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Special Moments

January Special Moments

Northern State University women’s basketball coach Paula Krueger, left, breaks a huddle with her starters before the start of a game against University of Mary earlier this season at Wachs Arena. The Wolves recorded their 1,000th win in program history during the month of January. Photo by John Davis taken 12/1/2022

Jan. 1: Ian Marshall of NSU was named one of the best four defensive linemen in the nation as he made the first team of’s Elite 100 team. The publication has been naming the best 100 DII players in the nation since 2000.
Jan. 3: After graduating from SDSU last month, Crystal Burk has signed a pro contract with the Gislaved (Sweden) Volleyball Club. Burk left Brookings with numerous school records and led the Jacks to their first Summit League Tournament qualification in more than a decade and its first win in a national postseason match (NIT) in school history. Burk, who was third in the DI nation in kills (589) last season, and her teammates only won six matches in her first three seasons with the Jacks, but had winning records (37 wins combined) in her last two seasons. She played in 135 matches (extra Covid season) for SDSU.
Jan. 4: The voice of the Jackrabbits, Tyler Merriam, has won the Bill Schwanke Award, presented annually to the top play-by-play broadcaster in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Jan. 5: SDSU women’s basketball player Myah Selland (Letcher) has been named the women’s winner for all colleges of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup. She will be honored April 27 at an awards ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The award is presented annually to six distinguished athletes from any sport — male/female high school, male/female college, and male/female professional — who best display character, teamwork, and citizenship. Past winners include Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Pat Summitt, Mia Hamm and Peyton Manning.
Jan. 5: Joe Sayler scored a career-high 51 points to pace White River over Kadoka Area 88-53. Sayler made 13 three-pointers, one less than the state record 14 made by Bison’s Josh McKinstry in 2017.
Jan. 6: Rugby Ryken of Yankton was honored on his home court for breaking the 21-year-old school record for assists in a game. Ryken had 12 against Brookings on Dec. 30. His dad, Mark Rugby, set the record of 11 in 1990.
Jan. 7: Clark-Willow Lake boys’ coach Jerome Nesheim got his 500th career basketball coaching win in 25 seasons, all at Clark. Nesheim is 413-146 as the boys’ coach, and was 87-38 as the school’s girls’ coach at the beginning of his career.
Jan. 7: Olivia Kieffer of Rapid City Christian surpassed 2,000 career points. She is the 32nd SD high school girl to accomplish the feat. Jill Young of Mitchell Christian set the all-time record of 3,317 points in 2007.
Jan. 7: More than 300 former SDSU football players, including former SDSU quarterback Bob Bresse, showed up to support the Jacks at their last practice of the season in Frisco, TX, before the national championship game. Bresse, a special teams player and quarterback from Sioux Falls, played for the Jacks from 1948-51. He helped SDSU go 28-10-2 and win two conference titles.
Jan. 7: Pierre quarterback and Ohio State recruit Lincoln Kienholz shined in the All-American Bowl — featuring the nation’s top 100 high school seniors — even though his West team lost decisively 55-17 to the East. Keinholz, who was pressured almost every time he threw, scrambled out of trouble to make a 43-yard TD throw in one of the game’s top highlights.
Jan. 8: SDSU, especially its offensive and defensive lines, dominated NDSU 45-21 for the Football Championship Subdivision national title. SDSU (14-1) won its 14th game in a row for its first DI national football title. Mark Gronowski was the game’s MVP with 223 yards passing and 47 yards rushing and having his hands in four of the Jacks’ six TDs. This was the 114th meeting between the Bison and Jacks (NDSU leads series 63-46-5, but SDSU has won the last four). This was the Jack’s 13th national team title across all sports; the others were in women’s basketball (2022 WNIT and 2003 NCAA DII); men’s cross country (1996, 1989, 1985, 1973, 1959 and 1956); women’s cross country (1981 and 1980); men’s basketball (1963); and men’s track (1953).
