Mitchell names 2 new head coaches

Keller takes helm of baseball team; Buchanan takes reins of cheerleading squad

LEDGER – When Trent Keller took over as interim head coach for the Mitchell High School baseball team this past season the Mountaineers were 1-7 and falling well short of expectations after a strong 2016 campaign.

Mitchell Athletic Director Jamie Bell announced this past week the interim tag has been removed and Keller is the new head coach for the Mountaineers baseball team.

“He’ll do a great job,” Bell said. “He’s familiar with the program, the players know him well and respond to him well and he’s been involved with the program so long he will be able to hit the ground running. We’re happy to have him coaching our baseball team.”

Former head coach Brad Jones went on personal leave and the Mountaineers won six of their final 10 games with Keller at the helm before losing in the second round of the state baseball playoffs.

After being an assistant coach for the past eight seasons, Keller, 52, said he never wanted or expected to be head coach.

“I’ve always been involved in the baseball program and I feel like I’ve helped get the program where it is right now under coach Jones,” he said. “I never anticipated taking over the head coaching reins, but it’s something I felt needed to be done. I couldn’t let those kids down and couldn’t cancel their season because the head coach went on personal leave so I just stepped up and did what I had to do.”

The Mountaineers lost four seniors from this past season’s team – Dustin Suiter, Justin Greene, Casey Brown and Luke Tipton – but Keller said the team still has some exceptional athletes who are good baseball players.

“Losing only four seniors is both good and bad,” he said. “The talent we did lose will be hard to replace, but with the guys we have coming back, if we get them fundamentally sound, we’re going to pick right up where we left off.”

  1. Mountaineers have routinely been competitive in the Western Highlands Conference, finishing second in 2015 and 2016. With the players he has returning, Keller said he is “excited” about this coming season.

“I don’t see us not doing better than (second place) this coming year,” he said. “Our conference has a lot of talent, but if we work hard and our players do the fundamental things right, our team will be as competitive as any team in the conference.”

Keller is self-employed. He has owned and operated Keller signs for the past 22 years.

Courtney Buchanan was Mitchell High School’s assistant cheerleading coach this past season “on a whim,” she said. After former cheerleading coach Taylor Hughes stepped down to start a family, Buchanan’s status was elevated this past week to first-year head coach.

“I have 13 returning girls this season and I fell in love with them, so when (Hughes) said she couldn’t do it, I said I could,” Buchanan said. “I am excited and nervous.”

Buchanan, 26, was a four-year cheerleader at Mitchell and was captain of the squad her senior year.

She graduated from Mitchell in 2009 and works as a teacher’s aide in the EC classroom at Bowman Middle School.

After losing two seniors only from this past year’s squad – Tori Riddle and Emily Grindstaff – Buchanan said experience is a plus for a group of young women who endure long, grueling sports seasons.

“Tryouts were extremely competitive,” Buchanan said. “A lot of people don’t realize that, although cheerleading squads don’t compete, these young women are still athletes and cheerleading is absolutely a sport. If it rains, if it snows, if it’s hot, whatever, cheerleaders are out there doing what they do. We practice hard, we get bumps and bruises and we experience the thrill of a win and the heartbreak of a loss just like the players do.”

Cheer coach at Mitchell is a unique position, Buchanan said.

“The collaboration among all the sports at Mitchell is phenomenal,” she said. “The support all the teams and the band get from the administration, the students and the band makes it really fun to be a part of.”

Buchanan will be joined by first-year assistant coach Adrienne Snyder this coming season.

The MItchell News

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