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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who is Nathan Hancock?

Nathan Hancock is a two-sport athlete at Minnesota State.

Nathan Hancock is one of those rare athletes that most schools would love to have. The junior from Independence, Mo., is a two-sport athlete at Minnesota State, playing safety for the football team as well as competing in the multi-events for the Maverick track and field team.

Not only does he participate in both sports, he excels in both.

As his high school career came to an end, he wanted to find a school where he could compete in both sports. Most schools he was considering would not allow him to play both and since football was his first love, he chose to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha to play football. After redshirting his first year at UNO, the football program was cut.

That is when Hancock looked to Minnesota State and what it had to offer. After coming to Mankato for a visit, he loved the school and got the offer he was looking for. The Mavericks would allow him to play both sports. Allowing athletes to compete in two sports is nothing new for MSU. Three of Hancock’s teammates, Keyvan Rudd, Bryan Caffin, and Chris Reed are part of the track and field and football teams as well.

It seems to have worked out pretty well for both parties involved. Hancock just finished up one of his best seasons for the MSU track and field team. At the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Multi Championship, he was crowned champion for the second straight year in the heptathlon compiling 5,030 points after battling through a hamstring injury throughout the two-day meet. Going into the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships his goal was to finish within the top three in the heptathlon. He met this goal as he finished second totaling a school record 5,449 points, surpassing his own school record and earning his third All-American honor in the event. He was also part of the All-American 4x400-meter relay team that finished in eighth place at the championships. As a team, the Purple and Gold had its best finish in 22 years claiming fourth place with 38 points.

Looking ahead to the outdoor season Hancock is planning to compete in the decathlon at 100 percent for the first time. The past two seasons he has had to battle through injury and hasn’t been able to compete to the best of his abilities.

After asking him what the biggest difference between is between the decathlon and heptathlon Hancock stated, “You have to have the endurance to get through 10 events in the decathlon compared to the heptathlon which is only seven events. The decathlon is a little more taxing on the body and you have to be able to recover quickly.”

Hancock is no slouch on the gridiron. In 2013 he started in 11 games for a football team that finished the regular season undefeated and made its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. He was named NSIC South Division First Team All-Conference finishing with 46 tackles and five interceptions.

Throughout his career at MSU, Hancock has had a lot of great accomplishments. I asked him what his favorite moment as a Maverick has been so far and he stated, “It has to be the last national meet. My goal was to finish in the top three and to come in second was a great accomplishment. Also to be part of the 4x400-meter relay team to give us that one point in the last race of the meet to help us finish fourth and get that trophy was a great

Hancock still has two more seasons of eligibility for outdoor track and field and one season for indoor track and field. He also has one year of eligibility left for football. Hopefully the best is yet to come in what has already been a pretty great career.

It’s great to be a Maverick!

By: Paul Stenzel, Athletic Communications Graduate Intern

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Updating the list

Minnesota State's beautiful Taylor Center will host the
2014 NCAA DII men's basketball Central Regional
Local college sports fans are in for a treat this weekend with Minnesota State hosting the Men's Basketball NCAA Division II Central Regional and a first round Western Collegiate Hockey Association play-off series.

For basketball, that means an additional seven games of postseason action in Taylor Center with four regional quarterfinal games Saturday, a pair of semi-final games Sunday and a championship game Tuesday.  Teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Great American Conference (GAC) make up the Central Region and in addition to ninth-rated Minnesota State (NSIC) taking on Harding (GAC), the other three first-round games include Missouri Southern (MIAA) vs. Fort Hays State (MIAA), Central Missouri (MIAA) vs. Arkansas Tech (GAC) and Winona State (NSIC) vs. Northwest Missouri State (MIAA).  The regional champion advances to the NCAA DII Elite Eight championship tournament, which is slated for March 26-29 in Evansville, Indiana.

The Mavericks, who stand 29-4 on the year, are hosting the regional tournament for the fourth time in the last five years.

The Minnesota State men's hockey team, meanwhile, squares off against Northern Michigan in a best-of-three series beginning Frtiday with the hopes of advancing to the WCHA Final Five. The winner of the league post-season tournament gets the league's auto-bid to the NCAA tournament.  The Mavericks, who enter this weekend with a 22-13-1 overall record and have fashioned a nine-game unbeaten streak, finished second in the league regular-season standings.

Minnesota State is the only school in the country hosting the unique NCAA DII men's basketball regional/men's hockey league play-off series this weekend, but hosting postseason events is nothing new for the Mavericks.  We've blogged a little on this in the past, but have added a few events to this burgeoning list.

