Spearfish track and field team looking to improve
B y D ennis K nuc K les Black Hills Pioneer SPEARFISH — The Spearfish High School track and field team is hoping to improve on its performances from last season.
Spearfish scored 62 points to finish fifth in the 2022 Class AA boys’ state team race.
“On the boys’ side, I think we did really well. I was happy with our place at state. We were conference champions. We had some good performances by several guys, and it was a good year last year,” said Aaron Nida, the Spearfish track and head coach.
The Spearfish girls’ team was eighth at state, with 33.5 points in the final standings.
“The girls’ side tied for the conference title, they did well at state, and had a good season,” said Nida. “I was really happy with the way they competed last year, and we have a lot of those girls back this year.”
The Spearfish girls’ team has a big turnout this year.
“We have over 60 girls out. We have a lot of returners from last year, and a lot of talent coming in from different areas, so I think we will be able to put some relays together to be competitive,” said Nida.
“Our distance crew has a solid distance core 4x800 (meter relay), and in the mile and two-mile run we’ve got some quality runners coming back, and we’ve got some young sprinters we hope will be able to
step in to help our short relays be more competitive.”
The boys’ team is only down a couple of athletes compared to last year.
“The boys’ team is down a little bit. We still have 50 some athletes out, so we didn’t go way down or anything. Some of the freshmen boys decided they didn’t want to come out and work this year, so the freshmen class is the one we are down in. The rest of the classes are where we have been
“We still have Jaden (Guthmiller), he’s kind of our anchor. Brayden Delahoyde is back in the high jump, and he’ll probably be able to run
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SPEARFISH Track & Field
Auna Taglioli, Sierra
Daniela Rodriguez, Sydney Badwound, Marley Whitlock, Ella Urdiales, Liberty Herweh, Natalee Bruner, and Camden Hemeyer. Second
Averie Rogers, Isabel Cross, Averi Pettersen, Maria Eisenbraun, Mia Durdall, Kali Reiners, Genesis Raysor, Katie Mondloch, Nyra Schultz, Madelynn Schlup, Jonnie Jensen, Lucie Tennant, and
We Understand Commitment
some 4x2 (hundred-meter relays) and do some quality stuff,” Nida said. “We are missing only one from the school record 4x100-meter relay from last year, but I think we can replace that leg. So, we’ve got some good possibilities, and some good things that can happen.
“Obviously losing Keenan (Uridales) on the distance side is going to hurt a little bit. I’m not
sure we have anybody who can step in and take those points, but we have some guys who I think can step up and help for relay spots, and maybe get some time down to be competitive,” said Nida.
As always, the weather is unpredictable during the spring, and sometimes creates problems for teams to practice, or play games. For track and field the unpredict -
2023 Spring Sports Preview
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able weather makes it hard to evaluate the athletes.
In Spearfish’s case, that is not a problem.
“We are one of the lucky ones. We can get into the Young Center at the college (Black Hills State). We’ve been having morning practices over there, and we are able to run some workouts. So we are getting a pretty good training base started to
evaluate the athletes pretty well,” said Nida. Nida said the goals for the team are simple.
“I want to see them work hard, and work on getting better. Being coachable, being good people, and do the right things, and be competitors. That’s kind of what sports is all about. Being a good person, competing, and trying to make yourself better everyday,” he said.
Digger track teams return experience this springB y J ason G ross
Black Hills Pioneer LEAD — Lead-Deadwood’s high school track season started roughly two weeks ago and continues Thursday, April 6, at the Queen City Classic in Spearfish.
Golddiggers’ head coach Will Malde said many athletes turned in personal records last season, and a number of them qualified for the state Class A meet. He is in his ninth season here.
Lead-Deadwood returns many of those athletes for this season. Malde cited senior James Pierce, who finished third in the boys’ 400-meter dash at last season’s state meet.
Other key returning athletes Malde cited were seniors Greyson Baumberger and Allison Mollman; juniors Jocelyn Dirksen, Mya Lucero, and Isaac Foster; and sophomores James Burke, Cruz Mollman, and Hallie Person.
“I think we’re a pretty decent-sized team for our school,” Malde said in describing the
Golddiggers. “I’m excited to have, hopefully, some depth in a few things.”
The Golddiggers have strong ninth-grade and sophomore classes, Malde said. He added LeadDeadwood also boasts some really solid seniors who will provide leadership vocally as well as by example.
Lead-Deadwood hosts the Mountain Top Invite on May 9. Spearfish will host the Black Hills Conference meet on Friday, May 12. Belle Fourche hosts the Region 4A meet on Thursday, May 18. The state track meet is slated for May 25-27 through Saturday, May 27 in Sioux Falls.
“There are so many good teams around us,” Malde said in addressing Lead-Deadwood’s schedule. He cited Belle Fourche, Custer, Hill City, St. Thomas More, Spearfish, Sturgis Brown, and other squads.
Malde hopes for more junior varsity meets this season to give younger athletes more chances to compete and develop. He said some
varsity meets are so large and competitive that Lead-Deadwood gets only three entries per event.
As for the Black Hills Conference team race, Malde said Custer emerges as a favorite. He said Spearfish also has good speed and a lot of depth, with Belle Fourche boasting Sawyer Clarkson.
“I’m looking for us to be really competitive and be able to score some more points,” Malde said when asked how he sees the Golddiggers stacking up against conference teams. He reiterated that Lead-Deadwood boasts really solid talent in both divisions.
Malde said team members are working on running technique in preseason practices, which officially began on Feb. 27. Focal points also include adding speed and endurance.
Success this season for Malde includes qualifying many individuals for the state meet. He also cited the importance of personal growth
LEAD-DEADWOOD Track & Field
throughout the campaign.
Individuals and relays qualify for the state meet by turning in the 24 best times or distances throughout the season. Region meets are, essentially, a last-chance qualifying
“One of the biggest things we can take from last year to build on this season, is confidence,” Malde said. He added many team members gained a lot of momentum and ex -
citement during the 2022 campaign.
Desired improvements for Malde from 2022 to 2023 center on continued growth. “I just want to keep the excitement going. They’ve done well so far,” he said.
Key seniors graduating from last season’s squads included Jayna Prince, Rachel Janssen, David Morris, Jagger Smith, Landon Williams, Phillip Sneesby, and Stryder Greenfield.
Schleusner takes over as Broncs’ head track coachBy Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
BELLE FOURCHE — Josh
Schleusner had no ambitions of being Belle Fourche’s head track coach, but a glowing recommendation from former mentor Bill Abell spoke volumes.
“He (Abell) was telling me that he couldn’t think of anyone else who he would want to turn the reins over to,” Schleusner said in detailing conversations taking place during the 2021-22 wrestling season. “It was touching,
and it was flattering at the same time.”
Schleusner has coached in the Belle Fourche system for almost 10 years and guided the jumping athletes last season. He related Abell, who guided the Broncs for nine seasons, brought in a philosophy of making track fun again.
That model is what Schleusner follows, but he also pays a lot of attention to structure and detail. He said he now has the chance to help build
the Broncs’ program even further.
“I’m always wanting to create a competitive, and more so fun, atmosphere,” Schleusner said of his coaching philosophy. He added that allows athletes to build concepts like accountability, establish work ethic and integrity, and embrace failure.
“When you fail, it actually gives you access to growth as an athlete,” Schleusner said. He added this contributes to faster growth than can usually be imagined.
Broncs to host home track meet April 15By Jason Gross Black
BELLE FOURCHE — Belle Fourche’s track season will continue with a home meet April 15, when the Broncs host the Center of the Nation-Twilight Invitational at Lou Graslie Field. Events start at 2:30 p.m.
First-year Broncs’ head coach Josh Schleusner looks to continue building
on the foundation his predecessor set. Schleusner succeeds Bill Abell, who stepped down after nine seasons following the 2022 state meet.
The list of key returning athletes for the Broncs starts with senior Sawyer Clarkson. He won the Class A boys’ 3,200-meter run and finished second in the 1,600 run at last season’s state meet. Schleusner said this would be a showcase
season for Clarkson, who has signed to run collegiately at Gonzaga starting next fall.
Juniors Lane Krautschun and Mataya Ward also look to build off top-eight state placings last season.
Krautschun won the Class B boys’ 3,200-meter run and finished second in
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The Belle Fourche girls’ track team includes, back row from left: Tori Brill, Mataya Ward, Dylan Stedillie, Sloan Young, Elinor Damberg, Shaine Weishaar, Katelyn Lee, and Peyton Staley. Middle row from left: Sarah Juelfs, Olivia Nehl, Jazlyn Olson, Syd Pelster, Hannah Kirksey, Joselyn Shockey, Aleyah Carbajal, and Emilee Giffin. Front row from left: Chloe Merjil, Shelby Moke, Fiona Krug, Kailey Nowowiejski, Reese Larson, Ava Allen, and Allison Hayes. Head coach Josh Schleusner is not pictured. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross
the 1,600 run at last season’s state meet while competing at Bison. Ward claimed third place in the Class A girls’ triple jump event.
Schleusner listed other key returning athletes from last season. He cited seniors Lane Longbrake, Anthony Staley, Devin Nowowiejski, Gunnar Geib, Jayden Sechser, Dylan Stedillie, Shelby Moke, and Nic Lambert; juniors Nolan Wahlfeldt, Sloan Young, Hannah Kirksey, Reese Larson, Harley Rivera, and Katelyn Lee; and sophomore Elinor Damberg, a transfer from Spearfish.
Schleusner said the jumping squad (long jump and triple jump) is a strong suit of the team. He added that group consistently scores points at region and state meets.
Boys’ distance is another strong point, according to Schleusner. That group includes Lambert and Rivera.
Numbers for the throwing and pole vault events are growing, Schleusner said. He added they are all interested in succeeding.
“We need to be a more complete team,” Schleusner said when asked what the Broncs will need to work on. He added events needing coaching focus and consistency include hurdles and high jumping.
