(The following blog was written by Dan Genzler, who writes The Genz blog at www.genzmania.com.)

“Each time we say a word, think a thought or create an action; we evolve into who we are destined to become. So with each shift we are continually changing never to be that same person again.” ~ Author Kaoru Shinmon

I’m not sure why some people see life as a glass half-full and others with a glass half-empty. I do know this; it takes less energy to smile than frown.

Smiles, positive thinking and living life with their glass half-full define Mike Henriksen and Mark Ovenden, the co-hosts of Calling All Sports, a Sioux Falls, S.D., based sports talk show. Each day, the duo helps make our lives a little better with their fun and informative sports talk radio show that adds something new every day.

It is a show that provides a powerful human interest niche to the local market. Whether Mike H. and Mark O. are interviewing a rising musical star, a high school sports standout, a new media professional in the area, analyzing the relevance of the State-U rivalry, or a myriad of things happening in the local, regional and even national scene, these guys always bring it.

A person doesn’t have to see them to feel their trademark positive tone. CAS is an upbeat, lively show that makes me smile a bit, think some, and always enjoy. When it is half over, you don’t notice. The time flies as swiftly and smoothly as the interplay between Mike H. and Mark O. and their guests.

One day recently, I stopped in to observe the two wily old broadcast pros. Believe me, they are a pair with energetic personalities and enviable pep in their step.

Over the course of the hour at the KWSN studio, they hit on snowball fights and how to make a snow angel, what team might win the Super Bowl or why a local band was worth a look.

Recently, they interviewed O’Gorman coach Steve Flynn about the one-day bowling state tourney and what makes bowling a unique sport. Another day, they dedicated a show to visit with people impacted by Missouri River flooding in Pierre, Dakota Dunes and elsewhere.

Just reviewing the show’s various guests indicates that they go down a varied path.

The list of guests ranges far and wide, including former Mt. Vernon native and now Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway and former Augustana and Broncos standout Karl Mecklenburg. They have discussed kicking and football issues with NFL kickers such as David Treadwell and Nick Lowery.

At various points they have interviewed Twins announcer Dick Bremer to discuss baseball. They chatted about Super Bowl beverages with Ashley Kirsch of Cask and Cork in Sioux Falls and visited with Mark Cartwright of the Cartwright Brothers about the Dan Christopherson Bash for Cash. They talked about college football with Oklahoma Sooners offensive coordinator and former Aberdeen native Josh Heupel. Another guest was the irrepressible and 90-year old former U.S. Senator George McGovern.

They have interviewed new media talent in the area like KSFY’s Paige Pearson and spoke with former Tyndall resident and now model and personal trainer Jodi Tiahrt of Los Angeles. They brought on USD men’s BB coach Dave Boots after his 600th win and SDSU basketball coach Scott Nagy after career win 300. The guest list includes various sports information guys, numerous coaches, newspaper and TV guys, plus former Vikings QB Joe Kapp and Olympian pole vaulter Derek Miles. Guests have also included Terri Lawrenz and Todd Magnuson of Nature Adventures on SDPB, among a host of many others.

As I sat and observed the pair in the studio, I laughed quite a bit, learned some, and generally had a great time. I even quizzed the interview pros.

So who are these guys?

Both men are family guys who have made South Dakota home after finding their way to Sioux Falls from different parts of the country. Ovenden, a Boston native, attended the University of Richmond and worked in Rockford, Ill., before coming to the Sioux Falls area.

Henriksen is a Lincoln, Neb., native who found his way to Sioux Falls in 1978, roughly the same time as Ovenden.

Mark O., who balances two jobs as an accounting rep at Nichols Media and KDLT sports director, wears his emotions on his sleeve. He loves Boston sports teams, especially the Bruins, and Red Sox. He also has deep passion for the Celtics and of course, the Patriots. He will let you know what he thinks but always in a controlled, confident manner.

Mike H., a little more reserved, loves the Kansas City Royals in baseball and the Detroit Lions in football. Henriksen’s real passion is with Dell Rapids High School sports team, where he has made his home. Mike H. has a quiet confidence and demeanor but he too is all about treating people with respect. They have Dakota values bred in their being, even as their roots are elsewhere.

In nearly 35 years in Sioux Falls, they’ve developed a strong rep for being easily approachable sorts. Ovenden, a racquetball and golfing aficionado, once did an hour-long radio program in Sioux Falls. He related a story about an interview with Frank Viola after the Twins won the World Series. Viola was named the 1987 World Series MVP and had the national media after him for interviews. The night after winning baseball’s top prize, he stayed with Mark for an interview. A lot of that was on “Sweet Music” but it also lay with Ovenden’s respectful treatment of guests.

Mark O. makes regular appearances before the public in five minute TV segments on KDLT most nights. Henriksen, who does TV broadcasts as a play-by-play and color analyst for SD high school championships, is comfortable on the big screen but more honed to radio.

For several years Mike H. did a radio program on KWSN with Craig Mattick (Craig and Mike Show on KWSN) but is primarily attached to a Sportsmax show, which he has done for five years. He took over Sportsmax, an hour-long, interview show on sports-topics, about five years after his friend Tom Maxwell died in a tragic car accident (2001).

Calling All Sports was Henriksen’s idea. He wanted to do a show with Mark O., after meeting and interacting with him regularly when he was a co-host on the Craig and Mike show on KWSN. The two men, and Calling All Sports, came together in May 2010 after Henriksen finally persuaded Ovenden to give it a try.

“I thought, how in the world I can do something like that,” said Ovenden, acknowledging Henriksen as someone he respected, liked and with whom he thought a sports talk show might work. “I had two full-time jobs and I was wondering just how (could I make this work)? I decided that this could be a lot of fun. Once I go forward with something, I find a way to make it work,” he said.

Now, nearly two years later, Ovenden, and Henriksen, have no regrets.

“I could be having a bad day at one of the other jobs but I know for an hour each day, I will have a great time and have fun. And, there are those days I have great days at all three and it makes for a pretty great day,” said Mark O.

Watching or listening, it is easy to see they complement each other. You feel their chemistry, a vital component in successful sports talk radio programming.

“Mark is a guy that brings a lot to the show every day. He offers an inviting interview style and he is just fun to interact with on a daily basis,” said Henriksen.

According to Ovenden, the idea for the show and the daily presentation is a credit to Henriksen, whom he calls “well-rounded, especially with the history of local artists and athletes.”

It is a show that doesn’t feature the loud noise (and voices) of some sports talk shows, especially on a more national stage.

Mike H. and Mark O. make guests feel welcomed and I think a little special.

Is it all laughs and fun? That depends on your take. My view is they are two regular guys having a little fun, as they interact with people about sports and life.

They will pose tough questions to guests but in a respectful manner. The duo’s understanding of sports, and its many variables, give them the experience and the sensitivity to broach topics without going over the cliff.

This show works because each of them is a little-different in presentation. Mark O. is a self-described story-teller. “Ask my kids,” he says a bit off the cuff. “Sometimes they think I embellish a bit, but…over time and years sometimes the stuff gets a little bit enhanced.”

Maybe, but who hasn’t added a little flair to a story. In the studio, you don’t hear much of that embellished stuff. They want their guests to tell the story because that is what makes CAS go. Because of that philosophical bent, we get those moments of laughter, of serious tone, and where we think, “Oh, wow.”

Needless to say, they debate and discuss topics; and they don’t always agree.

“I think we have a civil discussion on issues,” said Henriksen. “But we don’t go overboard and go on and on about a topic,” he said.

Mark O. offers cutting humor, masked sometimes in his passion, especially when talking about his sports teams. Mike H. has that dry sense of humor that makes us all smile.

“With some topics, both us are well-versed or plugged in; and there are other areas where he has more interest and more knowledge,” said Mark O. “Those times, I will defer to him. What it boils down to is that we respect each other’s abilities.”

Thirty-four years ago, they began doing their media thing in Sioux Falls. I don’t think either of them thought they would be here for that long. But they are. And, I am not sure; they thought that an hour-long sports talk radio could provide such satisfaction. It does.

Even when they get a little criticism for laughing too much or being too nice to the guests, they take it in stride. “OK,” Henriksen said. “Maybe we do, but isn’t that what it is all about.”

“We don’t manufacture stuff. We just let it (flow of the show) happen,” said Henriksen.

