South Dakota has a long history of producing outstanding all-around athletes who demonstrate the ability to master more than one sport. Throughout the decades there have been many who have worn multiple uniforms, depending on the sport in season, and have proven able to excel in all of their varied athletic endeavors.
Sixty-five years ago, after the 1959 school year had ended, the list of South Dakota’s all-time state records in high school and college track and field revealed a talented group of multi-sport athletes, several whose names still resonate today.
Some of those track record holders in 1959 were destined in later years to be inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jim Tays cleared 6 feet, 3 inches at a meet in 1949 to set the state high school record in the high jump that still stood in 1959. He graduated from Gettysburg in 1950 and then attended the University of South Dakota. Competing in both basketball and track, Tays (in the USD photo at right) starred for the Coyotes in both sports. He was all-North Central Conference in basketball and he set a state college record of 6-4 in the high jump in 1954. Tays was inducted into the SDBBHOF in 2015.
Rex Swett led Huron to the championship of the State Class A Basketball Tournament as a senior in 1958 before becoming a basketball and baseball stalwart at the University of Nebraska. He placed his name in the state high school track record book when he clocked a time of 21.9 seconds in the 220-yard dash in 1957. Swett was inducted into the SDBBHOF as part of the inaugural class in 2010.
Garney Henley starred in basketball, football and track at Hayti before graduating in 1955. He continued his multi-sport career at Huron College, setting a state college record of 24.4 seconds in the 220-yard hurdles in 1959, before a career in the Canadian Football League. Henley was inducted into the SDBBHOF in 2013.