A tradition halted: Three-class shootout canceled for first time in 33-year history

McCook Central/Montrose's Jacy Pulse, left, shoots over Aberdeen Roncalli's Olivia Hanson in the SoDak 16 on March 9 at the Huron Arena. Pulse was slated to play in the 3-class shootout in Salem last weekend before it was canceled due to COVID-19. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

SALEM -- The 3-class shootout’s long-standing tradition came to an end at the end of March.

After 32 consecutive years, event organizer Trent Sabers canceled the event due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was the first cancelation in the event’s history, as it’s been used in recent years as a fundraiser for the McCook Country Club, which Sabers manages.

The event historically features a team from each boys and girls class that play each other after the state tournaments conclude at McCook Central High School. The teams are made up of the top seniors in each class.

“It has been a pretty good tradition,” Sabers said. “… When (my father Dan) came back here to start coaching in 2003, McCook had a real nice gym so we started having it here (instead of the Corn Palace) and we’ve had it here ever since. It’s something the local community really supports pretty good.”

Trent has been running the event since 2007. The first hint of possibly canceling the event came during the Class B girls state basketball tournament when it initially limited fan attendance before postponing the state tournament.


A week later, with the future of the state tournaments still up in the air, Sabers opted to cancel the event. Even with the fundraising it brings to the golf course, Sabers didn’t think it would be feasible to postpone it.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association have not canceled the state tournaments yet, waiting to see if schools resume on May 4 before making a further decision.

“We mentioned possibly postponing it,” he said. “But with me running the golf course and uncertainty as far as when the state tournaments would happen and when you could do this, not knowing if it could be in June and July … we just decided to cancel it all together.”
When he decided to cancel the event, the rosters were nearly completed. The girls rosters were “pretty much almost complete,” while he estimates he had about “40 to 50 percent” of the boys spots filled.

Local products Jacy Pulse and Abigail Van Ruler were expected to play for the Class A girls team. Koltan Lindstrom had an invitation to compete for the Class A boys team.

Last year, the Class AA girls beat Class A in the first game before falling to Class B. On the boys side, Class A defeated both Class AA and Class B.

“We’re hoping to come back and have it again next year,” Sabers said. “And then hopefully the years going forward.”

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