Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame to hold fundraiser breakfast, banquet on Saturday

HOT SPRINGS – Sports fans of Hot Springs Bison athletics have played witness to a number of exciting moments over the storied 121 year history of Hot Springs High School.

From the so-called “thrill of victory” to the “agony of defeat,” high school athletics provide a sense of community spirit like none other, thanks not only to those ‘thrilling’ and ‘agonizing’ moments in time, but more importantly because of the teams and individuals who helped create those moments though their hard work and dedication – not only on the court, but also in the classroom and in the community.

This weekend, four individuals and two teams will be honored for their lasting impact on the Hot Springs Bison sports scene as the 2nd annual Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame hosts several events tied to Homecoming Week, including the Induction Banquet being held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Mueller Civic Center, with social starting at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and awards at 7 p.m.

This year’s inductees being enshrined into the Hall of Fame include the 2000 and 2001 Hot Springs Lady Bison volleyball teams, and athletes James “Duke” Kocer (Class of 1931), Barb Donnell Highstreet (Class of 1966), Pat Weiss (Class of 1981), and Bud Hamilton (Class of 1991).

The Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame, which is a committee of the Hot Springs Bison Booster Club, began as an idea in the fall of 2015 amongst a handful of HSHS Alumni – most of who graduated during the late 1970s.

One of the primary goals of the organization is to recognize and celebrate the athletic achievements of the individuals whom have become synonymous with “Bison Sports” over the years.

Nominations for this second group of inductees included all of the previous nominees from the inaugural year in 2016 and also new nominees sought from the general public for the past several months. This past May, the 11-member Hall of Fame committee voted which resulted in the aforementioned five member class.

The inaugural class of six individuals and one team inducted into the Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame last year in October 2016 included athletes Chet Bruce, Gerald Collogan, Quinten Hofer and Paul Oberpriller; administrators/coaches Dave Scott and Jim Tays, and the 1974 state champion Hot Springs Bison football team. Their plaques are currently on display in Case Auditorium, near the entrance into the gymnasium

Following is a summary of the 2017 class of inductees:

2000 & 2001 Hot Springs Lady Bison Volleyball Teams

These two Lady Bison volleyball teams earned back-to-back Class “A” State Championships, and were the two highest placing teams during Hot Springs’ high school volleyball dynasty, which included 11 consecutive state tournament appearances from the 1996/97 school year to the 2006/07 school year. Over that span – first coached by Kelly Northup and later Dennis Northrup – the Lady Bison earned the two aforementioned state titles, along with one runner-up finish, six third place finishes, one fourth place and one eighth place.

That one eighth place finish occurred during the 1999 state championship, when the Lady Bison entered the tournament as the state’s No. 2 seed.

Looking back at the pivotal season in Hot Springs Bison history, Coach Kelly Northrup, recently said, “Sixty-four other teams would have been ecstatic with that trophy, but we had begun our quest and it was devastation for most of us. That summer we refocused and made some big changes in positions that I felt would be most beneficial for THE TEAM.”

Northrup said the team persevered through the changes and came together to earn a 43-1 record the following year in the 1999/2000 regular season (volleyball was a winter sport at that time), and would later go undefeated in the then-double-elimination state tournament to earn the school it’s first-ever volleyball championship.

During the 2000/01 regular season, the Lady Bison went undefeated during the regular season with a record of 42-0-3 (the three ties were due to splitting two-game tournament sets).

“Our motto that year was NO MERCY!” Kelly Northrup said. “Volleyball is a game of momentum and it is easy to play to the level of your competition. At that time, our conference wasn’t the strongest so we decided out goal was to win big every match, so we were ready for state. It worked! These girls kept their focus and drive throughout the entire season and that isn’t an easy thing for high school students to do.”

“Our ‘nice’ motto for the year was ‘New Team, Same Dream.’ Dreams do come true if you work hard enough. Winning back to back titles was not luck!” Northrup added.