“All the kids need is a consistent presence, and then they’ll start to understand their fundamentals. They’ll establish a base, and then you’ll see them getting better,” Schleusner said.
“We’re just trying to get them to understand that there’s a process to it,” Schleusner said. “Once they learn how to love the process, it will become more fun for them. By the end of the year, they’re going to do better than they expect they will.”
Focal points of early practice sessions have included fine-turning technique, proper care of the athletes, introducing the different phases (preparation, mid-season, championship). Those sessions began on Feb. 27.
Schleusner said the slate has always been difficult, but he added athletes can-
not let the competition dictate how they will perform.
Belle Fourche is also slated to host the Northern Hills Invitational on April 25. The Black Hills Conference meet is May 12 in Spearfish, and the Region 4A meet will be held May 18 in Belle Fourche.
The season ends with the state Class A meet May 25-27 in Sioux Falls.
“It’s a slow build to championship season,” Schleusner said. “Each meet serves a purpose.” He sees meets as opportunities instead of pressure situations.
Custer earned Schleusner’s nod as the team favorites in the Black Hills Conference. He regards the Wildcats as the measuring stick.
“Looking back, we’ve always done pretty well,” Schleusner said in comparing the Broncs to other conference squads. He added Spearfish and Sturgis Brown always enjoy great numbers.
Success for Schleusner centers on helping athletes to become better people. Those concepts include increased accountability and work ethic, integrity,
and learning how to embrace failure while getting up and moving forward.
Schleusner said a team can have a good season in the record books. He added the program is not interested in producing athletes who have no respect or appreciation for the coaches, parents, or community.
“As coaches, we’re put in a rare position to help these kids,” Schleusner said. “Being in high school is a pretty trying time.”
Increased attention to detail is what Schleusner said the Broncs can use to start setting a foundation for this season. He added now is the time to learn the process and go to work.
Desired improvement areas for Schleusner include the entire team being strong in every area. He said he would also like to keep seeing solid relays, which has happened in the past.
Aiden Giffin, Dru Keegan, Kaylin Garza, Ethan Jensen, and Charles Alberts were the key seniors graduating from last season’s squads.
Sturgis Brown track team ready for seasonBy Tim PoTTs Black Hills Pioneer
STURGIS — The Sturgis Brown High School track and field team started training Feb. 27, for the upcoming season.
The Scoopers have 100 athletes combined for the girls’ and boys’ teams to start the season.
“Overall, the season looks promising. We have over 100 athletes again this year with many new, young faces and a lot of quality lettermen returning,” said Blake Proefrock, Sturgis Brown’s head coach.
Proefrock, now in his eighth year as head coach, talked about the teams, and several athletes to watch this season.
“We have a great group of distance runners. The boys’ cross country team finished fourth, and the girls placed seventh, at the state Class AA meet this year. They will compete well across the full schedule of events. Senior distance runners, Deron Graf, Beck Bruch, and Owen Koontz will lead the way,” Proefrock said. “Gunner Rohloff, Cale Jolley, and freshman Sully Jost competed well in the jumps last year. We definitely look forward to the improvement they will make. Aidan Hedderman, a junior, will likely lead our pole vaulters, as he ended the season with a fifth-place finish at state, and is the returning state champion in the 110-meter hurdles.
Proefrock said other vaulters and hur-
dlers to watch are: Chase Temple, Tyan Buus, Nathanael Jones, Jaxon Cano, Jayden Ludwick, and newcomer Teigen Wormstadt. Austin Ayeto, a senior, will lead a deep group of throwers.
Hedderman has a goal to break the school record in pole vault set in 2007 by Calvin Cammack at 15 feet.
Hedderman is also in the top three for all-time Sturgis Brown High School records for 110-meter high hurdles set in 2022, with a time of 15.12.
“My goals for track this year are to be the best runner and jumper that I can possible be. For pole vault I hope to place in the top three at state and break our school record,” said Hedderman. “For hurdles, I will be working hard towards another state championship. I am very excited to work with good friends this year in track, and can’t wait for the season to start.”
On the girls’ team, Proefrock said the athletes athletes to watch include: Sawyer Dennis, Paige Willnerd, Iris Zylstra, Lucy Hamer, Novali Dinkins, Avery Marler, Cali Ewing, Charlotte Fjelstad, Kyasia Jones, and Rachael Banks.
“We have some fairly veteran girls that have been in the program a long time, and will anchor the team. Hannah Killinger and Ireland Nacey will also lead the girls’ hurdle crew.”
Ewing, a senior, set some pretty high goals for herself.
“I am looking forward to my last year of track! I plan to compete in the 4x100, 4x200-meter sprint medley, and the open 100 and 200-meter dashes. My goals for the year are to exceed my own expectations and leave everything I have on the track,” she said. “I hope to finish my high school sports with a Black Hills Conference win and a couple of medals at state.”
Banks, a senior, said she is excited to start competing.
“I’m very excited to get the meets started and see where we start off. Last year was a good year, but I have high hopes that this year will be even better! I will be competing in triple jump, and I will hopefully get another personal record getting me in a comfortable seating in the Class AA rankings,” Banks said.
The Scooper boys won the Black Hills Conference title in 2017, 2019, and were runners-up last season, while the girls won conference titles in 2017, 2018, 2021, and were third last year.
“We had a few state placers last year and the majority of our relays were very strong at the state level. We look to be very competitive in those same areas and add a few more,” said Proefrock. “We hope to compete for both conference titles again this year. We think we should be
STURGIS BROWN Track & Field
competitive again, and that is always the goal.”
Proefrock works with the hurdles, jumps, and relays. Assistant coach Kristi Cammack coaches pole vaulting, assistant coach Chris Koletzky coaches sprints and relays, assistant coach Steve Hilton coaches javelin, shot put and discus), assistant coach Ward Anderson coaches high jump, long jump and triple jump, and assistant coach Scott Peterson coaches distance and
Elliot Smith, Cash Daigle, Quinn Bruch, Dmitri O’Driscoll, and Jake Krog. Taylor Colunga, Jayden Ludwick, Morgan Papenfuss, Gavin Dunn, Colt Frein, and Jude Legner
Newell tracksters seek focus, determinationBy Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
NEWELL — Newell’s track team members seek focus and determination during a season that began March 24 at the Rapid City Christian Invitational and ends two months later at the state Class B meet in Sioux Falls.
Head coach Kyle Sanderson cited Colton Niles, Rachel Erk, and Hailey McCann as key returning athletes for the Irrigators’ squads. Sarah Erk tied for sixth place in the girls’ high jump at last season’s state meet.
Sanderson is guiding Irrigators’ athletes for the 10th season.
Preliminary numbers indicate 12 girls and five boys. Sanderson said there is the potential for middle school athletes to join the squad later in the season.
Team members will need to work on keeping their big-picture goals in mind for the season, Sanderson said. He added the season’s first meet does not determine what will happen at conference or state.
“We may be low in numbers, but the athletes we have are highly competitive,” Sanderson said in outlining team strengths. “They love to compete; they love to work to succeed.”
Newell’s schedule for this spring is very competitive, Sanderson said. The slate includes meets in Spearfish and Belle Fourche, where Sanderson said strong Class AA and Class A teams are part of the field.
Sanderson said Lemmon will also be a stop for Newell this season. Meets there are slated for April 22 and 29. He said a number of Little Moreau Conference teams are also slated to compete.
This spring’s Little Moreau Conference meet is set for May 11 in Lemmon. Timber Lake will host the Region 8B meet on May 18, with the state meet scheduled for May 25-27.
Timber Lake earned Sanderson’s nod for Little Moreau Conference honors.
“Our top-end athletes, I think, compete with anyone in our conference,” Sanderson said. “Being a little low on numbers, we’re going to have to have kids be a little more versatile doing multiple events.”
Newell will need focus and determination to enjoy a successful season, Sanderson said. He added weather may affect the practice or meet schedule, and the aim is to control the things the team can.
“I just want to see great individual success for all of the kids,” Sanderson said. He cited personal records and season bests throughout the campaign.
Official practice sessions began Tuesday, March 14. Focal points included building up some strength, especially the “track muscles” that may not have been used in other sports. Building a base will be the aim for the middle- and long-distance runners.
Sanderson said many great things fell into place at conference and state meets for the Irrigators last season.
“I want to take some of those great positives last year and build on them,” Sanderson said in describing this season. He added athletes had a lot of confidence late in the campaign.
As for improvements from 2022 to 2023, Sanderson cited meet-day preparation.
“Making sure athletes are doing everything they can before their event to make sure they’re ready to go, use their abilities the best they can,” Sanderson said.
He said the teams’ performances last season really impressed him, citing the improvement athletes made.
Garrett Winkler graduated from last season’s team.
BHSU track and field anxiously awaiting outdoor seasonB y D ennis K nuc K les
Black Hills Pioneer SPEARFISH — The Black Hills State (BHSU) track and field team anxiously awaits the start of its outdoor track and field season.
The Yellow Jackets practices have been mostly indoors due to poor weather conditions, and their first outdoor meet was scheduled for March 24, in Spearfish, but was canceled due to inclement weather.
“It’s always a struggle,” said Austin Billings, the BHSU head coach.
“I think with any team that is practicing in this region, you are always going to have to battle the weather in some capacity, but we are very fortunate to have our indoor facility to be able to practice year round, without having to worry about the weather.”
Black Hills State had a successful indoor season, breaking three personal best records at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships.
Breanne Fuller competed in the women’s 60-meter and 200-meter dash, and landed in the top five in both competitions, with provisional timestamps. In the 60-meter dash, Fuller recorded a 7.66 for fifth, finishing third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.87.
Freshman Trinity Brady competed in the men’s 400-meter dash and ran a
personal best of 50.14 in the competition to place seventh, toppling the personal best he set on day one at 50.42.
In the men’s heptathlon, Conor McGraw and Dawson Lindeen, represented BHSU, and McGraw tied his personal best in the heptathlon pole vault, clearing 3.35 meters on his way to finishing the event with 4,418 points.