Events Hosted by Minnesota State Athletics
Year    Event               
1984    NCC Baseball Tournament
1986    NCC Baseball Tournament
1988    NCAA DII Baseball Midwest Regional
1989    NCAA DII Softball Midwest Regional
1990     NCC Baseball Tournament
1994    NCAA DII Wrestling Regional/NCC Championship
1998    NCC Baseball Tournament
1999    NCC Baseball Tournament
2001    NCC Baseball Tournament
2003    WCHA Play-Offs First Round
2003    NCC Softball Tournament
2004    NCAA DII Wrestling National Championships
2006    NCC Baseball Tournament
2008    NCAA DII Wrestling Central Regional
2008    NCC Indoor Track & Field Championships
2008    NCAA DII Indoor Track & Field Championships
2008    WCHA Play-Offs First Round
2008     NCAA DII Softball Central Regional
2009    NCAA DII Women’s Basketball Central Regional
2010    NCAA DII Men’s Basketball Central Regional
2010    NSIC Indoor Track & Field Championships
2011    NSIC Women’s Soccer Tournament
2011    NSIC Baseball Tournament
2011    NCAA DII Men’s Basketball Central Regional
2011    NCAA DII Softball Central SubRegional
2012    NSIC Indoor Track & Field Championships
2012    NCAA DII Indoor Track & Field Championships
2012    NSIC Baseball Tournament
2012    NCAA DII Softball Central SubRegional
2012    NCAA DII Baseball Central Regional
2012    NSIC Women’s Soccer Tournament
2012    NCAA DII Football Second Round Game
2012    NCAA DII Football Quarterfinal Game
2012    NCAA SII Football Semifinal Game
2012    NCAA DII Women’s Soccer Central Regional
2013    WCHA Play-Offs First Round
2013    NCAA DII Men’s Basketball Central Regional
2013    NCAA DII Softball Central SubRegional
2013    NCAA DII Baseball Central Regional
2013    NCAA DII Football Second Round Game
2014    NCAA DII Men’s Basketball Central Regional
2014    WCHA Play-Offs First Round

It's great to be a Maverick.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Minnesota State's Olympic Trio

Former Minnesota State captain David Backes has a word with
a linesman during a Team USA game vs. Slovakia at the 2014
Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia
Looking back on the 2010 Winter Olympics, it all seems so easy now.
A pair of former Maverick hockey players returned from Vancouver with hardware with David Backes and his Team USA teammates earning silver and Nina Tikkinen a bronze as she helped Finland to a win over Sweden in the women's third-place game.  One of Tikkinen's MSU teammates, Emilia Andersson, was a member of the Swedish team that finished fourth.

This time around, in Sochi, things ended up a little different.  The U.S. men fell to Canada in a 1-0 semi-final game before losing to Finland in the bronze medal game.  For the second Olympics in a row Andersson and Team Sweden played for a bronze medal in the women's tournament.  But in 2014 the opponent was Switzerland and this time around it was the Swiss that went home with medals around their necks.

In all Backes played in six games in Sochi and had three goals and an assist for four points.  Andersson played in six games while recording one assist and was +2. Tikkinen played in six games and did not record a point while putting three shots on goal.

The trio share something rare in that they are the only Mavericks to have pariticpated in an Olympic Games, winter or summer.  And all three have done it twice.  

And while Backes may not have returned home with a medal this time, he did return home with something else

It's great to be a Maverick.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Two-Sporters - Modern Era

Minnesota State's Chris Reed plays two sports for the Mavericks
Are you aware of what Minnesota State's Chris Reed has done lately?

Let us enlighten you. The past three weekends, the senior from Omaha, Neb., has worked on building his legacy as the greatest thrower in the school's lengthy track & field history.

This past Saturday Reed broke his own NCAA Division II indoor record in the shot put at the MSU Multi and Open, throwing it 65' 10.25" on his third attempt.  The distance surpassed his old record of 65' 5.5" which he set at the Jack Johnson Classic just a week earlier. He was named an unprecedented USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week for the third consecutive time.

Reed, who was named USTFCCA Central Region Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year last spring, tossed the shot a school record 65’-7” in winning the 2013 national NCAA Division II outdoor title in becoming the fifth Maverick to win a national championship in an outdoor event. He also finished seventh and established a school record in the hammer and was seventh in the discus in earning All-America honors at the event.  This came after he finished second nationally in the shot and fourth in the weight throw at the 2013 NCAA DII Indoor national championships.

He owns school records in both indoor disciplines (weight throw and shot) and two out of three of the outdoor events (shot and hammer throw).  Mike Yonkey established the school discus record of 182 ' 4" in 1988. Yonkey, by the way, was a member of the Maverick football team.

Did we mention that Reed, not unlike Yonkey, also starts on the offensive line for the Maverick football team?  Yes, the one that went 12-1 this past fall and hosted a NCAA second round game at Blakeslee Stadium.

