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App aids South Dakota residents, students in voting

The South Dakota Secretary of State’s office released a new iOS and Android app called Vote605 this month to help South Dakota residents, including students, get voter information for the mid-term election.
After logging in with voter’s name and zip code, information for the upcoming election appears.
The app shows a map of the poll location. The app also has a sample ballot for voters to look at prior to voting. The selections made in the sample ballot are not transmitted to or tracked by the state.
Information that is considered private such as a social security number or full birthdate is not in the application. The voter record is also not tied to the address of the voter to further protect the voter, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
South Dakota’s primaries will be June 3. The ballot in Vermillion will cover United States senate, governor and Clay County commissioner primaries. Voters will also select the mayor of Vermillion and candidates for alderman in select wards.
“Eighteen to 24 year olds make up close to 20 percent of the voting age population and they have the lowest turnout by far,” said Rachelle Norberg, a member of College Democrats.
Norberg believes it is important for students to voice their opinion with their vote.
“For as big of population as college students make up, they are very underrepresented in the issues and in the people they send off, simply because they don’t vote,” Norberg said.
Register to Vote
There are three different types of voting students. If the student is a permanent resident of Clay County, they will not need to reregister.
If a student is from another county in South Dakota, students have the option to vote in their home county or Clay County. If students decide to vote in Clay County, they need to fill out a voter registration form at the Clay County auditors to request the change.
If a student is from another state, students can either vote in their home state or South Dakota. Students who want to vote in South Dakota’s election can fill out the voter registration form.
“We always want to see students come out and vote,” said Carri Crum, Clay County auditor. “It is completely up to them whether they stay registered at home or here.”
University of South Dakota College Democrats, Republicans and the Political Science League will host a voter registration drive in the Muenster University Center Wednesday and Thursday during lunchtime.
“My experience doing (the registration drive) in the past with College Democrats, if a student doesn’t want to register as a Democrat then they are afraid we won’t register them,” Norberg said.
To not have that issue arise, the three organizations combine before elections to encourage students to register to vote.
Absentee voting has started for the June primaries. Crum said voters can come into the Auditor’s office between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Clay County courthouse to vote early.
“Any time students can get out there to vote, that’s great,” Crum said.
Preview to November
Voters in the general election this fall will choose a U.S. senator, U.S. representative and governor.
Also on the ballot across the state will be Initiated Measure 18 to raise South Dakota’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour with increases as the cost of living goes up.
“Year after year the state and federal minimum wage levels stall in front of special interest opposition,” Zach Crago, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said.
“We have got minimum wage on our ballot in South Dakota this fall. I think that’s a perfect way to handle this — let the people decide,” said U.S. Representative Kristi Noem in a previous
United States Senate
Republican
Mike Rounds
Stace Nelson
Dr. Annette Bosworth
Jason Ravnsborg
Larry Rhoden
Democrat
Rick Weiland
Independant
Gordon Howie
Larry Pressler
United States Representative
Kristi Noem (Republican) (incumbent)
Corinna Robinson (Democrat)
[/three-columns]
Governor of South Dakota
Republican
Lora Hubbel
Dennis Daugaard (incumbent)
Democrat
Susan Wismer
Joe Lowe
South Dakota State Senate – District 17
Michelle Maloney (Democrat)
Arthur Rusch (Republican)
South Dakota State House – District 17
Two seats open
Jamie M. Boomgarden (Republican)
Nancy Rasmussen (Republican) (incumbent)
Ray Ring (Democrat) (incumbent)
Marion Sorlien (Democrat)
Vermillion City Council
Mayor
Stan Peterson
Jack Powell (incumbent)
Alderman Central Ward
Jennifer A. French
Katherine Price
Alderman Northeast Ward
Sara Bye
Holly Meins
Alderman Southeast Ward
Dennis Zimmerman (incumbent)
Rich Holland
Kris O’Connor
Governor of South Dakota
Republican
Lora Hubbel
Dennis Daugaard (incumbent)
Democrat
Susan Wismer
Joe Lowe
South Dakota State Senate – District 17
Michelle Maloney (Democrat)
Arthur Rusch (Republican)
South Dakota State House – District 17
Two seats open
Jamie M. Boomgarden (Republican)
Nancy Rasmussen (Republican) (incumbent)
Ray Ring (Democrat) (incumbent)
Marion Sorlien (Democrat)
Clay County Auditor
Carri R. Crum (Democrat) (unopposed) (incumbent)
Clay County Sheriff
Andy Howe (Republican) (unopposed) (incumbent)
Clay County Register of Deeds
Jane Olson (Democrat)
Rhonda L. Taggart (Republican)
[/columns]

