21 named to South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame
Two Mitchell High School graduates are part of a 21-person group that will be inducted into the 2015 South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. Standout athlete Jill (Theeler) Schlekeway and athlete/coach/contributor Paul Sheeks will be inducted during a ...
Two Mitchell High School graduates are part of a 21-person group that will be inducted into the 2015 South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.
Standout athlete Jill (Theeler) Schlekeway and athlete/coach/contributor Paul Sheeks will be inducted during a banquet on April 11 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Ticket information will be released later.
The group is highlighted by three-time track and field Olympian Cindy Greiner, former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber and two-time world boxing champion Battling Nelson.
Also selected this year were athletes Phyllis Hunter (tennis), Jane Wipf Wiebe (running), Chad Nelson (basketball), Grover Potts (football), Oliver Garnier (baseball), Dale Palmer (track/football), A.B. Tyler (polo), Alice Bauer (golf) and Billy Etbauer (rodeo); coaches Ward Lambert (basketball), David Gottsleben (track), Vic Godfrey (track) and Rollie Greeno (track); and contributors Bob Laskowski (media), Doug Evans (physical education) and Neysa Villa (volunteer).
Jill (Theeler) Schlekeway: The 1997 Mitchell High School graduate blazed to three state records in an incredible final two years of high school track. Theeler, who resides in Sioux Falls, set state meet records in the 100, 200 and 400. She also set all-time state records in those events in 1997: 11.66 seconds in the 100, 24.27 in the 200 and 55.25 in the 400. She won the 100, 200 and 400 and ran on the winning 1,600 relay team at the state Class AA meet in 1996 and ’97. She also was on a state champion basketball team and was a state champ in the uneven parallel bars in gymnastics. At North Dakota State University, she was a 12-time North Central Conference champion and a 19-time NCAA Division II All-American. As a sophomore at NDSU, she won the 200, 400 and triple jump and ran on winning 400 and 1,600 relay teams as the Bison won the 1999 NCC meet. She was part of the champion 4x400 relay team as NDSU won the 2002 national indoor title.
Paul “Pepper” Sheeks: A 1908 Mitchell High School and 1913 University of South Dakota grad, Sheeks played two years in the NFL before gaining national fame in the 1920s and ’30s because of the success of the Akron Firestone basketball teams he coached. He helped found the National Basketball League and was named coach of the year in the league in 1939 and ’40. The NBL was a forerunner to the NBA. He was recreation director for Firestone from 1919 until 1955. At one time he oversaw 13 sports on the Firestone recreational program.
Also, Firestone Public and Firestone Country Club golf courses opened in 1929 with Sheeks actively engaged in their managership. He also coached the Akron Red Peppers bantamweight football team to national recognition in 1935. He played two years in the NFL (1921-22) with the Akron Pros as a blocking back. The 5-foot-8, 173-pounder scored one touchdown and kicked five field goals (including a 45-yard dropkick) and nine extra points in his NFL career.
At Mitchell, Sheeks was captain of the 1907 football team that was the undisputed state champion, and he also held several state records in track. At USD, he was the first to win letters in the four major sports (football, basketball, baseball and track). In 1912, he was a near-unanimous choice for All-Western halfback, when USD went 5-1 and allowed only 14 points. He coached at Le Mars (Iowa) High School before taking the coaching job at Wabash (Ind.) College. His Wabash football and basketball teams were highly successful. He was 14-2-1 in two years as football coach (1915-16) and 19-2 in his lone season as basketball coach.