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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!

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