BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota State University student-athletes who were honored as national champions, All-Americans and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients make up the 2014 class of the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame at South Dakota State University.
The Hall of Fame class includes:
• Craig Cassen, men’s cross country/track and field;
• Rod DeHaven, men’s cross country/track and field;
• Jerry Smith, wrestling;
• Tara Tessier, women’s basketball
Induction ceremonies are scheduled for Oct. 11 at the SDSU Performing Arts Center. The inductions of Cassen, DeHaven, Smith and Tessier will bring the roster of inductees in the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame to 72.
Cassen’s standout career was highlighted by NCAA Division II national titles in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in both 1989 and 1991. He earned All-America honors seven times, adding a fourth-place finish in the steeplechase in 1988 and posting a pair of All-America performances in both cross country and indoor track and field.
The North Central Conference individual cross country champion in 1989, Cassen went on to place third overall at the national meet in leading the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Division II team title. He again earned All-America honors a year later with a 16th-place finish at the cross country national championships. Originally from New Hope, Minnesota, Cassen also claimed back-to-back All-America honors indoors in the 5,000-meter run with respective finishes of eighth and third in 1989 and 1990.
DeHaven is the most decorated runner in Jackrabbit history, winning 19 individual North Central Conference titles and earning All-America honors 15 times in distance running. The Huron native won four consecutive individual NCC cross country titles from 1984-87 and was a four-time winner in the 1,500-meter run outdoors (1985-87, 89). He added three league outdoor titles in the 5,000 meters (1985-87).
Currently the head coach for the Jackrabbit cross country and track and field teams, DeHaven posted four top-10 individual national finishes in cross country to earn All-America honors, highlighted by back-to-back third-place finishes in 1986 and 1987. His ninth-place finish in 1985 led the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Division II team title.
DeHaven’s lone individual national title came in indoor track at the 1985 NCAA Division II Championships, where he won the 1,500-meter run. He added fourth- and second-place finishes in the event in 1987 and 1989, respectively. He also posted a runner-up finish outdoors in the 1,500 meters in 1985, and was national runner-up in the 800 meters outdoors in 1986 and 5,000 meters in 1989.
Following his collegiate career, DeHaven continued to compete on the national and international scene. He represented the United States in the marathon at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Smith was a dominant performer in the lower weights for the Jackrabbit wrestling program, winning individual North Central Conference titles each of his three years of varsity eligibility and earning All-America recognition twice. A Sioux Falls native, Smith won the NCC’s 123-pound title as a sophomore in 1967, then won the 130-pound title during both his junior and senior seasons. He earned the first of his two All-America awards with a third-place finish at the national meet.
Smith was named Co-South Dakota College Athlete of the Year in 1968 after posting a then-school record for wins in a season as he posted a 25-2 record and finished as NCAA College Division runner-up at 130 pounds. Wrestling against several Division I opponents, Smith completed a perfect season in dual competition with a 16-0 mark and racked up 56 team points in the process. He also ended his career as the Jackrabbits’ career leader for wins with a 58-11-2 record, good for an .831 winning percentage.
A Pierre native, Tessier was a three-year starter for the Jackrabbit women’s basketball team, who set then-SDSU records with 372 made free throws and 97 blocked shots from 1985-88. Her finest season in a Jackrabbit uniform came during her senior season, during which she averaged 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 53 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line en route to all-North Central Conference honors. As a team, the Jackrabbits qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time during the 1987-88 campaign.
Tessier’s 1,424 career points, which were third when she finished her career, still rank 11th all-time at SDSU. She also was a three-time academic all-North Central Conference selection and was the first Jackrabbit women’s basketball player to earn Academic All-America recognition during her senior season. She also was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
The 2014 recipient of the Ralph Ginn Award for Coaching Excellence will be announced Thursday.
Courtesy: SDSU Jason Hove