Youthful Kernel wrestling team gears up for season of growth
Mitchell returns 2022 state champion Jagger Tyler alongside fellow state tournament qualifiers Cruze Allhiser and Seth Foote to lead a young Mitchell wrestling program into the 2022-23 season.
MITCHELL — Constant learning and improvement.
These are the pillars around which the Mitchell High School wrestling team's 2022-23 season will be centered. After graduating 10 seniors from last year's team, eight state tournament qualifiers (including two state finalists) among them, the Kernels' roster is flush with rising talent alongside a small contingent of established varsity wrestlers.
But that youth isn't something the Kernels are shying away from, instead viewing it as an opportunity and challenge.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said coach Andy Everson of the season ahead. "We're going to see a lot of guys who haven't wrestled varsity before. I think they're a little nervous about it, but I feel like they're handling it well. It's been a lot of technique and fundamentals these first few weeks, but they're picking it up and everybody's been working hard."
After a Dec. 2 home dual against Chamberlain, the Kernels head to Watertown for the Marv Sherrill Duals on Dec. 3. The Kernels will also compete at home for the Jerry Opbroek Invitational on Jan. 14 and a dual against Pierre on Feb. 3. The Region 3A tournament will be hosted by Todd County, in Mission, on Feb. 18, with the state tournament taking place Feb. 23-25 in Rapid City.
Senior Jagger Tyler, the defending Class A 145-pound champion, highlights Mitchell's group of returners, which also includes senior Cruze Allhiser and junior Seth Foote, the other two 2022 state qualifiers coming back. All three are captains for the Kernels this season.
According to Everson, Tyler will start this season at 160 pounds and work his way down to 152, while Allhiser and Foote are currently listed to compete at 113 and 182 pounds, respectively. Other returning varsity letter-winners include seniors Kaileb Hubbard and Carson Podhradsky, junior Connor Degen and sophomore Van Long.
Stepping into larger roles this season, Everson expects sophomore Kellan Odell, freshmen Kaiden Allen and Sean Foote and eighth-grader Penn Long to make a significant impact on the program this year.
"They're young and inexperienced, but we've got some kids that should have pretty decent seasons," Everson said.
When it comes to setting goals as a team, Everson has implored his squad to look inward for the time being as the group works to gain experience and confidence.
"On a team level, I've told the guys that we're not competing against other teams right now. Let's just compete with ourselves and just try to get better each week than we were the week before," Everson said. "If we can have a goal not to be the best team, but to be a better team every week, I think that's the path we need to take right now and see where that leads for us."
Ultimately, Everson says both individual and team success will be measured by effort, not the scoreboard or wins and losses.
"You can learn a lot from a loss as long as you're putting out the maximum effort," Everson said. "If you go out timid and don't wrestle hard, you can't learn much from that. But if you go out and work hard on the mat, we can go back to the room and fix things we did wrong and make improvements.
"That's what we're trying to get across to them is go out, be aggressive, be physical," Everson continued. "That is 100% the theme of this year; let's rebuild, let's get to where we want to be in the future."