Who’s who at USD? | Q&A: Vice President of Student Services, Dean of Students Kim Grieve

Michael Geheren: What are some things you want freshmen to do when they come on campus?
Kim Grieve: Find some student organizations that they can become involved in. Meet their faculty, meet staff, meet new friends, be open to new opportunities. The most important thing is to make this their home. This is going to be their community for the next four years and to really establish the relationships they need in order to be successful. Also, to know they are a Coyote for life.
MG: How would you describe your role? In many high schools the dean is a person students go to when they are in trouble. The dean on a collegiate level is different — can you describe that?
KG: I would say I am the student advocate. If there is anything a student needs, they can come here and let me know. I am not a discipline office, I am the advocacy office.
MG: What were the highlights of your undergraduate life?
KG: I think the highlights for me were getting very involved in campus. I was involved in greek life, student organizations and one of the really valuable experiences I had was work study. I started in the Student Life office at Michigan State my sophomore year. That is really where I developed the love for university life and that is the most important highlight of my undergrad.
MG: What is something USD offers that other schools don’t?
KG: I think what USD offers is a large university experience on a smaller campus. We are large in that we have absolutely everything that a new freshman could want to be apart of, but yet you get to know faculty, staff and other students because we are kind of small at the same time. Having the new MUC as our community hub has made that even easier. It has been even more exciting having everybody in the same place.
MG: What are some of the things you will anticipate next year that will be exciting for the incoming freshman?
KG: I think the most exciting thing is the multicultural center. It will be up and running next year. I think to have a place where there is going to be all people to meet and collaborate and focus on social justice is going to be very important and exciting.
MG: Do you believe this campus is open to free expression and free speech?
KG: I do think this campus allows students to express themselves and we are open to ideas and respectful to all ideas. Even if we don’t agree with them, we want to hear students ideas and we want to respect everyone.
MG: What is one experience you want students to leave with, excluding a diploma?
KG: I want them to leave here being proud of what they have accomplished and being proud to be a USD graduate. I think it is just the warmest place where everybody is so friendly and just goes out of their way. The students are very respectful and very excited about their futures. That is so fun for me to see.

Transgender bathroom bill heads to Daugaard for decision

The South Dakota Legislature returned from Presidents’ Day recess and made national news Tuesday by becoming the first state to pass legislation aimed at limiting transgender students’ use of restrooms.
“What a sad day for South Dakota,” tweeted Libby Skarin, the ACLU of South Dakota Policy Director.
The so-called “bathroom bill,” which would limit transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms, was passed in the Senate in a 20-15 vote. The measure would bar students from using facilities that match their transgender identities.
The bill is now heading to Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s desk.
“Governor Daugaard has not yet taken a position on the bill,” said Kelsey Pritchard, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office to The Volante Tuesday evening. “Before he makes a decision, he will research the issue and listen to testimony from both sides.”
Under the plan, schools would have to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for transgender students, such as a single-occupancy bathroom or the “controlled use” of a staff-designated restroom, locker room or shower room.
“The Republican leadership of South Dakota’s legislature has disgracefully failed to fulfill its most fundamental obligation – to protect the state’s young people from harm,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
There is also concern schools in the state could lose federal funding. The Obama administration has argued that Title IX bans transgender discrimination.
“We urge (Daugaard) in the strongest possible terms to veto this legislation, and to engage in thoughtful dialogue with his transgender constituents, especially South Dakota’s transgender children,” Griffin said.
Republican Sen. Brock Greenfield of Clark, S.D., said he doesn’t mean any disrespect by bringing the bill forward.
“We’re talking about our youth co-mingling in bathrooms,” Brock said on the Senate floor. “A lot of my constituents approached me and said that just doesn’t jive with them.”
The Human Rights Campaign is firing back with a social media campaign aimed at Daugaard.
“South Dakota’s shameful attack on trans kids heads to the governor’s desk. Share now to let Governor Daugaard – who says he’s never met a trans person – know that your stand in support of all South Dakota kids,” the organization said in a tweet.
Across the border in Iowa, lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to make it a hate crime to commit an offense against a person that identifies as transgender. That bill has to pass through the full Senate Judiciary Committee by Friday to stay alive this season.
Another hot topic in Pierre, teacher pay, was up for debate, but the key measure to fund the plan was delayed for the second time in the House.
The voting of the proposed half-cent sales tax hike that would fund Daugaard’s plan to raise teacher salaries was delayed using a procedural move to postpone debate until next week.
If the bill passes in the House, it still has to go through the Senate.
House Republican Leader Brian Gosch is pursuing a teacher pay hike without increasing taxes.
The Governor’s Office has said Daugaard is optimistic about his plan to raise South Dakota’s lowest-in-the-nation teacher compensation. It will take two-thirds support in each chamber to pass a tax increase.

