Looking Back

Michelle Pollard

Michelle Pollard

The South Dakota State University athletic teams should all be congratulated on a job well done this past year. While not every team or athlete met all of their aspirations, this year was one of the overall best in Jackrabbit athletic history. Here is a recap of all of the varsity sports teams:

Volleyball 28-6 The Jackrabbit volleyball team finished the season second in the nation. That was the best finish ever for a Jackrabbit team this year and the best ever for the volleyball program. This was accomplished under the guidance of first-year head coach Andrew Palileo. The NCAA Division II Player of the Year, senior Shauna Sturm, led the Jacks. Next season, SDSU looks to continue the winning tradition. The team will return starters Kelly Hoemann, Angie Rime, Liz Archer, Annie Ebnet and Wendy O’Neill. There are also four recruits coming to the program. The Jacks will begin their run for a second national tournament appearance Aug. 30 at the Mankato Tournament. The first home match for SDSU is scheduled for Sept. 5 against Pittsburg State.

Football 5-6 While it wasn’t the most successful year for Jackrabbit football, the now experienced group of players can take what they learned into the 2002 season. SDSU finished 5-6 overall and 4-4 in the North Central Conference. Next season, Dan Fjeldheim, Justin Landis, Frank Blalark, Phil Oksness, Brandon Theisse and Jason Langland will return for the Jacks. There are also 21 signed recruits for next season. The home opener is scheduled for Sep. 14 against Chadron State. The Jacks hope to have some Hobo Day luck on their side as they face the 2001 NCAA Division II national champion University of North Dakota. Despite not having a winning record, SDSU running back Josh Ranek was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy. The Harlon Hill goes to the best player in Division II football. Ranek was also invited to play for the Dallas Cowboys next season.

Soccer 13-6-1 In only its second season, the SDSU women’s soccer team qualified for the North Central Conference post-season tournament. The Jacks finished fourth in the conference with a 5-4 NCC record. Lang Wedemeyer was named the conference coach of the year. There were no seniors on the team, and the Jacks have signed eight recruits, some coming from as far as Hawaii and Vermont.

Men’s Cross Country The Jackrabbit men continued their dominance in the NCC by repeating as conference champs this year. The team went on to qualify for the NCAA Division II national meet, where they finished seventh. SDSU graduates none of their top runners and will be led by Andy Blau, Kevin Doe, Matthew Pearson and Brad Lowery next season. Paul Danger was named the NCC men’s cross-country coach of the year for the second time in a row.

Women’s Cross Country Despite only having seven members on the team, the Jackrabbit women’s cross-country team finished fifth in the NCC and tenth in the North Central Region. The Jacks lost their top two All-American runners from the 2000 NCAA Division II national meet qualifying team. Sheena Dauer was the top competitor for SDSU, claiming victory at the NCC meet and qualified individually for the national meet. Out of the seven members of the team last season, none were seniors.

Women’s Golf The golf season is split into fall and spring seasons. SDSU is hosting the NCAA Northern Regional Tournament next weekend, May 3-4, at the Brookings Country Club. While no Jackrabbits will be playing in it, the team had a successful season under first-year coach Bob Brotsky. SDSU was led by junior Annie Spaulding. There were no seniors on the team last year, and five juniors will provide experience for the Jacks. Men’s Golf Men’s golf is also split into two separate seasons. In the fall portion, SDSU finished fifth in the NCC. The only senior on the team, Dustin Kriech was named to the all-NCC team after tying for second at the conference championship meet. The men’s team finished their season last weekend.

Women’s Basketball 28-9 The women’s basketball team began the year on a high note by winning the Disney Tournament, and never looked back. The team went on to have the best season in school history. The Jacks finished third in Division II, setting a school record with 28 victories. This was the first time SDSU has won the North Central Region, and made their first appearance at the Elite Eight. On a team composed mainly of freshmen, SDSU will return all but two players from last season. Melissa Pater, who entered the 1,000-point club, and was named MVP of the regional tournament, will be a key returner for the Jacks.

Men’s Basketball 25-6 The SDSU men’s basketball team won both the NCC regular season and postseason titles. The team again returned to the NCAA tournament and came up one point short from making it to the Elite Eight. The eventual NCAA champions, Metropolitan State, upset SDSU in the regional final. Andy Cone was the lone senior on the squad. The returners will be joined by a junior college transfer from Illinois and Andy Kleinjan from Volga. Austin Hansen moved up to 13th on the SDSU all-time leading scoring list.

Women’s Indoor Track The Jackrabbits were led by All-American Jennifer Stovall, who earned that honor last season at the national indoor meet. Three additional athletes, Cori Vining, Erin Woolley and Jamie Keck, also represented SDSU at the national meet. The team finished fourth at the NCC meet and graduates four field athletes.

Men’s Indoor Track The men’s indoor track team had one athlete, Matt Pearson, qualify for the national meet. The men finished third at the NCC meet. Next season, the Jacks return Kevin Doe and Brad Lowery, who both won individual NCC meet titles.

Women’s Swimming The Jackrabbit women’s swim team suffered from low numbers this season, but still managed a successful season. Camren Hillewaert set three school records at the NCC meet. Next season, the team is looking to add seven more women to the roster.

Men’s Swimming The Jackrabbit men finished fifth at the conference meet last February and are looking to improve on that next season. SDSU was led by Benji Erickson, who earned honorable mention All-American honors at the national meet. Three seniors who were key members of the team will be missed by the Jacks.

Wrestling The Jackrabbit wrestling team had their ninth consecutive top-five national finish this year. The Jacks finished third at the NCAA meet and five wrestlers earned All-American honors. Tyler Bryant and Tyler Jones were national runner-up wrestlers. Aaron Veskrna and Todd Paszek were third in the nation and Jon Madsen placed seventh. The Jacks went into the tournament ranked sixth, but preformed well at the meet to take home third. Veskrna, the only senior on the team, was invited to participate in the Dan Gable Classic, which was a tournament for the best collegiate senior wrestlers in the north central United States. Veskrna finished his career 20th on the all-time list of Jackrabbits, with a record of 81-39.

Softball 20-26 The Jackrabbit softball team is fighting the harsh spring weather as of late to complete their season. Currently, the Jacks have a 20-26 record under first-year coach Shane Bouman. The last scheduled games for this season are May 3-4 in Grand Forks, N.D. at the NCC tourney. The Jacks will lose two seniors from the current team.

Baseball 19-15 The Jacks are looking to qualify for postseason play with a 19-15 record. SDSU has been on a hot streak lately, smashing Northern State University 25-8 and 24-0 in a doubleheader last week. During those games, SDSU set a school record with 16 runs in one inning. The team has a balanced roster, and will be losing ten seniors this season.

M/W Outdoor TrackWith several provisional qualifying standards met, the Jacks hope to turn some of those to automatic qualifying marks. Last weekend, the teams competed at the Drake Relays and the Dakota State Invite. Next weekend, the Jacks will compete at Howard Wood in Sioux Falls.

Women’s Tennis The SDSU women’s tennis team has seen marked improvement over the past two seasons since Don Hanson became coach. This season, Laura Klinkhammer was the lone Jackrabbit to compete in the semi-finals at the NCC meet. The Jacks have a 4-8 record. The Jacks hope to continue to build on their foundation and do not graduate anyone from this years team.

Men’s Tennis The men’s tennis team is having a great season and there were several players who were in line to finish in the top three in the conference. Going into the championship tournament, the Jacks had a 8-8 record. Thomas Chiu, Ben Barnes, Aaron Rothenberger and Jeff Everson were going for third-place finishes last weekend at the NCC meet in Omaha, Neb.