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DeSmet’s winning tradition continues for each generation of Bulldogs

Top-ranked Bulldogs inspired by so many banners in the gym
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 12:08 AM CST
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DESMET, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The top-ranked DeSmet Bulldogs almost won the state “B” title 2 years ago. And last year their championship dreams were dashed by COVID.

This year, they have another team that has really made the community proud. But that’s nothing new. Check out all the familiar names.

Head coach Jeff Gruenhagen played on a championship team himself in 1987. And as Photojournalist Dave Hauck tells us, these Bulldogs are just keeping up the winning tradition in a community that has see plenty of excellence over the years.

Jeff Gruenhagen, DeSmet Boys BB Coach says, “We started out really good at the beginning of the year. St. Mary’s came up here and the guys came out of the gate right away playing great defense and getting right after it. And now we’ve played like the top 6 teams in Class “B” already and lucky enough to win all of those games.”

Kalen Garry, DeSmet All-Time Leading Scorer says,”It definitely puts a chip on our shoulder. But it’s over, it happens, the pandemic and stuff. But we’re just really focused on this year to win out and get the first seed and make it to the state tournament.”

Ethan McCune, DeSmet Senior says, “My dad was part of that ’99 team and that was probably one of the best teams in DeSmet history. Every day my grandpa talks about all the stories. And then my sophomore year was pretty cool. We had the ’99 team come to the state tournament and just talking to those guys inspired us to be better.”

Jeff says, “With Marv being around and he was my coach in high school, they get the history of it and we tell them how hard it was with such competitive games with nearby teams that every night they had to go out and get busy and get after it. You can be a part of that winning tradition by playing hard and playing together and win games.”

Kalen says, “We went into the weight room one day with our assistant coach Dustin Olson and he put up our goals on the white board and most everyone’s goals were to win a state tournament and put up a legacy. Leave a legacy.”

Ethan says, “George Mollner, he’s a good friend of my dad and he comes hunting with us all the time. He always talks about how bright of a future we have and what we can do.”

Jeff says, “That’s why I say we don’t have a ton of 1,000 point scorers. Our list isn’t really long at DeSmet because everybody got 500. It’s just more of a balanced attack every year.”

Kalen says, “Individual records are nice but it’s always we over me. I definitely want to do it for the team and put a banner up on the wall.”

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