Lindeen finished the day with two new personal bests in the heptathlon’s 60-meter hurdles with a time of a 9.69, and 1,000-meter run in 3:11.69, and finished with 3,379 points.
“I think every meet of the indoor season we got a little bit better, and our conference meet was a culmination of a long, hard season of body of work. I was really happy with our short-spring group. We were able to successfully break the 60-meter and the 200-meter school record on the women’s side, and we also broke the men’s 200-meter school record as well,” said Billings. “It was really a fun group to work with, and to see them blossom and to knock off some pretty big times.
“So I think as a unit, as a team, I couldn’t be prouder. I was very happy with how we finished off in a really good place to compete at a high level going into the outdoor season,” Billings said.
“I think it is important to practice
outside, so we’ve slowly been making our own days out there whenever we can, whenever it’s slightly better weather, just to get a little more acclimated to face that kind of weather when we do get competition. It’s an obstacle, absolutely, but it’s a pretty obtainable task because of our indoor facility.”
Billings says he hopes to see his team improve inter-conference competition
“I know a lot of times we can get lulled to a sense of security. When we go to meets and we compete against some NAIA, DIII schools, or some lower DII schools, we see that we are on top of the world, so to speak,” said Billings. “I want to see go to some of these meets and compete against Colorado Mines and Chadron, and other schools in our conference and really dominate, and hold our own when it comes to those (meets). I want them to see we are not going to back away from any kind if competition we’re going to throw everything we have into it.
“I just think mentally we needed to put ourselves into those races, because from my side I see it everyday, but we have to be able to mentally prepare and go put ourselves, and give ourselves an opportunity to go succeed every day,” Billings said.
Black Hills State was scheduled to
BHSU Track & Field
April 7 at Kit Mayer Invite ...................... TBD
April 14 at UCM Outdoor Mule Relays TBD
April 28-30 at RMAC Outdoor Championships TBD
May 5 at Air Force Twilight Open ......... TBD
May 6 at CSU-Pueblo Last Chance Invite TBD
May 13 at Loper Invite TBD
compete at the CSU Pueblo Invite, March 31 and April 1, in Pueblo, Colo.
Billing said he wants to see his team pick up where they left off at the indoor season.
“I’m looking for a continuation of what we put on the table at the indoor conference. I want to see us go and execute some of these small, finer details that we have been working on over the past few weeks,” said Billings. “Then I think as a team we need to be in a position where we can go take down multiple school records in the first few weeks of the outdoor season.”
Spearfish golf to field small team
B y D ennis K nuc K les
Black Hills Pioneer SPEARFISH — Spearfish High School girls’ golf is entering a season of unknowns this spring.
In 2022, the Lady Spartans won the conference title and finished in the middle of the pack in the Class AA state golf tournament.
“We had a very good season last year. They were very competitive in the Black Hills area. “The girls won their second straight Black Hills Conference championship. So as a team as a whole, I thought we were very competitive,” said Eric Ligtenberg, the Spearfish head coach. “At state, we were right in the middle of the pack, which I think is a pretty good finish for what Spearfish’s class size is. We beat a handful of Sioux Falls teams, and if you can beat a Sioux Falls team that’s a different size animal. So you’ve got to take your victories where you can find them, and I’d say ninth at state is a pretty good victory”
Spearfish began practice March 27.
Ligtenberg says this year’s team will be small, compared to past teams.
“This is the smallest team I can remember since I started coaching. We only have nine girls right now,” Ligtenberg said.
When asked why the numbers
are down, Ligtenberg said, “Part of the reason is we had three girls that could be out, but they transferred. So we lost three girls there. Not to say it is an excuse at all, but adding softball that is 31 more girls in our school that are going to go out for softball. I don’t think there’d be that many girls that would enjoy playing golf, but there might be three or four.”
Ligtenberg said things like that are always going to happen.
“You can always have the conversation that softball is probably their number one pick, but they kind of use golf to fill the gap until the softball season starts in the summer,” said Ligtenberg. “The girls that golf is their true passionate sport, we have them. It’s the ones who are on the fringe that might not have a lot of experience. They just want to try it.”
Ligtenberg said even though the team is small in numbers, they do return some experience.
“We have nine girls and eight of them played last year, and one of them is playing for the first time,” he said.
The girls have not been able to go out on the golf course yet because of the inclemete weather, so Ligtenberg is resorting to another method of getting the girls acclimated to playing golf.
“We’ve chosen to use that business in town that has a golf simulator. If you are not going to be outside, that (the stimulator) is probably the closest thing you can do, because you can get your full swing. It kind of has a computer that analyzes your swing,” said Ligtenberg. “It kind of like slows it down so you can see a video tape of it. So, you can almost learn a few thing, because you can show it on the big screen, and gives a little bit of tips, and helps a kids swing out, and maybe improve a little faster hitting on a simulator.
“Again, with it not being very nice out, if all the spring sports are in the gym, there’s not a lot of space. There’s just not a lot of space to find your spot,” Ligtenburg said.
Ligtenberg compared the boys’ and the girls’ golf seasons, as it relates to weather.
“The boys’ and the girls’ golf season are completely opposite as they relate weather conditions. The boys have the entire summer to really kind of do their preseason and get ready for when the season actually starts, where the girls kind of come off a long winter, with not a lot of practice. So they are kind of relearning a little bit. Getting the
rust off their swing,” he said.
Ligtenberg said the boys can be hitting their peak when their season starts, where the girls won’t hit their peak until around two weeks left in the season.
Area coaches in the Northern Black Hills have said Spearfish
and St. Thomas More are the favorites to win the Black Hills Conference this season.
“I would have to look at St, Thomas More. They have some really good golfers. I would have to agree with my fellow coaches in the area. I’ve got some really
good golfers as well. I return three solid golfers, but it takes four golfers to make a full team,” said Ligtenberg. “You can have the best golfer in the state, and if you don’t have anybody else to go around them, you’re not going to win the Black Hills Conference
team championship, so you’ve got to try and have a little consistency.
“I like the experience I have with those three girls, and now there is going to be a nurturing thing to find out who will be the other girl to round off the team,” said Ligtenberg.
Members of the 2023 Spearfish High School girls’ golf team are, front row from left: Alissa Bordewyk, Payton Reede, Elise Ligtenberg, and Olivia Torgerson. Back row from left: Katelyn Hargraves, Alivia Heairet, Maddi Kelley, Alison Kennedy, and Cadence Kilmer.
Broncs return experience to golf courseBy Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
BELLE FOURCHE — Belle Fourche returns all players from a varsity girls’ golf squad that qualified for the state Class A tournament a season ago.
Damon Lange is in his third season as Broncs’ head coach. He listed seniors Tia Williamson and Ayden Kummer, junior Chloe Schmoker, and ninth-graders Reagan Hatling and Denali Larson as the key returning players for Belle Fourche.
Those five represented the Belle Fourche team at last season’s state Class A tournament. Lange said the team played really well at that event, with some players recording their best scores.
“The good thing about all those girls is, they all want to get better,” Lange said. He added they have developed a love for the sport, and they are fun to be around.
Lange said the season would pose a challenge, as the schedule includes a number of good teams. He added he hopes that desire to improve and be with one another will pay off at the Region 4A tournament.
Fundamentals and the short game
are concepts all players can work on, regardless of ability. Lange said learning how to play courses will likely be a bigger factor this season.
“With our players getting older and being a little more experienced, we can maybe put in a little more game planning,” Lange said.
The season begins April 13 at the Hot Springs Invitational. Belle Fourche will host a tournament on April 20.
Hot Springs is scheduled to host the Black Hills Conference tournament on May 8. The Region 4A tournament is May 16 at Rapid City’s Meadowbrook course, with that course hosting the state Class A tournament on June 5-6.
Lange said the Broncs’ schedule is challenging. He added Spearfish, St. Thomas More, and Custer will be very good teams.
“That kind of pushes our girls to get better as well,” Lange said in describing that competition level. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us, and it’s going to make us better in the end.”
Spearfish and St. Thomas More will challenge for the Black Hills Conference title, in Lange’s view. He said Custer is improving.
“Our goal is really just to qualify
a team for state,” Lange said in comparing the Broncs to the Black Hills Conference field. He added Belle Fourche will be happy if that means finishing second or third at the region tournament.
Lange said qualifying a team for this season’s state tournament would mark a successful campaign. He added a really good goal would be to have all five reach state individually.
“Just realizing that they can improve every day,” Lange said in describing what the players can take from last season to start planning for this season. He added that includes working on the short game and taking advantage of available practice time.
Lange said the season’s first tournaments serve to help golfers get used to competing, swinging the club again, and preparing for the season’s later events.
Desired improvements from last season to 2023 include seeing some team members approach the scores of Schmoker, whom Lange described as the team’s top golfer.
Lange cited the importance of Broncs’ players trying to work on topping their best scores instead of worrying about trying to play against opponents.
BELLE FOURCHE Girls’ Golf
Digger girls look to keep progressingBy Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD — The Lead-Deadwood varsity girls’ golf team seeks to continue the progress it make during the 2022 campaign.
Golddiggers’ head coach Kim Hansen, who is starting her third season, said the program experienced a lot of individual and team growth during the 2022 season. Gayle Thompson qualified for the state Class A tournament, and others missed qualifying by slim margins.
Thompson will return for her senior season this spring. Hansen also listed senior Ashley Lary, junior Alayna Bauernfeind, sophomore Delaney Mattson, ninth-grader Janel Hess, and eighth-grader Hennesey Mattson as key returning players.
“This is just a great group of girls
that are willing to try new things,” Hansen said in outlining team strengths. “They’re receptive in learning. I was just so impressed with their growth from the last couple of seasons.”
Hansen agreed all golfers can always work on concepts like fundamentals, the short game, and course management. She said it is all about repetition, and what golfers did in the off-season will be quite apparent as the spring season progresses. Official practice sessions began on March 27.
