If you guessed that the state of South Dakota would take a shine to rather agricultural mascots, well, you're right. Three of the five mascots that earned nominations among the state's best betrayed a farming bent, and two of those finished among the top three of voting.
The best, according to voting conducted by Sioux Falls' ESPN affiliate, is the Mitchell (S.D.) High Kernels. Yes, they're named after a kernel of corn. That, if you will, is a kernel of truth.
There's a good reason why Mitchell plays as the Kernels. The town is home to the famed Corn Palace, a bizarre, multi-purpose arena that appears like an Arabic bizarre smack dab in the middle of small town America.
The corn palace as currently constructed was built in 1921, adding Russian-styled domes and Moorish minarets. It's likely one of few high school basketball facilities that receives Homeland Security funding.
Wouldn't you know that the Corn Palace's mascot, a corn cob named Cornelius, was rebuilt with some of those federal funds, too?
Other Great South Dakota Mascots of Note:
If the Kernels are the cream of the crop, the Newell (S.D.) High Irrigators aren't far from it. These are not irrigators in the sense of people walking around with hoses, mind you. They're the mechanical farming devices used to water crops and fields. Newell is definitely the nation's only school honoring such a tool, making the likes of Eli Whitney proud (and probably a bit jealous that they aren't the Newell Gins).
Sturgis is best known for the massive motorcycle rally that rolls through town each summer, but the small city also is home to a high school with a fantastic mascot. The Sturgis (S.D.) High Scoopers are, in fact, named after prostitutes. It's true. Sturgis was originally an off-site encampment for a number of prospectors at nearby Deadwood, and they often rolled into town to partake in Sturgis' benefits. Namely, scoopers who would scoop money out of the prospectors pockets in exchange for, well, you know.
Luckily, the school doesn't use a traditional scooper as the physical representation of the mascot, but rather the prospectors who paid them … albeit armed with a very large shovel. There's your scoop.
- South Dakota