Mitchell gymnastics cruises to team title at Patty Jorgenson Invitational

The Kernels defeated second-place Watertown by 6.050 points.


BROOKINGS — Behind a strong team showing and season-best performance on the uneven bars, the Mitchell High School gymnastics team earned its largest victory of the season in the Patty Jorgenson Invitational on Saturday at Brookings High School.

Mitchell topped the team standings with 148.000 points, the Kernels’ second-highest mark of the season to date, bested only by their mark of 148.700 from the Jill McCormick Invitational in Mitchell on Dec. 18. Watertown took second place with 141.950 points, followed by Harrisburg’s 141.250 and the host Brookings’ 136.750.

The 6.050 point margin is Mitchell’s largest this season, again besting a mark from the Jill McCormick Invitational (5.700), as the Kernels have now won all six of the events they’ve attended this season.

Saturday marked the first time Mitchell had competed since Dec. 18, and coach Audra Rew noted it can be difficult to seamlessly resume the season, but the Kernels showed few ill-effects from their three-week break.

“It’s like starting all over and getting back in the swing of competing,” Rew said. “I actually thought the girls picked up right where they left off. They were confident and aggressive on their routines and I didn’t see any nerves like you normally would coming off our break.”


Bentley Bates (37.500 points), Joslin Sommerville (36.800) and Kyra Gropper (36.650) finished second, third and fourth, respectively in the all-around competition behind the event-best mark of 38.250 points by Watertown’s Myah Morris. Mitchell’s Olivia Prunty also notched 35.900 points, good for sixth behind Yankton’s Alison Johnson (36.350).

Mitchell’s team score of 36.750 points on the uneven bars was their best of the season to date, paced by Bates’ mark of 9.650.

“She had a brand-new bar routine, that was probably the highlight,” Rew said of Bates. “… It kind of put a cherry on top of our day. It was our last event, and we had been anticipating bars and been excited about that routine all day. She hit it, and it was an exciting moment for everybody.”

Kyra Gropper (9.200), Kyanna Gropper (9.000), Prunty (8.900) and Somerville (8.800) all also placed in the top eight on bars.

“It’s been coming,” Rew said of the performance on bars. “We just had some time over break to work some of the details, build our confidence and make it all come together.”

Sommerville’s 9.450 points on floor exercise put her in a three-way tie for second behind Morris with Katelyn Maeschen and Meredith Hruby, both of Harrisburg. Kyra Gropper, Sidney Malde and Olivia Prunty created an all-Mitchell three-way tie for fifth at 9.400 points, as Bates was not far behind in eighth at 9.350.

On the vault, Morris’ 9.950 points was the highest individual score on any event for the day. Kyra Gropper and Somerville tied for second in the event with Madison’s Kylie Krusemark at 9.400 points, followed by Bates (9.250, sixth) and Chelsey Mohr (9.200, seventh)

Bates also posted the Kernels’ best mark on the balance beam with 9.250 points, good for fourth place. Somerville (9.150, fifth), Prunty (9.000, eighth) and Malde (8.950, ninth) also placed in the top-10.


Mitchell competes in a road dual against Wagner/Bon Homme on Monday in Wagner. While not every gymnast is competing at every event, the Wagner dual is the second of nine events in the span of 35 days to close the season.

“Right now, it’s a matter of keeping them all healthy, keeping their bodies feeling good, strong and confident so we can be at our best at ESD and state,” Rew said.

The Eastern South Dakota Conference and state meets are Feb. 5 and Feb. 11-12, respectively, with both competitions at the Corn Palace.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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