Reed's a rarity nowadays as there aren't many student-athletes that can do two sports.  And especially as well as Reed does.  He does have company right now, though, in that fellow footballers Keyvan Rudd and Nathan Hancock are also tracksters. But it is indeed something that doesn't happen a lot nowadays.

Off the top of our heads, below is partial list in the last few decades of Minnesota State student-athletes who were able to accomplish this challenging feat. Please note - obviously we realize this list is incomplete.  Also the list contains names of Mavericks who played two sports at the same time and does not include those that joined a team following the end of their careers in another sport.

Chris Reed (football, track & field, 2011-present)
Keyvan Rudd (football, track & field, 2010 - present)
Nathan Hancock (football, track & field, 2011 - present) 
Sidni Trotter (soccer, women's basketball, 2013 - present) 
Jenna Peterson (women's hockey, softball, 2008-2012) 
Kelvin Rodgers (football, track & field, 2006-09)
Ben King (football, baseball, 2003-07) 
Michael Lawrence (track & field, football, 2001-05) 
Donnell Bowyer (football, baseball, 2001-03) 
Jared Ziemke (football, men's basketball, 1999-2003)
Ryan Dutton (football, baseball, 1997-2001) 
Tywan Mitchell (football, men's basketball, 1995-98) 
Reggie Patterson (football, track & field, 1995-97) 
Lester Mitchell (men's basketball, track & field, 1989-93) 
Monte Dufault (men's basketball, baseball, 1988-93) 
Nancy Kelly (volleyball, softball, 1985-89) 
Luonna Van Meveryn (volleyball, track & field, 1984-88) 
Mike Yonkey (football, track & field, 1987-89) 
Joel Nielsen (football, baseball, 1984-85) 
Mike Carroll (men's hockey, baseball, 1975-80) 
Gene Glynn (men's basketball, baseball, 1975-79)

It's great to be a Maverick.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lots Left in the Tank

Minnesota State's basketball teams are looking forward
to hosting postseason games in Taylor Center
What's in store, you ask?

Well, given the fact that we still have another month's worth of men's and women's basketball left in the regular season, ten men's hockey regular-season games, six women's hockey games, four wrestling duals and three weekend's worth of the indoor track & field season, the answer is lots.

The only Minnesota State winter sports program that has completed its regular season is women's swimming.  The Mavericks are tapering toward the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference meet scheduled for Feb. 6-9 in Rochester.

The other winter sports, meanwhile, are in stretch drives, jockeying for position in conference standings and preparing for NCAA postseason competition, as well.

Unless something unexpected happens, both the men's and women's basketball teams will host NSIC postseason first-round games Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Taylor Center.  The NSIC basketball championship round is slated for March 1-4 in Sioux Falls. NCAA Central Region tournaments take place the third week of March (March 14-17 for the women and March 15-18 for the men).

If the season were to end now (it doesn't), the Minnesota State men's hockey team would host a first-round best-of-three WCHA play-off series March 14-16. This year's WCHA Final Five is in Grand Rapids, Mich., March 21-22 with NCAA regional action scheduled for March 28-30.

The NSIC indoor track & field championship meet, which MSU has hosted three times in the last four years (2010, 2012 and 2013), takes place in Bemidji this year Feb. 28-March 1. This year's NCAA indoor championship is March 14-15 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The NCAA DII Wrestling Central Super Region is in Edmond, Okla., March 1-2 and the national meet is March 14-15 in Cleveland, Ohio.

And so it goes and eventually the temperatures will rise and the snow will dissipate.

Minnesota State's women's tennis program takes on Southwest Minnesota State Feb. 2 in St. Peter. The Maverick Softball squad kicks its season off with six games Feb. 14-16 in Bentonville, Mo., and the #1-rated Maverick Baseball program opens its 2014 campaign March 8-9 with four nonconference games in Monticello, Ark.  Our golf teams aren't too far behind.

Think warm thoughts. It's great to be a Maverick.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Preparing for Outdoor Hockey

The patches Minnesota State will wear for the 2014 Hockey City Classic. 

Outdoor hockey is all the rage right now as evidenced by the 15 men’s and women’s NCAA Division I games that have been played at venues like Fenway Park in Boston and Comerica Park in Detroit this season. Over 105,000 spectators turned out for the National Hockey League’s annual Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit on New Year’s Day at Michigan Stadium, and five more outdoor affairs remain on the NHL docket this season.

However, there has yet to be an NCAA Division I or NHL contest played outdoors in the State of Hockey. That will change this Friday when the Minnesota State women’s hockey team takes its game outside to take on top-ranked Minnesota as part of the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium. But what does it take to prepare a 22-player roster for outdoor hockey in January?

We sat down with women’s hockey equipment manager Ian Kronberg to find out just that.