Shinmon, a self-help author, said with each word, or perhaps action, a person evolves and changes and is never again that same person. To me, that is what makes this show worth a person’s time every day.

What we hear, what they present, makes both of us a little different today and maybe a little better tomorrow.

A lot of good things happen when the glass is half-full.

(The following blog was written by Dan Genzler, author of The Genz blog found at www.genzmania.com)

It will not be long before win and advance will be the order of the day in South Dakota preps hoops.

Looking ahead, the Districts will start on Feb. 27  in the various classes of both boys and girls hoops. The girls state tournament will be held on March 8-10 with Class B in the Huron Arena, Class A at the Young Center in Spearfish and AA at Frost Arena in Brookings. Meanwhile the boys tourneys are set for AA at the Rushmore Plaza Center in Rapid City with Class A in the Sioux Falls Arena and Class B at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen on March 15-17.

From my perspective, it would be better for the state to congregate these tournaments at one site, preferably Sioux Falls, which has the greatest capacity to hold such a tournament. However, that issue is for another time and blog discussion.

For now, let’s just look at the classes across the boys and girls divisions and see who stacks up as favorites.

O’Gorman Ready to Defend AA Title

In Class AA Boys, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, the two-time defending champions, is ranked #1 despite the loss of three first all-state performers (Sterling Nielsen, Keaton Moffit and Cedric Lang). Head Coach Derek Robey is doing one of his best coaching jobs this season. He has his team at 14-3, employing a disciplined approach and utilizing aggressive play around the basket to their advantage. Connor Schaefbauer (17.4 ppg) Sam Wallin (10.3 ppg) and others have been good all season. Robey is now 127-37 at O’Gorman and 369-209 overall. His next win, which may come tonight at SF Lincoln, will be #370 of his career.

The Knights own a five-game winning streak and have won 52 of its last 53 vs. in-state opponents. O’Gorman is 77-15 since the 2008-09 season, including back-to-back AA titles in 2009-10 and 2010-11. O’Gorman has 15 straight wins over city opponents, dating back to a 48-42 loss to Sioux Falls Washington on Jan. 23, 2010. O’G has a combined 19-5 mark vs. SF Lincoln (6-2), Roosevelt (7-2) and Washington (6-1) since 2008-09.

As noted, tonight O’Gorman plays a hot Lincoln team. The Knights are on a role vs. the Pats with six straight wins, including two straight one point decisions. The last Patriots win over O’G was a 46-40 win on Feb. 20, 2009.

The Sioux Falls Lincoln Patriots are 14-2 and are on a roll with seven straight wins. Jeff Halseth’s crew will look to end that losing skein to the Knights at home tonight. The Patriots have one in-state loss, falling to SF O’Gorman, 40-39 on Dec. 16. In fact, they have two straight one-point defeats to the Knights, dating back to the Class AA semifinals last spring. The Patriots, which has won 13 of 14 games, are led by Trey Naasz, Matt VanderWoude and 6-8 Scott Mulder inside. After tonight, they will set their sights on returning to the state tournament, where they finished a disappointing third last year.

In his final go-around Gary Munsen’s Mitchell Kernels (15-3) will try and win their state-best 17th overall title. Munsen, who is 636-240 all-time, will look to help guide his squad to its 10th title during his tenure. All-state forward Tucker Volesky, Brady Carlson, and Co., will be a tough out.

Brookings (11-5) started the season a bit slow, due to an unfortunate and wierd injury to star guard Tanner Odegaard who fell off a roof. But now the Bobcats are playing as well as anyone. This season, they have a win over O’Gorman, ending a 47-game win streak by the Knights vs. South Dakota opponents. Since opening 4-4, Brookings has won 7-of-8 games. They have pulled off two big home wins, including the win over O’Gorman. On Friday night they upended #3 Mitchell, 45-42. On Feb. 7 they defeated Watertown, 46-44, on the road.

Another team to keep an eye is Pierre Riggs (13-5), which features all-state forward Lane Severyn but has lost a key player in center Zach Hansen. The Governors, sixth in last year’s tourney, will try and advance to the state tourney in search of its fourth state title (last crown in 1982).

Watertown (10-8), which has four state titles and appeared in nine state title contests, can shoot it with Blake and Tanner Heiser and might offer a surprise.

And, don’t forget about Sioux Falls Washington (10-7), which was was fourth a year ago and has 11 state titles, but none since 2003. Jim Trett’s group is led by Justin Trett, Tyler Shetterly and Joey Habtmeriam.

Sioux Falls Roosevelt, (9-7), which won a state title in 2000, is led by guard Tyler Howard, and hopes to change course after three losses in four games.

Another team to keep an eye on is Tim Buddenhagen’s Huron Tigers (10-8), which has won five straight. They feature star forward Luke Carr. The Tigers have a long and storied basketball tradition with 11 titles but the last one coming in 2004.

It doesn’t appear likely that any team out west will be in the hunt, even with the AA tourney in Rapid City. In fact District 4 of Douglas (5-10), Rapid City Central (4-12), Rapid City Stevens (3-13) and Sturgis (0-16) have a combined 12 wins but will send one of their teams to the Rushmore Plaza.

STM Is Favorite In Wide open Class A Boys Field

Class A may be the most wide open of all the classes with as many as 12 teams with the capacity to win a title.

While Dell Rapids (13-4) recently dropped a pair of games, Mark Shriver’s squad has a wealth of talent including junior Cole Langer (15 ppg, 8 rpg) and junior Bruce Koch (14 ppg and 11 rpg, named to the Class All-State Tournament Team a year ago) inside and senior sharp shooter Michael Schmidt on the perimeter. A year ago, Dell Rapids was third in Class A and will look to add its first state title since 1972. Dell Rapids will be a tough out. However with Garretson (12-4), led by Sawyer Gibson (15 ppg, 8 rpg) and Sioux Falls Christian (12-5), led by Carson Long among others, in the same district, a good team will be eliminated early. SF Christian has split with Dell Rapids, winning a 62-57 decision and losing 61-58.

In this class, the west features one of the state’s best squads in St. Thomas More (16-2). STM, which will be challenged by Spearfish (11-5) in the districts, feature Skye Warwick, a dynamic and explosive player. STM, the defending champions (63-47 over Viborg/Hurley) has won three state titles as they shoot for #4.

Also look for McCook Central/Montrose (14-3) to be a state-tournament contender. MC/M, which has never won a state title, has won eight straight games and defeated McLaughlin, 65-52 last weekend, led by Shayne Gottlob’s 26 points and 10 rebounds. Gottlob has been a walking double double with 17.8 ppg and 11.9 rpg. In that MCM/McLaughlin game, Hank Taken Alive, who has had at least two games of 35 or more points this year, scored 35. He also had 39 from Cheyenne Eagle Butte.

Another district battle features four-time state champion Madison (15-3), which has won seven straight including a win against SF Christian; and Flandreau (14-3), which had a five-game winning streak halted by Clark/Willow Lake (13-6). C/WL won for the seventh straight game and feature Skyler Flatten, one of the top players in the class.

Others who will be in the hunt include Dakota Valley (14-3), two-time state titlist Milbank (14-3) and winner of 10 straight; along with Winner (13-3), Miller (12-3), and Chamberlain (13-3). Miller has one of the state’s top talents in Darin Peterka. Winner and Chamberlain will be trying for their first state title while two-time champion Miller looks for its first since 1972.

White River Will be Tough to Stop in Class B Boys

It will be very hard for any team to stop the White River express, directed by Eldon Marshall. They have been ranked #1 all season and defeated 16 straight opponents.

This last weekend, White River beat then A #1 Dell Rapids by 16. Wyatt Krogman, who is averaging over 20 ppg., scored 26 points with six assists while Nic Waln had 18 points and Matthew Gillen added 11.

White River is the only team in either the boys or girls rankings to retain the its #1 ranking all season. White River , which has won three state titles has won every game by at least 11 points. Other than a 60-49 win over McLaughlin, White River has defeated all opponents by 16 points or more and own nine wins of 37 points or more. White River will look to make its fifth straight state tourney. Since they have won titles recently in even years (2008, 2010) and lost in odd years (2009, 2011), this might be their year, if you believe in those kind of things.

Faith, which has never won a title, is a team to watch with 17 straight wins, all by double digits.

