Record-setting wrestlers go into MHS hall of fame
When his team was going to be inducted into the Mitchell High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Bill Boggess knew he wasn't going to miss it. That meant coming up to Mitchell from his home in Florida, but the Kernels' championship-winning coach in 19...
When his team was going to be inducted into the Mitchell High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Bill Boggess knew he wasn't going to miss it.
That meant coming up to Mitchell from his home in Florida, but the Kernels' championship-winning coach in 1982 was going to be there.
Boggess and many of the Kernels on the record-setting wrestling team from 34 years ago were on hand Saturday to go into the hall of fame, recognized for their championship season, the first in Kernel wrestling history.
"There was no way I was going to miss this for anything," Boggess said. "All these years later, they still hold a special spot in my heart."
That season concluded at the Huron Arena with a Class A championship and a then-record 151.5 team points. The Kernels won all 18 of their duals that season and were 7-0 in the ESD, with a consecutive dual win streak that reached 38 before being snapped the next season.
Saturday's other inductees included Dr. Robert McWhirter, Jeana (Hoffman) Krome, Jenna (Hoffman) Kubesh and the late Gary Munsen.
Members of the wrestling team included Tim Lynde, Paul Koupal, Pat Oberembt, Doyle Everson, Doug Blacksten, Doug Moon, Brad Martin, Tace Wieczorek, Dave Bleeker, Greg Cannon, Fred Nagel and Troy Bollock. The team was coached by Boggess and assisted by Paul Sterling.
Lynde, Koupal and Everson were individual state champions that year and Mitchell had seven finishers in the top five that year, beating second place Vermillion by 47 points.
Sterling, who was wearing a black and gold polo shirt, said he still gets recognized all over when wearing that shirt for the "Mitchell colors," even though the shirt doesn't say "Mitchell" or "Kernels" on it. He was also wearing the team's championship ring, the first championship he was ever involved with.
"I've been fortunate to work with great players and great coaches since then but this is the only ring I ever bought," Sterling said. "I still wear it to this day. It's that important to me."
Boggess said he remembered that the team went more than three weeks without a meet that year because of bad weather and said the team went to the old swimming pool at the middle school to swim a couple of times to avoid the monotony of practice every day.
"We were working toward something bigger and I appreciate everyone that put in the time to put us in the position to do what we did at the Huron Arena," he said.
In the short history of the MHS Athletic Hall of Fame, so many of the inductees had been impacted by Gary Munsen.
And almost every inductee Saturday had memories of the longtime coach, who died in January at age 72. Munsen coached the Kernels' basketball teams to 12 state championships and won 902 games between boys and girls teams in his long coaching career.
His son, Scott, accepted the honor of the induction on Saturday and said the class represented so much of what Gary loved about high school sports, in both the people involved and the competition.
"I know Dad would be real excited to be here today and be honored," Scott said. "Dad loved people and that's why he coached for such a long time. All of our family has picked up that you have to love people and you have to love what you do."
Scott said that he was grateful for how much of an impact his dad was able to make for 47 years of coaching, plus more than 20 years of coaching both football and track and field.
"He just had that ability to motivate and get every God-given ounce of talent out of someone," he said. "I think that's why we all loved playing for him."
McWhirter appreciates Mitchell's dedication
For nearly 30 years, there wasn't a Mitchell Kernel athlete that didn't know "Dr. Mac."
A native of Boston, Dr. Robert McWhirter was a fixture on the sidelines at Kernel events, providing medical care to athletes and managing their athletic fitness while in-season. He said that when he arrived in Mitchell in 1985, it clear that this was a community that loved its Kernels.
"Dedication is the word that keeps coming to mind," he said.
McWhirter noted the passing of Munsen, with whom he had built a close relationship with the doctor over the years and throughout the Kernels' championship seasons. He recalled watching one of Mike Miller's first professional starts in 2000 with the Orlando Magic in Milwaukee and riding with Munsen to see it in person.
Now retired, McWhirter, 69, now spends most of his time in New Orleans but intends to keep coming back.
"I still consider Mitchell my home," he said. "You have a wonderful community here. I love the people here. I love the friendliness and I love the openness."