One of the most successful South Dakota high school coaches in recent history is being honored by the last school at which he worked.
Mark Senftner died on Oct. 15, 2022, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor about two years earlier. He was 60.
After 17 years coaching girls basketball at Sully Buttes High School in Onida, Senftner resigned in 2022 because of health concerns.
The Agar-Blunt-Onida School District is now honoring him by naming the Sully Buttes High School court in his honor, according to a social media post by the district.
A graduate of Northern State University, Senftner coached at Gregory, Timber Lake and Sully Buttes. At Sully Buttes, he led the girls basketball team to four state championships and the football team to three state title games.
In 2022, Senftner was inducted into the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association Shrine. Throughout his career, his teams won more than 500 girls basketball and 100 football games.
The court will be dedicated on Thursday, Dec. 21 after the Sully Buttes girls basketball game against Wolsey-Wessington.
A native of McLaughlin, he graduated from Northern in 1985 before beginning his teaching and coaching career.
Liked, respected and admired by his peers and many others, Senftner was a mentor to both students and coaches.
Warner’s Nilsson named South Dakota Class B Miss Volleyball
The accolades continue to stack up for Warner senior volleyball player Ava Nilsson.
On Sunday, Dec. 3, she was named South Dakota Class B Miss Volleyball. That was during the state high school all-star volleyball match and Miss Volleyball banquet in Harrisburg.
A five-year starter for the Monarchs, she will play collegially at Northern State. She finished the season with 936 assists, 57 blocks and 208 digs. She also recorded her 5,000th assist during the Class B state tournament.
Audra Nelson of Madison was named Miss Volleyball in Class A. In Class AA, it was Sioux Falls Washington’s Macie Malchow.
Wings split home series with Minot
The Aberdeen Wings played four straight games against the Minot Minotauros, going 2-2 thanks to a 3-2 win Saturday, Dec. 2 in the Odde Ice Center.
The Wings improved to 10-13-1-2 and are in fifth place in the North American Hockey League Central Division standings. Minot remains atop the division with a 17-6-1-0 mark.
“Tonight was a solid effort from our guys, no question,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said after Saturday’s game. “We had a mishap on a penalty kill go against us in the first (period), but we responded well defensively. That’s a high-volume shot team, and we held them to a very limited amount of chances. It’s really just about utilizing this game to grow.”
The Wings opened the scoring at the 10:13 mark of the first period when Isak Holmstrom scored his eighth goal of the season off an assist by Logan Gravnik.
“Obviously you get a good effort by a guy (Holmstrom) who’s played junior hockey for three years and he gets a great goal from a great play by Gravy and we get the result we wanted,” Langer said.
Minot tied the game at one late in the first on a John Small power play goal. That aside, Langer felt his squad had tilted the ice throughout the period.
“Oh, yeah, that was a really good period for us in a lot of areas of our game, especially defensively. We just didn’t give a whole hell of a lot up,” he said. “We just have to eliminate that little glitch when you dominate a period and come into the locker room at 1-1, just need a better result when we play with that effort.”
The Wings grabbed a 2-1 lead 11 minutes into the third when Salvatore Collora scored his first goal since joining the Wings. Kim Vahakangas and Gravnik assisted.
Collora, who last scored a goal a year ago when he was skating for the Estevan Bruins in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, was relieved to light the lamp.
“Playoffs last year was my last goal. I’ve just been a bit snake-bitten to start this year,” he said. “It was nice to finally get one, for sure, and get the monkey off, and hopefully that opens the dam, so to speak, and I can start scoring a bit more now. Their goalie went down on his pads a little early, so I decided to go upstairs back across him and, luckily, it went in.”
Weston Turner scored an empty-netter to make it 3-1 Wings with 1:46 to go in the third. Minot cut the lead to 3-2 with 15 seconds remaining, but Adam Dybal’s save with three seconds to go sealed the win. Dybal stopped 24 of 26 shots.
“Based off his last game, I thought Dybal came back very maturely because his last game, by his standards, was not very good,” Langer said. “That’s the type of effort from him we needed tonight.”
As much as Langer hopes the victory can propel his team to start a streak, he recognizes where that desire and effort has to originate.
“After each win we get you can’t help but think we can go on a run, but we just haven’t done that yet,” Langer said. “It has to come from inside that locker room. How bad they want to get on that run, it’s up to them.”
The Wings return to the road Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9 in St. Cloud, Minn. The puck drops at 7 p.m. for both games.
Northern wrestling squad takes down Cougars in NSIC opener
The 13th-ranked Northern State wrestling team opened its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference dual campaign with a 42-6 road win at the University of Sioux Falls on Friday.
The Wolves got pins from three wrestlers. Jason Henchel, Jr., pinned Beau Klingensmith at the 2:01 mark of the 133-pound match. Henchel is ranked 11th in his weight class. Treyton Cacek pinned Daveon Vereen at the 1:58 mark, while Nathan Schauer pinned Logan Huckfelt at 285 pounds.
Wyatt Turnquist, ranked No. 1 at 149 pounds, scored a technical fall win over Cooper Sanders.
The Wolves are now 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the NSIC. The Wolves host Augustana on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Barnett Center.
Results from the Sioux Falls dual follow.