Jan. 8: It couldn’t have been much of a better day for NFL wide receiver Cade Johnson, a former SDSU All-American. First, his Jackrabbits won the FCS national title earlier in the day and then Johnson made his first two NFL catches to help his Seattle Seahawks defeat the LA Rams 19-16 in overtime and earn a spot in the playoffs. After the game, Johnson got to exchange jerseys with former SDSU teammate and Rams’ linebacker Christian Rozeboom, who helped LA win the Super Bowl last season. Johnson, who has been on Seattle’s practice squad for two seasons, got to play one snap, his first NFL appearance, on Oct. 30. But in the last two weeks and games, Johnson has played 54 snaps and figures to again play a key role in Seattle’s Jan. 14 playoff game against San Francisco.
Jan. 8: The Buffalo Bills honored their medical and training staff, including head trainer Nate Breske (a Webster native and former NSU champion quarterback), at its game for their roles in saving the life of Buffalo player Damar Hamlin. On Jan. 2, Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice on the field after suffering cardiac arrest during a “Monday Night Football” game that was then called off in Cincinnati.
Jan. 9: As of Monday morning and with only five weeks left in its 20-game regular season, the Gregory boys’ basketball team was only 1-1. Like many teams across South Dakota, the winter weather has forced teams to cancel/postpone numerous practices and games.
Jan. 9: National college football runner-up Texas Christian University had an Aberdeen connection in 1994 Aberdeen Central graduate Gretchen Bouton. She is the senior associate athletic director at TCU. Also, TCU quarterback Max Duggan’s parents are USD graduates.
Jan. 9: Sully Buttes will refurbish its basketball court in Onida this summer and the $138,000 project will include renaming the floor as Mark Senftner Court. Senftner, a McLaughlin native and NSU graduate, died Oct. 15, 2022. He was a successful 17-year teacher and coach for the Chargers.
Jan. 10. If you want to take a tour of the national champion college football towns for 2022, most can be found in the Upper Midwest. Brookings (home to SDSU’s FCS champs) is only 130 miles from Iowa’s Orange City (home to Northwestern’s NAIA champs) and 232 miles from Council Bluffs (home to Iowa Western’s junior college champs). Naperville, IL, home to North Central’s NCAA DIII champs as well as SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski, is 625 miles from Brookings. Meanwhile, Ferris State’s NCAA DII champs are in Big Rapids, MI (860 miles from Brookings) while Anthens (home to the DI champion Georgia Bulldogs) is 1,270 miles from Brookings.
Jan. 10: SDSU’s John Stiegelmeier was named the 2022 American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year for the Football Championship Subdivision. His Jackrabbit teams are 199-112 in 26 seasons as head coach. This year’s 14-1 national championship team also was honored earlier this season when SDSU defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers was named the FCS national coordinator of the year.

Jan. 11: Ava Hanson scored 35 points, including a school-record eight three-pointers, to lead the Aberdeen Roncalli girls’ basketball team past Faulkton. Her 35 was one short of the school record.
Jan. 11: SDSU held its first practice at its new $4 million on-campus Frank J. Kurtenbach Wrestling Center.
Jan. 11: Spearfish native, former USD coach and Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy (Gusso) Williams won her 300th career game (vs. 199 losses) as the Cornhuskers defeated Penn State 80-51.
Williams is in her 16th season as a head coach (seventh at Nebraska).
Jan. 12: It was Tucker Kraft Day at the Timber Lake school. Former Panther Kraft and his Jackrabbits were celebrated and honored as the SDSU football team recently won the FCS championship. Kraft and his Timber Lake friends are looking forward to the upcoming NFL draft as Kraft is projected to be one of the first tight ends taken.
Jan. 13: After getting off to its best start (13-0) in program history, the Black Hills State men’s basketball team lost its first game of the season (80-69) to visiting Colorado Mesa.
Jan. 13: O’Gorman standout Bergen Reilly was named the Gatorade South Dakota Volleyball Player of the Year for the third-straight year.
Jan. 14: The finale of the 40th annual girls’ basketball Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace in Mitchell was a wild one to mark a milestone anniversary for the event. Fourth-ranked Vermillion took its first lead over second-ranked Wagner with less than four minutes to play and won 53-52. Playing a key role in the Tanagers (10-0) comeback and to give Wagner its first loss in nine games was 5-foot-1 Vermillion seventh-grader Taylor Reuvers.
