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Special Moments

Special Moments

Northern State University’s James Burks, top, fights off MSU Moorhead’s Braydon Ortloff during their 165 pound match at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships at Wachs Arena. Burks won a gold medal at the Pan American championships in June. Photo by John Davis taken 2/27/2021

We will be tracking the most special, the rarest and most interesting sports moments across South Dakota each month. Included are such events for June and a couple we missed earlier. Email us at dave@sdsportscene.com if you think we missed something or if you have an event you would like us to consider for this feature:


May 28-29: Dell Rapids St. Mary senior Ella Heinitz and eighth-grader Madala Hanson became the first people in their school’s history to win individual titles at the state track meet. Augustana-bound Heinitz, who leaves with holding school records in nine events, was the State B girls’ track MVP by winning the 100 and 200 meters. Meanwhile, Hanson won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Both girls were members of the school’s winning 1,600-meter relay team.
June 1: New Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa) women’s basketball coach Kristen Rotert has tabbed Macy Miller as one of her assistant coaches. Both women are former SDSU staff members and standout players as well as former high school basketball stars (Miller for Mitchell and Rotert for McCook Central in Salem).
June 2: The $5 million baseball makeover of Rapid City Post 22’s Fitzgerald Stadium made its debut with an alumni event. The makeover includes FieldTurf for Dave Ploof Field which won’t need to be tarped during rain delays and will allow play right after a rain stops. Dave Ploof Field is named for the legendary coach whose Post 22 teams won 2,483 games in 47 seasons, 34 state titles and advanced to the Legion World Series eight times, winning it in 1993. There are 74 games already scheduled for the stadium from June 3-July 4. On June 3, Post 22 played their first game on the field, a 5-1 win over the 406 Flyers of Billings.
June 4: Matthew Mors of Yankton has been named South Dakota’s Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. The Wisconsin-bound forward and five-time all-stater scored 2,707 career points, fourth-most in state history.
June 4: A 33-year-old, 26-team minor league pro hockey group, the ECHL, gave its Best Ice Award to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena where the Rapid City Rush play their homes games. The award, given annually to best playing surface, is voted on by league coaches. Rush president Todd Mackin praised ice specialist Nate Kleinschmit and his crew for their work this season.
June 5: For the third time in her career, Aberdeen native and Northern State graduate Hannah Kastigar swam in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha. Kastigar finished 11th in the 400 Individual Medley after advancing to the Wave I B finals. The top two swimmers in each event advance to the Wave II part of the trials June 13-20 where Team USA selections will be finalized. As a youth swimmer for the Aberdeen Stingrays, Kastigar was one of the state’s most dominant swimmers. She went on to become an eight-time All-American and three-time national champion at NSU. At the trials in 2016, Kastigar finished 17th out of 119 swimmers with a time of 4:48.78 in the 400-meter individual medley, winning her heat.
June 6: The Brookings Bandits and Aberdeen Smittys split an American Legion baseball doubleheader at the newly renovated 53-year-old Bob Sheldon Field in Brookings. About $3 million was spent for a new grass outfield and artificial turf infield, new dugouts and bullpens. Also the grandstand, lights, press box and netting system is new as is the parking lot. Construction took about a year.

