A longtime coach and four athletes — three of which made their impact in the 1990s — will join the Yankton High School Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Thursday.
Matt Althoff (Class of 1993), Tom Brewer (Class of 1957), Chris Johnson (Class of 1994), Ginger Larsen (Coach 1980-2013) and Heather (Nelson) Olson (Class of 1999) will be inducted into Hall of Fame during an event Thursday at the YHS Commons. The event will begin at 5 p.m.
The Hall of Fame induction is part of homecoming week festivities, culminating in the Pioneer Day football game with Sioux Falls Roosevelt on Friday at 7 p.m.
Here is a look at the honorees:
One of the top distance runners in Yankton Bucks history, Matt Althoff was a part of three state team titles and five ESD team titles at YHS.
In cross country, Althoff finished second in the state three times, helping the Bucks to the state title in 1991. He also was a part of ESD titles in 1991 and 1992.
On the track, he helped the Bucks to state titles in 1992 and 1993, with the 1993 title being one of the most dominant victories in state history at the time. He was a three-time individual state champion, winning the 3200-meter run in 1991 and 1993, and the 1600 in 1992. He also won a combined seven ESD titles in those two races, including a sweep in 1991-93.
Althoff left a lasting impact on the Yankton distance scene. As part of his Eagle Scout project, he completed the “horse trails,” later the Chalk Bluffs Multi-Use Trail. Those trails continue to be a training ground for Yankton distance runners.
After leaving YHS, Althoff went on to earn seven Monograms (letters) at the University of Notre Dame. He was a four-time competitor in the NCAA Cross Country meet, and served as a team captain for the Irish in 1996 and 1997 (track), as well as for the 1996 cross country team.
He coached St. Joseph Academy (Brownsville, Texas) to two state championships. Married with seven children, Althoff now serves as Chancellor for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.
A standout football player for the Yankton Bucks, Brewer’s career continued with the help of two individuals who intervened on his behalf. According to Brewer, Yankton Coach Don Allen and Gene Anderson sent game film of Brewer to Col. Earl “Red” Blaik at West Point.
At West Point, Brewer played with five All-Americans, including 1958 Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins.
Brewer continued in the military, retiring after Operation Desert Storm as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In 33 years in the Yankton School District, Ginger Larsen coached several Yankton girls’ sport at many different levels.
Larsen served as the first head coach in the history of the Yankton High School volleyball program, leading the program to a 206-122 record, including the program’s first two ESD titles (1997, 1998). Under her leadership, the Gazelles finished second in the state twice — as well as two third place and two fourth place finishes — and had just two losing seasons.
Her volleyball players earned 11 all-state, 11 all-state tournament and nine all-ESD honors, including the 1998 Miss Volleyball (Shari Johnson).
Larsen also served as an assistant coach for four Yankton state titles in girls’ basketball and three in track and field. Her other coaching duties have also included three years as head girls’ tennis coach, serving as co-coach for cheerleading and for fifth and sixth grade girls’ basketball. She also was the co-director of Yankton’s intramural program before that was cut for budgetary reasons in 2012.
Larsen retired from teaching and coaching in 2013.
Larsen graduated from South Dakota State University in 1980, where she was a four-year member of the women’s basketball team. She earned her master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in 1990.
A three-sport standout at YHS, Johnson’s impact was most felt in football and track.
On the track, Johnson helped lead the Bucks to state championships in 1992 and 1993, and a runner-up finish in 1991. The Bucks won the Eastern South Dakota Conference (ESD) title all three of those years.
A sprinter, Johnson was the two-time ESD champion in the 400-meter dash, setting the then-school record in 1993 (50.3, now ranks fifth). He ran on the 800 (1:28.5) and 1600 (3:23.0) relays that still hold YHS school records, as well as the then-state record in the 800 relay. He was a part of three state championship relays, the 800 relay twice (1993 and 1994), and the 1600 relay in 1993.
On the football field, Johnson was a three-year starter at both cornerback and quarterback, leading the Bucks to an ESD title and undefeated regular season in 1992, a season in which he tied the school record for touchdown passes in a season. An All-State and Academic All-State honoree in 1993, Johnson still ranks among the Bucks’ career passing leaders with 1,280 yards.
Also a standout basketball player, the two-time letterwinner helped the Bucks to two state tournament appearances.
Johnson continued his football career at Augustana, starting for four seasons at safety for the Vikings. He earned all-North Central Conference honors in 1996 and led Augustana in unassisted tackles in 1998.
Now married with three daughters, Johnson is an anesthesiologist, living in Kalispell, Montana.
A three-sport standout who shined in all three seasons, Olson was a true all-around athlete.
On the track, Olson was the 1996 state champion in the long jump. She remains as the school record holder in that event (18-2), as well as ranked among the top Gazelles all-time in the 100 (12.39) and 200 (26.6).
Olson was a two-time All-State selection in volleyball, helping the Gazelles to ESD titles in 1997 and 1998. She remains as the program’s all-time leader in blocks (330), ranking sixth all-time in kills (725). An all-State Tournament selection in 1999, she set a then-state tournament record for blocks in a match during the 1998 tournament.
On the basketball court, Olson helped lead the Gazelles to ESD titles in 1996 and 1997, as well as a state title in 1996. An all-state selection in 1997 and 1998, she was the 1998 Spirit of Su winner in Class AA, as well as a Miss Basketball finalist. She remains among Yankton’s career leaders in scoring (4th, 990) and rebounding (6th, 421).
Her basketball career continued at the University of South Dakota. She was inducted into their athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.
After beginning her teaching and coaching career in Watertown in 2004, Olson returned to Yankton in 2007. In 2014, she gave up coaching and became an assistant principal at Yankton Middle School.