- 125 pounds: Paul Garcia (Sioux Falls) over Landen Fischer (Northern State) (Dec 4-1)
- 133 pounds: Jason Henschel Jr. (Northern State) over Beau Klingensmith (Sioux Falls) (Fall 2:01)
- 141 pounds: Braydon Mogle (Northern State) over Beau Beavers (Sioux Falls) (MD 15-4)
- 149 pounds: No. 1 Wyatt Turnquist (Northern State) over Cooper Sanders (Sioux Falls) (TF 15-0 2:34)
- 157 pounds: No. 7 Devin Bahr (Northern State) over John Tyler (Sioux Falls) (TF 16-1 7:00)
- 165 pounds: Chase Bloomquist (Northern State) over Jayden Coulter (Sioux Falls) (TF 17-1 5:14)
- 174 pounds: Sam Kruger (Northern State) over Ashtin Johnson (Sioux Falls) (TF 16-0 2:44)
- 184 pounds: No. 12 Treyton Cacek (Northern State) over Daevon Vereen (Sioux Falls) (Fall 1:58)
- 197 pounds: Isaiah Laguna (Sioux Falls) over Ryan Hirschkorn (Northern State) (Dec 6-2)
- 285 pounds: Nathan Schauer (Northern State) over Logan Huckfelt (Sioux Falls) (Fall 3:24)
Groton’s Fjeldheim wins inaugural NEC volleyball honor
Groton Area’s Anna Fjeldheim was named the Northeast Conference Volleyball Player of the Year.
This is the first time the NEC has given out a player of the year honor. Fjeldheim finished the season with 225 kills, 237 digs and 27 aces.
The senior outside hitter helped the Tigers to a 20-5 overall record. Groton came within one win of making the Class A state tournament, but was defeated by Lennox in four sets in the SoDak 16.
Groton head coach Chelsea Hanson said of her senior, “Anna has been a key part of our team for several years, and has stood out in the conference for the last two seasons. Having her in the running to be a player of the year was such a great honor and achievement for her, personally, and for our program. We were so excited other coaches in our conference respected Anna’s game as much as we did to vote for her to win.”
The NEC will also select boys and girls basketball players of the year this season.
Sports news and notes:
- Former Northern State basketball player Parker Fox made the highlight clips recently for a dunk he had in a game against the University of New Orleans. Fox now plays for the University of Minnesota. He had a monster dunk over a defender as he soared in the air and gathered the ball with one hand. Unfortunately, the hoop didn’t count because a foul was called. See the play, and Fox’s reaction, on the Casual Big Ten X/Twitter page. Fox, a redshirt senior, missed the last two seasons due to injuries. Through the first eight games of the season, including five wins, he was averaging 2.4 points as a reserve.
PARKER FOX 👀
Note: I don’t care that it didn’t count. pic.twitter.com/ds4IPNQ28d
— Casual Big Ten (@casualbigten) December 1, 2023
- Both South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota won their first games in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The No. 1 Jackrabbits throttled Mercer 41-0 Saturday, while USD logged an impressive 34-24 victory over Sacramento State in the DakotaDome. In the quarterfinals, both teams will again be at home. SDSU hosts Villanova at 11 a.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The No. 3 Coyotes battle FCS powerhouse North Dakota State at 1:30 p.m. on ABC.
- University of Washington head football coach and Milbank native Kalen DeBoer has the Huskies headed to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision playoffs. They will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl Monday, Jan. 1 at 7:45 p.m. in New Orleans. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The winner will play either Michigan or Alabama in the national championship game on Jan. 8.
- Aberdeen native Josh Heupel, head football coach at the University of Tennessee, has led the Volunteers to the Citrus Bowl against two-time defending national champion Georgia on Monday, Jan. 1 at noon in Orlando, Fla. Tennessee is 8-4 on the season and was 5-1 in home games. The game will be broadcast on ABC.
- The Aberdeen Cougars boys hockey team made it back-to-back sweeps to open the 2023-24 season, taking two games from Brandon Valley by a combined score of 14-2. The Cougars skated to a 7-0 shutout Saturday at the Odde Ice Center. Brady Huff led the way with two goals and two assists. Goalie Colton Townsend stopped all 10 shots he faced. Jack Podoll had two goals for Aberdeen and Townsend a season-high 19 saves in a 7-2 win Sunday. The Cougars are now 4-0. They’re back on the ice Saturday when they host Mitchell at 8 p.m., then on the road Sunday, Dec. 9 at Oahe at 3:30 p.m. in Pierre.
- The Aberdeen Central boys wrestling team went 4-0 to win the Marv Sherrill Dual Tournament Saturday in Watertown. The Golden Eagles beat Milbank 57-9, Yankton 72-9, Tea 45-33 and Watertown 40-6. Avery Bendewald was 3-0 with three pins. The girls were 2-1 at a quadrangular in Viborg Saturday. They defeated Viborg-Hurley/Irene-Wakonda 36-30 and Brookings 56-6 and lost to Watertown 42-30.
- Warner wrestler Preston Cavalier went 4-0 at the Kimball-White Lake-Platte-Geddes Invitational to claim the heavyweight championship Saturday in Kimball.
- The Aberdeen Central gymnastics team will host the Hub City Invitational Saturday. Eleven teams are slated to compete with action starting at 10 a.m. at the high school.
- Selby native and former Northern State football player Emmit Bohle, an offensive lineman, was not able to return to the Arizona State lineup after suffering a serious leg injury in the second game of the season.