The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Steve Heidenreich - Inducted 2016

The 1971 Watertown High grad is the greatest miler that South Dakota has ever produced, breaking the 4-minute barrier eight times. He is a member of the Watertown High, Indiana University and Howard Wood Dakota Relays halls of fame.

In high school, he was a two-time state champ in the mile run and medley relay and set state records in the mile (4:11.2) and 2-mile relay (7:55.1). He finished second in the mile (4:11.8) at a national prep meet near Chicago on June 12, 1971.

At Indiana University, he won six straight cross country meets in 1972, setting course records in five. In 1974, he placed sixth in the mile at the NCAA outdoor meet. Heidenreich also anchored the Indiana 4-mile relay team to a world indoor record in 1974. In 1975, he ran several sub-4 minute miles. That year he was Big Ten mile champion and finished fourth at the NCAA meet. In the USA vs. Africa meet in Cleveland, he won the mile in a career-best time of 3:58.4 (with a blazing 54-second last lap). In Prague, Czechoslovakia, he ran a 3:38.8 in the 1,500 (equivalent to a 3:55.0 mile) in placing second. At the World University Games in Rome, he placed second in the 1,500. In 1976, he was the first Big Ten runner to run a 4-minute mile indoors.

In 1976 the 5-foot-10, 130-pounder was ranked fourth in the U.S. in the 1,500. He was a top candidate to make the 1976 Olympic team before a near-fatal hit-and-run accident while he was training. Following the accident, the neurosurgeon gave him a 5 percent chance of surviving with little hope of ever recovering beyond a vegetative state. In spite of these poor odds, Heidenreich completed a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Science in Health Administration and Master's in Education specializing in special education. He also trained for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Heidenreich taught and coached several successful high school cross country and track athletes in Colorado, Texas and South Dakota. Currently he travels the country sharing his inspirational story with future Olympians, college and high school students, athletes and businesses. He also presents Yoga for Runners workshops and teaches yoga to traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress survivors.


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