BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — It was a night of celebrations Tuesday in Brookings as SDSU fans welcomed home the newly crowned national champions. What made the big game even sweeter this weekend was beating interstate conference rival, NDSU.
The celebration included a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, as well as speeches from SDSU president Barry Dunn, director of athletics Justin Sell and head coach John Stiegelmeier.
“I’ve been blessed. And what does that mean? That means I’ve been blessed to be in a great institution. We’ve had great student-athletes. And my dad taught me on the farm – work hard, work extremely hard, stay the duration and be a good person, and that’s the result of a national championship,” Stiegelmeier said.
Coach Stig has not had much time to reflect on the big win, as headed to North Carolina right after the game for the American Football Coaches Association Convention.
“Got back today, did a few things, had players stop in, and so to be honest with you, I haven’t thought about a lot other than what I had to think about, so that’s what tonight’s about,” he said.
Quarterback Mark Gronowski was named the most outstanding player after the 45-21 thumping of the Bison on Sunday in Frisco. He suffered a knee injury in the early minutes of the spring 2021 National Championship but bouncing back and getting the win this go around was special for him.
“Our entire team’s commitment to getting back to the national championship ever since we lost last time, that was our main goal and my main goal after again having that injury. And just to see that come into fruition, and just, we’ve worked so hard to get to this moment and it’s just such a special feeling,” Gronowski said.
For Gronowski, it was a dream.
“Ever since I was a little kid. Just to win a national championship, go compete for national championships and to finally have that happen, I mean, it is a dream come true,” he said.
The Jackrabbits are expecting to return plenty of stars including senior wide receiver Jadon Janke.
“The plan is to come back. You know, like I said after the game, we just won the biggest game of our lives. And with the team we got coming back it was a no-brainer to run it back and go for another one,” Janke said.
Seeing that ‘sea of blue’ at the big game and the continuous support from fans is something Janke is grateful for.
“I just want to say thank you to the whole state of South Dakota for believing in us and for everyone that made the trip. It was so special and I couldn’t be more thankful,” Janke said.
Stiegelmeier credits the leadership on the team for getting them to the highest level.
“When you talk about 110 guys and all being on the same page, one heartbeat, one voice, you have to start with the leadership. You know, our captains, our seniors, this is their team. And that’s why I say when a head coach gets an award, who really led the charge? It’s the players and the assistant coaches,” he said.
You can watch the entire celebration in the video above.