Why South Dakota Sports Fans Should be Thankful
South Dakota sports over the past year has stuffed fans with state championships, NCAA tournament games, new sports arenas, and players that have taken their talents to the pros.
This Thanksgiving, be thankful for your favorite South Dakota colleges, high schools, and for a few players that have shined brightly in sports in 2013.
South Dakota State - The Jackrabbits have a lot to be thankful for.
The women's basketball team won their fifth straight Summit League title in as many years, and played South Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The men's basketball team won their second straight Summit League title and played Michigan in the NCAA tournament in the first round. The football team beat the Coyotes for a second straight year, and is making a return trip to the postseason on Saturday. The Jacks baseball team made it to the NCAA tournament behind ace Layne Somsen as well.
University of South Dakota - The Coyotes took a step forward in 2013. Their women's basketball team made the Summit League championship before eventually falling to SDSU by three points in a heartbreaking loss. The men's basketball team fell in the first round of the Summit League tournament, and said goodbye to legendary coach, Dave Boots. Kendall Kritenbrink won Summit League player of the year in volleyball, and the Coyotes finished third in the conference. The football team finished with four wins, including a huge comeback win over Northern Iowa on the road in double overtime.
University of Sioux Falls - Their first season in Division II was capped off by a 9-2 football season, and a win over Augustana. This year, the Cougars lost a lot of seniors, but were still able to be competitive, finishing with a winning record, 6-5. USF also won the 'Key to the City' for a second straight year by beating Augustana at home, 27-10. In other sports, the volleyball team took a huge step forward in 2013, making the NSIC playoffs for the first time and beating Augustana in a thrilling five-set victory. The men's cross country team made Nationals, and seniors Bobby and Billy Brockmueller were tabbed as All-Americans.
Augustana - The Vikings made a splash into the national scene in 2013. The women's basketball team made a historic run to the Final Four before falling there to Dowling. Their women's basketball team won more games last year than any team in school history. This fall, their cross country team did wonders. Paul Yak finished sixth at Nationals and as a team, the Vikings were a program-best third at Nationals with three All-American's.
Lincoln High School - The Patriots won the girls AA state championship last March, and started off 2013 with a bang, too. Caden Quintanilla led the Patriots to a 47-24 win over Roosevelt in the 11AAA championship. The Patriots also won the boy's state soccer tournament.
O'Gorman High School - The Knights swept Roosevelt last Saturday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell to win the AA volleyball title, and their first title in 11 years.
Dakota Valley High School - The Panthers won their first ever school title last weekend in the Class A volleyball tournament in Aberdeen. They did it by beating Winner in the finals, and by knocking off three-time defending champions, Sioux Falls Christian, in the semi-finals.
Pierre High School - The Governors made history in basketball and football in 2013. Pierre won the AA boy's basketball championship last March, their first title since 1982. In football a few weeks ago, Pierre won their the 11AA championship, and that was their first title since 1914!
Nate Wolters - Naters gonna Nate. That's the legendary nickname for the legend produced by the Jackrabbits out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Wolters is the all-time leading scorer, he made SportsCenter for dropping 53 points on IUPUI one winter night, and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Colton Iverson and Layne Somsen - These two Yankton natives both were drafted after their seasons last spring. Iverson, who played college basketball at Colorado State and Minnesota, was drafted in the second round by Boston. He is now playing internationally for Turkey. Somsen, meanwhile, was a bit of a comeback kid. After Tommy John surgery early in his career, Somsen led SDSU to the NCAA baseball tournament and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd round.
Mike Miller - "Skinny" won his second straight NBA finals last summer with the Miami Heat, and even did it by making a three-pointer without one of his shoes on. Miller is now playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Pentagon - The Sioux Falls Skyforce called home a new place this fall. Last Friday, the Skyforce played their first regular season game in the Pentagon, and won in their new building by beating Reno. The new Pentagon has also hosted two big games with sold-out crowds in 2013. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love led the Minnesota Timberwolves to a win over Wolters' Bucks, and Wisconsin beat St. John's in the new arena.
That's a look at some of South Dakota's finest sports moments in 2013, and if there's any I missed, feel free to comment. Most importantly, say thank you tomorrow and ESPN 99.1 wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!