“I think it’s very manageable,” Hansen said in describing the Golddiggers’ schedule. She added Rapid City’s Meadowbrook course will host the state Class A tournament, and the girls will play this course at least a couple of times this season.
The season is slated to begin
Tuesday, April 11, at the Spearfish Invitational.
Hot Springs will host the Black Hills Conference tournament on May 8.
Rapid City’s Meadowbrook course will host the Region 4A tournament on Tuesday, May 16. The state tournament is slated for June 5-6 at that site.
Hansen sees Spearfish, St. Thomas More, and Hot Springs as the favorites in the Black Hills Conference race.
“Hopefully, we can hang right in there,” Hansen said in comparing the Golddiggers to those conference teams and others. “I would like to see us bump up a few places in some tournaments.” She said that comes with the sport’s growth in Lead-Deadwood.
Hansen said course discipline will play a really important role this season. She added players know the basics, and the next step is for them to place themselves in spots to do well.
“I think they’ll have goals in their minds,” Hansen said when asked what players can take from last season to start setting a foundation for this spring. She added those aims include scores, tidying up the short game, and making good decisions.
“Confidence is just so important on the course,” Hansen said. “If you’re loose and playing well, you’re going to be relaxed. Your swing is just going to come more naturally than a person who’s nervous or anxious.”
Hansen said she wants to see the players confident in their deci -
LEAD-DEADWOOD Girls’ Golf
sion-making this season. She added if a player makes a mistake, that is a great way to learn.
Low numbers for Newell golf teamsBy Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
— The Newell boys’ and girls’ golf squads will experience low numbers as they prepare for a season set to begin April 7 at the Rapid City Elks course.
Newell is a Class B school. Schools in this classification conduct their boys’ and girls’ golf seasons in the spring, as opposed to girls’ golf only in Class AA and Class A.
Scott Wince returns for his third season as the Irrigators’ head coach.
In recapping last season, Wince said senior Kelsi Clements and junior Megan Jackson played their best rounds of the season at the girls’ state Class B tournament.
Wince listed ninth-grader Braylee Freytag and sixth-grader Bristol Bachman as other potential members of the girls’ team.
The boys’ team will be very young with few players, Wince said. Eighthgrader Bodie VanDerBoom is on that list.
“For the girls, they’ve had experience at a state tournament,” Wince said in describing team strengths for this season.
Wince said that team played very well to end the 2022 campaign, and he hopes that evolves into understanding how to prepare for this year’s state event.
Wince said VanDerBoom showed signs of being a really good golfer last season.
Golfers can always work on fundamentals, the short game, and course management.
“Everybody wants to hit the driver, but they forget about all the other clubs,” Wince said. “We’re going to work on course management again; we’re young.”
Wince said a main emphasis point would center on golfers understanding what they need to do. He added fundamentals and the mental aspect are significant.
Newell will host a tournament on April 28. The Little Moreau Conference tournament is slated for May 5 in Lemmon, with Hart Ranch (south of Rapid City) hosting the Region 6B tournament on May 22.
Aberdeen hosts the state Class B tournament June 5-6.
Wince said the Irrigator girls’ team will compete well. He added Newell will
need to regularly compete with Bison, who won last season’s state Class B championship and returns the top three players from that squad.
Bison earned Wince’s nod in the Little Moreau Conference girls’ race this season. He said he does not remember how the boys’ teams fared in 2022.
“I think we’ve got to be that second team right now,” Wince said in outlining the preliminary conference girls’ race.
Official practice sessions began on March 27.
Wince said the Irrigators will need patience for success this season, and this means respecting the process. He added the girls’ team goal is to reach state as a group, with individual boys’ golfers setting individual objectives.
“They have to understand that you can’t just pick up a golf club and be good at the beginning of the year,” Wince said.
Wince said the Irrigator girls’ players last season learned to trust in what he was trying to teach. He added it took a long time for them to see results, along with understanding there will be good days and bad days.
“Hopefully, they remember that, and
NEWELL Boys’ & Girls’ Golf
we just kind of start where we ended last year and improve from there,” Wince said.
The boys’ team members need to understand game management and the process to be taken, Wince said. He added this needs to be continued with consistency.
Lady Scooper golf team prepares
Black Hills Pioneer STURGIS — The Sturgis Brown (SBHS) Lady Scooper golf team has been practicing indoors due to the weather, and hopes to be playing outside soon so they are prepared for the first meet that is coming up on April 11.
Steve Keszler, Sturgis Brown head coach, talked about his team.
“We have several returning golfers, so I hope to see some improvements from last year. We qualified one girl (Lilly Heisinger) for the state tournament last year, and we would love to see some join her this year by getting under the threshold that it takes to qualify,” said Keszler.
Keszler talked about the strengths of the team.
“The strength of a team starts with leadership of the front runner, which is Lilly (Heisinger), and hope that everyone came back with some experience and so we hope to see better scores,” he said.
Keszler said the Black Hills Conference favorites likely would be Spearfish and St.
The 2023 Sturgis Scooper girls’ golf team will have six athletes making up the varsity team with three seniors, one junior, one sophomore, and one eighth graders.
“It will be fun to see how much we learn and improve during the season,” said Keszler.
Alisha Solaas, a senior at SBHS, said she wants to expand her skills. “I really want to expand on my skills, as I started last year, and I’m excited to continue the friendships that I have made through golf. I also look forward to traveling a little more as last year I was limited where I got to go,” said Solaas.
Heisinger, a sophomore, said she looks forward to improve her golfing skills.
“I am really excited for the new season, and I am looking forward to working with my teammates to expand our skills,” said Heisinger. “Personally I would like to shoot mid to high 80s as an average this season. And I really think that this year is going to be great for the Sturgis girls’ golf team.”
Rylee Speidel looks to improve
throughout her senior year. “With it being my senior year, and me joining golf only a year ago, I have many expectations for the season, some simple ones is just improving on my hits and being able to utilize each of my clubs in the best way possible, and to beat my personal record from last year,” said Speidel. “This year the team consists of six people so far and I am hoping to see new people come in and improve. I look forward to improving throughout the season and making my senior season the best one yet!”
“We are practicing indoor again today, so a goal of mine is to have more outdoor practices than indoors,” joked Keszler. This year Class AA teams can no longer automatically take s full team to state.
They must have an 18-hole average of 105 or better to qualify for the state tournament this season.
The Scooper girls’ golf team will open its season on April 11 at the Spearfish Early Bird Tournament.
BHSU golfers ready for spring season
B y D ennis K nuc K les
Black Hills Pioneer
SPEARFISH — The Black Hills State (BHSU) women’s golf team is ready to compete this spring.
“Our returning Lady Yellow Jackets’ golfers used this past year as an opportunity to improve physical and mental strength, swing technique, team building and course management. Our team worked really hard, and we had some outstanding team, and individual achievements as a result,” said Craig Marsh, the BHSU head coach. Jacqueline Bowles, a freshman, from Scottsbluff, Neb.; Kaitlyn Dumler, a freshman, from Lincoln, Neb.; Jessica Folchert, a freshman, from Ogallala, Neb.; Lola Homiston, a freshman, from Dickinson, N.D.; Madisen Jarrett, a freshman, from South Heart, N.D.; Katie Jorgenson, a freshman, from Sheridan, Wyo.; Cami Langley, a sophomore, from Casper, Wyo.; Olivia McCandless, a freshman, from Arvada, Colo.; Jocelyn
Olson, a senior from Casper, Wyo.; and Anna Talarico, a sophomore, from Joliet, Ill., will represent the Lady Jackets golf team this spring.
Olsen, a senior, said she’s excited to see what’s in store for the BHSU women’s golf program.
“We’re really excited about our team moving forward, and continuing to work on individual goals, through our strong commitment to each other. Our spring goals for 2023 include working hard everyday to achieve measurable improvement in strength and academic performance,” said Olsen. “We want to be mindful of mental health, nutrition, and positive life balance. We want to achieve a team GPA above 3.0, and we want to continue to lowering scores, and finishing in the top 10 at the RMAC Championship. In the fall portion of the season, Black Hills State had some success on the golf course.
“Our Yellow Jacket golfers played a very competitive schedule in the fall in tournaments hosted by Colorado Christian, South Dakota School of Mines, Westminster College, and Montana State University-Billings,” said Marsh. “One of our team goals is to continuously improve in team movement, year after year. This year at Colorado Christian we improved by 177 strokes over last year, at South
Dakota School of Mines we improved by 44 strokes, at Westminster we saw a 93-stroke improvement over last year, and at MSU-Billings we shot our lowest team score in recent history with a 339.” Marsh talked about some of the individual performance the team had during the fall season. “We had some outstanding individual performances. Jocelyn (Olsen) shot an 82 at Colorado Christian last fall, after shooing an 81 at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tourney in the spring of 2022. Cami Langley had a career low of 85 at MSU-Billings. Kaitlyn Dumler, another freshman, shot a career low 81 at Colo. Christian, and Liv McCandless shot a 79 at MSU-Billings.
Katie Jorgensen shot an 83 and Lola Homiston had an 82 at MSU-Billings Marsh said these improvements reflect the dedication and hard work these golfer have put in to get better.
“These results are a credit to our Lady Jacket golfers for all the work they put in last winter and this spring. Each of these student athletes has provided a huge spark to our team, and they push each other reach new goals and new levels of success. Our team
BHSU Women’s Golf
April 3-4 at Hardrocker Invite TBD
April 14-15 at Tatanka Spring Invite TBD
April 23 at RMAC Championship TBD
is looking forward to competing this spring in our championship segment of our schedule” Marsh said. Black Hills State plays April 10 at the Hardrocker Invite in Rapid City, April 14 at the Tatanka Spring Invite in Niobrara, Neb., and at the RMAC Championship, April 23-25 in Henderson, Nev.
Spartan tennis has new coach, new attitudeBy Dennis KnucKles Black Hills Pioneer
SPEARFISH — Practice started for the Spearfish tennis team on March 13, and the program embraced a new coach, and a new attitude.
