SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After six seasons as the SDSU defensive coordinator, John Stiegelmeier was elevated to the role of head coach. Eight years later, the university made the jump to Division I and in 2023, the Jackrabbits reached their ultimate achievement.
The SDSU football team dominated in Frisco, as they claimed a 45-21 win over rival, NDSU to claim their first ever FCS National Championship.
“It’s fun to be the first, right? Really proud of our program,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I love our football team. I thank God for them every day. And I mean that seriously. They’re an unbelievable group of young men.”
While many will celebrate the win, coach Stiegelemeier is hoping to build off the success.
“Now I can say it and it’s real. We’re going to watch the film and realize we can play a lot better. So it’s the beginning of the National Championship, but it’s also a step in becoming the best football program we can be,” Stiegelmeier said.
The Jackrabbits know their win was important, but they’re hoping it’s a building block to reach new heights.
“That’s what I hope for, with all the guys coming back this coming year,” SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski said. “They played an awesome game today, and I can’t wait to see what they do next year as well.”
The experience of winning a National Championship is unique and bring plenty of satisfaction to both coach Stiegelmeier and his players.
“For me, I live through our players and always will, always have. So my joy is great today because their joy is great. I love these guys, and I’ll leave it at that,” Stiegelmeier said.
The Jackrabbits closed the season with a 14-1 record, which is the best in program history.