Jan. 14: With 2.5 seconds left and the boys’ basketball game tied at 52 between O’Gorman and Yankton, Rugby Ryken of Yankton stole the ball and made a half-court shot to give the Bucks a 55-52 win.
Jan. 14: The SDSU women’s basketball team made a school-record 17 three-pointers to rip rival USD 118-59, one point shy of the SDSU school record of 119 points in a game.
Jan. 14: White River won the 55th annual eight-team, boys’ basketball Jones County Invitational at the
Harold Thune Auditorium in Murdo. White River has won the last six JCI titles.
Jan. 14: O’Gorman girls’ basketball coach Kent Kolsrud and his Knights defeated Yankton to improve to 5-2 on the season. Kolsrud is now 400-180 in his 25 seasons with OG, taking the Knights to 19 state tournaments and two state titles.
Jan. 15: On Alumni Day at a Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball game at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Tigers retired No. 43. That number was worn by all-time DWU great Gordie Fosness. A Presho native, Fosness (1935-2020) was a standout player (1953-57) and coach (1961-83) for the Tigers as well as the DWU director of development until 1989 followed by a 26-year stint with the state Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Jan. 16: The top five ranked boys’ basketball Class A teams are 44-0: 1. Dakota Valley 8-0; 2. Sioux Valley 9-0; 3. SF Christian 8-0; 4. St. Thomas More 9-0; and 5. RC Christian 10-0.

Jan. 17: In three days, Brian LaRoche Jr. of the Lower Brule boys’ basketball team produced two statewide headlines. On Jan. 14, he hit a three-pointer at the buzzer as No. 5 Lower Brule defeated No. 4 Castlewood 64-61. On Jan. 17, LaRoche scored 57 of his team’s 114 points in its win over Cheyenne-Eagle Butte.
Jan. 17: Avery Broughton of Corsica-Stickney surpassed 2,000 career points. She is the 33rd SD high school girls’ basketball player to accomplish the feat. Jill Young of Mitchell Christian set the all-time record of 3,317 points in 2007.
Jan. 17: Presentation College announced it was shutting down its Aberdeen campus after this summer. The college began in 1922 in Mitchell as Notre Dame Junior College where it operated until 1951, when it moved to Aberdeen as Presentation College. In 1995, PC started athletic programs beginning with basketball. Over the years, the school at different times ran baseball, softball, track, cross country, football, soccer, volleyball and golf programs.
Jan. 19: Aberdeen native Paiton Burckhard paced the SDSU women’s basketball team over Omaha 68-61 with 14 points. It was her 150th career appearance in a Jackrabbit uniform and Burckhard leads the nation’s active players in career game appearances. That also is second in program history to the 159 SDSU games played in by Tylee Irwin from 2017-22.
Jan. 19: Selby native and former NSU coach John Stiegelmeier retired as the winningest football coach in SDSU history. He was 199-112 in his 26 seasons (22 winning seasons) as head coach. He was associated with SDSU football for 35 seasons, starting as a student assistant in 1979. He returned to SDSU as an assistant coach in 1988 and was named head coach in December 1996. The Jacks won their first FCS national title this year.
Jan. 20: SDSU named long-time assistant Jimmy Rogers as its head football coach. Rogers, the 2022 FCS Coordinator of the Year, was a two-time all-conference linebacker (312 career tackles from 2006-09) who also helped the Jacks transition from NCAA DII to DI. Rogers was a captain on SDSU’s first DI playoff team in 2009 (Jacks moved to DI in 2004). A native of Hamilton, AZ, Rogers spent two years as an assistant at SDSU (2009-11) and two years at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton (2011-13) before returning to SDSU in June 2013 as an assistant.

Some of Rogers’ quotes after being named head coach included: “My loyalty has always been to SDSU because this place has never made me question theirs.” “We made a statement in the 2022 season … that statement is now the standard.” “The people who come into this program deserve our best.” “I told (SDSU graduating senior) Payton Shafer that he’s the first linebacker to leave with a national championship and he’ll be the last linebacker that leaves with one.”
