brings stability to the position.

"He brings a broad knowledge of wrestling and he knows how to work with the kids," he said. "Travis has a passion for coaching and for coaching MHS athletics. The program will continue to be successful with him as the head coach."

As for the other new hires, VanDerMillen had to say this about each of them:

n Budahl and Horan: "Mark Budahl's knowledge of the game will help us, without question. He loves the kids and the golf program. Mark Horan brings a lot of passion and great teaching ability to both of his jobs. We're fortunate to have these guys leading both programs."


n Childs: "Jody was an assistant cross country coach at Watertown. He would've been our assistant next year initially until Alan Miller resigned. He was more than ready to be the head coach. He has experience and I think the kids will find him very passionate about what he does. I anticipate it won't take Jody very long to build up our program to be successful in the ESD."

n Rew: "Audra's experience is immeasurable. She's committed to gymnastics. She was an assistant coach for a number of years at MHS. She obviously has a vested interest in the program and has worked with all the girls extensively. She loves the sport and that will rub off on the kids."

n Lemon: "He brings instant credibility to the girls' soccer program. We're very fortunate to have someone of his caliber, experience and knowledge. He's one of those many people in the community that have built soccer up from its inception. He deserves credit for that. I think you'll see a dramatic change in the program in a short amount of time."

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