Another team to watch closely is Kevin Jackson’s Rosholt squad, which is 16-1 with just a loss to Maple Valley, N.D. This last weekend, they upended a solid Canistota team, 65-59, as Adam Krueger had 20 points while Koby Jackson contributed 18 points and eight rebounds. Rosholt has appeared in just one state tournament, 1926, some 86 years ago.

Another team that will make a run at the state title is Viborg/Hurley (16-2), which has won seven straight and owns 13 wins in 14 games. Despite the loss of all-state center Zach Kraning, they are explosive with Dennis DeNeui, Jack Huether and Trevor Jacobsen. A year ago, Viborg/Hurley lost in the Class A finals to St. Thomas More and now try and win a first-ever state title.

Canistota (14-3), which won their only title in 1958 and finished seventh a year ago, has lost three of four games. However, they feature a group of standout athletes, including Cody Bunger and Jason Van Winkle, and will be another team to watch.

Langford Area (15-2), which is seeking its first state title, has won seven straight and looks solid led by Nick Alberts and Kyle Johnson. Earlier this year, head coach Paul Raasch passed 100 career wins at Langford and now sits at 114-23. He is approaching 380 career wins at 378-180.

Then there is Lower Brule (16-3) with 10 straight wins, three-time state champion Sully Buttes (13-3), Wolsey/Wessington (14-2) and James Valley Christian (14-3) with first-team all-state forward Adam Hofer.

It might also behoove basketball watchers to pay attention to a 17-2 Dupree squad which has lost twice, both to unbeaten Faith. Dupree, Lower Brule, Wolsey/Wessington and James Valley Christian are all schools looking for a first championship.

Mitchell at Head of AA Girls

At the head of the Class AA Girls is top-ranked Mitchell, which as won 12 straight. Coach Wes Morgan’s Kernels is led by SDSU recruit and all-state forward Kerri Young (18 ppg) along with standout sophomore guard/forward Maci Miller. Mitchell is shooting for its fifth state title.

Sioux Falls Washington (15-2), which is seeking a sixth AA title, lost a wealth of talent from a year ago but are solid led by Sarah Zirpel (12.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.2 apg), Emma Hanson (10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Ellie Benson (9.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Hannah Weber (8.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg). They have won nine straight. Head coach Nate Malchow, who passed 100 wins earlier this year, sits at 112-47 for his career as he tries to lead the Warriors back to the state tourney where they were fifth a year ago.

Yankton (11-5), which has won nine titles and appeared in 14 championship tilts, has been on fire after a rough start to the season due to some pesky injuries. With Mikala Hora back, along with SDSU recruit Chloe Corneman and Emily Fedders, this is a solid group. Coach Doug Pesicka is approaching 300 career wins as the Gazelles head coach, having surpassed the 300 overall career wins earlier this year. He stands 293-192 at Yankton and has a 307-208 overall coaching record.

The defending champions Brandon Valley (12-5), paced by USD recruit Heidi Hoff (21.8 ppg), will look to win its second straight title. However, they are matched up with Washington in the districts, which means one of the two schools, both ranked in the top five, will try and go through the loser’s bracket to the state tourney.

Dawn Seiler’s Aberdeen Central squad has a group of outstanding athletes and could be a favor. They are led by junior Bryn Flakus, sisters Kelcy and Kayla Schaunaman and Tiffany Lundberg. A year ago, Aberdeen Central was third and is chasing its first state title.

Watertown (11-6), which has four state titles, is led by USD recruit Tia Heimiller and also could figure in a state title run.

Sioux Falls O’Gorman (10-8) is led by all-state guard Chandler Nielsen. Chris Clark’s Sioux Falls Roosevelt (10-6), crew which has seven titles, features seniors Sydney Rome and Anja Cucak.

Unbeaten Wagner Leads Class A

#1 Wagner (18-0), which has not won state titles since 1998 and 1999 when Mandy Koupal led the way, remains the only unbeaten team in SD prep girls basketball and will try and win a third championship.

Led by all-state standout Devon Brecke and Jessica Doom, Wagner will be tough to knock off. They have a 42-36 win over #2 St. Thomas More, who has won four straight and seven of eight. STM, which was fourth a year ago in its first ever state tourney appearance, have won by 20 or more points in their last four wins. STM has lost only to Wagner on Jan. 14 (42-36) among in-state competition. They also have a loss to Chadron, Neb.

Elkton/Lake Benton (16-3), led by all-state guard Cassidy Gebhart and Megan Krogman, has eight wins in nine games. Led by head coach Steve Krause, who is now, 81-11 in his career, E/LB looks for a second championship after winning in 2010.

Tri-Valley (16-3), which has made consecutive state appearances (seventh last year) and won the 2003 A title, has won seven straight contests and is a hot squad heading into the final stages of the regular season. They will be another team to watch.

Sisseton (15-2), led by coach Cal Schubert (327-109 all-time), has won two straight and six of seven games. A year ago, they defeated Beresford, 50-39, for the school’s fifth title. They lost the bulk of that team but have been one of the state’s best this year.

Parkston (15-3), winners of eight consecutive games, is led by one of the state’s top point guards in Marie Malloy, a five-year starter and all-state performer. Malloy, who is averaging 23 points and eight assists per game, has scored over 1,600 career points. This season Parkston coach Rob Van Laecken become the all-time wins leader in girls basketball this year (passing the late Fred Tibbetts) and now has an all-time record of 563-201.

Don’t close your eyes on Miller (16-2), a two-state champion, which has won nine straight; or Aberdeen Roncalli (14-4) which as 10 wins in 11 games and seeks its first state title.

Vermillion (15-3), which won the 2007 crown, and two-time champion West Central (14-3), which has wins in 14 of its last 15 games, are other squads with solid teams that could make noise. Tonight, Vermillion’s get’s its biggest test of the year in a road trip to top-ranked Wagner.

B Girls Looking at Summit

#1 Summit (17-2), the defending champions, has won 12 straight and defeated three straight opponents by 25 points or more. Summit, which is looking to return to the state tournament for the seventh straight time and in search of its third title, is led by a sister combo of Logan and Presley O’Farrell. Summit’s coach Mark Amdahl, who has a 170-24 career record, guided the squad to a state title a year ago with a 42-40 overtime win against Newell.

Centerville (16-3), which has won eight straight games, is focused on bettering a fourth place showing at last year’s state tourney. Coach Jamie Parish, now 127-92 in his career, has one of the state’s top players in junior Kieran O’Malley, who began her career for the Tornadoes as a seventh grader and is averaging over 22 points a game for the second straight season. She is assisted by another 1,000 point plus scorer in Samantha Blake, who averages15 points and seven rebounds.

Joining the fight for the B title will be Eureka/Bowdle, which made its only state appearance in 1985, and is one of the hottest teams in the class. E/B has won 11 straight games, including a defeat of Herreid/Selby, which was at the time ranked #1.

Herreid/Selby (16-2), which won a title as Selby Area in 1989, is led by a tandem of 5-8 junior guard Taylor Madden (15 ppg) and forward Shauni Schwartz, another double digit scorer. A year ago they reached the region finals only to fall to Highmore-Harrold.

Estelline (16-2), which has only made one state appearance in 1993, is another solid team that will be in the hunt.

Warner (17-2), which has not won a state title, is on a torrid winning pace with 16 victories in 17 games, including six straight. They have won their last six games by 12 points or more.

In addition, two-time champion Sully Buttes (16-2) has won 13-straight games, the best string in Class B.

Castlewood (14-2), which has two titles including the 2010 crown, has won nine straight games.

Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (17-2) has won eight straight games and 11 of 12 overall as they look for their first title.

Finally, there is Hanson (16-3), which is led by all-state center Ashley Robinson, who is averaging nearly 20 ppg and over nine rebounds. Led by coach Jim Bridge, who has a 422-160 record, Hanson is looking for its first title. They are on a roll with 12 straight wins.

Langer Reaches 1,000: Cole Langer of Dell Rapids, who earlier this year had a triple double in a game, reached the 1,000-point mark in a loss to Dakota Valley on Feb. 10. He is averaging 14 points and nearly nine rebounds per game.

