MITCHELL — The South Dakota High School Coaches Association (SDHSCA) held its 51st annual end-of-the year awards ceremony and banquet July 17 at the Highland Conference Center.
The awards program recognizes Coaches of the Year in girls’ and boys’ sports in South Dakota, and also honors those inducted into the SDHSCA Hall of Fame.
Huron High School was well represented among this year’s honorees.
Mark Wendelgass was inducted into the Hall of Fame following his 35-year career as a coach and administrator for the Huron School District.
In his coaching career, Wendelgass was head track and field coach for 15 years, which included four state runners up finishes, five third place finishes and four Eastern South Dakota championships. He was the sprints and relay coach for the state championship 1983 Huron Tiger girls’ team.
In the fall, Wendelgass was an assistant on the cross country team, and as such was part of four state champion cross country teams, four state runners up and seven ESD championships.
When he turned in his coaching whistle, Wendelgass took on the job of the district’s Activities Director and also managed Huron Arena. He was selected as Athletic Director of the Year in 2007 and Official of the Year in 2016.
The Huron Invitational track and field meet was renamed the Mark Wendelgass Relays.
He is part of numerous Halls of Fame, has received the S.D. High School Activities Association
Distinguished Service Award, the ESD Award of Merit and the NIAAA State Award of Merit. He has been the meet or tournament director for more than 30 state events in a wide array of sports.
One of the athletes who came through the Tiger track and field program while Wendelgass was involved was Misty (Charron) Larson, who was a standout sprinter for HHS and is this year’s honoree as the Boys’ Track and Field Coach of the Year, for Chester Area High School. She was also nominated as Coach of the Year in Girls’ Track and Field this year.
Larson is a 1992 graduate of Huron High School and after college began her teaching and coaching career at Brookings High School. From there she was in Pierre coached track and field for eight years, the final five as the Governors’ head coach.
She became the head girls’ and boys’ track and field coach in Chester eight years ago and since then the Flyers have created a solid resume. This year, the girls’ finished fourth at the State Class B meet while the Flyer boys’ took the Class B title. The boys’ team was also champion in 2017, and, combined with top finishes by the girls’ team, has made Chester Area the combined (girls’ and boys’ teams) champions from 2016-2018 and again in 2022.
The Flyer boys’ won the Big East Conference and Region 4B this year as well.
Larson teaches high school mathematics at Chester Area and, with her husband Heath, the district’s superintendent, have three children, Cade, Makenna and Emery.