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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hand and Foot

Senior wideout and holder Adam Thielen (left) holds for
Sam Brockshus (right) in MSU's win over MSU Moorhead
earlier this season.

The relationship between a holder and a kicker is one of the more unique ones in sports.  It is one built on trust, one that must be solidified on repetition.   For Minnesota State senior holder (and wideout) Adam Thielen and junior kicker Sam Brockshus, it is one that blossomed over the last three years.

Thielen has served as the primary holder for Brockshus for the better part of each of their careers, minus a few games missed when Thielen was injured and Brockshus’ redshirt season a year ago.  But it is safe to say that for the majority of Brockshus’ 225 points, it has been Thielen putting the ball on the ground for the hold.

“It took a little time for each of us to get used to each other,” said Thielen.  “But it probably took more time for Sam to get used to me than the other way around.  Like anything, we practice it quite a bit, especially during two-a-days.”

Thielen has taken his leadership role seriously this season as he serves as one of four team captains.   

He enters this week’s game as MSU’s active leader in receptions (53), yards (804), receiving touchdowns (6) and receiving yards per game (89.3).  In the Mavericks’ 30-20 win at Winona State on Oct. 20, Thielen hauled in ten catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns.  Additionally, he has caught 28 passes over the last three games for 394 yards and five touchdowns.

Ironically enough, Brockshus also recorded one of his best games as a Maverick against the Warriors as well, as he turned in a 12-point effort after nailing all three of his field goal and extra point attempts, including a career-long 47-yarder.  For the season, the Spencer, Iowa native has hit on 15-of-19 field goal attempts and 38-of-39 PATs en route to scoring a team-high 83 points this season.

For both of them they were named the NSIC Offensive and Special Teams player of the week for the effort.

Thielen, a native of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and sophomore offensive lineman and longsnapper Josh Meeker were the only players to have their hands on all 30 points in the win over the Warriors.
When asked about the career-long 47-yarder by Brockshus, Thielen knew it was true without even looking up.

“I knew right away,” said Thielen.  “I can tell the way it comes off my hand, how he kicks it, and by the sound.”

Kickers are known for being a bit quirky, but if there any quirks about Brockshus, they aren’t known, at least to us. 

“Prior to every kick, Adam tells me the same thing,” says Brockshus.  “ ‘Tempo.’ Once he says that, I know we are good to go.  Sometimes he gives me a high five but not much other than that.”

The duo is close both on the field and off it.

“We have a great relationship,” said Thielen.  “He is guy you want to be around.  It makes it easier to be on the field with a guy who doesn’t blame the holder when things go wrong.  And I don’t blame him either.”

“Adam does a great job keeping me relaxed,” said Brockshus.  “Both on the field and off he is very easy going.  He is such a great leader for this team.”

For both of them, their seasons are mirroring their careers.  Thielen ranks second in career receptions (177), third in receiving yards (2,430) and fourth in touchdown receptions (18) while Brockshus ranks second in points scored (225), second in PAT kicks made (123), tied for second in PAT kicks attempted (129), fourth in field goals made (34), and sixth in field goals attempted (47). 

Jamie Pass (left) holds for Kenny Navitsky in a contest
against North Dakota State on Oct. 2, 1993
But they aren’t the only duo ranks so highly amongst the school’s all-time holder/kicker combinations.  Perhaps prior to the Thielen/Brockshus tandem, the most prolific holder and kicker combo was Jamie Pass and Kenny Navitsky.  Pass, who was one of MSU’s most successful quarterbacks, held for Navitsky who is the Mavericks all-time leader in points scored (241), PAT kicks made (136), PAT kicks attempted (147), field goals attempted (62) and tied for the all-time lead in field goals made (35).

Much like Thielen and Brockshus, Pass and Navitsky had a great relationship on and off the field as well.

“He was my best friend and my roommate,” said Navitsky. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but the reason he came in to hold is that I went through a span of holders after Augie Hubbard graduated.  After that I had three different guys during camp and it was a disaster.  Finally, Jamie literally said ‘I am going to hold for you.’  Coach Runkle wasn’t over the moon for it, but he took charge.  His confidence obviously was overwhelmingly contagious. I am a confident guy but Jamie walked on a cloud of confidence and that is huge when you are a kicker, because when you get a good snap and good hold, you have no excuse not to make it.”

Brockshus has his sights set on virtually all of Navitsky’s records, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.