S.D. legislative session: Four bills that pertain to USD students

As the 2015 South Dakota legislative session gets underway in Pierre, The Volante has compiled a list of bills to keep an eye on that pertain to students at the University of South Dakota.
No requests from USD were received by the South Dakota Board of Regents asking to submit any bills to the Legislature this year, Janelle Toman, director of communications at SDBOR, said.
Toman said the SDBOR did file a few bills related to construction, sale and purchase of land at South Dakota State University.
“At this point, all of the Board of Regents bills have been filed. There will be no more bills introduced on behalf of the Board of Regents this session,” Toman said. “However, I cannot speak for individual legislators who might wish to file bills pertaining to USD, prior to the bill filing deadline.”
Feb. 4 is the last day to introduce a bill.
House Bill 1032
This bill proposes to change a law about stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks. Currently, the law reads drivers need to yield for pedestrians. If passed, the bill would mandate drivers come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is crossing the street. House Bill 1032 also upgrades the offense from a petty offense to a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 1
This bill could provide many changes to the cost of driving in South Dakota, including raising the gas tax in South Dakota. Senate Bill 1 proposes a gradual increase in the gas tax in the state each year.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed a similar plan to Senate Bill 1 in his State of the State address to raise the gas tax 2 cents per year. Senate Bill 1 has a much more gradual increase in taxes than Daugaard’s proposed increases.
Daugaard has not introduced a bill at this time with his proposal.
“The legislature implemented the current $.22 motor fuel tax in 1999. That was 16 years ago, when I was in the State Senate, and Bill Janklow was governor,” Daugaard said in his speech on Jan. 13. “Gasoline was around $1 per gallon, so the motor fuel tax at the time represented 22% of the total price per gallon.”
The bill also proposes to raise the tax on motor vehicle purchases from three to four percent. Daugaard’s plan also supported the one percent increase. If passed, Senate Bill 1 could bring an estimated $26 million in additional revenue to the state.
Senate Bill 14
Introduced on behalf of South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, Senate Bill 14 proposes law enforcement, fire and EMS officials carry and be able to administer an opioid antagonist — which prevents the body from responding to endorphins or chemicals produced by drugs — in the event of a drug overdose.
“I join with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the belief that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save lives,” Jackley said in a statement. “Through proper training and availability, our law enforcement and first responders should have the tools available to save a life in a drug overdose situation, and this legislation will do just that.”
Naloxone is more commonly referred to as Narcan.
Senate Bill 33
Currently, South Dakota law allows veterans to receive resident tuition even if they do not meet the SDBOR’s 12 month residency requirement. Senate Bill 33 would expand this waiver of residency requirements to the spouse and children of the veterans.
(Photo: Members of the South Dakota House of Representatives convene Jan. 26. The 2015 legislative session continues through March 30. Kenzie Wagner / The Volante)

