Editor's note: The story was corrected to state that Tony Smoragiewicz is a Rapid City Central graduate.
The St. Thomas More girls' basketball team and local triathlete Tony Smoragiewicz were selected recently as the top in their category recently by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association.
The SDSWA has annually presented honors since 1954. Categories include athlete, coach and team in prep and collegiate categories, and “independent” team and athletes.
The STM girls were named the top prep girls team in the state, while Smoragiewicz was selected the top Independent Male Athlete.
Here is a short recap on each of the honorees:
Prep Girls’ Team
St. Thomas More Basketball
Another year, another strong finish for the Cavalier girls.
St. Thomas More won a fourth consecutive Class A basketball title, completing a 24-0 record with a victory over Lennox in the championship.
During their four-year run, the Cavaliers have posted a record of 91-5, with just one loss to another Class A opponent. Three of the five losses were to Crofton, Nebraska, the Class C2 champion in those seasons.
Independent Male Athlete
Tony Smoragiewicz, Rapid City
The former Rapid City Central standout has made a name for himself on the international triathlon circuit, including a 13th place finish (U23 men) at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, Sept. 15 in Rotterdam. He was the top American finisher in the event.
Smoragiewicz was also the 10th place finisher in second American in the elite men’s division at the Sarasota ITU Triathlon on Oct. 7.
Smoragiewicz is working to earn a berth in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Riley Reiff, Parkston
After five seasons playing for the Detroit Lions, the pride of Parkston moved closer to home and signed with the Minnesota Vikings on March 9. Reiff, 29, inked a five-year deal and moved back to the left tackle position for the Vikings, where he played the first four years of his career.
The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Reiff started the first 13 games of the season and solidified the previously weak offensive line for Minnesota, which surprisingly surged to the NFC North title in 2017. Reiff's signing with the Vikings ironically occurred in the same week Mount Vernon native and longtime local favorite Chad Greenway retired after 11 seasons with Minnesota.
Independent Female Athlete
Tevyn Waddell, Mitchell
The Mitchell native, Waddell made quite the splash in her first season swimming at the University of Minnesota. Waddell finished her freshman season as the Big Ten women’s swimming freshman of the year and was an honorable mention All-American.
She was the 50-yard backstroke (24.52 seconds) champion (at the Big Ten Championships and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay, which set a Big Ten record in 1:35.55. She took second in the 100-yard backstroke. She was named to the all-Big Ten team and finished in the top-12 at the NCAA championships in the 50 and 100 backstroke. Waddell also holds the Minnesota school records in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
Sioux Falls Little League Baseball
After decades of false starts and speculation, Little League baseball finally took hold with a charter in Sioux Falls. And what a first year it was.
An all-star team of 11- and 12-year-olds swept through the North Dakota/South Dakota district tournament in Rapid City to advance to the Midwest Regional tournament in Indianapolis. Playing on national television, they kept rolling to advance to the Little League World Series, an iconic sports spectacle that draws top U.S. and international teams and millions of TV viewers each year.
The magic ran out in South Williamsport, where Sioux Falls was eliminated with losses to Greenville, N.C., and Walla Walla, Wash., before dropping a consolation contest to Australia.
But they received a hero’s welcome back home, where a city was captivated by their historic run and a lifetime of memories they made along the way.
College Men’s Athlete
Chris Nilsen, University of South Dakota
Chris Nilsen came to USD as the American high school record holder in the pole vault, and continued to build on his outstanding career.
He became USD’s first-ever Division I men’s national champion by winning the indoor championships with a mark of 18-8 1/4.
He continued with a stellar outdoor season, setting a USD and American under-20 record of 18-10 1/4 in placing third at the U.S. National Championship. That effort qualified him for the 2017 IAAF World Championships.
He also finished third at the NCAA outdoor meet. He earned the last five Summit League Athlete of the Month honors for the 2016-17 school year.
College Men’s Coach
Bob Nielsen, USD Football
In just his second season at the helm of the University of South Dakota football program, Bob Nielsen led the Coyotes to their best finish since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Coyotes started 6-0 on the way to an 8-5 record, 4-4 in the MVFC.
The season also included USD’s first-ever FCS playoff appearance, and FCS playoff victory, at Nicholls State.
USD was driven by a high-powered offense, which produced 38.2 points and 523.6 yards per game. The Coyotes’ quarterback, Chris Streveler, is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in FCS.
College Men’s Team
South Dakota State Football
South Dakota State won a program-record 11 games and advanced to the Division I FCS semifinals, falling to defending national champion James Madison. It was the Jackrabbits' sixth straight year in the playoffs, and their Dakota Marker rivalry win over North Dakota State drew 18,130 fans, the most ever to attend a football game on South Dakota soil.