June 7: James Valley Christian sophomore Oliva Rink had a hole-in-one at the State B Girls’ Golf Tournament in Brookings. She used a nine-iron to ace the 111-yard 11th hole at the Edgebrook Golf Course.
June 7: South Dakota’s newest high school football team, the Jefferson High School Cavaliers of Sioux Falls, began its first summer workouts under the direction of coach Vince Benedetto. The high school opens this fall and Jefferson will play its inaugural football game Aug. 27 against instant rival Sioux Falls Washington at Howard Wood Field.
June 7: Two West River high school standouts signed with big-time Division I schools. Recent Little Wound graduate Lance Christensen of Kyle will play golf at New Mexico State while Bella Swedlund will play basketball at Kansas after she completes her upcoming senior year at Winner High School. Christensen, who won the 2019 State A boys’ title, lives 45 miles from the nearest golf course.
June 7: The Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls broke ground on 18 new outdoor turf fields that will promote community health and improve access to sports opportunities for youth of all ages. The fields, which will all have lights, will host baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and other activities starting in 2022. The 173-acre, $50 million expansion includes nearly 1.7 million square-feet of turf, making it the biggest turf field project in the United States. The additions are made possible thanks to a $300 million gift from Denny Sanford that was announced in March.
June 7-9: Just as they dominated the Central Division on the Ice, the Aberdeen Wings (51-5 in the regular season) dominated the 2020-21 Central Division awards. One day after placing Kyle Gaffney on the Central’s all-rookie team, the Wings placed four players on the six-man All-Central Division Team: Nico deVita; Clayton Cosentino (also the Community Service Award); Payton Matsui (also the Forward of the Year); and Jake Sibell (also the MVP and Goalie of the Year). The Wings also won Organization of the Year and its coach and general manager Scott Langer won Coach of the Year and GM of the Year. The awards continued the following day with Sibell being named All-NAHL First Team, NAHL goalie of the year and league MVP. Matsui also was All-NAHL First Team and league forward of the year.
DeVita also was named to the NAHL First Team and Cosentino to the Second Team while Cosentino also won the league community service award. Langer won NAHL coach of the year and GM of the year and the Wings won NAHL organization of the year.
June 8: During the 2020-21 school year, the Sioux Falls Christian boys won state team titles in every sport (cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, basketball, track) except football and wrestling. SFC has football, but does not have a varsity wrestling team. The SFC girls were in contention for a handful of state titles, winning in golf and volleyball.
June 8: State AA girls’ golf champion Harrisburg junior Reese Jansa set a state record for the lowest score ever at a girls’ state tournament 36-hole event. She won with an 8-under 134 (66-68), 11 shots better than second place at Bakker Crossings Golf Course in Sioux Falls and better than Clark graduate and LPGA player Kim Kaufman’s 2008 State B championship score of 7-under at Hart Ranch in Rapid City. Jansa had an eagle and 10 birdies during her two-day run. Meanwhile, the Sioux Falls O’Gorman girls, coached by Jansa’s great uncle Tom Jansa, won their fourth straight State AA team title.
June 8: Miller seventh-grader Jaycee Pugh won the State B Girls’ Golf Tournament with a score of 158 (83-75) at the Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings. Estelline-Hendricks won the team title, the first state championship for either school in any sport.

