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An important summer looms for Mitchell High School athletes. But for Kernels in grades 7-12, the upcoming summer also presents an opportunity no other former MHS athlete has had — a comprehensive year-round strength and conditioning program. It's a program that started in January and is led by Eric Witte, who has full support from Mitchell's varsity coaches.
All it takes is look back at the history of Dakota Wesleyan University basketball. Since the 1975-76 season, when the women's team joined the men's team, times have never been this good. One could call it a golden-era of DWU hoops.
SIOUX FALLS — J.J. Cooney is an easy-going guy. And on the golf course, he's even more relaxed. In a demanding mental sport, it's an attribute that can't be underestimated. It's helped Cooney adjust to college golf at the University of Sioux Falls so well. Fresh off a sixth-place finish at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, Cooney has now recorded nine top-10 finishes in his two seasons playing with the Cougars.
For the past four seasons, Wild Oak Golf Course has opened in March. This year, it's more than halfway through April and course hasn't been open for one day. But the recent snowfall doesn't have Wild Oak manager Dave Backlund Jr. worried at all. He said the course could really use all the extra moisture. "It could be a blessing in disguise," said Backlund Jr., who added the course went into the winter pretty brown. "The ground isn't frozen so all the snow will seep into the ground."
The Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling program is heading in a new direction. And newly named head coach Casey Mouw wants that direction to be based on enjoying the sport of wrestling. "I want the guys to have a good college experience and a good wrestling experience. I want them to leave this sport with a good taste in their mouth," Mouw said. "It may or may not mean that you were successful and achieved all your goals on the mat, but you love the sport just as much, if not more, than when you started."
University of Sioux Falls golfer J.J. Cooney placed sixth at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championship on Saturday at the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex in Smithville, Missouri. Cooney, an Andes Central graduate, carded a three-round score of 224 (76-75-73) to help USF take eighth place as a team with a score of 929. Minnesota State-Mankato won the event with a team score of 908. St. Cloud State's Troy Ryynanen and Concordia-St. Paul's Noah Rasinski tied for the NSIC title with a 219.
Besides finally getting a chance to play, the Mitchell High School baseball team is taking away positives from its 1-3 start to the season. The Kernels went 1-1 against Harrisburg and 0-2 against Sioux Falls Roosevelt last week, but head coach Luke Norden said he saw improvement from his team in each game. "We gave ourselves way more opportunities offensively," Norden said about the doubleheader against defending state champion Roosevelt. "We had opportunities to potentially win both those games. We gave ourselves an opportunity against the best team in the state."
In a time when organized athletics didn't exist for girls, Blanche Barnum was a trailblazer. Barnum, who taught all levels in the Mitchell School District from 1951-1969, is a 2018 South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame "Legends" inductee for being "a pioneer in physical education for girls in the state." According to Barnum's daughter, Lee Ann Overbay, Barnum advocated heavily for female athletics and fitness.
The Mitchell High School track and field team has yet to compete in a meet outside this season. And it'll be past mid-April before Kernels finally get outdoors. Mitchell's first scheduled outdoor meet in Huron last week was canceled, as was today's scheduled meet in Brandon and Saturday's Corn Palace Relays. Despite the poor weather, which has forced the team to practice indoors, MHS head coach Joe Shepardson said the athletes will be more than ready when the first outdoor meet rolls along.
The best part about Major League Baseball is the unknown. Year after year, despite all of the technology and all of the information used in the game today, surprises abound. It's the beauty about a 162-game regular season: injuries, suspensions, slumps and streaks can make a difficult game to predict even more incalculable. With the weather the way it is, it's hard to even know how many of these games in April will be played when they're scheduled.