“I’ve been very pleased with our practices. The guys are showing a lot of competitive fire. We’ve got a good mixture of some seniors, and some younger kids, and they are all very competitive,” said Tom Finch, the Spartans head coach. “Our focus is on going to be on not so much how many wins we have, it’s going to be on how competitive we are in every match, and how much better each individual is getting as they play through the season.”
Finch replaces Cain Kolar, who resigned after the 2022 spring season.
Finch said the Spartan players will be very aggressive on the court.
“I don’t want to see passivity; I want to see aggression on the court, and that’s going to be our hallmark. Nobody is going to out work us. So when we are on the court, we’ll be going for every ball, and we’re going to be hitting one more shot. If you hit one more shot in tennis you just might make your opponent miss that next shot,” Finch said.
“So that’s going to be our goal. Be very aggressive, be persistent, and work really hard.”
Finch said he seen some good things from his players in early practices.
“They have a willingness to work together. Tennis is an individual sport, but then we also play doubles, so it becomes a team sport when you’re on a doubles court,” said Finch. “These guys have been very good at individually wanting to be better, but also working together, and I really like to see that.”
There also some areas the Spartan players need to improve on.
“Everybody needs to work on movement. Tennis is a game of movement. You have to make sure you’re getting to there the ball is, you are prepared to make a good shot,” Finch said.
The team has been working on its fitness.
“We did that to set a baseline to say OK, here is where you are from the tennis perspective in your fitness, and we’ll do that again at the end of the season, so it gives them a gauge for how things went through the season, and in terms of fitness as well,” Finch said.
Spearfish opened its season March 24 in Rapid City, and Finch had some
thoughts on what he was looking for from the team in their first match of the season.
“Leading into that first match we’ve been doing some challenge matches to determine the line up. It gives you a little bit of pressure because they are competing against their teammates for that number one through number six position. Then when we get in tomorrow (Friday), I want to see us competing,” said Finch. “I want to see a great attitude, I want to see them going after every ball, and just fighting and being really aggressive, and that leads into the rest of the match,” Fitch said.
Spearfish opened its season March 24, in Pierre and fell 9-0.
1. Rudy Isburg lost to Devin Dodson (Pierre) 10-3
2. Nick Wise lost to Lucas Hight (Pierre) 10-5
3. Dennis Crandall lost to Jacob Leiferman (Pierre) 10-3
4. Austin O’Brien lost to Jacob Mikkonen (Pierre) 10-0
5. Stein Botterweg lost to Carter Gordon (Pierre) 10-8
6. Leo Isburg lost to Joseph Mikkonen (Pierre) 10-4
SPEARFISH Boys’ Tennis
April 4 at Rapid City Stevens ...............
13 hosting Rapid City Christian
18 hosting Rapid City Central
18 hosting Rapid City Stevens ...
20 hosting St. Thomas More
25 at Pierre T.F. Riggs
GOOD LUCK TO ALL AREA ATHLETES!
1. Rudy Isberg/Wise lost to Dodson/ Hight (Pierre) 1-0
2. Crandall/O’Bryan lost to Leiferman/Gordon (Pierre) 1-0
3. Botterweg/Leo Isburg lost to Jacob and Joseph Mikkonen (Pierre) 1-0
Members of the 2023 Spearfish High School boys’ tennis team are, front row from left: Michah Byrd, Austin O’Bryan, Dennis Crandall, Ty Hunt, Henry Burnitt, and River Brost. Back row from left, Head Coach Thomas Fitch, Max Stahn, Rudy Isburg, Leo Isburg, Stein Botterweg, Nick Wise, and assistant coach Alexis Quail. Ryan Cota and Estebn Biegert are not pictured. Pioneer photo by Dennis Knuckles
BHSU softball team learning to deal with adversityBy Dennis KnucKles
Black Hills Pioneer SPEARFISH — The Black Hills State (BHSU) women’s softball team is trying to improve on a 13-29 season from 2022.
“Last season I think the girls really came together. I think they had lacked just consistent training when we (the coaching staff) came in, and that’s something we really hit hard when you’re trying to turn a program around the way we are. You have to really do that really slowly, and take your time,” said Aubrey Honeycutt, the BHSU head coach. “Last year we focused on team morale, just basic reps and training, and I think it paid off. They improved a lot.
“We (the coaching staff) were kind of the newbies. They all knew each other. We only had two freshmen and a transfer that was new on that team, when the season actually started.
“I think a lot of the reps and the training and them maybe being just a little happier with where they were really helped them excel last year,” Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt said preparation for this season has been different.
The team finished 11-29 in the RMAC.
“This year was a little strange. We brought in 12 (new players), and brought in one (new player) at semester, so we added a lot of people. A lot more people than we usually add. So think, one getting them to know each other as people was really important for us., because when you add that many different personalities, you don’t want to hit the ground running too hard, too fast. Which is hard because you really don’t have
enough time to get them on the same page the team was last year,” said Honeycutt. “So that’s something we hit hard. Getting to know each other, and really continuing to rotate this program, and pick up the pace. Our four, or five-year plan was to ramp up the pace a little bit to get it running like a DII softball program.”
Black Hills State has faced a lot of adversity so farthis season, resulting in a 4-20 start.
“We had a very odd situation to start. We brought in three new pitchers this year because we needed them, and they all tore their ACL over the summer. That is just unheard of. I’ve talked to so many coaches about it and they are like, that is just absolutely insane. So, we are in a bit of a tough spot. We are asking a lot of our arms, and they are doing as best they can,” said Honeycutt. We have two healthy, and two pitchers that are throwing innings, but we have to manage those innings because we have to make sure that they also stay healthy.
“It is so much more than softball when you are rehabbing two freshmen college athletes, so you have to think about the next three years not just the one you are sitting in right now. For us this year it a slow start because we don’t have a choice,” Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt went on to talk about how difficult it has been this season to prepare for a game.
“Our bats were a little bit slow, and defensively we were a little bit slow, because we lack the reps. We haven’t been on our field since October. So when we go and we get
ground balls, and we go and get pop flies, those reps are in games, so it is either sink or swim. We’re sinking a little bit when we do this, but that’s expected when you don’t have the reps. We work out our kinks in RMAC play,” she said.
Through the end of March, the Lady Jackets have played seven straight series on the road.
“Our trips aren’t short. We were like “wow we’re going to Denver this week, and yeah it’s a short one. That’s six hours.” We’re about ready to leave and go to Durango (Colo.) that’s 12 or 13 hours. Just another long trip,” Honeycutt said.
The team has had two home series moved this season because of inclemete weather in the Northern Black Hills, which has always been a problem with spring sports.
“I think our players really cherish home games, especially a softball team. The city of Spearfish is so supportive of BH athletics, and everything. They (softball players) just don’t get to feel that because they don’t get to play there, and that’s something they miss out on, said Honeycutt. “Last year we played a whole week at home, and the turnout was awesome. We had fans in the stands it was loud, it was awesome, and we played really well.
“I think those moments are missed for them, and I think they know that. At the same time we do our best to prepare them, like you need to be ready for this.”
Honeycutt talked about when she and Kyle Honeycutt, the assistant softball coach, go recruiting that are very straightforward with potential softball athletes that they may
BHSU Women’s Softball
April 6 at Fort Lewis Noon/2 p.m.
April 7 at Colorado Christian 11 a.m./1 p.m.
April 15 hosting Chadron State Noon
April 15 hosting Chadron State 2 p.m.
April 16 hosting Chadron State 11 a.m.
Members of the 2023 Black Hills State women’s softball team are: (Not in order) Kayla Lee, Tyler Whitlock, MiKayla Johnson, Taylor Klein, Alex Rodriguez, Taylor Dowden, Adreanna Lance, Shylee Moxey, Malaya Coleman, Audrey Fouras, Sydney Barner, Kailey Bond, Lexi Apodaca, Malia Ogee, Gianna Haley, Bayleigh Hubbard, Halie Litwin, Lily Simmons, Shayla Tuschen, Ashlynn Pauwels. Head coach Aubrey Honeycutt and assistant coach Kyle Honeycutt are not pictured. Photo courtesy of BHSU Sports Information
not get to play many, if any, home games.
“To be quite honest, when Kyle and I when we recruit, we are very honest. We don’t get to play many home games, but when we do they’re really great. It’s a good vibe and feel, because this place is so supportive as a city. We let them know we travel quite a bit during the season. It is, what it is,” Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt said her team will continue to try and grow through the remainder of the season.
“We have a pretty talented part of our conference play left. Not that there is a lull part to the RMAC, everybody is pretty good, pretty solid, and scrappy in some places,” said Honeycutt. “For us right now with the adversity we’re facing on the mound, and we have a good amount of people injured at the moment. The thing we have talked about is really focusing on growth, and continuing to grow.”
Diggers’ baseball season begins April 11By Jason Gross Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD — Lead-Deadwood will host Rapid City Christian on April 11, when its high school baseball season is scheduled to begin.
The junior varsity contest begins at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7 p.m.
Bob Nelson is in his 11th season as Golddiggers’ head coach. He cited senior Jacob Smith; juniors Jaxson Burleson and Sam Kooima; and sophomores Drew Janke, Ben Wichterman, and Beau Wichterman as the core of this season’s team.
Lead-Deadwood’s roster, as of press time, includes two other seniors, seven other juniors, five other sophomores, eight ninth-graders, one eighth-grader, and two seventh-graders.
Ethan Van Tassel and Tyler Williams also represent the senior class. Other juniors are Channing Bloedel, Preston Lowery, Ethan Hess, Conner Bender, Joseph Osowski, Mekhi Hayes, and Miles Renner.
Sophomore class representation also includes Ethan Finn, Levi Siewart, Ezias Nelson, Ethan Heller, and Judson Price.
Peyton Percy, Brady Rantapaa, Logan Nelson, Landon Mattson, Chris Stoltenberg, Finn Cain, Dominic Pulaski-Reed, and Liam Darland are ninth-graders.