A unique motivation style: Coaches find a variety of ways to motivate their teams. Rapid City Journal reporter (former intern of mine at USD), Vance Janak shared one style by Donovan DeBoer, the head girls coach at Rapid City Stevens, who employed “The Little Engine that Could” as his team handed Sioux Falls Lincoln a 38-37 defeat on Friday night. Janak writes: “Whether it was reading the popular children’s book or the Raiders getting back to their fundamentally-sound defense, Stevens found a way to overcome an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit before holding on for a 38-37 Greater Dakota Conference win at Carold Heier Gymnasium.” USD recruit Margaret McCloud played a key role with a double double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. http://rapidcityjournal.com/sports/high-school-basketball-stevens-snaps-slide-with-win/article_433ea4e8-5473-11e1-8ff3-001871e3ce6c.html

Centerville’s Kieran O’Malley On Fire — Kieran O’Malley of Centerville is one of the state’s top talents across all classes in SD prep girls basketball. Her latest escapade was a three-point shot at the buzzer to send Class A Beresford to a 66-64 defeat. Yet, that kind of play is common with O’Malley, who is a five-year starter. She is averaging 22.7 points per game in leading the #3 Centerville Tornadoes to a 16-3 record. She is also averaging 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. With 322 assists in her career, she ranks second all-time at Centerville. She is also second all-time in steals with 277. In terms of points, O’Malley has 432 this year and is Centerville’s all-time leading scoring with 1,831 points. She scored 108 points as a seventh grader, followed with 334 as an eighth grade, 375 as a freshman and 582 a year ago.

During her career O’Malley has had nine games of 30 or more points, including three over 40 points. Her 43 points against Parker this year was the second highest of her career. A year ago she had 45 vs. Colman Egan. Another all-time great at Centerville, Janna Austin (early 1990s) scored 30 or more points 12 times and finished with 1,685 points, just ahead of a sister Stephanie with 1,452 points. Also of note is the play of Samantha Blake for Centerville. Averaging 15.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg, Blake has 1,189 points and 839 rebounds (third all-time at Centerville). Amazing that Centerville has two players on the same team with 1,100 or more career points.

O’Malley’s Form Explosive Brother-Sister Duo — Kieran O’Malley is averaging 22.7 ppg and her brother Seamus is at 20.6 ppg, making them a rare brother/sister duo averaging 20 points a game for their respective teams. Seamus has led the boys to a 14-4 record while Kieran’s points has helped the Tornadoes to a 16-3 record and #3 ranking.

BV’s Heidi Hoff Racking Up Career Totals — Heidi Hoff, who led Brandon Valley to its first state title a year ago, is trying to repeat that effort as the fifth-ranked BV sits 12-5 this season. Hoff, who is averaging 21.3 ppg., has 1,285 career points, including 362 as a senior, 478 as a junior, 264 as a sophomore and 181 as a freshman. She has 59 double figure games including 25 of 20 points or more. She has three games of 30 or more, including a career-best 45 points this season. Hoff, who will play at USD next year, had 34 points a year ago in the State AA first round in a victory over Mitchell. During her career, Hoff has totaled 71 career blocks, 177 steals, 320 assists and 598 rebounds. Every year she has upped her scoring average, moving from 7.0 ppg to 12.0 as a sophomore, 18.4 a year ago and now over 21 as a senior.

Winning Streaks by Class

A number of teams have caught wire recently and are on substantial winning streaks. Here is a list of SD prep teams (boys and girls) with at least five wins in a row.

AA Boys

Lincoln (14-2), 7 (13-of-14)

O’Gorman (14-3), 5, (9-of-10)

Huron (10-8), 5

A Boys

Milbank (14-3), 10

McCook Central/Montrose (14-3), 8

Clark/Willow Lake (13-6), 7

St. Thomas More (16-2), 7

Madison (15-3), 7

Chamberlain (13-3), 5

Elk Point/Jefferson (10-7), 5

Miller (12-3), 5

Tea Area (12-6), 5

B Boys

Faith (17-0), 17

White River (16-0), 16

Lower Brule (16-3), 10

Langford (15-2), 7

Viborg/Hurley (16-2), 7 (13-of-14)

Wolsey/Wessington (14-2), 6

James Valley Christian (14-3), 6

Rosholt (16-1) have won 16 straight vs. South Dakota opponents.

AA Girls

Mitchell (17-1), 12

SF Washington (15-2), 9

A Girls

Wagner (18-0), 18

Miller (16-2), 9

Parkston (15-3), 8

Tri-Valley (16-3), 7

Clark/Willow Lake (15-3), 6

Bon Homme (14-5), 6

B Girls

Sully Buttes (16-2), 13

Summit (17-2), 12

Hanson (16-3), 12 (15-of-16)

Eureka/Bowdle (15-1), 11

Castlewood (14-2), 9

Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (17-2), 8 (11-of-12)

Warner (17-2), 6 (16-of-17)

ORR (14-4), 6

Timber Lake (11-7), 5

Written by Dan Genzler, who writes The Genz blog at www,genzmania.com. Check it out.

With both Mitchell (SD) teams ranked #1 in both girls and boys basketball, it begs the question of how many times a high school has won both championships in the same year?

With the help of the South Dakota High School Activities Association yearbooks, dual boys/girls championships by the same high school has occurred six times in 36 years, since the start of girls championships in 1975.

Before listing the six schools that have won boys/girls titles in the same year, it should be pointed out that the girls’ first champions were Jefferson (65-33 over Mobridge/NWLA) in Class B and Yankton (39-34 over Watertown) in Class A. The boys championships date back to 1912 when Redfield defeated Lake Preston, 33-25, in the original one-class system.

The six dual boys/girls champions include:

1978: The Yankton Bucks captured the boys A title in a 58-35 win over Watertown while the Yankton Gazelles defeated Belle Fourche, 64-54, for the girls A crown.

1982: The Pierre Governors won the boys A crown, 56-43, over Rapid City Central; while the girls defeated Yankton, 43-37 for the A title.

1990: Mitchell boys defeated Sioux Falls Lincoln, 56-55, in AA (three-class system). The Kernels girls team upended Yankton, 57-49, for the AA title.

1991: Northwestern won both the boys and girls B crowns (three-class system). The Northwestern boys defeated Crow Creek, 71-55, while the girls team upended Willow Lake, 36-27.

1994: Mitchell boys defeated Aberdeen Central, 63-55, to win Class AA (three class system). The Kernels girls team defeated Yankton, 42-32, for the AA crown.

2000: The Sioux Falls Roosevelt boys team defeated Rapid City Central, 55-54, for the AA title (three classes). The Rough Riders girls team upended Mitchell, 75-49, for the AA crown.

Schools with both boys and girls titles: A total of 30 schools have won both a girls and boys title over the past 36 years. Also, 52 other schools have won only a boys title (since 1912) while 13 others have only a girls title (since 1975). Those with both a boys and girls championship in South Dakota include Armour, Belle Fourche, Brandon Valley, Brookings, Dell Rapids, Elkton/Elkton-Lake Benton, Hamlin, Howard, Hurley, Huron, Lennox, Milbank, Miller, Mitchell, Mitchell Christian, Northwestern, Onida/Sully Buttes, Pierre, Pine Ridge, Platte/Platte-Geddes, Salem, SF O’Gorman, SF Roosevelt, SF Washington, Sisseton, Vermillion, Wakonda, Watertown, West Central and Yankton.

Five Class B Boys Teams Undefeated; Wagner Only Girls Unbeaten

In South Dakota boys prep hoops, just five teams remain unbeaten and they all reside in Class B. The teams include #1 White River (12-0), #2 Canistota (13-0), #3 Rosholt (13-0) and #4 Faith (13-0), along with unranked Olerichs (11-0). Class A #1 Wagner (15-0) is the only girls team that remains unbeaten.

Speaking of White River, they have been a dominant team in Class B, winning every game by at least 11 points. Aside from White River’s 60-49 victory over McLaughlin, they have won every game by at least 20 points, including a recent 63-43 verdict over then #3 Viborg/Hurley. White River has a 994 to 501 point differential against opponents with six wins by 43 or more points. In similar fashion, Faith has served notice that they can hoop it up. The Longhorns sit 13-0 after knocking off previously undefeated Dupree (11-1), 75-64. They, too, have won every game by double digits.