With a high of 11 degrees and an 11 mile-per-hour wind forecast for Friday in Minneapolis according to weather.com, one of the first concerns is keeping players warm throughout the game.  Kronberg ordered enough Bauer cold gear - including leggings, long sleeve shirts, and long socks - to fit the team two times over to allow players to change their cold gear between periods if it gets too sweaty. To keep the goaltenders warm, Kronberg must modify the team’s winter hats to allow the fabric to stretch completely over the helmets before using the helmet’s screws on the front and back to ensure it remains in place.

Ice conditions, potential snow, and glare from the sun can also create headaches for Kronberg and the players. With opening faceoff set for 4:37 p.m., plenty of eye black was ordered to help combat the setting sun on the west end of TCF Bank Stadium. The current forecast claims a 0% chance of snow, but on the off chance some flurries are in the air, players who wear a clear facemask may opt to change to a cage instead. However, it will more than likely be ice conditions that will be the biggest adjustment for both sides.

“If it turns out to be soft ice, I'll reduce the sharpening hollow. This means there will be less bite on the edges, but with softer ice that extra bite to the edges isn’t necessary.” said Kronberg. “If the ice is harder, we’ll go for a deeper groove to get a stronger edge. It’s something we’ll get a feel for during practice Thursday evening and pre-game skate Friday morning.” 

Another dynamic about playing at TCF Bank Stadium that can keep an equipment manager up at night is the fact there is no equipment room readily available from the bench. 

“Most of the planning for this game came from thinking about anything and everything that could go wrong during the game, then trying to prepare for that,” Kronberg added. “You try to ensure you’re prepared for everything. But it’s different because if someone breaks a skate, you need to travel halfway across the stadium to the equipment room to fix it.”

Kronberg has an extra set of steel sharpened and ready to go for every player to try and get ahead of this potential problem and will have each player’s two or three extra sticks readily available on the bench as well.  He also ordered skate guards with a reinforced bottom that won’t ruin the blades for the team to wear on the longer than normal walk from the bench to the rink.

 “The intermission times have been increased to 18 minutes from 15 to solve any ice issues so it will be slightly different logistically, but we can’t wait to play outdoor hockey in what should be one of the best atmospheres ever for women’s hockey,” Kronberg stated.

A crowd of 8,263 saw Wisconsin and Bemidji State battle in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic on Feb. 6, 2010 marking the largest in NCAA Division I women’s hockey history. With limited seats available inside the 50,805-seat venue, that record may well fall Friday evening.

By: Luke Steckler, Graduate Assistant Athletic Communications

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pro Hoops - Margenthaler Era

Travis Nelson, now playing professionally in
the Czech Republic with Pardubice, was an
All-American for Minnesota State in 2009-10
The Minnesota State men's basketball teams have averaged more than 21 wins a season and appeared in the NCAA postseason in eight of the last nine years. 

And with the success that our men's basketball program has had under Matt Margenthaler, in which Minnesota State has racked up 254 wins from 2001 through the end of the 2012-13 season, it's no surprise that many student-athletes are getting opportunities to continue playing following their college careers with the Mavericks.

One former Maverick, Jermaine Brown, who played on Margenthaler's first MSU team in 2001-02, just recently retired after six seasons touring with the Harlem Globetrotters. Jamel Staten, who played for Margenthaler from 2003-05, is still at it, having hooped it up in China and now Bahrain. 

Spread out world-wide, several former players have found employment in Europe. There's a couple currently playing in Slovenia and a two others in Luxembourg.  One in Brazil, one in the Dominican Republic, another in Australia and, yes, one in the U.S.

Thought we might take a quick look at where some of these players have ended up after time well spent in Mankato, both retired and current.

Jermaine Brown (2001-03)  Harlem Globetrotters (retired)
Luke Anderson (2002-07) Dnipro (Ukraine), Minn T'Wolves Summer League, D League (retired)
Tony Thomasson (2003-07) Muenchen (Germany) (retired)
Paris Kyles (2005-07) Stalowa (Poland) (retired)
Jamel Staten (2003-05) Beijing Aoshen (China), Monama (Bahrain)
Corey Easley (2005-06) Perry Lakes (Australia)
Atila Santos (2006-08) Palmeiras (Brazil)
Harry Boyce (2008-09) Santiago (Dominican Republic)
Travis Nelson (2008-10) Sentjur (Slovenia), Pardubice (Czech Republic)
Cameron Hodges (2009-11) Red Miners (Luxembourg), Tajifun (Slovenia)
Jefferson Mason (2009-11) Contern (Luxembourg)
Marcus Hill (2007-11) Texas Fuel (ABA)
Jarvis Williams (2012-13) Black Star Mersch (Luxembourg)

Happy Holidays! It's great to be a Maverick.