June 11: The National Fastpitch Coaches Association honored SDSU as its 2021 Division I Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year. Under coach Krista Wood and her assistants Kristi Villar (former NSU head coach) and Kiki Stokes, the Jackrabbits put together their most successful season in program history in 2021. SDSU won Summit League regular season and tournament titles en route to making its first NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division I level and finishing the year by tying a school record with 43 victories against eight losses.
June 12: Aberdeen Central graduate Cory Johnsen was inducted into the Sioux Falls Storm Hall of Fame. Johnsen, a three-year defensive line starter for St. Cloud State, played 10 seasons for the Storm. During that time, Sioux Falls won eight championships and posted a 150-16 record with Johnsen as its starting nose tackle. He remains as the team’s all-time sack leader. Johnsen, a regular on the All-Indoor Football League Team, was inducted into the IFL Hall of Fame in 2017 and has been the Storm’s defensive line coach for the past five seasons.
June 13: Camille Fischer of Aberdeen sang the national anthem at Target Field before the Minnesota Twins hosted the Houston Astros. A Twins fan, Fischer is the K-12 vocal teacher for the Aberdeen Catholic School District.
June 13: Two wrestlers for South Dakota college programs won gold medals at the Cadet and Junior Pan American Championships in Oaxtapec, Mexico. NSU junior James Burks won the junior Greco-Roman title at 82 kilograms and SDSU sophomore Cade DeVos won gold in the 74-kilogram weight class of the junior men’s freestyle division.
June 13: Former Aberdeen resident Michael Andrew set two American records in his first two swims at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials. He broke Kevin Cordes’ 100-meter breaststroke record (58.64 seconds) by swimming a 58.19 in the prelims. That night in the semifinals, Andrew improved on it by swimming a 58.14.
June 14: Former Aberdeen resident Michael Andrew qualified for his first Olympic team. Andrew won the 100-meter breaststroke at the Team USA Swim Trials in Omaha, Neb.
June 15: NSU soccer recruit Megan Fastenau of Aberdeen has been named Gatorade South Dakota Girls Soccer Player of the Year for 2020-21. The Aberdeen Central standout is her school’s first Gatorade South Dakota Girls Soccer Player of the Year honoree. A two-time All-Stater and three-time all-conference performer, Fastenau had 36 goals and 22 assists in her high school career.
June 16: Augustana University said it will be starting a Division I men’s hockey team. A timeline will be announced later. Such a program will be the first one in South Dakota and will join more than 60 other schools who offer Division I hockey. The Sioux Falls university has been planning a Division I transition in all sports for a couple of years, but that timeline also has not been firmed up.
June 18: Nine-time University of Minnesota All-American swimmer Tevyn Waddell of Mitchell ended her program at her second Olympic Trials with an impressive run. She finished 21st in the 100-meter backstroke, 27th in the 200-meter backstroke and 53rd in the 100-meter butterfly. Waddell missed making the 16-swimmer 100 back semifinals by .17 of a second.
June 19: A former Northern State All-American runner became the first Minnesota woman to win the Grandma’s Marathon since 1987. Dakotah (Bullen) Lindwurm of Eagan, MN, won the prestigious 45th annual race in Duluth, MN, in a personal best time of 2 hours, 29 minutes and 4 seconds. Lindwurm, 26, led from start to finish and earned $5,000 for her run. The 2017 NSU graduate was an All- American in cross country and track for the Wolves. Lindwurm, a St. Francis, MN, High School graduate, took 36th (2:39.08) in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. Aliphine Tuliamuk, 32, of New Mexico won the Olympic Trials in 2:27.23. Lindwurm appears to have a bright future as she is young for marathoner.
June 19: Kyle Gaffney scored with 85 seconds left in the game to send the Aberdeen Wings past the Minnesota Magicians 2-1 and into the June 22 national championship game of the North American Hockey League. Nico deVita and Payton Matsui got the assists on the play and Wings’ goalie Jake Sibell stopped 18 of 19 shots in the game. The Wings are the defending champs, winning the Robertson Cup in 2019. The league canceled the playoffs and the remainder of the 2019-20 season in March 2020 due to Covid-19.
June 19: Former Aberdeen resident Michael Andrew, 22, qualified for his second swimming event at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Andrew won the 200-meter individual medley at the Olympic Trials in Omaha.
June 19: Swimmer Chloe Larson of Rapid City qualified for the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle at the USA Olympic Trials in Omaha. The 2017 St. Thomas More graduate finished 14th overall. Larson was a senior captain for Washington State last season. In February, Larson won the 50 free at the conference meet becoming the Cougar’s first PAC-12 champion in women’s swimming and diving in any event.
June 19: USD senior pole vaulter Ethan Bray cleared three heights to finish 15th in his first U.S. Olympic Trials. Bray, a three-time All-American, finished third in the 2021 outdoor DI national championships.
June 20: Former Aberdeen resident Michael Andrew, 22, qualified for his third swimming event at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Andrew qualified in the 50-meter freestyle by finishing second in the finals to the event’s reigning world champion, Caeleb Dressel, at the Olympic Trials in Omaha.
June 21: A 2020 University of South Dakota graduate, Chris Nilsen won the U.S. Championships at the Olympic Trials to earn the top spot on Team USA’s pole vault team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Nilsen, a 23-year-old three-time NCAA champion, cleared the winning height of 19 feet, 4.75 inches following a perfect competition, clearing six bars on first-attempts en route to the gold medal. Nilsen continues to work with USD coach Derek Miles, a three-time Olympian and Olympic bronze medalist (2008) in the pole vault, while training in Vermillion.
June 22: The Shreveport (LA) Mudbugs defeated the Aberdeen Wings 4-2 to win the national championship of the North American Hockey League. Aberdeen was the defending champion from 2019 (no playoffs in 2020 due to Covid-19) and Shreveport won the 2018 title. Kyle Gaffney and Nico DeVita were named to the Robertson Cup All-Tourney Team for the Wings, who will lose nine of their top 10 scorers from this team.
June 23: About 10 hours after losing the North American Hockey League championship in Blaine, MN, Aberdeen Wings captain Clayton Cosentino reported to the Air Force Academy’s six-week boot camp (Basic Cadet Training) in Colorado Springs. Cosentino will play for the academy this fall.
June 23: The Champions PGA Tour tournament, The Sanford International, was thought to be on its way out of Sioux Falls after the host facility, Minnehaha Country Club, rejected a proposal to extend its agreement with the event past 2022. However, a new two-year extension has been announced, extending the event’s stay at the club through at least 2024. This year’s event is Sept. 13-19. Past champions are Steve Strickler (2018), Rocco Mediate (2019) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (2020).

