The Mitchell High School wrestling program has not had many head coaches over the years, but when Travis Carpenter resigned earlier this year after 13 seasons, it put Activities Director Cory Aadland on the hunt.
On Thursday, Aadland announced the search had come to an end and he decided to stay within the Kernel family by hiring Mitchell alum Andy Everson as the school's next coach, landing the job out of a pool of eight candidates.
A 2002 Mitchell graduate, Everson won the Class A 135-pound state championship during his final two prep seasons, before continuing his wrestling career at South Dakota State University and eventually served as an assistant at Dell Rapids for two seasons.
"His vision of what he would like to see done and his vision of wrestling made him a really a good fit for the program," Aadland said. "We haven't had a lot of wrestling coaches. We've had a lot of guys that have been around for a long time, so I think he's a really good fit to carry on what Coach Carpenter has built."
Everson is one of three brothers-along with Matt and Adam-that wrestled at the Division I level and the trio held a camp at Mitchell for three years. But after 20 years of wrestling, he opted to take a break from the sport, while starting a career at Miedema Sanitation.
Over the years Everson has attended a few Kernel matches and monitored the program from afar, but after nearly 10 years away from the sport, he decided this was the right time to jump back in.
"I never lost a love for the sport," said Everson, while on a hunting trip in Wyoming. "I appreciate what this sport has done for me, who this sport has made me and I want to pass that on to the youth of the future."
Carpenter left the program on a high note, with four wrestlers reaching the state finals in the last two years despite a rash of injuries, but Mitchell has not been able to attain the status it held in the 1990s. The program captured four consecutive Class A titles from 1995-1998 and five championships overall in the decade.
Aadland believes that Carpenter left the program stocked well for the future and Everson has the potential to help the Kernels return to the status of competing for state championships each year.
"The goal obviously is to get back to competing for state titles on a regular basis," Aadland said. "You go back to some of those strong years, I think with the talented group of young guys that we have, we just a little bit of a jumpstart to get back to that. The last two years, we've been really close to finishing better than we did. We just had a slew of injuries."
The Kernels return six wrestlers that won at least 20 matches last season and nine that have state tournament experience, including six freshmen and an eighth grader that competed in Rapid City last season.
While Everson has designs on sculpting the young Kernels into a consistent state contender, his plans also extend beyond the mat.
"We're going to be trying to win, but I don't think that's No. 1," Everson said. "My No. 1 is that these kids learn a good work ethic, work super hard and improve in both wrestling and life."