SDSU has a record of 644-475-38 in 124 seasons of football. The school has no record of who coached its first season in 1889 or five other early seasons (1897-1900 and 1903). But 20 former SDSU coaches are listed. In the last 81 seasons since 1941, Rogers is only the ninth SDSU head coach: John Stiegelmeier (199-111 from 1997-2022); Mike Daley (41-23 from 1991-96); Wayne Haensel (45-52 from 1982-90); John Gregory (55-50-3 from 1972-81); Dean Pryor (5-15 from 1970-71); Dave Kragthorpe (3-7 in 1969); Ralph Ginn (113-89-9 from 1947-68); and Thurlo McCrady (11-17-3 from 1941-46).
Jan. 20: Mason Sabers banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer to give the McCook Central-Montrose boys’ basketball team a 48-47 win over host Flandreau.
Jan. 20: Hershel McGriff, 95, was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. McGriff lived in Sioux Falls for about four years, went to Washington High School and still has relatives in Sioux Falls. In 1998, McGriff was voted one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. McGriff raced in seven different decades. In 2018, he retired (maybe) after he became the oldest person to start a NASCAR race at age 90.
Jan. 21: Second-ranked Aberdeen Christian (10-0) pulled away from top-ranked White River 87-68 in the 41st annual Hanson Classic at the Mitchell Corn Palace in a match-up of Class B boys’ basketball teams. The winners were led by Malek Wieker (29) and Ethan Russell (23) while White River got 42 points from Joe Sayler.
Jan. 21: Britton native and SDSU graduate Dallas Goedert made a remarkable one-handed catch and run for a 16-yard touchdown to boost Philadelphia to a 38-7 NFL playoff win over the NY Giants and into the NFC championship game. Goedert made several key blocks and came close to scoring a couple of more TDs in the game.
Jan. 21: The NSU women’s basketball team defeated Concordia-St. Paul 71-57 behind a combined 51 points from Kailee Oliverson, Jordyn Hilgemann and Laurie Rogers. The Wolves are now 1,000-415 all-time as the program started in 1969-70. Former NSU coach Curt Fredrickson’s teams were 846-306 in his 39 seasons as head coach with two national championships. Fredrickson, who retired in 2018, is only one of four coaches the Wolves have ever had along with Diane Evans, Bob Olson and current head coach and former NSU standout Paula (Stolsmark) Krueger.
Jan. 23: While flying back home to New York City after a weekend of cross-country flights to report on NFL playoff games, long-time respected journalist Peter King of NBC Sports tweeted at 5:30 in the afternoon that he was flying 35,000 feet over South Dakota and was ready to take some NFL questions from his 1.7 million followers.
Jan. 24: Two “Aberdeen” coaches returned to the Hub City for the first time to face their old teams as head coaches. Hamlin boys’ basketball coach Todd Neuendorf’s Chargers faced Aberdeen Roncalli at the Cavaliers’ gym. Hamlin won 72-38. Neuendorf spent 11 years coaching the Cavs, winning the 2015 State A title. Meanwhile, Pierre boys’ basketball coach Brianna Kusler’s Governors faced Aberdeen Central at Golden Eagles Arena. Kusler was a former standout for the Golden Eagles and NSU Wolves. Central held off Pierre 84-82 in double overtime and was led by Spencer Barr, fresh off a 35-point effort in the last game, with 51 points for a new facility record for 19-year-old Golden Eagles Arena. Pierre got 33 points from Ohio State football recruit Lincoln Kienholz.
Jan. 24: In one of the oldest college basketball rivalries in SD history, if not the oldest, Black Hills State swept the men’s (76-60) and women’s (52-46) basketball games from SD Mines in Spearfish. The BHSU men now lead the all-time series 114-92 (since 1948, there were previous meetings but the records only go back to ’48) while SD Mines leads the all-time women’s series 55-54 (first meeting in 1938).
