The future remains bright for the Mitchell High School gymnastics team.
The Kernels are coming off a second-place finish at the Class AA state gymnastics meet in Brookings last Friday.
Mitchell was gunning for its second straight crown and its fifth in the last six seasons. But Eastern South Dakota Conference rival Watertown claimed the prize with a score of 147.225. The Kernels scored a 144.500.
MHS coach Audra Rew said the Kernels were confident entering the season they could repeat, but injuries and inconsistent performances derailed that plan. She said the runner-up finish doesn't diminish another solid season.
"We didn't do anything to make a mistake to lose the state title," Rew said. "This was just the best team we could do at this point and so they need to be proud of that and they need to be proud of how hard they fought through the finish of this season and didn't give up."
The Kernels will graduate seniors Maria Krall, Mackenzie Gauger and Kailee Henglefelt. Krall captured a second-place finish in the all-around at state and it capped off a brilliant gymnastics career.
"Maybe we can't replace a Maria but we are going to get real close by adding up every individual score and making every individual better than in a sense a whole team is going to help pick up the slack of Maria," Rew said.
The Kernels will return a host of talented gymnasts and Rew said that next group of young team members will be ready to take on the tradition of Mitchell gymnastics.
"You lose somebody and you know it's going to be hard," Rew said. "But it seems like you move somebody up in the lineup and then they start getting a little bit higher scores, too."
Freshman Gracie Czmowski missed most of the season with a foot injury and she'll return to the lineup next season. Junior Caitlin Ostbye, sophomore Masy Mock and freshman Alyssa Hughes will also bolster the lineup. The Kernels also welcome back eighth-graders Kaylee Bauder, Tabitha Sadler, Emily Moody and Kyra Gropper.
"My eighth-grade class is stacked and so I am really excited to see where they are going to go after this," Rew said.