Reed Simek represents the eighth-grade class. The roster also includes seventh-graders Oliver Pray and Kraigen Scaffe.
“We’re starting to build something with players returning every year,” Nelson said in describing team strengths. “There are kids in every grade; hopefully, we show
some growth and improvement from last year and the year before.”
Nelson said players will need to work on baseball knowledge and fundamentals. He added things went well, for the most part, during a recent scrimmage against Hot Springs.
The schedule includes six other home games. Lead-Deadwood hosts St. Thomas More on April 25; junior varsity play starts at 5 p.m., with the varsity to follow at 7 p.m.
Lead-Deadwood hosts Hot Springs on April 27, with only a varsity game scheduled. Start time is 7 p.m.
Chamberlain then visits Lead-Deadwood on April 29. The junior varsity game at Keehn Park gets underway at 2:30 p.m., followed by the varsity contest at 4:30 p.m.
Lead-Deadwood welcomes Belle Fourche to Keehn Park for a May 3 matchup. Junior varsity action begins at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7 p.m.
Rapid City Stevens will come to LeadDeadwood on May 6. The junior varsity game at Keehn Park starts at 11 a.m., with the varsity contest to begin at 1 p.m.
May 17 marks Lead-Deadwood’s final home game of the regular season. The Golddiggers host Douglas in the junior varsity game at 5 p.m., with varsity action to get underway at around 7 p.m.
Regional tournament play is set for May 22-23, with Sioux Falls hosting the state tournament on May 29-30.
“I think all the teams in our region are tough,” Nelson said in describing the Golddiggers’ schedule. “It’s about what we can do: play solid baseball and get baserun
ners on. I think we can compete with any of them.”
Nelson agreed Lead-Deadwood is the favorite in the West River region, but any squad can win the title. St. Thomas More, Rapid City Christian, Hot Springs, and Belle Fourche are the other squads in that group.
“Some teams have had some big turnover with graduating a lot of seniors,” Nelson said when asked how Lead-Deadwood stacks up against other region squads. “I think we’ll be competitive.”
Nelson said he wants the Golddiggers to know the game and play it the right way. He cited the importance of putting runners on base, making the right decisions, and limiting defensive mistakes.
Official practice sessions got underway around March 6. Fundamentals took center stage along with preliminary pitching work.
Nelson said he hopes the players believe in themselves and trust one another. He added they won some games in 2022 that they maybe did not expect.
He agreed that increased baseball knowledge is a desired improvement from the 2022 season to 2023. Nelson said players have shown increased confidence in the early going.
The Golddiggers finished 5-10 last season and fell 10-0 to Platte-Geddes in the first round of the Region 4B tournament. LeadDeadwood was the eighth seed going into that event.
Jagger Smith and David Morris graduated from that team.
April 7 at Gregory 4/6 p.m.
April 11 hosting Rapid City Christian 5/ 7 p.m
April 17 at Rapid City Stevens .... 3/5:30 p.m.
April 21 at Winner 4/6 p.m.
April 25 hosting St. Thomas More 5/7 p.m.
April 27 hosting Hot Springs 7 p.m.
April 2 hosting Chamberlain 2:30/4:30 p.m.
May 3 hosting Belle Fourche 5/7 p.m
May 5 vs. Platte (Rapid City) 1 p.m.
May 7 at St. Thomas More 5 p.m.
May 8 at Rapid City Stevens 5/7 p.m
May 10 at Belle Fourche 5/7 p.m
May 11 at Hot Springs 5 p.m. /TBD
May 17 hosting Douglas 5/7 p.m
The Lead-Deadwood high school baseball team includes, back row from left: Joseph Osowski, Brady Rantapaa, Beau Wichterman, Ethan Finn, Preston Lowery, Ethan Hess, Conner Bender, Jaxson Burleson, and Logan Nelson. Middle row from left: Landon Mattson, Ben Wichterman, Judson Price, Ethan Heller, Levi Siewart, and Oliver Pray. Front row from left: Liam Darland, Drew Janke, Finn Cain, Chris Stoltenberg, Reed Simek, and Tyler Williams. Jacob Smith, Channing Bloedel, Sam Kooima, Ezias Nelson, Peyton Percy, Ethan Van Tassel, Dominic Pulaski-Reed, Kraigen Scaffe, Miles Renner, Mekhi Hayes, and head coach Bob Nelson are not pictured. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross
Spearfish American Legion Post 164 looking to improve in 2023
B y D ennis K nuc K les
Black Hills Pioneer SPEARFISH — The Spearfish
Post 164 American Legion baseball team’s 2022 season left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
The team finished with a 15-34 regular season record.
“I don’t think anybody was necessarily happy with our season through our program,” said Parker Louks, who is entering his second season as the Post 164 manager.
“We took the offseason to really look at it from the players’ perspective, coaches’ perspective, and the parents perspective, and I think we came out of that with a very positive light. We took a lot of the negatives and a lot of the positives from last year, and I think we are in a really good spot this year.”
Louks said the team has been working on new things during the offseason.
“We are taking a new offensive approach,” said Louks. “We brought in another coach (Zac Jensen) who was coaching at the Teener level. He pitched in college, and he knows a lot of stuff around that. He’s done a great job with our pitchers, and we’ve just tried to have more fun with the game, and try and relax a little bit.”
Louks said the team began off
season workouts shortly after the 2022 season ended.
“We started fall ball in August, through January, through now, and then it’s been full go since.
“We have just been working on getting kids confidence at the plate. Perfecting their using, making it individualized for them, so they know what they are doing at the plate. They have the confidence to not be timid up there at the plate,” Louks added. “Pitchingwise, we’ve just been trying to just give them confidence, and just have the mentality that they are the best on the field, and the other person has to beat them.”
The Post 164 pitching staff will be young, but it has a lot of depth.
“You get down to the end of our staff and we are a little young, but a couple of guys pitched on the varsity last year at age 15, and they did a great job for us, and they’ll be back again this year with one year of confidence. So, I’m not necessarily that concerned. You think we have a lot of quality arms,” Louks said. “We’re not overpowering by any means, but we have a lot of quality arms, and quality depth.”
In 2022, when the team had one bad inning, it had the snowball effect, and Louks is hoping his team
can avoid that this season.
“That was talked about in the offseason. I think that the biggest thing for that is becoming more of s team. Doing more team builders, and early really emphasizing that we just can’t let it snowball. We can’t have a snowball effect out here.
“So we’ve just got to nip it in the bud right there, and move forward because we can only control what we can control,” Louks said.
Post 164’s first game is scheduled for April 5 in Gillette, Wyo.
Normally the American Legion baseball season doesn’t start until mid-May, but the past couple of season Spearfish has began playing in early April, and Louks said the early start has been beneficial to his team.
“It’s very important. We’ve got all of these East River schools playing high school ball, we are able to start now and get games with Gillette, Fargo Post 400. They (Post 400) are coming to Spearfish again. It’s important to get these early games,” said Louks. “This is very important for us because we aren’t behind the eight-ball while the other guys started two months earlier.”
SPEARFISH Post 164 Baseball
April 5 at Gillette, Wyo. (9 innings) 5 p.m.
April 20 hosting Fargo Post 400 7:30
April 28 at RC Post 320 5/7
May 5 hosting RC Post 320
May 9 at RC Post 22 ............................
May 12 hosting Gillette, Wyo.
May 18 hosting RC Post 22
May 23 at Gillette, Wyo. ..................... 5/7
May 29 hosting exhibition vs. Spearfish Sasquatch TBD
May 31 hosting Belle Fourche 7 p.m.
June 1-4 hosting Alan Tellinghuisen .... TBD
June 6 at RC Post 315 5/7:30 p.m.
June 9-11 at Lewis & Clark Tourney (Yankton) TBD
June 13 hosting RC Post 315 5/7:30 p.m.
June 14 vs. SF West (Chamberlain) TBD
June 14 vs. SF East (Chamberlain) TBD
June 16-18 at Sturgis Baseball Rally TBD
June 20 at Sturgis 5/7 p.m.
June 23 hosting Clark 7 p.m.
June 25 hosting Chadron 1/3 p.m.
June 28-July 1 at Rushmore Classic TBD
July 5 hosting Watertown 2/4 p.m.
July 7-11 at Gopher Classic TBD
July 12 at Chadron ............................. 1/3 p.m.
July 13 hosting Sturgis 5/7 p.m.
July 17 at Belle Fourche 5/7 p.m. CONTINUED
Three Cheers for our Student Athletes
For their performance on the field, on the court and in the classroom, we recognize the students who go above and beyond to achieve academic and athletic success. We salute their hard work, and we hope for futures filled with wins!
Belle Fourche preparing for HS baseball season
B y J ason G ross
Black Hills Pioneer
BELLE FOURCHE — Belle Fourche is gearing up for its second season as a high school baseball program.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association does not sanction high school baseball as an official sport. However, a process allows for school sanctioning that allows athletes to earn letters and other recognition as a club sport.
Head coach Randy Doran said key players for this spring are seniors Evan Vissia, Caden Thomsen, JT Hahne, Brayden Carbajal, and Anthony Budmayr; and juniors Nolan Wahlfeldt and Aiden Voyles. He is guiding the high school squad for the second straight year.
“Almost our entire infield is going to be back,” Doran said in outlining one of the team strengths. He added that is an early advantage because of weather cutting into the outside practice schedule.
Doran said Belle Fourche’s offense should also be really strong. He added he feels comfortable with 10 or 11 players, and a lineup features only nine hitters.
“Fundamentals is always huge,” Doran said in outlining areas for players to work on. “It’s just going to get back to being consistent and get -
Doran said three outfield positions are up for grabs, as that part of the team was senior-dominated in 2022. He added the Broncs’ pitching staff also needs to be shored up, as very few innings pitched return from last season.
