BEST OF 2017: Top Local Sports Stories
A Look Back At The Biggest Headlines Of 2017
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — For the first time the South Dakota men’s basketball team won the Summit League regular season title and entered the Summit League Tournament as the favorite to reach their first ever NCAA Tournament. It led to an epic semifinal with arch rival South Dakota State, who’d caught fire towards seasons end. In front of more than 11,000 at the Premier Center, Michael Orris hit one of the most memorable shots in the rivalry’s history.
One day later the Jacks improbable run ended with a second straight Summit League title, defeating Nebraska Omaha to make their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“Everybody besides our locker room didn’t believe in us. And we believed in each other and we knew each and every day when we came to work what we wanted to do and what we wanted to accomplish.” Orris said after winning the Summit League title.
The men of Southwest Minnesota State also had a remarkable season, winning the NSIC Tournament Championship and advancing to the Central Region finals. In prep hoops nobody could beat Bridgewater-Emery, as the Huskies completed the only perfect season with their 26th win and a State B Title. The new “sweet 16” formats in most all sports state tournaments made for a welcome change especially in volleyball where, after years of butting heads in regionals, Northwestern and Warner finally got to play for a state B championship, with the Wildcats winning in four sets.
March would also be a month for national champions. Northern State’s Hannah Kastigar won a pair of titles in the pool, Sioux Falls Courtney Crandall won the Division Two indoor pole vault title, and USD’s Chris Nilsen won the division one indoor pole vault title. Seth Gross and Alex Kocer became South Dakota State’s first All-American wrestlers, with Gross losing 3-2 in the national championship match to former Iowa teammate Cory Clark.
2017 would be a year for goodbyes. Legendary cross country coach Rich Greeno and Rapid City baseball coach Dave Ploof passed away.
“Anybody in here from a small town, you understand that when something like this happens you build around each other and you build people up.” Mount Vernon Native & Former Vikings LB Chad Greenway said at his retirement press conference.
One of South Dakota’s best athletes, Mount Vernon native Chad Greenway, ended his 11 year career with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings signed Parkston native Riley Reiff and made Augustana alum CJ Ham their starting fullback. Each helped Minnesota win the NFC North title.
2017 will go down as one of the greatest baseball seasons in memory. Roosevelt had one of the best prep seasons ever, winning the state title with a 33-0 record, including a walkoff grand slam in the region finals by Nik Hoekstra. In Legion baseball Pierre dethroned four time defending state champion Rapid City Post 22 on their way to a championship and respectable showing in the Regional tournament. And then there was the Sioux Falls little league team. In their first year of competition, Sioux Falls stormed through district and Midwest Regional play to make it to the Little League World Series.
Football fans once again had a season to remember. Four of the seven prep championships were won repeat winners, highlighted by Madison and Washington each winning their third straight state titles. In their first year under Jon Anderson, Sioux Falls returned to the Division Two playoffs for a third straight year with a record of 9-3. In Division One, both USD and SDSU would spend much of the season in the FCS Top 10, each making the playoffs in the same season for the first time ever. The Coyotes won their first ever FCS playoff game at Nicholls State before falling in the second round, while the Jackrabbits won a program record 11 games and advanced to the FCS Semifinals for the first time ever.
OTHER NOTABLE STORIES
-Pierre Repeats As State A Wrestling Champions
-Northern State Womens’ Basketball Wins NSIC Tournament Title
-Northwestern Defeats Dakota Wesleyan To Win GPAC Title
-O’Gorman Boys’ & Girls’ Basketball Teams Win AA State Titles
-Aberdeen Wings Advance To Robertson Cup Semifinals
-Sioux Falls Storm Bid For 7th Straight IFL Title Denied By Arizona
-Parker Volleyball Coach Jill Christensen Reaches 800 Career Wins