DSU Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2010
By Dan Holsworth
General Beadle State Teachers College, Dakota State College and Dakota State University will be represented Saturday, June 5 as former athletes Gene Appelwick, Connie (Robinson) Nyhaug, Amy Crissinger, and the 1989-91 men's cross country team will be inducted into the DSU Athletic Hall of Fame, along with Coach Al Weisbecker.
Representing the General Beadle era is Appelwick. Nyhaug played both volleyball and softball for Dakota State College. Crissinger and the '89-'91 cross country Trojans are a part of the developing Dakota State University tradition.
Weisbecker's career at Dakota State has spanned all three transitions.
This is the 15th such group of former athletes, coaches and teams honored. The inaugural class, which was inducted in 1995, included: William Bulfer, Robert Caselli, David Gassman, Ed Harter, Myron Moen, Darwin Robinson, Jeffery Rodman and Thomas Shea.
The men's cross country team is the sixth team to be welcomed into the Hall of Fame.
Other teams honored in the past were: the 1971 Boot Hill Bowl football team (2001), 1992 NAIA Final Four men's basketball squad (2002), 1966-67 men's basketball team (2003), 1983-84 women's basketball squad (2005), and 1977 football team (2007).
Gene Appelwick: Gene Appelwick was one of the school's record-holders at one point in his basketball career and still competes in the Senior Games at the local, state and national levels. Appelwick, who played basketball in 1957-61, was one of the SDIC's top scorers during his junior and senior seasons when he was also an All-SDIC player. He set the school's single-game scoring record at the time on Feb. 3, 1960 when he scored 45 points against S.D. School of Mines.
Appelwick continues to compete in basketball as a plus-70 year-old Senior Games player. In 2009, he and the rest of Team South Dakota competed in the National Senior Games at Palo, Alto, Calif, earning a third-place medal. Later in the year, he participated in three different age divisions at the World Masters Tournament in Sydney, Australia, earning gold, silver and bronze medals against non-U.S. teams.
Connie (Robinson) Nyhaug: Nyhaug joins her brother Darwin Robinson in the Hall of Fame having converted her four-year (1974-78) athletic career of playing both volleyball and three years of playing softball into a stellar post-college career. She was Viborg High School's head volleyball coach for 30 years, compiling a 393-249 match wins-losses mark. Winning the 1994 State B Championship highlighted that career. Two of her other three state tournament teams were second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in 1988 and 1989. Nyhaug was also the head boys and girls cross country coach for 15 years and an assistant girls basketball coach for two years.
She has earned S.D. High School Coaches Association coach-of-the-year awards in both volleyball and cross country among her many honors.
Nyhaug was one of the inaugural class of the S.D. Volleyball coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008, followed by the National High School Volleyball Coaches Association's coach-of the year and the S.D. Girls & Women's Sports Leadership Award in 2009.
She has held state and national positions, highlighted by being a past president of the S.D. Volleyball Coaches Association (1998-2000) and the S.D. High School Coaches Association (2006), Nyhaug was also the National High School Athletic Association's volleyball chairperson for 10 years (1997-2007).
Amy Crissinger: Recruited by Coach Buzz Stevenson for track, Amy Crissinger went on to excel not only in track, but also in basketball and volleyball. There wasn't a year that Crissinger didn't gain three-sport All-SDIC honors during her four-year career at Dakota State. She also added two female-athlete-of-the-year awards to her achievement list. As a trackster, Crissinger has two 400-meter hurdle marks, 1:06.8 and 1:07.6, that are still on the school's record books as the 3rd- and 5th-best marks of all time.
Playing forward for the basketball-playing Lady T's, she ended her senior season with 613 career rebounds. At the time of her Dec. 1991 graduation, Crissinger ranked third on the all-time rebounds list at Dakota State. Crissinger was also a member of the 1988-89 team that produced a perfect 10-0 mark in the conference.
Following a short stint working at Terra Western in Madison, Crissinger accepted an admissions position at Dakota State in August of 1992. In 1999, Crissinger was named Director of Admissions at DSU. She has held that position ever since.
Al Weisbecker: Weisbecker has been an important part of Dakota State's athletic program for a long time. His honors have included being a member of the Northern State University Hall of Fame, and his coaching credits have included being an assistant coach for the Boot Hill Bowl team. Weisbecker coached and taught at Bristol, Parkston, Watertown, Flandreau and Madison high schools.
He took up college coaching and became General Beadle's athletic director in 1967. For the next 17 years he was a part of the school's athletic department. In addition to being a part of the Boot Hill Bowl team's coaching staff, he also helped the Trojans go through the 1977 season undefeated at 10-0 and claim the SDIC championship.
In 1985 he resigned and became Black Hill State's head football coach where he earned two SDIC titles and coach-of-the-year honors in 1989.
He retired in 1990, and he and his wife MaryJane (also a former Beadle coach) moved to Dell Rapids. Seven years ago, they moved back to Madison, and two years later Weisbecker became DSU's throwing events coach in the track-and-field program. In 2002, Weisbecker became the executive director of the S.D. Senior Games and helped expand the Games from four to 13 communities and beefed up the state Senior Games. He is in the S.D. Senior Games Hall of Fame as both a competitor and contributor.
1989-91 Men's Cross Country Team: In 1989, 1990 and again in 1991, there wasn't another men's cross country team like DSU's Trojans in the SDIC. Coached by Stevenson, the Trojans ran their way to three state conference championships. Anchoring that squad at one time or another during that period were Stevenson recruits Rob Martinek, Roger Kramer, Tim Smit, Ed Roling, Tom Pickering, Ryan Phillips, Jamie VandenHoek, Mark Nesheim, Scott Lewno, James McNealy, Kevin May, Brad Seamer, Jon Selchert, and Mark Waterman. Stevenson has been quick to note that at one time or another all of these runners were named all-conference. Mark Waterman (who completed his college career in 1989), Kramer, Pickering and Phillips were All-Dist. 12 honorees. Pickering and Phillips were also NAIA Nationals qualifiers.