James “Duke” Kocer

A three-sport athlete for the Bison from 1927/28 to 1930/31, James “Duke” Kocer was one of only 11 players in the state named to the 1930 All State Football Team. In addition to playing halfback in football, he was also a decorated track athlete who once held the Black Hills Region meet records in both shot put and discus, while also excelling in high hurdles. On the hardwood, he was also once named second-team All State in basketball. Following his high school playing days, Kocer went on to play football collegiately for Creighton University in Nebraska.

In a Hot Springs Star Letter to the Editor from 1967, when an effort was underway to nominate Kocer into the South Dakota Athletic Hall of Fame, one of his teammates from high school, Don Howe, recalled the 6-foot, 180-pound Kocer earning at least 11 varsity letters during his time as a Bison.

“He was a long-striding, fast runner with a devastating stiff-arm and high knee action,” Howe said. “He could both kick and throw the ‘fatter-than-today’s’ football well over 50 yards, and he thoroughly enjoyed offensive blocking and defensive line backing.”

Barb Donnell Highstreet

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The first woman to be inducted into the Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame, Barb Donnell Highstreet was one of the early pioneers in girls’ athletics in Hot Springs.

A graduate of the Class of 1966, Donnell was very active in sports despite growing up during a time when there were very few options for girls to compete in athletically in high school. She was a Cheerleader for three years, on the Girls Athletic Association for three years, and also a member of the Tumbling Team for two years.

But where she excelled the most – and earned statewide recognition – was in Track & Field, where she at one time held the state record in both the high jump (4-09) and the running broad jump (16-6.5) which were both set in 1964. During her high school career (from 1964-1967), her state track meet accomplishments included two firsts and one third place finish in the high jump; three firsts and one third place finish in the running broad jump; and a fourth and a fifth place finish in the 100-yard dash.

Pat Weiss

A graduate of the Class of 1981, Pat Weiss was the school’s first-ever wrestling state champion, competing at 98 pounds.

After finishing his freshman year weighing only 73 pounds and without winning a single match, while getting pinned 16 times (0-18), Weiss dedicated himself to improving over the off-season. He went on to earn a 11-12 record his sophomore season and avoided ever getting pinned. As a junior, he improved immensely to earn a 22-5 record overall and made it all the way to the championship match at the state tournament that season, but finished as the runner-up. Finally, as a senior, he won his state Class “A” championship, finishing with a 25-2 record overall, by pinning 18 of his 27 opponents. He finished a four-year high school career with a 129-52 record.

Weiss went on to compete collegiately in wrestling at Chadron State College and also serve in the U.S. Army following graduation.

Bud Hamilton

One of only five South Dakota high school athletes to every jump 7 foot in the high jump, Bud Hamilton was a three-sport athlete at Hot Spring High School, from 1987/88 – 1990/91.

In addition to track, Hamilton was also an All-State football player and a dominating center on the basketball team. After 26 years, he still holds the state record in the triple-jump (47-11) and is the only high jumper in the history of South Dakota high school athletics to clear seven-foot at a state meet, but finish in second place (Nick Johannsen of Miller jumped 7-1 that year to set a new state meet record).

He currently holds three Hot Springs High School records, including triple jump (47-11 in 1991), high jump (7-0 in 1991), and long jump (22-11 in 1990).

Following his successful high school career, Hamilton earned a Div. 1 scholarship to the University of Wyoming, where he continued to excel for the Cowboys and set a school collegiate record in the high jump of 7-3, which stood for more than 20 years.

Hall of Fame Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser

Saturday, Sept. 30, in the Tays Auditorium

Time: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Cost: Donation (proceeds benefit stadium seating project)

Hall of Fame Induction Banquet

Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Mueller Civic Center

Time: 5 p.m. Social, 6 p.m. Meal, 7 p.m. Awards

Cost: $30 per plate ($25 student/senior)

Tickets are available until Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce’s office in the Mueller Civic Center or online at www.bisonboosterclub.com/annual-hall-of-fame-banquet/

If not sold out, a limited number of tickets may be available at the door, but it is recommended that you purchase them in advance.

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