Jan. 24: Aberdeen native Josh Heupel continued to earn pay raises for his work as the University of Tennessee football coach. He received a contract extension through 2029 that includes an annual salary of $9 million per year plus a number of incentives that could push his deal past the $10 million mark annually. Heupel was making $5 million per year plus incentives at the end of this past season and was hired in 2021 at $4 million per year. Heupel is entering his third season with the Volunteers and has revitalized the program back into one of the nation’s top teams.
Jan. 24: University of Oklahoma sophomore Danielle Sievers of Gary, SD/Deuel High School was named the Big 12 Conference gymnast of the week. Sievers, who helped the Sooners win the national title last season, was instrumental in No. 1 Oklahoma taking down visiting fifth-ranked Utah last week in front of 7,013 fans (third-best crowd in program history) in Norman.

Jan. 24: After two seasons off due to Covid, the 61st edition of the Minnesota Twins Caravan returned to South Dakota. The Twins stopped in Hitchcock, the hometown of Tony Oliva’s wife Gordette, and the Olivas were both with the Twins during the stop. Then the caravan made its way to Brookings, home of Twins’ pitcher Caleb Thielbar, who also was part of the Caravan representing the Twins. He is an SDSU graduate and wife Carissa Thielbar is a member of the SDSU women’s basketball coaching staff. Caleb Thielbar also announced that the SDSU football team will host Drake Sept. 16 at Target Field, the third college football game the 14-year-old Twins home ballpark has ever hosted.
Jan. 25: Bob Young, the winningest football coach in the history of the University of Sioux Falls, died at the age of 83. Young’s teams went 172-69-3 with 13 conference championships in 22 seasons (1983-2004). Young turned Cougar football into a small-college powerhouse. The Beresford native led the Cougars to the NAIA national championship in 1996 and a national runner-up finish in 2001.
Jan. 27: Timber Lake native Tucker Kraft of SDSU has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 28-March 5.
Jan. 27: A 24-year-old South Dakotan opened the 65th annual Rapid City Stock Show and Rodeos with a big win. Chance Schott of McLaughlin won the Xtreme Bulls Tour event by outriding 40 of the PRCA’s top bull riders. He earned $4,089.
Jan. 28: The SDSU equestrian team took a road swing through Texas to take on three of the best teams in the nation in their home equestrian centers. The Jacks lost to No. 2 Texas Christian University in Forth Worth on Jan. 26; to No. 4 Texas A&M in College Station Jan. 27; and to No. 8 Baylor in Waco Jan. 28. However, SDSU senior Cassandra Townsend of Andover/Groton Area High School won two of her three head-to-head matchups in the Western event of reining. Townsend is have a great season with a 5-2 record and having won several Most Outstanding Performer awards in SDSU’s seven matchups this season.
Jan. 28: Two USD players played key roles in the 11th annual NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl, which lets all-stars put their skills on display in front of NFL scouts. USD’s Eddie Ogamba (Robbinsdale, MN) made a 24-yard, last-second field goal to lead the American Team to a 19-17 win over the National Team at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Ogamba scored seven points in the game. Also late in the game, USD’s two-time All-American and two-time Academic All-American long snapper Dalton Godfrey (Cedar Falls, Iowa) made a key play for the National Team. Godfrey had a perfect snap to punter Louis Hedley of Miami and then pinned the opponents at their own 2-yard line by helping to down the ball after Hedley’s 63-yard punt.
Jan. 29: Britton-Hecla and SDSU graduate Dallas Goedert helped the Philadelphia Eagles advance to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, USD graduate and Kansas City special teams player Jack Cochrane (Mount Vernon, IA) helped the Chiefs advance as well. Also, former SDSU quarterback Chris Oladokun (Tampa, FL) has been a member of the Chiefs’ practice squad all season. Super Bowl LVII will be at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12 on FOX.
Jan. 31: Sioux Falls Lincoln 7-foot-1 junior center JT Rock broke the basket during a two-handed dunk at the Patriots’ gym. The game was delayed and moved to an auxiliary gym. Rock, one of the nation’s top
recruits who has committed to play at Iowa State, ended with 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists in Lincoln’s 74-60 win over Watertown.

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