Welcome to MavBlog!

Welcome to MavBlog • Providing Insite & Information on the Mavericks Since 1985Mankato, Minn.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Maverick Minor League Update

Minnesota State has a pair of former righthanded pitchers and an outfielder on minor league professional rosters this summer.

Bret Mitchell, selected by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 2010 Major League Draft, is on the roster of the Kingsport Mets of the Appalacian League (Rookie).  Kingsports starts its season June 21st.

Chris Odegaard, selected by the Diamondbacks in the 23rd round of the 2009 MLB draft, started the spring with Visalia of the California League (Advanced A), but was recently reassigned to South Bend of the Midwest League (A). Odegaard currently sports a 0-0 record and has a 0.00 earned run average and has eight Ks in 7.2 innings in six appearances with the Silver Hawks.

Mark Dolenc, who is in his sixth season of professional baseball after the Twins took him in the 15th round of the 2006 draft, is playing the outfield for New Britain of the Eastern League (AA).  Dolenc is currently hitting .275 in 40 games with the Rock Cats.

This year's MLB Draft is slated for June 6-7-8.

It's great to be a Maverick!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vaulting To the Top

Athletic Director Kevin Buiman (left) women's track coach
Jen Blue and assistant coach Matt Kolb pose with Lauren Stelten
following her indoor title this past winter.
Some schools are synonymous with producing a certain athlete.  The University of Miami is known as “Running Back U” while Penn State has been called “Linebacker U”. 
In the track world, one can think of Adams State or Western State as the “Birthplace of Distance Runners” at the NCAA Division II level and believe it or not, MSU has quietly become “Pole Vaulters U”.
The Mavericks will look to continue their reign in pole vaulting dominance next weekend as senior pole vaulter Lauren Stelten heads to Turlock, Calif., to participate in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships hosted by Cal State Stanislaus.
A victory for Stelten would mark the school’s eighth national title in the pole vault – indoor or outdoor – since 2004. A victory would also break a tie between Minnesota State and Abilene Christian for the most titles in the pole vault since the event was added to the NCAA DII circuit in 1999. 
The meet for Stelten is also the opportunity to capture an outdoor title that has been just within her reach the last couple of years. 
Stelten – who won this year’s indoor crown – is looking for a  clean sweep as she looks to become the first Maverick to sweep the vault since Katelin Rains did so in 2009.
“I have been a little bit injured this outdoor season,” said Stelten, a native of Colgone, Minn.  “I haven’t been able to get as high as I have wanted to.  I can’t worry about that next weekend though, I just need to go out and do my best. If I win, great.”
But MSU’s dominance in the pole vault doesn’t begin with Stelten, she is simply just a chapter in  a story.
In fact, the first pole vault champion at Minnesota State wasn’t a female, but a member of the men’s track and field team in Charles Zheng who went 16’ 8 ¾” at the national championships.  Zheng’s assistant pole vault coach was a former Maverick, Matt Kolb, who was just cutting his teeth as a track coach.
Fast-forward the clock to 2004.  MSU junior Amanda Frame becomes MSU’s first female to win a national championship as she cleared 13’ 0 ¾” setting a meet and school record en route to the victory and much like Zheng, 12 years earlier, Frame was coached by Kolb. 

Frame laid the framework for the future at MSU as she would repeat as the indoor champion in 2005 with a height of 13’ 1 ½”.
Abilene Christian’s Angie Aguilar would win the title in 2006 only to be dethroned by Rains, then a sophomore who would win titles in 2007 (14’”), 2008 (14’ 1 ¼”) and 2009 (13’9 ¼”).  Rains is the only vaulter in the history of the Division II meet to surpass the 14-foot mark.
Truman State’s Katrina Biermann would claim the title last year only to hand the crown back over to a Maverick – this time Stelten – this past winter when she climbed 13’ 6 ½” en route to the title. 
The success isn’t limited to the indoor ranks however as Rains also won the outdoor title – MSU’s only outdoor title in 2009 with a vault of 13’7” – a height which still sits as the best at the national meet. 
Think about that information for a moment.  Six indoor titles in the last eight years.  Since the NCAA has added the pole vault to the women’s championships in 2009 MSU has six indoor national champions.  Fellow perennial power, Abilene Christian has three.
“Abilene Christian and Grand Valley State are always up there,” said MSU head coach Jen Blue in regards to the competition at the national level. “They may have more qualifiers but we have more national titles on the indoor level.”
When talking to both Blue and Stelten they say that the success starts at the same point – Kolb, a former MSU vaulter who was a seven-time North Central Conference champion and a three-time All-American for the Mavericks.
“Matt Kolb is by far the reason we have had success,” said Blue, who is in her 11th year coaching the Mavericks.  “Recruiting and getting talented kids is important but you have to get the kids that fit in with your program.  Matt fine-tunes their skills and can challenge them to push themselves to the next level.”
Stelten echoes Blue’s sentiments.  “What some people don’t know or realize is that he (Kolb) is also the head coach at Mankato West,” said Stelten. “He is such a good coach and he juggles a lot for us.  He does a great job at making sure we are prepared and ready to go.”