To continue on the pitching theme, Doran said Belle Fourche seeks three main starters. He added the squad must also find who will be entering a game out of the bullpen.
“All of the teams that are playing in the high school baseball association are in the same boat,” Doran said.
Belle Fourche’s remaining varsity schedule calls for the following home games: 11 a.m. April 15 against Rapid City Christian, 7 p.m. April 28 against St. Thomas More, and 7 p.m. May 10 against Lead-Deadwood. Regional tournament play is set for May 22-23, with Sioux Falls hosting the state tournament on May 29-30.
“There are going to be a lot of competitive games this year,” Doran said in describing the schedule. He cited the success that Winner, Gregory, Chamberlain, St. Thomas More, Rapid City Christian, and PlatteGeddes enjoyed in 2022.
As Doran put it, “It’s a tough schedule, but that’s by design.” The slate
also includes some Class A teams.
Doran tabbed St. Thomas More and Rapid City Christian as the favorites in the West River region. He agreed Belle Fourche stacks up well against the region teams, but everything will come down to pitching.
“We have a lot of excitement in this program heading into this year, with what we’ve got returning,” Doran said.
Doran defines “success” as team members making the routine plays instead of trying to do too much all at once. He added it would also be key for the team to jell together like it has in the recent past.
Official practice sessions began in early March, with optional sessions held earlier. Focal points have included fundamentals, arm care, and hitting a ball off a tee.
“It’s just going to be about the team having fun,” Doran said of returning players working to set a foundation for 2023. He added Belle Fourche really enjoyed last season.
Desired improvements for Doran include preparation. He said many things snuck up on the team last year, when many things were new.
Ryker Audiss, Sean Wahlfeldt, Gabe Heck, Dalton Davis, Jack Stearns, and Alex Ferguson graduated from last season’s team.
BELLE FOURCHE Baseball
Belle Fourche is getting ready for its second season of high school baseball. Team members include, back row from left: head coach Randy Doran, Ezra Wright, Evan Vissia, Brayden Carbajal, Caden Thomsen, Nolan Wahlfeldt, Aiden Voyles, JT Hahne, Raif Parmeter, Harvey Walding, and assistant coach Dalton Davis. Front row from left: Trig Thomsen, Graham Vander Boom, Daven Kracht, Caeyn Howard, Tate Thomsen, Carsyn Hahne, Tegan Fredricksen, and Urijah Hamilton. Anthony Budmayr and Gavin Pearson are not
Scooper baseball team has sights set on championshipBy Tim PoTTs Black Hills Pioneer
STURGIS — The Sturgis Brown High School baseball team started practice Feb. 19, with 30 athletes trying out for positions on the team.
Wade Huntington will return as head coach for the Scoopers this season, and he is looking forward to an exciting season.
Sturgis Brown will have five returning seniors this season, and they all have considerable time in a Scoopers’ uniform.
Kain Peters, Owen Cass, Evan Stroud, Connor Cruickshank, and Hunter Janzen are expected to be mainstays in the lineup.
Reese Jacobs has also decided to play some baseball this spring, adding more senior leadership, and a winner’s mentality to the team.
Hayden Heckenlaible is another senior looking to contribute this season.
The Scoopers also have seven junior players with considerable experience on a baseball field.
“Beau Peters will miss a majority of the season with a broken hand (happened in the State Class A wrestling tournament), but we hope to have him back for a playoff run,” said Huntington. “Adam Flohr, Aiden Wood, Yaden Miller, Jack
Knutson, Bricon Herron, and Dylan Christenson are also expected to contribute this season.”
Younger players, including Carson Williams, Brody Royer, George Hamer, Gunnar Sarkela, Julian Hester, Xander Heller, and Jake Peters, are looking to earn a varsity spot.
“It’s nice to have numbers and experienced players competing for a varsity jersey and a starting spot on the field. Competition for a varsity spot makes the team better,” Huntington said. Huntington said the team will be competitive this season.
“We expect to be competitive all season. Pitching should keep us in every game and if we can step up our defense to reduce pitch counts, this team can compete for a title,” said Huntington. “A core of returning players who are hungry to make a run deep into the playoffs should help to provide the leadership and consistent performance needed to compete for a championship.”
The first week of the season will answer lots of questions about this year’s team. The Scoopers play Sioux Falls Jefferson, Huron, Rapid City Central, and Pierre the first week of the season, which will highlight the team’s strengths and shortcomings.
Starting the season pitching will be Peters, Cass, Janzen, Cruickshank, Wood, Knutson, and Beau Peters.
Peters, a senior, talked about good team chemistry.
“We have a lot of guys that have been playing for a while and we have a lot of experience on the team, as well as some new guys coming to the team. We have good chemistry and have all been playing together for a while so that usually makes for a good combination,” said Peters. “We have a lot of young guys also, and we will need most of them to step up to the plate when it matters. Hopefully we will be able to all work together towards the end goal of a state championship, and then carry our success into the legion season.”
Catchers returning include Stroud, Miller, Hamer, Sarkela, and Kjell Sundstrom.
The Scoopers’ record last year was 1214, and they lost in the first round of the playoffs to Harrisburg.
More good news includes several quality pitchers to spread the workload.
The Scoopers’ potential weakness and has been for some time is their defense.
Assistant coaches for the Scoopers this season will be Pat Cass and Juan Sabalier.
STURGIS BROWN Baseball
April 12 hosting Gillette 5/7 p.m.
April 18 hosting RC Stevens ............ 7:30 p.m.
April 19 vs. Douglas (Rapid City) 7 p.m.
April 21 hosting RC Central 7 p.m.
April 24 vs. Douglas (Rapid City) ........ 7 p.m.
26 at RC Stevens 7:30 p.m. April 27 hosting Gillette
2 hosting RC Stevens ................
3 at RC Central
5 at Mitchell
6 at SF Lincoln
11 hosting Douglas
Members of the 2023 Sturgis Brown High School baseball team are, back row from left: Aidan Wood, Owen Cass, Connor Cruickshank, Hunter Janzen, Kain Peters, Brody Royer, Adam Flohr, Dylan Christenson, Jack Knutson, George Hamer, Xander Heller, Yaden Miller, Julian Hester, and Layne Hemeyer. Front from the left: Jake Peters Carson Williams Evan Stroud, Brand Matthews, Elijah Stroud, Kjell Sundstrom, Jeren Andrzejewski, and Taten Corkins. Reese Jacobs, Beau Peters, Hayden Heckenlaible, Bricon Herren, Drake Sundstrom, Nash Jeffrey, Gunnar Sarkela, and Barrett Patterson are not pictured. Pioneer photo by Tim Potts
BHSU rodeo saddles up for spring seasonBy Dennis KnucKles
Black Hills Pioneer
SPEARFISH — The Black Hills State rodeo team is preparing for the spring portion of its schedule.
“I thought we had a good first half of the season. The main point we want to work on is consistency. We’ve got a lot of good talent. We’ve just got to work on showing up every time. But overall, I thought the fall season positioned us well (in the region standings), and we’ve got good opportunities coming into the spring,” said Glenn Lammers, the head coach. “Like we talked about after last fall, you really begin with the end in mind. You know we want to qualify as many individuals for our team, so we will have an opportunity for a national title. That hasn’t changed.”
Black Hills State finished up the fall portion of its schedule Oct. 21-22, at the Buena Vista Stampede, in Storm Lake, Iowa.
The men’s team finished second overall, with the men’s all-around winner being Austin Madison, while the women’s team finished third.
For the women, in the goat tying, Karlie Verhulst placed third with a 15.6 on two head, and Cashae McGee finished fourth with a 15.8 on two head.
Wacey Brown finished in a tie for first in the breakaway with a 6.4 on two, Jaycie Habeck came in fourth with an 8.5 on two, and Tayla Thorstenson fin-
ished sixth with a 2.9 on one calf.
The Lady Yellow Jackets also had three finishers in barrel racing with Cedar Kohr in third (15.9 in the long-go), Tessa Caspers in fifth (15.99 in long-go), and Sydney Theobald in sixth (32.15 on two runs).
Rachel Kelderman placed fourth in team roping with a 29.3 on two.
The men’s team saw Madison place first in steer wrestling with a 10.6 on two head, and second in tie down with a 23.1 on two head.
Luke Mavity finished sixth in the tie down with a 30.8 on two.
In team roping, Sam Larson won the event with a 20.7 on two, followed by Clayton Backhaus in third with a 28.8 on two, and Riley Donnelly and Nick Bjork in sixth with a 10.3 on one.
Currently the women are in the Central Plains Region, while the men sit in third place.
Lammers said the team has worked on its physical conditioning in between seasons.
“Our offseason has been a multitude of things. One thing we’ve really amped up is our physical conditioning. Our strength and condition coach at the university has helped us with that program,” said Lammers. “I think that’s something that’s gonna hopefully keep us healthier, and help with the mental side of it too just by being more prepared. In the arena, it’s just been a daily
grind for a couple of months now. It’s really about getting prepared. That’s kind of what our off session is about: getting better, and then we start completion again we want to show what we’ve been practicing.”
Some of the things the rodeo team has done in the offseason to stay sharp and holding specialized rodeo events on weekends at the Seven Downs Arena, near Spearfish.
“We use these events that allow are community to come in and have some competition activities during the winter-time at the Seven Down’s indoor arena,” said Lammers. “It’s about sharpening our skills, and getting put into a competition, not that it changes anything, but it does. You’ve got to put yourself in that mindset even when you have your money on the line, you’ve got to do your job, so that’s what those competitions are about.”
Lammers pointed out there is a difference between workouts and competing.