Tom Brokaw, 74, reveals multiple myeloma cancer

In 21 years of anchoring the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw reported stories on a daily basis to millions of viewers. Now the news has shifted to him, after the University of South Dakota alumnus announced he has cancer.
Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent and 1964 graduate of USD, released a statement Tuesday he was diagnosed in August with multiple myeloma at the Mayo Clinic.
“He is an extremely loyal alum in every way imaginable to the university and the (political science) department,” said Bill Richardson, political science department chair. “We wish him a quick and speedy recovery.”
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cells in bone marrow. There is a 43.2 percent survival rate according to the National Cancer Institute.
He said his doctors are encouraged with the progress he is making.
“With the exceptional support of my family, medical team and friends, I am very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come,” Brokaw said in a statement.
Brokaw, 74, is a native of Yankton, S.D., and a distinguished political reporter, anchor and best-selling author. He has been working in broadcast journalism for 52 years and was the 1992 recipient of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.
“He still has a lot to contribute in his life,” said USD President James Abbott. “The university wishes him well.”
Brokaw was known as one of the “Farber boys” on campus. His mentor and late USD Political Science professor, William “Doc” Farber, kept him in school according to previous interviews.
Farber gave Brokaw a rice bowl while a student at USD. The rice bowl was from when Farber taught in Korea. A note in the bowl said, “May your rice bowl always be full.”
Brokaw said at the end of his sophomore year he had 50 cents and a cowboy hat in his name.
Brokaw told TODAY Show viewers he spent a lot of time at the Varsity Pub in downtown Vermillion during that year.
Farber invited Brokaw to dinner and shared his plan — to drop out and get the “wine, women and song” out of his system.
Brokaw said six months later he came crawling back to USD. Farber filled out his class schedule and told him what grade-point average he expected.
“It’s exactly what I needed at exactly the right time,” Brokaw told the USD Alumni Association in a 2010 interview.
When he came back to USD he would meet at the Farber House on Clark Street across from Slagle Hall. He recalls having political discussions with Farber and other “Farber boys.”
Brokaw said no matter what success he had, Farber kept him humble.
“If Tom Brokaw can make it, anyone can,” Farber said to incoming first-year students.
Brokaw continues to come back to his alma mater. He and his wife, Meredith, were the parade marshalls of the 2012 Dakota Days parade.
Tom and Meredith pledged $100,000 to create the Greatest Generation Scholarship. It honors the duty, sacrifices and achievements described in his book “The Greatest Generation.” It is awarded to graduates of South Dakota high schools attending USD.
Brokaw also spoke in 2010 presenting the lecture, “Uncle Sam Needs Us.”
Sophomore Kathleen Serie said she was sad to hear the news about Brokaw’s diagnosis.
“I absolutely look up to Tom Brokaw,” Serie said. “It is really cool how (someone) from a small town in South Dakota can make it big.”
Michelle Van Maanen, Contemporary Media and Journalism department chair, said she believes the “Yankton boy” will use his health to educate his viewers.
“As a journalist, I believe he will view the situation and turn it in to something that will educate the public,” said Michelle Van Maanen, Contemporary Media and Journalism department chair.
Brokaw said he is grateful for the interest in his condition, but hopes to keep it a private matter.
He has continued to work on NBC News projects while undergoing treatment. He is also contributing to NBC Sports’ coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Before Farber died, he wrote a note to Brokaw and said he over-wished, Tom’s rice bowl was more full than he ever thought possible.
“I remain the luckiest guy I know,” Brokaw said.

