VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – Students at the University of South Dakota have an extra reason to celebrate their homecoming this week after they pulled a 24-19 win over No. 2 seed North Dakota State. 

“D-Days is already so exciting as it is, but with the win against the No. 2 team in the nation, that’s just gonna give us a little pep in our step to crush Murray State,” Zena Aragon, a sophomore public health major, said. 

This is Aragon’s second D-Days. She says her favorite part of homecoming is seeing all the school spirit, the packed football stadium and the annual street dance on Thursday night.

“I love the street dance the most,” she said. “Last year, it was like a mosh pit type vibe and with all the free bubblers, I loved it.”

The D-Days festivities started last Sunday with the annual “Paint the MUC Red” event, but there are still plenty of Coyote activities throughout the week. 

On Wednesday night, there is the Dance Party in the Wellness Center and the Coyote Campout where students can grab their blankets and favorite movie snacks to watch “Top Gun Maverick” in the east lawn. Thursday has the Dakota Days Street Dance and Friday’s events include First Friday in the MUC Pit, Field Day on the Arts and Sciences lawn and the Unleash Your Legacy alumni event. The parade, game and royal court crowning is Saturday. 

“This Dakota Days is probably going to be one of the best Dakota Days we’ve had,” D-Days Vice President Rachel Spinks said. “We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. We’ve been rebuilding for the past four years after COVID. Numbers are high, vibes are high, the atmosphere is just electric and you can really feel it wherever you go.” 

Spinks says the D-Days committee started planning for the event back in March. Although there are plenty of student-related activities, Spinks said they center a lot of the events around celebrating alumni and the legacy of the school. 

“Not a lot of people understand how big Dakota Days is,” she said. “It’s not just for students. A lot of alumni come in for Dakota Days so we have a bunch of networking events. It’s also for the Vermillion community so it’s a lot more than what I think people realize.”

Bennett Clary is a senior journalism major at USD and has been celebrating D-Days for four years. She said she loves the community and family aspect of homecoming, especially tailgating on game days. 

“I love seeing the entire Vermillion community come together,” Clary said. “It’s a really big family event so the parking lots are packed, the streets are packed, it’s just so much fun.” 

Clary said she feels the added excitement this year after the NDSU win. To Clary, the win made the school feel proud of the football team and confident for the homecoming game against Murray State this Saturday.  

“I think we’re all way more excited because we are coming into this homecoming week with a win already behind us,” Clary said. “To beat the number two in the nation is insane.”