Kernel gymnastics closes out home schedule with top score of the season

On Senior Night, Mitchell had a big bounceback on beam.

Mitchell's Tessa Allen approaches the vault during the Mitchell gymnastics triangular on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the MEGA Gymnastics Center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The comforts of home only helped on Thursday night for the Mitchell High School gymnastics team.

Mitchell answered its worst beam rotation of the season on Saturday in Watertown with one of its best on Thursday night, scoring 37.550 in the event, which helped power a season-best team score in a home triangular with Brookings and Madison at the MEGA Gymnastics Center. The Kernels scored 149.100 on Senior Night, which was the final meet of the regular season. Brookings scored 138.050 and Madison had 131.900.

“I knew we’d bounce back,” Mitchell coach Audra Rew said. “It gave us a few things to focus on but these girls are competitors, and they’re going to come back and not let that happen to us again. We didn’t want it to be a big deal, and be in their heads, but they showed how they can perform.”

Senior Lara Widstrom performs on the beam during a gymnastics triangular between Brookings, Madison and Mitchell on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the MEGA gymnastics center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

On Saturday in Watertown, the Kernels had its top-five varsity performers fall on beam, leading to a score of 33.075. Thursday’s bounceback was led by Kyra Gropper, who tied with Madison’s Karlie Nelson for the event title with a score of 9.450. Aubrey Gelderman was third (9.400) and Olivia Prunty and Kyanna Gropper tied for fourth place (9.350) for Mitchell.

Of Mitchell’s top-three team scores this season, two have been in the MEGA Gym. Rew said she was confident Mitchell would perform well at home, given the familiarity and the energy around it being the final home meet for four seniors: Tessa Allen, Gropper, Emily Moody and Lara Widstrom.


“We’re relaxed when we compete here, and tonight, they want to perform their best,” Rew said. “There’s a lot of emotions involved.”

Prunty was the champion in the vault with a score of 9.550. Kyra Gropper was second (9.200) and Moody was third (9.150), with Kyanna Gropper tying for fourth place (9.100). Allen had a score of 8.950 to get on the medal stand in sixth place.

On bars, Kyra Gropper was the event champion with a score of 9.350, followed by Prunty (9.250). Bentley Bates was third (9.150), and Kyanna Gropper was fourth (9.050), followed by Moody tying for sixth place (8.200).

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Mitchell, Madison and Brookings compete in gymnastic triangular.

In the floor exercise, Mitchell had six of the top scores, with Kyra Gropper and Prunty tying for first place with scores of 9.500. Moody was third (9.450), Bates and Gelderman were tied for fourth (9.300) and Kyanna Gropper was tied for sixth (9.250).

Up next is the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet at noon on Feb. 4 in Pierre, which will serve as the team qualifying meet and the final chance for individual qualifying before the state meet on Feb. 10-11 in Aberdeen.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time of the season,” Rew said. “We’ve been consistent for a lot of the year and now we have a week to get ready for ESD and then the state meet will be right around the corner. We’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”

In the junior varsity scoring, Mitchell had the top three all-around finishers, with Ava Prunty (33.700), Abby Helleloid (33.450) and McKenna Auch (31.000). The Kernels won the team honors with 133.300 points, well ahead of Brookings (111.950) and Madison (110.600).

Prunty had the top vault score (8.950), with Sidney Malde second (8.800) and Auch third (8.250). On bars, Malde had the top score (8.300), with Prunty second (8.200) and Helleloid third (7.950). Helleloid won the beam (8.400) and Kennedy Vilhauer was second for Mitchell (8.350). Harley Goldammer was the champ on floor (9.100), with Abby Helleloid in second (8.900) and Lara Widstrom and Prunty tied for third with an 8.700.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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