The Jacks began the year with championship goals, hit a bump in the road when conference play began, but won seven straight games down the stretch before their elimination.
Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke wrapped up record-setting careers with a multitude of individual awards, and both are bona fide NFL prospects. Goedert could be a first round draft pick.
College Women’s Athlete
Hannah Kastigar, Northern State
A transfer from Grand Canyon, Hannah Kastigar shined in her first season at her hometown university. The senior was a four-time All-American, including national championships in the 400-yard individual medley and 200-yard butterfly.
Kastigar set 13 Northern State records in the 2016-17 season, and was the NSIC Swimmer of the Week eight times.
Kastigar, who was a prep standout at Aberdeen Central, also competed in track and field at Northern State during the spring.
College Women’s Coach
Dan Fitzsimmons, USD Cross Country
In his 10th season at the helm of his alma mater, Fitzsimmons continued to build one of the top mid-major cross country programs in the nation.
Under Fitzsimmons’ leadership, USD won a fourth straight Summit League cross country title and finished fifth in the NCAA Midwest Regional. He was named the Summit League women’s Coach of the Year for a fourth straight season.
College Women’s Team
The USD women’s cross country team continued its dominance of the Summit League, winning a fourth consecutive title. The Coyotes did it in dominant fashion, putting seven consecutive runners across the finish line in the meet, held in Vermillion.
The Summit League title was one of four meets the Coyotes won in 2017, including the Augustana Twilight, Woody Greeno Invitational (Nebraska) and the Bradley “Pink” Classic.
USD went on to finish fifth in the NCAA Midwest Regionals, just missing a berth in the NCAA Championships. It was the highest team finish in a NCAA Regional for the Coyotes.
Prep Boys’ Athlete
Derick Peters, West Central
What Derick Peters did in 2017 was nothing short of remarkable.
The West Central senior distance runner capped off his junior season on the track with a state title in the 3200-meter run, winning the event by nearly 12 full seconds with a time of 9:40.87.
In his return to the trails, Peters garnered national attention in September when he won the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational with a time of 15:49.43, well ahead of Dowling Catholic’s Matthew Carmody, who finished in 16:11.97.
A few weeks after winning his second consecutive Class A state championship with a time of 15:06.20, Peters announced his commitment to the University of Wisconsin, which placed third at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Prep Boys’ Coach
Scott Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery
In his 27th year coaching, Schultz led the Huskies to a 26-0 mark and the school’s first state championship in Class B basketball. The team, which had only three seniors, averaged 69 points per game, while holding opponents to 44.5 points per contest and shot 46 percent, balancing three double-figure scorers. Schultz was named the South Dakota High School Coaches Association boys basketball coach of the year.
Prep Boys’ Team
The Huskies won the school’s first state championship in dramatic fashion, including a 63-58 comeback win in the state championship over Wolsey-Wessington. Bridgewater-Emery trailed by as much as 13 points in the second half before marching back into the lead in the final minute. The win capped a wild postseason, with Bridgewater-Emery holding off Chester Area in the region final 68-63, followed by state tournament wins over Platte-Geddes (67-39) and Sully Buttes (61-58) in the first two rounds.
The team went 26-0 behind a dynamic lineup of senior Sam Arend, and sophomores Jamin Arend and Sawyer Schultz, with each earning all-state honors. Schultz was a first-time all-state pick, the first sophomore to be picked to the first team since 2011.
Prep Girls’ Athlete
Myah Selland, Sanborn Central-Woonsocket
Myah Selland of Sanborn Central-Woonsocket is the South Dakota Sportswriter’s Association 2017 Prep Female Athlete of the Year. She capped her high school career by helping the Lady Blackhawks to a runner-up finish in the Class B State Girls’ Basketball Tournament and was a three-time place winner at the Class B State Track and Field Championships.
Selland, at 6-foot-2, averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game during her senior season at Sanborn Central-Woonsocket. She was selected as South Dakota’s Miss Basketball and was the Gatorade South Dakota Player of the Year honoree, in addition to being named as the ‘Spirit of Su’ winner during the state tournament.
In track, Selland finished second in the Class B girls’ 300-meter hurdles, was third in the Class B girls’ 800 race and sixth in the Class B girls’ high jump.
Prep Girls’ Coach
Nora Groft, Northwestern volleyball
Nora Groft guided the Northwestern volleyball team to its second straight Class B championship in dominant fashion, capping the season with a 3-1 win over Warner in the state championship game.
The Wildcats lost just one match all season, a 3-set setback to Parker during the Bon Homme tournament back in September. Parker was a Class A state tournament participant. Prior to that loss, Northwestern had won 45 straight matches.
Over the past four seasons, the Wildcats have compiled a record of 126-11. The Wildcats were led this season by First Team All-State selections Peyton Groft and Madalyn Groft.