Seniors Sawyer Stevens & Hailey Freidel were named Mr. And Miss Dakota last Saturday in the Dakota Dome at the 104th Dakota Days football game.
Stevens is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha and president of both the Epsilon Zeta chapter of the Order of Omega and Coyote Crazies. He said that the most important thing to him throughout his time at the USD and especially through this past week has been the support of his fellow students.
“I feel very honored and grateful to have the support of both the student body and staff at the University of South Dakota,” Stevens said. “I love this school and the people here and to be named Mr. Dakota Days is something I will never forget.”
Dom McClendon, junior music education major and member of Pi Kappa Alpha with Stevens, said he thinks Stevens had the qualities to be Mr. Dakota.
“From the time I’ve known Sawyer here at USD he has just always had a positive impact on anyone he meets,” McClendon said.
Freidel is a senior majoring in international studies and was nominated for Dakota Days royalty by the cheer team. She said she didn’t expect the nomination, let alone the crown for Miss Dakota.
“I couldn’t stop shaking even after they announced me…my body was not doing well with the override of emotions,” Freidel said. “It was just kind of surreal; it didn’t feel like it was actually happening.”
Michaela Goldammer, member of Pi Beta Phi with Freidel, said she thinks Freidel deserved to be Miss Dakota because of how much she loves the community.
“She loves the university and when she studied abroad last semester, there were times you could tell she was super homesick because she loves USD and she loves Vermillion,” Goldammer said. “I think that what made her the best candidate is her strong passion and love for Vermillion as a whole.”
The next day Freidel took to Instagram to share part of her Miss Dakota application essay and how much the title meant to her.
“My father, a USD football coach, was injured in a ranching accident just before fall camp in 2006. The response from the Coyote community was overwhelming… I know I am not able to repay every single person on campus who helped us during our time of need, but I am able to put my immense pride into this institution to mold it to be better for the future generations of Coyotes.”
Katelyn Ryan, head of the royalty committee for the Dakota Days Executive Board, said the royalty process begins with the nomination of two students by any organization on campus.
“From there, we get their headshots and we open up voting to the student body and they pick our top fourteen,” Ryan said.
The announcement was during halftime of the homecoming game against Missouri State. Previous to the reveal, each of the fourteen finalists were interviewed by a panel of judges comprised of USD faculty.