Being able to coach themselves has proven key for the Mavericks as Kolb can’t make every meet due to his high school coaching and teaching responsibilities.
“A lot of times it's hard to believe that we can vault without him there,” said Stelten. “He trains us so we can coach ourselves."
Kolb, however, was quick to deflect the praise.
"It starts with the Jen Blue and Mark Shuck (MSU's men's track and field coach)," said Kolb. They have committed to make this event a signature event of MSU's and are bringing in talented athletes.
Though Stelten is a senior the vaulting cupboard isn’t bare at MSU.  Freshmen Aubrie Bowers and Leanna Rose each narrowly missed qualifying for this year’s outdoor championships.
“They (Aubrie and Leanna) have really come around and have kept progressing,” said Blue.  “Next year we should be ready to go in the vault again.  Bryann Sudman – a freshman who redshirted this year due to back problems – is ready and she was a state champion for Eden Prairie as a senior.  We have also signed Mankato East’s Alex Miller who is an all-state performer.”
Stelten has done what Frame and Rains have down before her – laid the groundwork for the underclassman on what it takes to be a champion at Minnesota State.
“I am a lead by example type of captain,” said Stelten.  “When I vault, I tell the underclassmen to watch me and see what they can do.  I had someone to look up to and by me showing them, it is my way to motivate them.”
One can only assume the motivation of a pair of fourth-place finishes (2008 and 2009) along with a second-place finish (2010) coupled with the opportunity to join Rains as MSU’s only outdoor pole vaulting champions is all that Stelten needs next weekend.

"I think she has a good chance," said Kolb.  "I believe that she is the vaulter to beat.  She has the mental toughness and experience that will be in her favor."

NCAA DII Indoor/Outdoor Pole Vault Individual Titles Since 1999
Minnesota State
Abilene Christian
Cal State Stanislaus
Cal State Chico
MSU Moorhead
UC Davis
South Dakota State
South Dakota
Truman State
Northwest Missouri State

Monday, May 9, 2011

Got 'em right where we want 'em

John Belushi as Bluto
"Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"  - Bluto from Animal House.

There's been alot to celebrate during the course of the past quarter century for Minnesota State Athletics.

National championships in women's basketball in 2008-09 and men's cross country in 1988.  A total of 26 individual national championships, including four by high jumper Jim Dilling from 2004-07 and dominance in the women's pole vault led by the triumvirate of Amanda Frame, Katelin Rains and Lauren Stelten that began in 2003-04 and has totalled seven NCAA titles to date.

MSU reaffiliated its men's hockey program to Division I in the mid-1990s and in addition to a national tournament appearance in 2002-03 on a team featuring All-American forwards Shane Joseph and Grant Stevenson, the Mavericks have produced six National Hockey League performers, a Stanley Cup champion in Ryan Carter (Anaheim in 2007) and an Olympian in David Backes.  The MSU women's program boasts a Patty Kazmeier finalist in goaltender Shari Vogt and Olympians in Nina Tikkinen and Emilia Andersson.

The football team broke through to win a North Central Conference championship in 1987 and during the span of the last 25 seasons has made six NCAA postseason appearances.

Gorgeous Taylor Center opened 2000 and in addition to the aforementioned success of the women's program basketball program, the men's program has become a Division II powerhouse with its litany of league titles and NCAA appearances.  The wrestling program competes annually for a spot in the top five in the nation.  The baseball, softball, track and cross country, soccer and golf teams have captured more than 50 league titles between them over the course of this period.

So, that being said, and given the success of MSU teams during this time, surely we can point to situations where Mavericks teams have had to battle back from what would have appeared to be an unwinnable situation to win games.

Well, yes we can.  There are many, as a matter of fact, with a quartet of these situations immediately come to mind.

Feb. 2, 1991, St. Cloud, Minn. (Halenbeck Hall). The MSU men's basketball team trailed North Central Conference rival St. Cloud by ten (93-83) with 1:27 left in the game on SCSU's home court.  With the Mavericks surging, guard Bryon Lindsey scored eight points in the final 39 seconds as MSU fought back to tie the game, 97-97, at the end of regulation.  MSU eventually won in overtime, 108-106.

Oct. 2, 1993, Mankato, Minn. (Blakeslee Stadium). The Mavericks trailed #1-rated North Dakota State 21-0 in its annual Homecoming game, but MSU scored near the end of the third quarter and then twice more in the fourth to make it 21-21.  The Bison, who had never lost to the Mavericks in Mankato, scored with 1:55 left in the game, but a missed PAT left the score at 27-21.  Following the kick-off, the Mavericks lost the ball on downs, but got it back when NDSU fumbled on its next possession.  Jamie Pass hit diminutive receiver Jeff Spikner on a 23-yard strike with :22 left and Kenny Navitsky's successful kick gave the Mavericks an incredible 28-27 win in front of 6,100 rollicking fans.

Dec. 20, 2003, Mankato, Minn. (Midwest Wireless Civic Center). The eventual national champions from Denver built a 7-1 lead before a goal by defenseman Lucas Fransen midway through the second period started the ball rolling for the Mavericks. Travis Morin tallied on the power play and Shane Joseph scored two more power play goals before the end of the period to make it 7-5. Then after Adam Gerlach and Brad Thompson scored to tie it up, Joseph completed his hat trick with the game-winner with five minutes left.  The Mavericks, by the way, used three goaltenders in the game and Chris Clark, who was making his first varsity appearance, stopped all 13 shots he faced to get the win.

May 4, 2011, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Bowden Field). In its opening game of the 2011 NSIC softball tournament, #12 Minnesota State trailed #19 Winona State 7-1 heading into its last at bats.  Abby Sonner lit the fuse after her two-run homer made it 7-3.  Infielder Amanda Umhoefer's solo shot cut the deficit to three and after Melanie Upchurch and Lauryn Morris singled, Natalie Spicer's three-run homer tied the game.  Julie O'Neal then singled and came around to score after Kelly Wood's drive to right was misplayed to end the game.

As mentioned, there are several other instances in which the Mavericks found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  And as Greg Marmalard said in Animal House in reference to the fraternities at Faber College - "They're each outstanding in their own way."

See you at the ballpark this weekend with MSU hosting the 2011 NSIC baseball tournament at Franklin Rogers and the 2011 NCAA Softball Central Subregional on campus.

It's great to be a Maverick!