Jackrabbits honored at state capitol for National Championship
The South Dakota State University football team was in Pierre on Wednesday as they were honored at the state capitol building for their recent National Championship accomplishment.
The day’s festivities included lunch with Governor Kristi Noem at the Governor’s Mansion, a picture on the marble steps of the capitol, and special recognition in both the state senate and state house of representatives.
Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier spoke to both chambers in the afternoon.
“It is such an honor for us to be here. These are great student-athletes. Many are missing class, which, after being here I know they feel it’s well worth the trip,” said coach Stiegelmeier. “We were able to visit and eat with Governor Noem and what an honor that was for her to share with these guys. “
Coach Stig also recognized and thanked the state lawmakers in both the house and senate for their public service during this year’s session.
“We were 14-1, we were National Champions, and so what do you say to the house? Be a national champion. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some,” coach Stiegelmeier explained. “But after this session, I encourage this group of individuals that we are so blessed to have you serving – that you too have a national championship, no matter how that looks to you guy’s.”
He also spoke to both chambers about the strength of South Dakota’s identity with this year’s team. This included himself, as he too has deep roots in the state.
“For me as the head coach, I’m a native of South Dakota. I’m from Selby, South Dakota. I was able to go to South Dakota State, so it’s been really special for me to be a part of this,” the Jackrabbits head coach said. “One of the questions I was always asked, “what about the small-town athlete from South Dakota? “ We’ve got guys from all over the nation here, and I love each one of them, but the biggest percentage of guy’s on the national championship team are from South Dakota."
In closing, Stiegelmeier gave a special shout out to Jackrabbits stand out tight end Tucker Kraft, who hails from Timber Lake. Kraft, who has declared for the 2023 National Football League draft, is projected by many draft analysts to be a day two pick.
Along with winning their first FCS National Championship in 2022, the SDSU Jackrabbits also made history by going undefeated in FCS play, including in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Their only loss in the campaign was the season opener to Iowa. The national championship game was also the first time that the Jacks had beaten North Dakota State in post-season play since moving to DI.