There were seven new members inducted into the Bennett County High School Athletic Wall of Honor Saturday night, Sept. 22, in Martin, joining last year's first class of 13 members. Joining the honored group were Rodney Rayhill, Abby Kratovil O'Neill, Michelle Olson Mikkelsen, Norm Olmstead, Mike Buckles, Coach Dale Brooks and Bob King.
Here is their bios read at the event.
Rodney Rayhill graduated from BCHS in 1953. While in high school he lettered four years in football, basketball and track. The Warrior football team was undefeated his sophomore year. That year, he was selected to the All State Football Team as a guard. When he was a Junior, his coach decided he should play fullback. That was the position he continued to play into college. Rodney qualified for the state track meet for 3 years in 4 events. He ran the half mile, the 100 yard dash and the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
Rodney was awarded the first athletic scholarship given by Black Hills Teachers College. The scholarship consisted of $300 and a job at Homestake Sawmill. While at Black Hills he set a school record in a game at Sioux Falls College by intercepting a pass and ran 82 yards for a touchdown. During a game with Yankton College, Rodney intercepted a pass and ran it back 91 yards for a touchdown and a school record. This record was recorded on a plaque and was on display at the Young Center until 2010 when it was finally broken. When Frank Gunner was hired as football coach at BCHS, he asked Rodney to assist him to help get the team in shape. Being former roommates he was aware of Rodney’s football accomplishments. Rodney volunteered his time and knowledge and was awarded free admission to the games.
While at Black Hills, Rodney earned his life guard certification and when Markota Acres was opened he volunteered to teach the men’s swimming class and did so for two years.
Rodney played baseball from the time he was a small child until he was 30 years old. Much of his baseball talent was inherited from his dad, Everett Rayhill. He first developed his baseball skills by playing at home with his dad and brother. When he was old enough he played on various Martin teams. The positions he played were 2nd base and sometimes catcher. He was on the State Line Team when they won the state championship in 1952. While playing with the Martin Merchants Rodney achieved a batting average over 400. He also was one of the players who went to try out for a major league team and although he didn’t get selected, he said it was a great experience.Because of Rodney’s love of “a good horse” he built an arena at the ranch and learned to team rope. One of his team roping partners was his former teacher, Quentin Louden. For several years they competed at rodeos. At that time team roping was known as “hard and fast.” For many years during the summer the Rayhill arena was open on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Everyone was welcome; all you needed to do was show up. He especially enjoyed working with the young cowboys and girls teaching them to rope and steer wrestle. His involvement with area youth was evident in his sponsorship work. Rodney and Fred Cozad sponsored the first State High School girl’s breakaway saddle from the Martin area. He continued getting sponsors for that saddle for many years until it was taken over by another party. He also sponsored the SDRA ladies breakaway saddle.
Rodney’s personal sports career is decorated with many accomplishments and records. But, he would rather visit about the accomplishments of the children he mentored, including his own, who became champions at Little Britches, high school and intercollegiate levels. He is very proud of the fact that all of his children went to college on rodeo scholarships. His guidance helped produce three Regional College Championships and many College National Finals qualifications. Kayla also had a basketball scholarship.
Rodney was a member of the Central School board for several years serving part of that time as chairman. He also served on the Bennett County Fair Board and as an elder of New Hope Church. He belongs to the Rosebud Angus Association and has a lifetime membership to The American Angus Association.
Rodney and LaWanda continue to live and work on the ranch west of Martin. Retirement is not a word in his vocabulary; he stays very active on the ranch, although he does make time to attend almost all of the various (and many) sporting events of his eleven grandchildren. Three of these grandchildren are presently attending college on scholarships. Aaron Olson at Black Hills for football, Ariana Olson at Southwestern Oklahoma State for volleyball and academics and Kaitlyn Rayhill at SDSU for academics. Oldest granddaughter, Jessi Rayhill has graduated from Baylor University, where she had a presidential scholarship and played on Baylor’s club volleyball traveling team.
Coach Dale Brooks
Coach Dale Brooks went to school in Philip, South Dakota, where he participated in football, basketball, and track during his four years in high school. He was All Conference and All West River in football. He was All Conference and All State his senior year in basketball.
After he Graduated in 1959 he attended Huron College on an athletic scholarship. He played football and basketball. During his sophomore year he started on the football team and played on the varsity team in basketball.
After working on his family ranch for a year and a half he returned to college, this time transferring to Black Hills State on a football and baseball scholarship. He played football and baseball for Black Hills State for two years. He was an All Conference player his senior year and led the conference with 16 touchdowns. He was also a pitcher in baseball during that time.
He married Ellen in 1965. They moved back to the ranch for a year then moved to Spearfish where he completed his degree in education. He taught in Kadoka for the spring semester in 1968. That fall he accepted a teaching and coaching position at Bennett County High School. He has always felt this was one of the best decisions of his life. He and his wife thoroughly enjoyed the people and the community during the six years they lived in Martin.
