Jackrabbit, coach and workers convey trophy to Brookings to share with followers
BROOKINGS – Greater than a thousand followers gathered on the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Advanced on Tuesday night time to welcome the champions.
With followers shouting ‘Let’s Go Rabbits’, the South Dakota Jackrabbits emerged from their locker room, led by coach John Stiegelmeier, who held the title they received on Sunday with victory. Their 45-21 over North Dakota forward of extra. Greater than 18,000 Toyota Stadium followers in Frisco, Tex. It grew to become the primary soccer championship within the historical past of the college, which is taken into account an amazing achievement within the historical past of South Dakota athletes and an achievement that served as the ultimate validation for the college controversy on the time. Moved to Division I in 2004.
Jackrabbits is an effective however not nice Division II program that performs in a stadium operating down on pure grass with no actual locker room or indoor coaching facility. They’re now in Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, coaches have an expensive workplace that sits excessive above the grass within the Dykhouse Heart, and when it will get chilly (or they want a spot for dwelling celebrations) they’ve SJAC.
Extra:Zimmer: After 26 years, John Stiegelmeier has his nationwide title.
Sunday’s victory was the end result of that rags-to-rich story and was the theme of Tuesday’s celebration. When the Jacks go to Division I, that is what everybody imagines, however whether or not it’s true or not is one other matter. Now the trophy is on this case, each step of the journey feels extra essential to convey them to the place they’re.
“It takes loads of work,” stated Justin Gross sales, director of sports activities. That program is what makes this program priceless and emotional. ”
Maybe it’s no coincidence that the Jacks received their first nationwide title in the identical 12 months that the previous Jackrabbit Gamers Affiliation purchased the staff a brand new hat. The group has been working for the final two years, and as this 12 months’s qualifiers tackle the hotspots, JFPA’s affect and present gamers’ admiration for former gamers is spectacular. Stiegelmeier mentions former gamers who helped construct the inspiration (2022 is SDSUs ’10ទី One 12 months in a row within the qualifiers) within the post-match press convention on Sunday and a whole bunch of gamers had been in Frisco. They met the staff on the day earlier than the match and celebrated with them on the subsequent pitch.
Cam Jones, one of many hardest finishers, was a senior in 2015 at a celebration on Tuesday and stayed on the SJAC pitch lengthy afterwards to hang around with gamers, followers and coaches.
“We’re all very pleased with the boys on this staff,” Jones stated, talking for the SDSU soccer staff. “I requested (senior guard Mason McCormick) the way it felt after they received and he stated sure it felt good. However the good thing is to see all the previous gamers come down and see that they’re glad for us.
“I imply, there isn’t any jealousy in any respect. This has been constructed for a very long time and they’re getting nearer. We all know now we have arms as former gamers, however we’re glad for them. They lastly kicked the door and did it towards the staff from the north and never simply hit them “No, however management them, there’s nothing higher.”
That highly effective victory was not shocking, led by unusual suspects. Quarterback Mark Gronwoski is the MVP with three passes and a 51-yard run. Isaiah Davis and Amar Johnson each ran greater than 100 yards. The dual Janke starred within the large story. Defensively and offensively dominated the offensive line.
However there are various nameless heroes on the champion staff.
Defender Saiveon Williamson, who began the 12 months as an alternative, moved to the beginning line-up on the finish of the season as a consequence of harm and has was a extra productive participant. When his teammates are wholesome. He has 20 tackles within the Jacks’ first two Playoffs and only one aim of their final two video games. He’s, as Stiegelmeier would possibly say, the picture of the staff’s first man.
There’s lastly Zach Heins who broke his leg – break it! The night time earlier than the sport, however nonetheless got here out and performed rather a lot within the title sport. Heins was handcuffed on Tuesday with out regret.
“While you hear that your leg is damaged, you are shocked. You don’t assume, ‘Oh, I will play tomorrow,’ Heins stated. However the physician stated there was a means. I talked to my dad and mom and we knew there was an opportunity I might do it. Heins was prescribed painkillers to schedule his time by means of the sport (he skipped the pre-match warm-up to get them kicked in) and created a number of key blocks once they They run over the Bison protection.
“It makes all of it price it,” stated the previous Washington Warrior. “It is one thing you dreamed of whenever you had been younger and one thing we work on all 12 months. It’s one thing I can inform my kids and grandchildren sooner or later. ”
There may be Zach Lujan, the brand new offensive coordinator.
Simply six years out of his senior 12 months as Jackrabbit quarterback Lujan received into the large footwear left by Jason Eck, a well-liked and profitable assistant who left to turn out to be a coach. Teaching in Idaho. Little work is extra nerve-racking than offensive gamers, however Lujan unites one other nice season away from defender Mark Gronowski and hits all the suitable buttons within the qualifiers. The Jacks scored a median of 42 factors subsequent season, and Lujan known as the match virtually harmless within the title match towards Bison with no greater name than the tight delay that delayed Mike Morgan for a sport change. 44-yard.
There may be the Gus Miller Heart. Ready on the opening home, how might he not battle Cal-Davis? Bear in mind the way it didn’t matter once more the remainder of the season?
And amongst different issues, there’s additionally Landon Wolf, who transferred from Oklahoma in 2021 to play his remaining 12 months of faculty soccer by merely tearing up his ACL within the first quarter of the season. Pondering his profession was over on the time, Wolf was given one other 12 months by the NCAA however has struggled with harm once more this season. He solely caught seven occasions, however he was a nationwide champion.
“There isn’t any higher technique to shut this chapter of your profession,” Wolf stated. “I’ve seen lots of people lose their final sport. Having the ability to win the final match of your profession like this, I’ve a imaginative and prescient to know how uncommon and particular it’s. “I knew each qualifier might be my final, so I attempted to beat all of it.”
The Wolfs, regardless of taking part in the complete quarterback as Jackrabbit, had been elected captain earlier than the season. He remained a well-liked participant along with his teammates even when injured, and signed autographs for followers after Tuesday’s celebrations. When Wolf decides to go away the Huge 12, he can go anyplace. His alternative to come back to Brookings paid off.
“I am speaking to folks tonight – the folks I met, their kids, the folks I sit for, those who take me to dinner at their home,” Wolf stated. “Everybody right here feels embraced by this neighborhood. There are such a lot of issues happening behind the scenes that imply a lot to our success. This can be a very particular place. ”