Four Averaging Double-Doubles
A total of four players in South Dakota boys and girls basketball are averaging double doubles. Shayne Gottlob of Class A #4 McCook Central/Montrose leads the way at 20.2 ppg, 13.8 rpg., while Bryce Koch of Class A #1 Dell Rapids is at 14.3 ppg., and 11.3 rpg. Ashley Robinson of Class B Hanson (13-3) is averaging 19.8 ppg., and 10.2 rpg. Baltic’s Allie Waltner is scoring 12.1 ppg., and 10.3 rpg., for the 11-3 Class A squad. Heidi Hoff isn’t averaging a double double but the Class AA Brandon Valley standout leads all girls players in scoring at 22.4 ppg., and assists (57). Cody Willett of Canton is averaging nearly a double double at 19.3 ppg., and 8.6 rebounds per contest. Ben Schultz of Brandon Valley leads SD boys in scoring at 21.0 ppg.

Prep Shorts
~ In Class AA girls, #1 Mitchell sits at 13-1 and has won eight straight games.
~The Mitchell boys are 12-1 with 11 straight wins since a loss to Pierre in week two.
~Brandon Valley’s Heidi Hoff , who earlier this year had 45 points (second best ever single game point performance in state girls history) tied a school record with 11 assists in a win over Huron on Jan. 28.
~Centerville’s Kieran O’Malley, who has more than 1,600 career points and 280 assists, continues to shine and had a season-high 33 points in a win over Kimball/White Lake. Her teammate Samantha Blake has recently gone over 1,000 career points. Another recent player to go over 1,000 points is Beresford’s Alison Klostergard.
~ Class B Girls #3 Summit has moved to 14-2 and owns a nine-game winning streak, dating back to a loss to Class A #5 Sisseton on Dec. 27. In that December encounter, last year’s Class A (Sisseton) and Class B (Summit) champions played. Recently, Summit defeated Class B #2 and previously unbeaten Estelline, 50-36.
~ Led by Ashley Robinson, Hanson continues to make noise in Girls Class B. Hanson has won nine straight to run its record to 13-3.
~ Boys Class A #3 St. Thomas More (11-2) had a big week after knocking off previously unbeaten Spearfish (9-2), 59-50, at home and Winner (10-3) on the road. STM defeated Winner, 53-46, as standout guard Skye Warwick hit six three-point field goals and scored 28 points.
~ Shayne Gottlob, recently named the KSFY’s Taco John’s Athlete of the Week, has helped #4 (KSFY/KWSN rankings) McCook Central/Montrose (10-3) back into the top five in Class A. He helped MC/M win its fourth in a row this past week. However, last week, he had three straight double doubles with 17 and 10 in a win over Madison; 29 points with 22 rebounds in a victory against Flandreau and 16 points and 21 boards in the conquest of Sioux Valley. During that run Gottlob averaging 20.4 points and 18 rebounds per game and had two consecutive 20 plus rebound games.

(This Blog Post is from M.K. Welch, a sports talk radio show host for ESPN Aberdeen)

The blog post is a little behind this week because I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea of paying an aging RB almost $100 million over 7 years. I think it’s a bad decision, I think Vikings fans need to start questioning management much more than they have, but I digress.


This topic came to me after one of the worst weekends of football for my teams ever. I root for 2 college and 2 NFL teams.


KU (my alma mater) lost 66 – 24 to Georgia Tech. GT racked up 604 rushing yards. Yes, 604, they broke many school records on Saturday.


NSU lost a heartbreaker to CU 27 – 22. The game was riddled with penalties and turnovers. Eliminate half of those and Northern walks away with a decisive victory.


KC Chiefs lost to Detroit 48 – 3. Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury, and the Chiefs are the clear favorite in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.


Min. Vikings lost to the TB Bucs 24-20 in a game that they gave away. Give all of the credit you want to Josh Freeman and the Bucs, but the Vikings had a 10-point lead with just over 3 minutes left in the game.


This weekend has made me look into a question I always ask people, would you rather your team get blown out or lose a close game?


I find that to be an almost unanswerable question. The heartbreak that comes from losing a close game is a devastating pain that puts fans in a state of complete shock (did you see the stands in the Metrodome?) I understand that pain; we’ve all felt it. That said, the hopelessness felt when getting blown out is extremely painful as well. It’s that feeling of the team you love refusing to love you back, and that sinking feeling of there being nothing that anyone can do to stop the disaster. This is not a pain that everyone has felt, most fans just choose to not care when their team gets blown out. They make jokes or choose another team to root for. If you are one of those people, then this post is not making any sense to you. This question is for the fans that will continue to watch their team even when they know their team is going to lose. I won’t go as far as to say these are the “true” fans, but if I had to choose which one I’m having a beer with, I’m going with the guy who has my back through thick and thin.


Once again, I digress, I always want to know the answer to this question for everybody because it’s so interesting to me how 4 games, all with the same result for the teams I was rooting for, can give me such a different range of emotions. Let me know which you would rather have, a tough close loss or getting blown out?


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Or just comment


Also, just to answer the question I always get, “What if the Chiefs and the Vikings play each other in the Super Bowl? Who do you root for?”


IF the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings BOTH get to the Super Bowl, I’m having the biggest party of all time and everybody is invited.

(The following blog was written by Dan Genzler of Sioux Falls, SD, who also writes The Genz blog — www.genzmania.com).
You can’t help but like the personable South Dakota head football coach Ed Meierkort.

Called by his own team as a player’s coach, he talks straight, offers humor in almost any situation and is loved by his players and supporters.

“He is definitely a player’s coach,” said USD junior receiver Will Powell. “I have learned so much from him. He has so much knowledge about the game. He is a great guy to play for.”

Meierkort, now 49-20 in his career (104-85 overall) at USD, knows how to win. He owns a 35-5 record at the DakotaDome, an unreal winning percentage of .875. The 35th home win came in a 30-17 decision over #1 FCS ranked Eastern Washington, the defending Football Championship Subdivision champion, on Saturday. It was the Chicago native’s second program-defining win at USD in two years after knocking off Minnesota in 2010.

The win over Eastern Washington is USD’s first-ever over a top-ranked FCS team and thus commands great importance for the program. However, it still counts for just one win and evens the Coyotes at 1-1 on the season. Yet, the victory does provide important momentum for the Coyotes, who suffered through a 4-7 season a year ago, when a run of six .500 or winning seasons ended at the state’s oldest university.

It is obvious that the 2010 season didn’t set well with him, his staff or players that last season. The year that started so promising with a 41-38 win over Big 10 Minnesota in game two and a ranking of #24 in the national polls, ended badly with five losses in six games. So like the win at Minnesota, the victory against Eastern Washington creates a buzz among the Coyote faithful and provides confidence to a senior-laden team. What happens over the next nine games will determine the legacy of this team and how the win on Saturday played into a special season.

Last spring, Meierkort set two major goals for his football team. One was to work on finishing games, a major problem for the Coyotes in 2010. And, the second, to get more “medieval.” He wanted his team to play more physical and develop a tougher, grind it out mentality.

“I always seems to sound like this but we have to get more medieval with our running game,” said Meierkort, just two coaching wins away from tying Joe Salem (51) for third on the Coyotes’ career wins list. “We need to make our run game as feared as it was when we were in the North Central. It didn’t matter who you were, we were going to line it up and pound it,” he said.

Both goals seem to be taking root. Despite a week one loss to NCAA DI Air Force, the Coyotes stayed after the Falcons to the end. Down 37-7 in the third quarter, the Coyotes closed to 37-20 and had another second half scoring opportunity fizzle inside the 10-yard line.

Then, this past weekend, USD knocked off Eastern Washington, a team that a week ago had nearly beat Washington of the PAC 10 (lost 30-27). The win on Saturday has earned the Coyotes major respect and a place in the FCS top 25. USD is ranked 23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll and 24th in Sports Network/Fathead.com poll.

This season per Meierkort’s goal, the Coyotes have committed to the ground game behind an offensive line that features pro prospect Tom Compton and averages over 300 pounds. The big uglies are grinding it out and rekindling the Coyote way (running and stop the run).

In the loss to Air Force, the Coyotes rushed for 184 yards on 44 carries. USD followed that up with 198 yards rushing in 43 carries in its win over Eastern Washington. Meanwhile, quarterback Dante Warren has added balance by completing 23-of-41 passes for 310 yards with three TDs and four interceptions. On the defense, they have allowed 448 yards rushing, although just 11 on 19 carries to Eastern Washington.