‘Dating Doctor’ gives relationship advice to students

Dating in college is hard. Meeting new people is hard. Coming to college with a previous relationship that has turned into long-distance is hard. Forming new relationships is hard, said Stephen Gray, known as the “Dating Doctor.”
The University of South Dakota hosted Gray on March 3. A colleague of David Coleman, who inspired the movie “Hitch”. About 15 years ago, Coleman hired and trained Gray to assist him in speaking at different colleges about the ins and outs of dating and he has spoken on the topic ever since.
“You are dateless, you are romantically challenged and that is why you are here,” Gray said in his opening statement. “You are a group of people who have so much energy and are so creative, yet you are lazy.”
After his opening statement, Gray began his program by talking about finding a partner to compliment, not complete.
Gray said there is great importance in being complete with oneself and that one cannot find the right person until they become the right person.
Gray then went on and had everyone in the room repeat, “I would so date me,” and continued the exercise until he believed the statement being said.
“Hey baby, I’m the love pirate so give me all of your booty,” Gray joked to the audience.
This was only one of the many “worst pickup lines” that students have been shared with Gray throughout the years. Everyone was asked to submit on a notecard either a good or bad pickup line they had heard, which Gray shared throughout the program, usually to laughs from the audience.
Gray used humor to share his dating advice.
“What does a fat penguin do?” Gray asked, “He breaks the ice.”
Gray would follow up humorous statements with practical advice.
“You have to be that fat penguin and it doesn’t matter who breaks the ice as long as both of you are standing in the puddle,” Gray said.
First-year Lindsey Staab said meeting new people and breaking the ice isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“It’s hard to meet people unless you go out,” Staab said. “But it’s so cliche saying ‘I met a guy at a bar.’”
When it comes to meeting others, Gray said he has a simple plan called the Five-Minute Find. This entails using what he calls the ABCs: attraction, believability, chemistry and desire. All of these can be felt in five minutes, and if it doesn’t happen then it’s time to move on, Gray said.
The next step after meeting someone is establishing or finding interest. For this, Gray gave different ways to decipher interest based on gender.
Gray said men tend to turn to “moosh brain,” they are not deterred by barriers (i.e. six girlfriends standing around) and they ditch the player tactics. Women on the other hand, maintain eye contact, smile and laugh and break the touch barrier.
“You get the respect you deserve, demand and desire,” Gray said, leading into the controlling aspect of relationships, to which he said the person who has the control in the relationship is the one who is the least invested.
Gray said healthy relationships should involve mutual trust, respect, intimacy, passion and commitment.
“There are three types of love: one that contains physical passion, heartfelt love, and companionship,” Gray said. “I have been with my wife for 31 years, and having that companionship and a friend to come home to means more than anything, even sex.”
For students like first-year Kelsey Ruden, who is in a long-distance relationship, Gray introduces the idea of creative dating.
“Dare to be different,” Gray said. “Be romantic and spontaneous.”
Ruden said long-distance relationships can be difficult.
“It’s hard not being able to see him every day,” Ruden said, “I worry sometimes, and I miss him.”
Gray continued to say how important keeping that romance is. Gray defined romance as performing ordinary acts of love or kindness at unexpected times.
“Give your significant other flowers on Feb. 13, because they are too special to wait another day,” Gray said, receiving an ‘aw’ from the crowd. “But never give them something on Feb. 15.”
The safety aspect of dating was something Gray addressed firmly.
“Consent is everything and no means no every single time,” Gray said.
Gray also turned the “walk of shame” around to reflect the men in the situation, which he called the “walk of fame.”
“Since when did going home with a girl mean you let her walk home alone at night afterward?” Gray said, “Man up. Walk her home.”
Gray said the most vulnerable population among college students is first-year women, because they have little college experience and a new freedom of being away from home.
Eighty percent of sexual assaults on campus happen in the first six weeks of the fall semester and particularly to these women, Gray said.
Gray said all-in-all, dating in college should be a fun and safe experience and in the end it is about being happy and finding joy.
There is no timeline, there is no specific age in which to get married, he said. It happens in good time and there is no need to rush. That being said, there is absolutely no reason not to step up the dating game and enjoy what comes along.

Producing sustainable agriculture, local farmer offers shares of fresh produce to community