“They’re also about when you’re just practicing things and you make a mistake, you probably forget about it pretty quick. But it’s in those competitions it sticks with you. Not in negative sense. You know, kind of what you need to stop doing to get better, and what you need to start doing to get better, and why you need to continue doing as well. At the end of the day it’s about getting better,” Lammers said. “It’s about catching
April 21 at Cyclone Stampede TBD
April 28 hosting Will Lantis Yellow Jacket Stampede (all-day) .. TBD
May 5-6 at Cornhusker Stampede TBD
some momentum early. It just kind of seems like when you have success, it kind of brings success too. Our focus is not on winning; it’s on our effort and the things we can control; like our preparation and our attitude, so those are the things we’re talking about, Focus on what we can control, and that will led to us being successful. It’s really about making the simple better. Just paying attention to the details.”
Black Hills State opens its spring season March 31/April 1 at The SDSU Jackrabbit Stampede, followed by April 21, at the Cyclone Stampede, April 28-29, hosting the Will Lantis Yellow Jacket Stampede; and finishing the season May 5-6 at the Cornhusker Stampede.
Good Luck to All Area Athletes
Spearfish starts first year of sanctioned softballB y D ennis K nuc K les
Black Hills Pioneer
SPEARFISH — Spearfish High School has sanctioned girls’ softball as a sport, beginning this spring.
The team had its first official practice March 20, and had 31 girls sign up for the team’s inaugural season.
The weather has not been cooperative, so the team has been practicing indoors in the high school gym.
“That’s been the struggle, not being able to be outside, but we are making do with what we have in the gyms, and the girls have been great,” said Paul Jamison, the head coach, “They are a lot farther along than I thought. The credit goes to their coaches they had in fall ball. There’s a lot of talent on this team. I think we’d be able to compete if we had a varsity schedule. Just in two days of practice I’ve seen the talent, so I’m excited for the future.”
The Spearfish School Board sanctioned the sport in February 2023.
By that time, schedules for other schools were set.
So the team, a JV/C team, will be
at the mercy of other schools having an opening in their schedules to play games.
Jamison has been the high school algebra one and physical science teacher the past three years. Before that he taught in Hettinger, N.D. where he served as the school’s varsity baseball coach.
With 31 girls coming out for softball this spring, Jamison said they would continue to evaluate the players.
“We’ll see how these first couple of weeks go. We have no games scheduled right now, so we are kind of waiting on that. With such a big number of players, I think we are going to have to go JV (junior varsity) and C team this year, and those two squads will have 15 or 16 players each, and we’ll make it work from there.” Jamison said.
Until they are able to practice outdoors, the Lady Spartans will continue to do what they can indoors.
“We are getting our daily routines done. So we are learning structured routines, fundamentals, so than when we get to the field we get that done
quick, so we can get into our actual team drills,” said Jamison. “Right now is a lot of tee work, bunting, proper footwork in the field, good arm angles with the throws, and things like that.”
Johnson addressed the issue of a lack of scheduled games for the team.
“We are pretty limited in the gym and we’ve got to be careful, but we are making it work,” Jamison said.
“Everybody has their schedules already filled out, so we are just waiting to see if there are some openings for us to play games,” he said.
Jamison said they lift weights on Wednesday at 6 a.m., as part of their practice routine.
“We’ve got a weight lifting program here. We lift one day a week right now, but next year when we go to varsity we may lift two days a week. The weight conditioning coach (Eric Santure) has been awesome and very supportive. We are lucky to have him here,” Jamison said.
Jamison is hoping to have games this season, but if not, the team has an alternate plan in place.
SPEARFISH Girl’s Softball
April 25 at Sturgis Brown 5 p.m. (more games will be added as they are available)
“We’ll have to do some scrimmages, and see if we can do something that way. I want to get them some real game experience, so if we have to make up two different teams, randomly draw out of a hat and play, we’ll do that,” Jamison said.
Spearfish High School’s inaugural softball team includes, front row from left: Makyla Bensen, Emmi Johnson, Marley Whitlock, Chloe Lerew, Liv Johnson, and Lucie Tennant. Second row from left: Sophie Rantapaa, Olivia Purcell, Hailey Pollreisz, Lanie O’Connell, Madeline Schlup, Marlee Heltzel, and Kaitlynn Sitzman. Third row from left: Jarahdi Wickenhagen, Jayden Wenzel, Cami Lyons, Kiana Stahlecker, EllaMia Mart, Abi Feyereisen, Taylor Ihde, and Skylar Viessman. Madelyn Binder, Georgie Charles, Karly Curnow, Camden Hemeyer, Alexis Hogan, Caitlyn Lyon, Amy Raad-Coture, Nyra Schultz, Taylor Tenant, and Taylor Vitto are not pictured. Pioneer photo by Dennis Knuckles.
of luck to all student athletes!
Lady Scooper softball team ready for inaugural season of sanctioned playBy Tim PoTTs
Black Hills Pioneer
STURGIS — The Sturgis Brown Lady Scooper high school softball team is preparing for its inaugural season of sanctioned softball in South Dakota.
Pete Wilson, the Sturgis Brown High School principal, is a South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) board member for softball.
“Being on the SDHSAA board for softball has given me a perspective on how the SDHSAA initiates new activities. I can be a voice for this area, the coaches, and clubs to introduce this sport to the state,” said Wilson. “Sturgis Brown has recognized a club softball team for a few years, and now we will slowly transition into a softball sport that the school fully sponsors over the next five years. It will be exciting to continue to watch softball as a sanctioned school sport.”
Practice started on March 20, with 21 athletes trying out for positions on the team. Kayleen Selfridge, the Scoopers’ head coach, shared her outlook for the season.
“First, I am so glad that South Dakota has finally sanctioned softball as a high school sport. I am both excited and nervous for this upcoming season. There does seem to be a lot of uncertainty this season. Being in a five-year transition period with the district so a lot of the funding coming from outside helps, plus being in the spring,” said Selfridge.
“Traveling East River we all know in South Dakota can get iffy, even in April. I am really hoping the weather holds out during this season so we can get this program up and going.”
Selfridge said she has a lot of high hopes for this upcoming season, pointing out the fact the girls have played together during both the fall and during travel ball seasons.
The Lady Scoopers will have three seniors who bring that experience to the rest of the team and be those players, who the rest of the team can look up to.
The rest of the team is pretty young, with only five upperclassmen, and close to 15 freshmen and sophomores.
“Even though we are young, the mixture we have with the freshmen and sophomores brings a lot of talent. With a younger group of players, I am excited to grow this now sanctioned program through the next few years,” said Selfridge. “I have high standards for this season, and I can tell all of the girls are focused and determined to have a good season.”
The team has set some goals.
“With having such a young group on top of being the first year as a high school sanctioned sport, this seems to be a building/learning season. I want the seniors to go out with one last softball season and end on a good note, and we will also be building a solid program with that younger class.
“A lot of these girls have had the last few years with coaches, Dan Roe, Vaughn Smith, and Chad Anderson. Those three have done an amazing job with the fall season and have been very helpful with this spring high school season.“
The upper class will have to get use to the change in coaching from Roe to Selfridge.
“There are going to be many learning curves these first few seasons. Our big goal is going to be doing what we can to make this a successful sport for the high school. This season seems to be the one to set the standard of where this program is going to go, and we are doing all we can to make it successful. There has been so much help from the community already and we are all thankful for the help we have received,” Selfridge said. “Starting the season pitching will be Brooke Wolf, and other pitchers will have a good role model in Brooke both on and off the field.
Wolf, a senior, is looking forward to her final season and has set some lofty goals. “Honestly, I get excited for every season, but this season is extra special since it’s my senior year. I love the beginning of the season because everything is new and we get to start fresh. A few of us have been playing together since we were little and I’m looking forward to taking the field with them again for our last season together,” said Wolf. “Overall we are a young team with only a handful
STURGIS BROWN Girl’s Softball
of upperclassmen, but teams shouldn’t underestimate us for that. We have really solid players who are competitive and once we all get used to playing with one another. I think we will be the team to beat. I have big goals set for our team this season. My hopes are that we are competitive, win some games and that we have fun and make life long memories.”
Catchers for the Lady Scoopers include: Haley Walker (senior), Kenadie
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
Broderick (freshman), and Katie Hill (sophomore).
Selfridge talked about the strengths of this year’s team.
“This group of girls are very dedicated, with a lot of them committed to travel ball, fall ball, and now the high school season. When you have a group that just wants to get out on the field and play, it goes a long way. Not having to worry about that dedication or drive to play
from players can be hard to come by. I believe our three seniors will do a great job of setting the tone, and the rest can follow in their footsteps,” said Selfridge. “I am really looking forward to what we will do offensively this season. We have a lot of big bats and have a lot of potential of putting up some runs. Defensively we are going to have strong catchers that I am going to push to really take that leader roll on and off the field. Overall, defen-
sively we should be pretty solid. There is also a lot of room for girls to take on other positions. This group is very willing to try out new spots and work at whatever they are thrown into.”
Selfridge said she knows having a young team will come with some weaknesses.
“The first year of anything will come with its ups and downs. There are a lot of people in our softball corner that don’t
want to see this program fail and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it successful. All the players understand our five-year transition with the district, and they understand a lot of the programs funds are going to fall on them and their families. That is a big undertaking, but this group of girls is dedicated to the game and they just want to play,” Selfridge said. “Being young also comes with its weaknesses. With over half of the girls being underclassmen, it does bring little experience in high school level games. “I have looked at this as a positive though, we have a lot of girls that have four years in front of them and a lot of growth can come from that.” Sturgis Brown will play its home games at Owens Field on Ball Park Road, and a few home games will be played in Rapid City at the Parkview Complex.
The Sturgis Brown Lady Scooper softball team is preparing for its inaugural season in 2023. Pictured are team members, back row from left: Madalyn Arehart, Keeley Heikes, Kenadie Broderick, Kierra Killinger, Madisyn Richter, Kaci Buckneberg, and Emerson Gardner. Second row from left: Kira Lingwall, Carsyn Anderson, Katie Wilkins, Kabella Rowett, Bella Tobias, Bella Cramer, and Joey Hudelson. Front row from left: Grace Kiepke, Katie Hill, Timber Inhofer, Brooke Wolf, Haley Walker, and Zabree Bush. Ariana Nehl is not