Champions at the Capitol
By: Governor Kristi Noem
January 20, 2023
This week, we welcomed the South Dakota State University football team to the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre. On January 8th, the Jackrabbits brought home a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national championship win against North Dakota State University! This was not just any victory – it was a win against their rivals. And thanks to SDSU’s excellent play, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has to keep a Jackrabbit helmet in his office for the rest of the month.
This historic win was the second time this season that the Jackrabbits beat the Bison. Back in October, SDSU won the Dakota Marker 23 – 21. The rivalry between SDSU and NDSU is one rich with tradition, with the first faceoff between the two teams happening way back in 1903. Since then, these rivals have met 113 more times. In 2004, the regular season match-up officially became the “Dakota Marker,” where SDSU and NDSU play for a 75-pound replica of the quartzite monument that marks the border between South Dakota and North Dakota.
NDSU is a well-seasoned veteran, having won a total of 17 national championships in program history. But SDSU did not let that shake them. Instead, they steamrolled into the championship game, beat the Bison 45 – 21, and won the first national title in school history. SDSU showed the grit and grind of South Dakota, and we couldn’t be prouder.
I want to talk a little about two men that helped lead SDSU to victory in different roles: Coach John Stiegelmeier and quarterback Mark Gronowski.
Coach Stiegelmeier is a native of Selby, South Dakota, attended SDSU himself, and has been the SDSU head football coach since 1997. In his 26 seasons with the Jackrabbits, Coach Stiegelmeier has built the program into a yearly playoff contender. He has led the team to the FCS playoffs 11 times. Now, he’ll retire as the winningest football coach in South Dakota State history after leading the Jackrabbits to a national championship victory. I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Coach John Stiegelmeier on being named the winner of the 2022 Eddie Robinson Award, an award given to the top head coach in the Football Championship Subdivision. And I hope he enjoys his retirement.
SDSU’s starting quarterback Mark Gronowski won Most Valuable Player in the national championship game. He completed 223 passing yards during the game and rushed for 57 yards. But what’s even more impressive than his skills on the field is Gronowski’s heart, his love for the game, and his determination.
In 2021, Gronowski led the Jackrabbits all the way to the national championship game. Then, just minutes into the game, he suffered a torn ACL. Gronowski spent the next year rehabbing, determined to get his team the national title they deserved. I admire the ambition and the work ethic of this young man, and I commend him on a job well done, a season of games well played, and a national championship well earned.
It is no secret that, as an SDSU alumna myself, I am a huge Jackrabbits fan. I’m so proud of this team and all that they have accomplished. When I met them, it was hard to contain my excitement. I shared with them how proud I am of their fantastic work. They have made history here in South Dakota. The dedication of the entire coaching staff, as well as of every single member of the SDSU football team, led them to victory. Congratulations to SDSU on their national championship, and, as always, GO JACKS!
You can find a photo of Gov. Noem, Lt. Gov. Rhoden, and Coach Stiegelmeier with the national championship trophy here.