It is clear the Coyotes are going to mix it up this season. It appears to be their focus and that of their coach. Both the offensive and defensive lines are showing their nastiness. The offensive line has allowed the ground game to regain some of its swagger and the defense, including a talented front, has four sacks, 11 tackles for loss and have forced five turnovers (USD has committed four).

Somewhere in Sioux City, Iowa, I’m betting former Coyote coach Beanie Cooper is talking about his former team. In Sioux Falls, it is likely Joe Salem is proud of his former team. A few miles down the road Dave Triplett is too, even if his alma mater (Iowa) lost a tough game to in-state rival Iowa State last weekend. And, Harry Gamage, Leonard “Bud” Allison, Ion Cortright, A.H. Whittemore and Rev. James Henderson, and other Coyote mentors gone now, also must have a crease across their faces in the heavens. All of these former coaches focused on running the ball and stopping the run. It led to wins, a lot of them.

The Coyotes’ win over #1 FCS ranked Eastern Washington ranks among the best home wins of all time. Is it is as important as defeating a Big 10 team? I’m not the expert here. That conversation or argument will be made by others in media forums, bar conversations or pre-game tailgates.

In its storied history, USD has had some big moments. The Coyotes own three wins over NCAA 1A schools — Nebraska, 6-5, 1899; Minnesota, 10-0, 1912; and Minnesota, 41-38, 2010. Interestingly, the Nebraska win happened in Vermillion at University Park (near Old Main) in the first and last time that the Cornhuskers traveled to the USD campus.

Among the other big wins in Coyote history include the 38-14 win by Triplett’s 1985 Coyotes against the defending national champion North Dakota State at the DakotaDome. That same season, USD defeated Central State (Ohio) at the Dome (13-10 OT) in the first playoff game played indoors in NCAA DII. Then there was 1986 and USD’s first round playoff come-from-behind victory over 2nd-ranked Cal-Davis, 26-23, a team that was led by the nation’s passing leader Chris Peterson (now the Boise State head coach). Also in 1986, Coyotes had a 42-28 playoff semifinal win over third-ranked Troy State, who had won a DII title in 1984, at the DakotaDome. It was the victory that sent the Coyotes to its only playoff national title game. Therefore, it too, has to rank high among the most important wins ever.

A side note, the Coyotes lost the title game to NDSU, 27-7, in the only matchup of two schools from the same league (NCC) in the NCAA DII championship game. After that game, the NCAA changed the playoff matchups to prevent two teams from the same league ever again battling in a championship game.

Other memorable wins include the 21-0 win by Joe Salem’s 9-1 Coyotes in 1968 over Montana. Don’t forget the NCC-titling cinching 21-3 win over Nebraska-Omaha in 1978 by Beanie Cooper’s Coyotes on regional ABC TV. In addition, Ed Meierkort’s Coyotes had a pair of big wins in 2005, including a 59-14 rout of fourth-ranked Nebraska-Omaha in the DakotaDome. That game was USD’s first big win in the Meierkort era. Current offensive coordinator Wesley Beschorner had a career and record-setting day with seven combined TDs (five throwing) and totaled 479 yards through the air. The win was also USD’s 100th win at the DakotaDome. Later that season, USD defeated North Dakota, 42-30, to clinch a share of the NCC title for the first time in 27 years. Meierkort called it the “biggest win of his career” to that point. Other big moments included a 6-6 tie in 1909 and a 0-0 tie with Nebraska in 1914.

Over the years, USD has also had numerous big wins against rivals like South Dakota State, North Dakota, Northern Iowa and North Dakota State and also a number of close calls against teams like Michigan (7-6 loss in 1912), Michigan State (3-3 tie in 1916), and Notre Dame (6-0 loss in 1915, in a game played). In 1913, USD lost 20-7 to coach Jess Harper’s Irish, led by the legendary Knute Rockne, All American quarterback Gus Dorias and South Dakota Hall of Fame receiver Fred Gushurt, after leading 7-0 at halftime.

The USD football program is indeed rich in history and long on success. It has 508 all-time wins and many more to come. It is right to recognize and take note of the win over then #1 Eastern Washington on Saturday. But in the long and short of it, it is just one game. Just ask Meierkort, a coach who fashions a much different 2011 than happened a year ago.

Winning is one game at a time, no matter the significance of a moment or game..

Some Perspective Please…

One of the fun things about being a sports fan in the information age is the opportunity to interact with media friends and others through online broadcasts and talk forums. However, last Saturday I was a little irritated at some fans “speaking their mind.” O’Gorman defeated Washington, 24-7, in the Dakota Bowl, to send the Warriors to their second straight defeat and end O’G’s four-game losing skein to Washington. During the course of the game on one of the area’s media forums, a number of people made some over the top comments about players in the game. I can understand “your team” losing but show a little sensitivity toward these young athletes. They are in high school. They don’t get paid like those in the NFL (and maybe some in college). Please continue to offer commentary but show a little sensitivity to the athletes and their family members.

Two anniversaries at USD… Kudos to the 1986 Coyote football team on their 25th anniversary (in 2011) of advancing to the NCAA Division II championship. For Coach Triplett, seven Coyote hall of Fame inductees and all the other players and supporters of that team, it was a year to remember. A lot of Coyote fans will never forget the thrills that team provided.

One other note, in 1886, baseball become the first sport to play competitively at the University. As such this year marks the 125th anniversary of sports on the state’s oldest campus. Congratulations to all those student-athletes, present and past, who give or have given their heart and soul every day, in every competition and in the classroom. Student-athletes are among the shining stars on our campuses.

(This Blog Post is from M.K. Welch, a Sports Talk Radio Show Host at ESPN Aberdeen)

Alright, this post was going to be all about Chad Greenway signing his 5-year contract extension and what that means. In short, it means that Rick Spielman has chosen Chad Greenway over Adrian Peterson. It’s the right move. In the spring of 2008, Chiefs GM Carl Peterson had the same choice. He paid the RB Larry Johnson and traded the DE Jared Allen. How did that work out for Carl Peterson? Well, he’s no longer the Chiefs GM. Moral of the story: Don’t pay aging running backs.


What derailed that riveting blog post is the Jacksonville Jaguars releasing David Garrard yesterday with less than a week until the beginning of the season. That does bother me, but I wasn’t that upset until I saw what everybody else was saying about the move. I see guys like Jon Gruden and others (I mention Gruden because I actually expected better from him, I see Gruden as one of the few around him with some integrity) nonchalantly reminding everyone that, “This is a business.”


Where is that mentality every time a player holds out for more money? It’s nonexistent, all people talk about is how the player signed a contract and he should honor his contract. What about the organization honoring anything? David Garrard just had $8 million ripped from him. If the Jags waited to release Garrard just a few more days, then they would have to pay him the $8 million.


Was it a good business decision? Probably, I don’t think anybody is going to make the argument that David Garrard is in the top half of NFL quarterbacks. That said, why does his organization get to yank money out of his hands? It’s sad for David Garrard, and it’s a sad reality check for every player in the NFL. From this point forward, if a player feels underpaid, he will holdout and he damn well should.


Could this move be freeing up money while the Jags attempt to make a move to Los Angeles? Maybe… I could speculate, but I don’t have any valid information to back up that claim. The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars screwed David Garrard. If they didn’t want Garrard, they needed to release him a month ago. This is cruel, unethical, and a complete snow job. I wish national media would acknowledge that fact, but then again, the same thing that happened to Garrard could happen to them.

By Matt Hendrickson, KJAM Radio

Note: This blog was originally posted in my blog, “Just Another Damn Sports Blog

This weekend, the Dakota State University Trojans and Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers will meet on the Gridiron and the Volleyball court. If you’re an old alum of DSU or DWU (of which I am neither), you’d think this is some sort of a time-warp and a resurrection of the old SDIC days.

And if the president of Dakota Wesleyan gets his way, those SDIC days and the DSU-DWU rivalry might live again… if Dakota State could join the faith-based Great Plains Athletic Conference.

Having covered DSU for most of the time I’ve worked in Madison, I think this would be a good fit. When the SDIC dissolved in 2000, it forced DSU, Black Hills State, Huron University and SD Mines into a “Shotgun Marriage” with the North Dakota Athletic Conference–forming the Dakota Athletic Conference. And while it was workable in the beginning, things started to fall apart quickly.