June 23: South Dakota State’s women’s basketball associate head coach Mike Jewett is the new athletic director at Brookings High School. The Flandreau native spent nine seasons with SDSU, playing an integral role in the Jackrabbit’s Summit League dominance and helping the team to the Sweet 16 in 2019.
June 24: USD graduate Emily Grove competed in her third U.S. Olympic Trials in the pole vault. Grove, a six-time All-American and four-time Summit League champion, was unable to clear the opening height.
June 25: The three-day and largest ever 26th annual Mt. Rushmore Classic girls’ fastpitch softball tourney started in Rapid City. The event featured 124 teams from eight states, including Arkansas, with five age groups.
June 25: Dell Rapids native and USD grad Ben Hammer made the 12-man finals of the discus in the U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing 11th. He threw a lifetime best of 200 feet, 2 inches to qualify for the finals. Hammer, a state discus champion, was a two-time qualifier for the DI national championships for the Coyotes earning All-American status. Before that, he went to DWU to play basketball but landed on the track team where he set school records in the discus and shot put.
June 25: Dalton Lehnen struck out 20 batters in seven innings of work in the Dell Rapids Mudcats’ 10-0 win over Dell Rapids Pabst Blue Ribbon in eight innings in the annual Quarry Days amateur baseball game.
June 26: USD graduate Lara Boman made the 12-woman finals of the hammer throw in the U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing ninth. She threw a lifetime best of 227 feet, 7 inches to qualify for the finals.
June 26: USD freshman pole vaulter Eerik Haamer, who is from Estonia, won his country’s national championship at the Estonian Olympic Trials. However, he will not compete in the Olympics as he has not made the Olympic standard of 19-0.25. Earlier this year, Haamer won the Summit League outdoor championship and finished fourth in the DI national indoor championships. He was a four-time under-18 Estonian National Champion.
June 26: USD freshman and France native Hugo Morvan finished 17th in the 110-meter hurdles in the French National Championships and Olympic Trials.
June 26: USD freshman and Jamaica native Demar Francis finished 14th in the 400 meters in the Jamaican National Championships and Olympic Trials.
June 27: USD graduate and Parker native Zack Anderson placed sixth in the U.S. Olympic Trials after making the finals. He cleared 7-3, but was eliminated in his three attempts at 7-4.5. Anderson is a four-time All-American who won eight Summit League championships (seven in the high jump and one in long jump). The 6-foot-1 senior cleared a school and state college record 7 feet, 5 inches earlier this season.
June 27: USD gradate and Italy native Helen Falda placed fourth in the pole vault in the Italian National Championships and Olympic Trials. She was a seven-time All-American pole vaulter for the Coyotes.
June 27: USD recruit and Estonia native Marleen Mulla won the women’s pole vault by clearing 13 feet, 5.25 inches at the Estonian National Championships and Olympic Trials. However, she will not compete in the Olympics as she has not made the Olympic standard of 15-5.

June 30: South Dakota 2019 State A golf champion and New Mexico State recruit Lance Christensen of Little Wound finished tied for 45th out of 332 golfers in the three-day, 54-hole High School Golf National Invitational at the famed Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. Christensen, who shot a 231 — winner Simon Kwon of Utah shot a 212 — finished 133rd last year. Other South Dakotans invited to play this year included 2020 State A champion Micah Dohrer (tied for 178th) of Aberdeen Roncalli and State AA runner-up Kaden Rylance (tied for 149th) of Watertown. Sioux Falls Christian’s 2020 State A champion team of Eli Anema (tied for 280th), Brodie VanDenBrink and Brendon VanBeek (tied for 288th), Andrew Dykstra (tied for 292nd ) and Kaleb Jost (did not finish) also played.
June 30: Two long-time Eastern South Dakota Conference athletic directors are retiring after 23 years on the job. Randy Marso of Brandon Valley taught and coached for 11 years at Brandon Valley before becoming the school’s AD in 1998. That was the same year Gene Brownell took over as AD at Aberdeen Central. Before that, he was a teacher and coach at the school for 21 years. And before that, Brownell, a NSU graduate, taught and coached at Tulare, Herreid and Kimball. The Kairos Elite 15 Adidas volleyball team captured the AAU 15 Club Championship in Orlando last week, finishing the event with a 13-1 record that culminated with a dramatic win over Eastside Cleveland Juniors in
the finals. The 15U division included 179 teams.

More in Special Moments

  • Special Moments

    We will be tracking the most special, the rarest and most interesting sports moments...

  • Special Moments

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    We will be tracking the most special, the rarest and most interesting sports moments...

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    We will be tracking the most special, the rarest and most interesting sports moments...

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