Alexys Swedlund and Lincoln Feist, a couple of St. Thomas More Cavalier seniors, were honored as the Male and Female High School Athletes of Year at the 43rd annual Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame and Sports Recreation Banquet on Monday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The annual banquet was hosted by the Rapid City Officials Association.
Swedlund’s selection came from among a talented group of athletes from each of the Rapid City area high schools, including Kiley Medler (Douglas), Taylor Molstad (Rapid City Stevens), Hannah Morgan (Rapid City Christian) and Ashley Solano (Rapid City Central).
“Most definitely a great honor,” said Swedlund, a two-time Class A first team all-state basketball player and the winner of the 2015 South Dakota Miss Basketball Award. “It’s a great feeling to be able to represent Rapid City and be named Athlete of the Year from among this great group of athletes. To be able to cap off my high school career with an award like this is really special.”
Feist, chosen from a select field of senior athletes including Jared Maciejczak (Douglas), Martin Mueller (Central), Jon Eggebraaten (Christian) and Kasey Klapprodt (Stevens), was equally gracious in accepting his award, complementing his fellow nominees and thanking all who had contributed to making the moment possible.
“This is a very prestigious award and I’m very blessed to be able to accept it,” Feist said. “There is a lot of tradition in this award, and to walk into our school and see pictures of former winners and realize that I’m a part of that now feels great.”
Feist will be taking his football skills to Notre Dame, and like his classmate Swedlund, is looking forward to the challenge of participating at the Division I level.
“The last four years of high school have been on a fast track and it’s not stopping this summer as June 10th I head to Notre Dame for summer school,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for me and this is a nice payoff, but we are still grinding and we’ll get back at it tomorrow.”
Eight other individuals were honored at Monday’s banquet by being inducted into the Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame.
Heading the list were two athletes who excelled at every level of their athletic endeavors, including the professional level: Becky Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star and current assistant coach with the NBA San Antonio Spurs, the first woman to ever serve in that capacity for a major men’s professional sports team and Mark Ellis, who was a 16 year-old shortstop on the 1993 Post 22 national champion American Legion baseball team and starred at the University of Florida, before embarking on a 12-year major league baseball career.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame at the banquet were Jerry Hirrschoff, a Rapid City coach, long-time wrestling official and an active member of a numerous area youth support groups; Brian Moser, a two-time state champion wrestling coach at Stevens High School and Rapid City Journal photographer Don Polovich, who during his 30 year career most likely snapped a photo of all of the above as well as many others.
Others honored on Monday night’s banquet included Jared Jacobson, a record setting quarterback at Northern State University, as College Male Athlete of the Year; Chelsey Biegler, Black Hills State University basketball standout as College Female Athlete of the Year and Chelsey Christensen, a Rapid City Central sophomore and multi state champion gymnast as Independent Athlete of the Year.
While the special list of honorees represented a wide divergence of skills and aptitudes in their athletic accomplishments, Moser spoke in his acceptance speech of the one attribute that all shared.
Moser told the story of a young high school athlete who while enjoying great success throughout his prep career came up short in the very last match of his prep wrestling career, thereby losing a chance at an individual title and costing his teammates a team title as well.
“That high school athlete was me and I had failed because I hadn’t been willing to pay the price to succeed,” Moser said. “Throughout my coaching career, I coached to that lesson learned. Don’t ever put yourself in a position where you know you could have done better and not let people down if only you had given your maximum effort.”
After listening to the list of accolades compiled by Monday’s award recipients, one would find it hard to believe that any of the ten individuals ever failed that test.