With clear skies, the temperature hovering just above freezing and a light breeze signifies the beginning of busy season for Sam Heikes.
Inside his greenhouse the temperature is set to 85 degrees. Leaves from the lettuce, spinach and other cold-tolerant plants are sprouting.
Heikes operates a farm located less than a mile northeast of the University of South Dakota. His farm focuses on sustainable and community supported agriculture (CSA).
“There is a big desire today among people to reconnect with their food supply,” Heikes said. “They want to eat healthier. They want to know who is growing their food and how it is being grown.”
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A CSA occurs when a group of community members pledge support for a farm operation. In return for their contribution, shareholders receive a portion of the fruits and vegetables grown on the farm.
CSA’s started in the mid-1980s on the east coast according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Only recently, Heikes said, have CSA’s come to South Dakota.
The Heikes Family Farm grows produce ranging from asparagus to zucchinis. Heikes said he does not use genetically-modified organisms or pesticides.
“That’s what people want today,” Heikes said. “They don’t want GMOs. They don’t want herbicides.”
Heikes said he is able to farm without using potentially harmful products such as Roundup and weed control.
He uses his refurbished 1954 John Deere tractor to do his farming. He also owns a piece of equipment to harvest potatoes that was built in 1910. Heikes said it probably runs as well as the day it was manufactured.
“I am going back to the future with the old equipment I grew up with,” Heikes said. “There is certainly a nostalgia.”
Heikes, a graduate of South Dakota State University, grew up in Vermillion. His family has owned the farm located near Masaba since 1946.
He graduated in 1974 with a degree in Agronomy, the study of the soil and seeds.
After a 35-year career as a seed trader, Heikes retired in 2010 to develop the farm with his daughter Heidi.
The Heikes Family Farm produces weekly shares for 32 weeks of the year. A person or family purchases a share depending on the amount of produce they want to get each week. The single-person share provides five pounds per week.
“The heart of what we are doing is planting a garden and building a community,” Heikes said.
Shareholders get first priority on the produce. They are able to pick up the fresh produce at set times during the week.
After the shareholders receive their allotment, Heikes opens his marketplace up to the general public during the lunch hour on weekdays.
Heikes said he is going to offer a discount to students based on the amount of time they are in Vermillion.
Heikes has seen tremendous growth in the two seasons they have been open, not only in shareholders, but in community support. He plans to expand this season with eggs and possibly chicken from a CSA north of Vermillion.
The Heikes Family Farm also offers commercial shares to area restaurants. Vermillion’s Red Steakhouse and Yankton’s Minervas receive weekly fresh produce deliveries from Heikes.
He uses the resources of the university in the School of Business and Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism.
Last year, graduate students prepared a market study for the farm. This semester, students in a CMJ Internet marketing course are working on the farm’s web presence.
Heikes also offers internships to students in the Sustainability department.
“Students want to reconnect with where their food supply comes from,” Heikes said. “We’re doing that.”
Follow reporter Michael Geheren on Twitter @mgeheren
Last year, graduate students prepared a market study for the farm. This semester, students in a CMJ Internet marketing course are working on the farm’s web presence.
Heikes also offers internships to students in the Sustainability department.
“Students want to reconnect with where their food supply comes from,” Heikes said. “We’re doing that.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story did not state that a single share is five pounds of produce per week.

UPDATED: USD pulls off Summit League upset, ends five-year SDSU reign topping tourney

After almost two full seasons of frustration, the University of South Dakota women’s basketball team have conquered their biggest rival.
Not shy of the dramatic, the Coyotes sent South Dakota State packing and propelled themselves one step closer to their first NCAA national tournament with the semifinal win.
The 72-58 victory against the five-time league champs also ended a five-game USD losing streak to the Jackrabbits.
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“Really excited to get this win and be back in the champ game tomorrow, we played one of our best defensive games of the season,” coach Amy Williams said. “There was a couple minutes left in the game and I told our staff this will be the longest minutes of my life. We had great energy, we showed a lot of grit.”
More importantly, it was another win for USD senior Polly Harrington, who players said they were playing for the last month of the season.
“I wanted to do this for Polly,” first-year Bridget Arens, who tied her season high in the game, said. “We saw our boys go down, and I didn’t want that.”
And it was Harrington who showed up most for her team Monday. The senior finished with 18 points, nine rebounds. She also contributed six offensive boards to a dominant 16-12 offensive rebound margin in favor of the Coyotes.
“We rebounded today,” Harrington said. “We went after every rebound we could and went after every ball. That made the difference. They didn’t get a lot of the stuff they got in the last games today.”
A 99-88 loss a week ago at the Coyotes home court, the USD women led the entire game. The team went down low to their senior the first two possessions and never looked back.
“Before the game started, I told the leaders to leave it all on the court, and it showed on the court,” Harrington said. “Our team does a good job keep our emotion in tact.”
The Coyotes had every response to SDSU and their crowd. When SDSU’s large fan base roared through the arena, tbe Coyotes answered with effort and scoring runs.
The Coyotes’ largest lead of 23 was cut to 11 late in the second half.
But USD kept control of the game, converting 29-34 from the free throw line.
When SDSU seemed to have one last shot at a comeback, USD closed the door with a couple late turnovers. Bridget Arens, who tied her season high with 12 points, cashed a jumper from the corner with three minutes left.
“Our teammates stayed calm, and it was big point not to get on our toes and play smart,” sophomore guard Tia Hemiller said. “Our coaches and our leader Polly kept our heads in it.”
The win comes a day after a dramatic three by Raeshel Contreras with 1.1 seconds left on the game clock beat Western Illinois. USD slid by Western, and now picks up one of their biggest wins in coach Amy Williams’ two-year tenure as head coach.
Williams will coach in her second consecutive Summit League championship game, and this time, it won’t be rival SDSU on the other bench.
“This is a great win for our program, but we are going to have to fight hard and claw,” Williams said. “This win means nothing if we don’t continue to take care of business tomorrow. We want to be champions. Up to this point SDSU has been that, they’ve raised that bar and that pushes us to raise the bar as well.”
USD tips off Tuesday against the winner of IUPUI or Denver at 1 p.m. from the Sioux Falls Arena.
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UPDATED: USD women advance to NCAA tournament after 82-71 win over Denver to capture the Summit League title