First, the University of Mary moved up to the NCAA and the NSIC. Shortly thereafter, Huron University closed… which hurt DSU since that was a good rivalry and basically the shortest conference drive. Add to the fact that Minot State, Black Hills State and SD Mines all moved to the NCAA, it leaves a 5-team conference in which the closest opponent is 4 hours away. And in the land of rising gas prices and a tenuous economy, it was starting to get economically unfeasible. In addition, the fact the conference was in danger of losing its “auto-qualifier” status in the NAIA… and there was some talk of Dickinson State (a 10+ hour trip, BTW–ugh!) making the move to the Frontier Conference.

And to be honest, there was no passion, no sense of “rivalry” between DSU and the North Dakota Schools. There was no competition for recruits, not a lot of North Dakota students went to DSU and vice versa…. it didn’t have the atmosphere like SDSU-USD or SDSU-Augie or Augie-USD. It almost felt… antiseptic; unlike when you saw DWU come to the Fieldhouse or Mt. Marty.

Personally, I’d like to see DSU get into the GPAC. Like the president of DWU says in the article, Dakota State brings a lot to the conference….

1) A VERY strong academic profile–One of only 13 colleges and universities in the United States to be named a “Center of Information Assurance by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security”.

2) Close proximity to other conference rivals–One hour to Mitchell (DWU), about 90 minutes to Yankton (Mount Marty), and 2-4 hours to most of the other schools in the GPAC.

3) Commitment to the NAIA–DSU’s AD has made it clear that they are not pursing NCAA Membership. They want to stay in the NAIA, which leads to…

4) Stability–Unlike USF, DSU wants to stay in the NAIA. And unlike Dana, DSU is a state-supported school which means unless the State of South Dakota shuts down the school (highly unlikely since the school’s land and property would automatically revert to the descendants of the family that originally donated the land), they will continue to stay open.

Of course, some would say that because DSU is a secular, non-religious school, they shouldn’t get a shot (maybe if they built a church to Bill Gates?). But I think what they’d bring to the conference in terms of strong academic focus, stability and recognition (Best Midwest College five years in a row by U.S. News and World Report) would make them an ideal member to the GPAC.

(The following blog post is from M.K. Welch, Sports Talk Show Host at ESPN Aberdeen)

One of the major conversations around the nation right now is the new NFL kickoff rule. I started talking about this rule when it was announced last march, and I’ve been livid about it ever since. This was a discussion that was in the forefront of national media until Miami and Nevin Shapiro blew up sports media. Unlike the national media, I have not forgotten what this rule change really means.

The new rule states that kickoffs are now to be taken from the 35 yard line instead of the 30. The majority of kicks last season went in between the 5 yard line and the endzone. That means that you are going to see a massive amount of touchbacks this year. That will take the field position part out of the game and make potent offense the dominating factor of building an NFL team. This has already become an offensively driven league, and, at first, I thought we were moving to a point where the NFL was going to become only about QBs and WRs.

We are still moving toward that point, but after the CBA negotiations, I figured out that the NFL has something much bigger in mind and this rule change is one of the first dominos to fall to make this happen.

I have already seen a number of fans say, forget it, just start the drive from the 20, why even have a kickoff. That is exactly what the NFL wants you to be thinking. They want you to say, “Oh well, who cares anymore.” By doing that, they can take away the kickoff and make the game “safer” for players.

Since when have the owners ever cared about the players? This is much bigger than player safety.

The end game for the owners continues to be an 18-game season, even if they deny it. By eliminating the kickoff, a large amount of the special teams players are no longer needed. That means that teams can create more depth at all positions while still keeping the roster around 53 players. This is important because of money. If the owners are forced to add players to the rosters to play 18 games, it doesn’t make sense money wise. The whole point of playing an 18-game season is to make more money, the owners wont make more money if they have to field larger rosters. If the owners eliminate special teams players, then they can sell the idea with depth while not having to pay more players.

Some might say this sounds like a reach, but there is more than enough history of the owners pulling these kinds of snake in the grass moves to support my claim.

(The following blog is by Dan Genzler of Sioux Fall, SD, who writes The Genz at www.genzmania.blogspot.com)

Sounds of the fall are ringing.

In a few hours (August 26), bands will be unleashing their best “On Wisconsin” rendition or some other school song; grandstands will be outlined in uniformity in color and action; coaches will parade the sidelines with nervous energy; enthusiastic and adrenaline-filled players will hit the field with a high-fevered roar emitting from the supporters all over the stadium. Teams will have structured pre-game calisthenics and drills, referees will hold the coin toss as captains offer a sportsmanship-like handshake to their opponents, National Anthem renditions will be uncorked, and horns signaling the start of the game end the pre-game routines, followed by the crunching of pads, whistles, scoring of touchdowns and horns honking where venues allow parking around the field’s perimeter. Post-games smiles will crease the faces of winners and frustration and sad looks will lock on the other side’s state of expression.

As prep teams prepare for the start of games this week in South Dakota, the passion and enthusiasm of football has returned. It is sense of renewal, in a cavalcade of colors and voices. As teams prepare for kickoff tonight, players, coaches and supporters all feel a rush of adrenaline, albeit a bit different depending on whether you play or watch.

While pre-game routines have changed or evolved, depending on your point of view, football on opening day Friday has always generated smiles and environments of joy, no matter the ultimate result. In recognition of tonight and past opening nights, the Genz blog takes a look back at some of the interesting records and performances, game, season and career in prep football history in South Dakota.

(Source for this blog was www.sdsportshistory.com, an informative and unique website that offers sports history on nearly every sport in South Dakota – check it out).

Leber’s magic… Jason Leber of Vermillion led the Tanagers to the 1992 title in Class A by rushing for 283 yards in a 46-27 win over Winner at the DakotaDome. Leber later played for the University of South Dakota Coyotes, where he set the record for most TDs with 38 and set (now tied) the all-time scoring mark at 236 points. He will be inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame in September. Playing for Gary Culver at Vermillion High, he became one of the legends of South Dakota prep football, Leber set the 11-man record for 100-yard games with 25. The next closest performer sits at 16. He also owns the the 11-man career mark for rushing yards with 5,305, which is nearly 1,000 yards more than the next closest player. In 9-man football, Jim Williams of Hanson set the record with 6,010 yards. In fact a total of seven SD players (six in 9-man) have had 5,000 or more rushing yards.

Carrying the load…Records indicate that a combined four players in 9-man and 11-man had carried the ball 50 times in a game. Another 20 players have carried the ball at least 40 times in a game. In 11-man, Mitch Breen of Wagner in 2009 and Cameron Pudwill of Redfield/Doland in 2010 toted the rock 50 times. In 9-man, Jordan Haar of Freeman in 2005 had the most every carries in a game with 52. Jordan Connor of Bridgewater/Emery/Ethan also had 50 carries in a 2010 game.

Rushing for paydirt…Nine players in South Dakota prep history have scored over 60 rushing TDs during their careers. A total of 16 players have accumulated 51 or more career rushing TDs. The record is owned by Joe Evenson of Garretson who scored 92 TDs from 1993-97. Jim Williams had 88 TDs for Hanson (2002-05), Seth Walter had 79 for Freeman (1997-2000) and Lucas Van Laecken of Sanborn Central had 70 (2006-09). The only player in 11-man to score over 60 career rushing TDs was Jason Leber of Vermillion with 61 (1990-92).

Six by ground. In terms of rushing TDs for a season, 13 players have scored 28 or more. Just six players, all 9-man standouts, have over 30 TDs in a season. Blake Hojer of DeSmet (2003) owns the record with 37. Jeb Olson of Canistota had 35 a year ago while Jim Williams of Hanson had 34 in 2005. Pierre Smith of Hanson had 31 TDs in 2010; Josh Hofer of Freeman had 30 in 1996 as did Jeff Berens of Avon in 2009. The 11-man season leader for rushing TDs is share by by three players including Mitch Breen of Wagner (2009), Mike Galliger of West Central (2007) and Gannon Moore of Sioux Falls Lincoln (2008) with 29.

Cracking 2K…23 high school athletes have rushed for 2000 yards or more in a season. 9-man standout Joe Evenson of Garretson is the all-time leader with 2,517 in 1997. Bryce Carson of Langford had 2,488 yards in 1998s (9-man); and Jared Berg had 2,456 for Grant Duel in 2004 (9-man). The top 11-man total is 2,282 yards by Tony Lesnar of Milbank in 2005.