In Martin he was the head football coach and his record was 41 wins and 13 losses. He feels he was blessed with exceptional athletes because during those last 3 years he had 26 wins and 1 loss. During those six years the Warriors won 3 Conference championships, one 2nd place and one 3rd place in football.
He was head basketball coach in 1974 and had a record of 26 wins and 3 losses. The Warriors won the Regional and went on to play in the State Basketball tournament. He was also head track coach that year and his team took 4th in the State Track Meet.
He moved to Sturgis in the fall of 1974 where his three daughters, Vicki, Kristi and Laura, grew up and were themselves active in athletics. Something unique: They were all married on the same day. The girls all eventually received teaching degrees … 2 of them are currently teaching in Sturgis and the other is a real estate agent in Spearfish.
Dale and Ellen have 10 grandchildren, all living close by which keeps them busy attending their athletic events.
Dale retired in 1997 after 29 years in coaching. He and his wife have spent the winters in southern Texas for the last 5 years where Dale plays golf and pool.
Abby Kratovil O'Neill
Abby Kratovil O’Neill, a 2006 graduate of Bennett County High School, participated in varsity track for 6 years, varsity volleyball for 5 years, and varsity basketball for 4 years.
Abby started on the varsity volleyball team as an 8th grader through her Senior year. She was named to the All Conference Teams throughout her high school career. Her team made it to the State Tournament every year. Her 8th grade year, they finished 8th; Freshman year, 7th; Sophomore year 7th; her Junior year, 7th; and her Senior year, they were consolation champs, placing 5th.
She was named to the All-Tournament team 3 out of the 6 years at the State A Volleyball tournament and was named to the All State honorable mention her Sophomore year, 2nd team her Junior year, and 1st team her Senior year.
Abby also competed in Track from 7th grade to her Senior year. She made it to state her 8th grade year to her Senior year. Her Junior year, she placed 3rd in the Discus at state, claiming the Bennett County school record with a throw of 129’. She also placed 4th in the Shot Put with a throw of 40’5.25, also claiming the school record in Shot Put, which her mother also held in 1975.
Abby was named to the basketball Three Rivers Conference 1st team her Sophomore, Junior and Senior year; Badlands Conference her Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior year. Her Senior year, her team placed 5th at the State tournament. She was named to the All State 2nd team her Junior year, and 1st team All-State her Senior year.
She participated in the All Star 3 Class Shoot Out and Nebraska vs. South Dakota All Star game and was MVP of both games. She was a Miss Basketball nominee, and an Elite 15 winner. Her Senior year she averaged 18.8 points per game and 14 rebounds and had 20 double doubles. She had a total of 1,003 rebounds and 1,774 points in her four year career.
Abby was awarded the Warrior award as a Senior; she went on to play Division 1 basketball at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. She had a very memorable and successful year as a Freshman, getting to travel to many places to play against big time teams, and made amazing friends along the way. She played one year at SDSU and decided to move back to Bennett County and marry the love of her life, James O’Neill, also an outstanding athlete from Bennett County. They got married in 2007 and now have 4 kids, Rush 4, Reagan 3, Peyson 2, and Jade 5 months. They live east of Martin about 30 miles, where James farms and ranches with his dad and grandpa.
Mike Buckles attended Bennett County High School from 1968-72. He earned 10 letters, 4 in basketball and 3 each in football and track.
Mike was recognized as the Outstanding Freshman Basketball Player in 1968-69.
He earned All-Conference in football and basketball and was a two time state qualifier in track and field.
He was recognized as the Outstanding Football Player in 1971-72.
Mike still holds the school record for longest punt return, 82 yards, vs Ft. Pierre during their unbeaten season of 1971.
He was named to the fourth team All State Basketball team as a Senior.
The football team his Senior year was 9-0 and Conference champions. The basketball team his Senior year was 20-3 and Conference champions. The track team his senior year finished 3rd at the Region meet.
He attended Huron College from 1972-76 and lettered in football 4 years and participated in basketball 2 years. He was selected as Tri-Captain his Senior year and was an Honorable Mention All Conference selection as a defensive back.
He is married to Kim (Risse), a 4 year state track qualifier, and they have two sons, Jason, 32, and Tigh, 29.
He is entering his 36th year of coaching and teaching.
His coaching career includes: 222 wins and 4 state qualifying basketball teams (1979, 1983, 1993, 1999); 50 football wins highlighted with the 1976 Ipswich, S.D., Tigers going 7-1 and earning a #5 Class B rating, and O’Neill High in 1988 and Sidney High in 1993, both reaching the semi-finals of the Class B playoffs in Nebraska; He coached track and field for 18 years with 14 state qualifiers and 8 conference champions in the long jump and triple jump events.