Coyotes will be dancing in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.
The University of South Dakota’s women’s basketball team capped off a dream run through the Summit League Tournament by defeating Denver 82-71 and punched its ticket into the national 64-team tournament.
“We’re so happy to bring this championship home for all ‘Yotes,” USD head coach Amy Williams said. “I couldn’t be more proud than I am today.”
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Following the win, USD’s lone senior Polly Harrington was awarded the Summit League Tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. Harrington had 16 points on the day to lead the Coyotes.
“That award was a shock,” Harrington said. “I just went out there and tried to play the best for my team. I’m blessed to have been nominated and received that award.”
The team played all year for Harrington. Players mentioned throughout the last month the inspiration Harrington brings to the team, and the NCAA tournament will be the capstone to her career.
“Our team has just been playing really good basketball,” she said. “Everyone’s just working hard, and they want to win. Credit to my team, to my coaches. We worked so hard to get to this moment.”
Her final game in South Dakota will certainly be a memorable one. The Coyote fans dominated the Sioux Falls Arena crowd, and Denver contested every USD move.
A one-point lead at half for USD switched quickly to a Denver lead, but the Coyotes had the answers in the end.
“We knew Denver was going to come out and play hard,” junior guard Nicole Seekamp said. “They’ve been playing well all tournament. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We locked down and made big stops today.”
The three-day tournament was never boring for the Coyotes. In the quarterfinals, USD slid by Western Illinois with a Raeshel Contreras three with 1.1 left on the clock.
Then, the next day was a revenge match against USD’s biggest rival South Dakota State. The Coyotes put a complete game together to send themselves into the championship game.
The last breath in the championship would belong to South Dakota.
Harrington said the championship defeat last year helped serve as the motivation to push through for the win.
“It was ‘I don’t want this feeling again,’” she said. “We’re going to push until we cannot push any more and we get the results we want. Collectively, as a group, that’s what we did.”
Part of the gritty play that worked for the Coyotes was by sophomore point guard Tia Hemiller. Hemiller nearly had a triple double with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Hemiller and Seekamp, who had 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals, were catalysts for the big win on the big stage.
“Championship games are not easy. Ever,” Williams said. “This was one of those games that was a true championship game. We were lucky to make a run and hold on.”
With about six minutes left, the USD crowd never sat back in their seats as they saw a 7-0 run turn into the biggest Coyote women’s basketball win since arriving in Division I basketball.
“I feel so proud of this team and the grit that they showed in this tournament,” Williams said. “I’m proud for all the ‘Yotes who came before us and paved the way.”
The Coyotes had two players selected to the all-tournament team — Harrington and Seekamp.
Williams, now 5-1 in Summit League tournament play, and her team will now wait for Selection Monday to see their placement in the national bracket.
ESPN currently has the Summit League tournament champion playing in Ames, Iowa.
“It’s exciting,” Seekamp said. “Once we find out who we play, I guess we can re-focus. We’ll cherish this moment for a few days. Then we’ll get back on the road and hopefully get a few more wins.”
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