Breaking air… Fifteen quarterbacks in SD prep history have thrown for more than 400 yards, including a high of 611 in 2009 by Ryan Toelle of Sisseton. Both Tate Bruckner of Menno in 2008 (512) and Matthew Raba of New Underwood in 1996 (506) broke the 500-yard mark.

Throwing for nearly a mile and half…Just eight SD prep quarterbacks have passed for more than 2,500 yards in a season and only one has bettered 3,000 yards in a single campaign. Austin Sumner of Brandon Valley is the only quarterback with over 3,000 yards passing in a single season, and he did it twice. Sumner had 3,332 yards in 2008 and 3,184 yards in 2009. Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Alex Schultz had 2,950 yards in 2010, which ranks third. Ryan Toelle of Sisseton had 2,932 yards in 2009 and is the only player with over 2,900 yards in a season. The 9-man all-time leader is Menno’s Tate Bruckner with 2,769 in 2008.

Game up QBs…36 quarterbacks have thrown 5 or more TDs in a single game in the two classifications. The state record is held by Dustin Lotzer of Sisseton, who threw nine TDs in a 2008 game. Two players have thrown for six TDs in a game. Mathew Raab of New Underwood (1996) and Corey Jacobsen of Viborg/Hurley (2010) had eight TDs in a game for the 9-man record. A year ago, Nick Mears, who will be a senior at Milbank this year, had six and five TDs in two different games. Tate Bruckner of Menno had five or more TDs three times, including six TDs twice during the 2008 season.

Two break 7K in passing yards…In South Dakota, 11 players have accumulated more than 5,000 yards in career passing yards. Just five players have more than 6,000 for a career. Only two prep quarterbacks have over 7,000 yards and they include Nick Wald of St. Thomas More (7.952 yards, 1993-97) and Austin Sumner of Brandon Valley (7.628, 2006-09). Dustin Lotzer of Sisseton (6,642, 2005-08), Cory Jacobsen of Viborg/Hurley (6,472, 2006-10), and Tate Bruckner of Menno (6,156, 2003-08) have over 6,000 career passing yards.

Breaking 30 mark in pass TDs…A total of nine players have thrown for 30 or more TDs in a season. Another 57 quarterbacks have tossed for 20 TDs in a season. Austin Sumner of Brandon Valley (11-man) in 2009 and Tate Bruckner of Menno (9-man) in 2008 own the SD prep record with 38 TDs in a season. Corey Jacobson of Viborg-Hurley (9-man) in 2010 and Dustin Lotzer of Sisseton (11-man) in 2008 both had 35 TDs in a season.

Noonan does it – 500 yards rushing… Just one South Dakota prep has had over 500 yards rushing. Dan Noonan of Howard had 527 yards rushing in 2009. A total of seven players have cracked 400 yards rushing. In 11-man football, 14 players have bettered 300 yards rushing with the most recent Brycen Nelson of Brookings with 310 in 2010. In 9-man football 30 players have better 300 yards.

Nine TDs in a game…9-man standouts Joe O’Hara of Montrose in 1974 and Jared Berg of Grant-Deuel in 2004 scored nine TDs in a game to share the all-time record (TDs by rush, pass, reception or special teams). Three others have scored eight in a game and they include John Brookhart of Sunshine Bible in 1963, Jim Jessen of Tulare in 1979 and one 11-man football player Curly Campbell of Flandreau in 1926.

Picking ‘em off… Two players recorded 12 interceptions in a season. The two players did it 10 years apart. They included Kelby Klosterman of Spearfish in 1997 and Jeff Fish of Milbank in 2007.

Over 1,250 in receiving yards…A total of 21 players in 9-man and 11-man ranks have at least 1,250 yards in career receiving yards.

Only three with 2000 yards receiving…Devin Tohm of Sisseton finished his career with 2,644 yards and is one of three players in state history with 2,000 yards receiving. Allan Schmaltz had 2,230 yards for Rapid City Central and sits 2nd in 11-man ranks. Jace Jensen of Harding County, who graduated in 2010, finished his career with 2,065 receiving yards which is the most in 9-man competition.

Niklason cracks 1,400 in receiving yards for season… Darren Niklason of Brandon Valley had the greatest receiving season in history in 2008 when he had 1,455 yards and 17 TDs. His receiving yards is the best all-time. He is one of three players in history with 1200 or more yards receiving. Trey Frederick of Sisseton had 1,234 yards for Sisseton in 2008. Trent DesLauriers of Clark in 2006 had 1,215 yards. In total 15 players had 1,000 or more receiving yards in a season.

Catching 10 or more TDs… A total of 27 players have caught 10 or more TDs in a season in either 9-man or 11-man football. Eight players have 15 or more TDs receiving, including the all-time leader Darren Niklason of Brandon Valley with 17 in 2008. In 11-man, four other players (besides Niklason) had 15 or more TDs in a season, including Shane Burnison, Spearfish, 1997, 16; Josh Stalder, Spearfish, 2003, 16; Dustin Nowotny, St. Thomas More, 2006, 16; and Devin Tohm, Sisseton, 2010, 15. In 9-man, Dennis DeNei of Viborg/Hurley set the record with 16 TDs a year ago. He will be back this season. Dave Kayser of Emery/Spencer, 1985, and Jace Jensen of Harding County, 2010, both had 15 TDs receiving.

Shutting down opponents… In the 2006 season, the Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers set a state record with 11 straight shutouts. However, Roncalli’s bid to finish a season “perfect” (no points allowed) was ended by St. Thomas More. Roncalli won the 11B title game, 27-13. The 1987 Platte team finished with nine shutouts and Miller’s 1946 team had eight straight shutouts in an unbeaten season.

Six picks in a game… In 2002, Tyrell Pierce of Little Wound had six interceptions in a game. Solomon St. Pierre of Wagner had five in a game in 2008.

Kicking it…Josh Hansen of Watertown holds the career record for most field goals with 19 during 2004-07. A total of 20 prep kickers have a 50-yard field goal or better with Kevin Hansen of Sioux Falls Washington owning the longest kick with 58-yards in 1998. Trevor Cook of Sioux Falls Washington had a 56-yard field goal in 2005 while Ryan Jastram of Sioux Falls Roosevelt booted one from 55 in 2006. The nine-man record for longest field goal is held by Jason Larson of Woonsocket in 1989 and Dakota Hulm of Bison in 1999 with 47-yard kicks.

(This blog post is from M.K. Welch, Sports Talk Show Host at ESPN Aberdeen)

Jaymar Johnson is entering his 4th season with the Minnesota Vikings since being drafted late out of Jackson State. Jaymar has always been athletic, but his ability as a receiver has always been lacking. He was always one of those athletic track stars that never really panned out as a football player. He got a little playing time in 2009, but didn’t do anything to impress people. In fact, the lack of progression from Johnson was the reason the Vikings went and got Greg Lewis that season. Last year, Jaymar Johnson broke his thumb, and was out all season.

I remember when that happened and I thought, “Well, that’s probably it for Jaymar.” I think that’s what most people thought because that happens to so many players in the NFL. So often we see a guy with athleticism who never really gets it, then he gets injured and we never hear from him again. Well the main thing I’ve been hearing about from Vikings training camp this year is the progression of Mr. Jaymar Johnson.

I dug a little deeper and found out that Johnson spent the off-season training with Larry Fitzgerald. That’s the same thing Dwayne Bowe did before he came out of nowhere to go to his first pro bowl last season.

On August 5th, Leslie Fraizer was asked about Johnson and he said, “I really like the way he looks. He’s always had great speed, but his attitude and his approach are quite different than I remember [last year]. I’m optimistic that he is going to step up and do some things not only as a WR but even on special teams.”

There are many things in life that can change our perspective on things. Not everybody needs to have a near death experience to have a change of perspective. Friday, Jaymar Johnson talked about what changed him. He said that it was the injury. He said, about breaking his thumb last year, “It made me a possessed man”. I know it’s very early, but he’s playing like it.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking about how the Vikings don’t have a legitimate primary WR. I’m not saying that Jaymar Johnson is that, but I am excited to see what he can bring to the Vikings this year.