His personal highlight of a now 36 year career was being able to coach his two sons who were both All Conference selections in basketball, and Jason was a 1st Team All State selection. Both helped Broken Bow, Neb., qualify for the state tournament for the first time in 20 years in 1999.
Norm grew up in Dupree, S.D., where he graduated from high school. After graduating, he spent the next 10 years working various jobs, attending college and serving in the Army for two years, and finally graduating from Black Hills State in 1960.
His first teaching stint was at Kadoka, for eight years, then at Reliance for one year. He came to Bennett County High School in the Fall of 1970 and spent 24 years teaching science and mathematics courses.
He quickly became involved operating the scoreboard for home games. On the road, his role was keeping the scorebook for basketball games. He did not do the scorebook after 1994.
When wrestling and volleyball became established, he ran the scoreboard for them but was not regular because of conflicts with other sports. After the switch of seasons in 2002, he regularly kept the scoreboard for girls basketball and volleyball.
In addition to varsity games, Norm has timed many JV games, C games and Junior High games in their sports. He has also timed at a number of track meets.
Norm continues to attend most varsity events, both home and away.
Michelle (Olson) Mikkelsen was a three sport athlete while attending Bennett County High School. In basketball, she was a four year letter winner. She was a member of the 1985 State Consolation Championship team and the 1986 State Championship team. In 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988, the Lady Warriors captured the Badlands Conference titles in which she was a part of. In 1987 and 1988, Michelle made the Badlands All-Conference Team, was Team Co-Captain, Team Co-MVP, and her senior year led the team in most points, steals, and tied in assists.
As a four year letter winner in volleyball, Michelle was a member of the 1987 State Runner-up team and the 1988 State 6th place team. At the 1988 State tournament, she received All-State tournament honorable mention honors. She was awarded in 1989 West River All-Conference, Team MVP, and Team Top Spiker.
In Track, Michelle was a six year letter winner. She joined the Century Club four times and scored 710.5 points over her career. She was a member of the 1986 State Championship team. In 1989, she placed at the State meet in the triple jump. At the end of her senior year, Michelle held the 100 meter hurdle and triple jump school records. She also ran a leg of the Medley Relay whose record time still stands.
She was the recipient of the 1989 Warrior Award and the US Army Scholar Athlete Award. Upon graduating valedictorian in 1989, Michelle attended Dakota Wesleyan University where she continued her love of sport. She participated in Cross Country one year, Volleyball for three years, and Track and Field four years.
She was a member of the SDIC Championship volleyball team that went 10-0 in conference play both in 1989 and 1990. In 1989, their volleyball team was named the South Dakota Sportswriters Association College Team of the Year. They also qualified for the 1990 NAIA National Volleyball Tournament for the first time in DWU history.
From 1990-1993, she and her teammates were the women’s SDIC Outdoor Track and Field Runners-up. She was the SDIC 400 hurdle Champion in 1992 and the SDIC Long Jump Champion in 1993. In 1993, she qualified for the NAIA National Indoor meet in the triple jump and the NAIA National Outdoor meet in the long jump. She was awarded DWU women’s track and field MVP all four years.
Michelle was the recipient of the KMIT Scholar Athlete award and became an NAIA All American Scholar Athlete in track and field. During her college career, she set 9 Indoor (4 individual and 5 relay) and 8 Outdoor (5 individual and 3 relay) records.
In 1993, Michelle graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Business Administration with Accounting and Mathematics. She currently lives in Pierre, S.D., with her husband, Kelly, and their two children, Ryan (15), and Emily (12). She is a Certified Retirement Counselor and works for the South Dakota Retirement System as the Assistant Finance Officer. She is a board member of the S.D. Chapter of the Association of Governmental Accountants, an active member of the First United Methodist Church, the Pierre Area Running Club, and is a past member of the Pierre School District Sports Marketing Committee. She has coached in many youth basketball and soccer programs. She continues her passion of running and has completed numerous 5k, 10k, half-marathons, full marathon, and triathlons.
Bob King (deceased)
Bob King was a 1962 graduate of Bennett County High School, excelling at several sports. In football, Bob was week in and week out, one of the team leaders on both sides of the ball. He was named the Outstanding Player of the Game several times in football. On Oct. 5, 1961, against the Provo Panthers, he rushed for 194 yards on 12 carries, including a 46 yard touchdown run in a 13-0 win.
In track, Bob set several school records and several meet records. He set school records in the low hurdles with a 22.5 time; 220 yard dash with a 23.9; 100 yard dash with a 10.3 and was on the Mile Relay team that set the school record with a time of 3:45.5. On that relay team with Bob were Skip Stanec, Bob Vickrey and Jim Mulkey.
He was one of the first Bennett County High School runners to qualify for state when competing against the Class A schools, which included Rapid City. He placed first in the low hurdles, second in the 220 and forth in the 100 in the Class A Region meet.
He lettered in football, basketball and track.
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