“It is hard sometimes not to get wrapped up in records and whatnot,” said Brockshus. “I take the approach that the reason I have scored so many points is purely a direct reflection of how good the teams have been since I have been here and how lucky I have been to be a part of some really good teams that score a lot of points and some great defenses that give the offense and myself good field position.  It (the records) is something I try not to think about too much but it does come up and it has really been an honor to be a part of.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

We're #1 and, um, some other stuff

Peter McGahey has led the Minnesota
State women's soccer team to a #1
ranking for the first time in the program's
With several of our programs doing so well this fall, it seems like it's been week after week of each team topping one another in terms of accomplishments.

The football team is undefeated. The Maverick men's cross country team won its first two meets of the year. The volleyball team defeated four-time defending national champion Concordia in a five-set match played before a large and noisy crowd in Taylor Center, etc.   

So you knew it was going to take something truly significant to really cause a stir.  That moment came Tuesday morning when it was announced that the National Collegiate Soccer Coaches Association released information that the Maverick women's soccer program had been rated #1 in the nation. 

Obviously being ranked as the top team in the land is unique, but for coach Peter McGahey and his crew the ranking took on added meaning due to the fact that it's the first time for the program.  That and the fact that at most schools, no matter what the sport, it really doesn't happen every week.

Besides women's soccer this week, recent Minnesota State teams rated #1 include: women's basketball (March 3, 2009. MSU was ranked #1 three times that year), wrestling (Feb. 7, 2008. MSU was rated #1 twice that year), men's basketball (Feb. 1, 2005).Women's soccer is rated #1 for the first time in the program's history.  So besides being the first time for women's soccer, it's also only the fourth time for a MSU team recently and the first since women's basketball back in 2009.

The Mavericks, who stand 12-1-1 on the year, head into this weekend riding a ten-game winning streak and a 12-game unbeaten streak.

As mentioned, a number of teams are enjoying great years.  Besides the #1 ranking by women's soccer, football is #2 in D2Football.com poll/#9 in AFCA poll, volleyball is rated #13, men's cross country ranks #16th and women's cross country is #20th. 

Speaking of cross country, the Maverick men are perfectly positioned for a return trip the national meet, which takes place Nov. 20 in Joplin, Mo.  Prior to that is the NCAA central region meet, which also is scheduled to take place in Joplin on Nov. 3.  The Mavericks are rated third in the region with the top four teams at the national meet receiving auto bids to the national meet.

The MSU women, meanwhile are rated fourth in the region with the top five teams in the region receiving auto bids based on regional meet performances.

Both teams are scheduled to compete at the 2012 NSIC meet this weekend (Saturday) at the Lee Bolstad Golf Course in Minneapolis.  The meet website is located here.

One other thing before signing off this afternoon.  Congratulations to Mike Hastings, first-year head coach of the Minnesota State men's hockey program.  The Mavericks earned a 4-1 nonconference road win at Alabama-Huntsville last Friday in giving the Crookston, Minn., native a win in his debut.

In the event you were curious as to how other MSU coaches did in their first outings as Maverick coaches, here you go...

Lori Meyer (softball): 7-0 loss at lost Texas Tech, 1985
Jim Makovsky (wrestling): 35-8 win over Iowa Central,1993
Matt Margenthaler (men's basketball): 86-76 loss at Wisconsin Parkside, 2001
Nate Owens (women's swimming) 163-64 win at Northern Iowa, 2004
Dennis Amundson (volleyball): 3-2 win over Michigan Tech, 2005
Peter McGahey (women's soccer): 3-2 home win over Metro State, 2008
Matt Magers (baseball): 6-4 loss at Southwest Baptist (Mo.), 2009
Eric Means (women's hockey): 5-2 win at Maine, 2009
 Christie Williams (women's tennis): 9-0 win vs. Bethany, 2012

Next up is new women's basketball coach Emilee Thiesse.  There's an exhibition game at the University of Minnesota Nov. 4, but her first real game as head coach takes place Nov. 16 vs. Black Hills State at a tournament hosted by Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

It's great to be a Maverick!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Keeping You Apprised (Updated)

Minnesota State netminder Danielle
was named WCHA Defensive
Player of the Week
after the Mavericks
hosted Wisconsin last weekend

The National Hockey League owners may have locked out the players, but that doesn't mean that everything puck-related has come to a complete standstill.

The Minnesota State women's hockey team opened up its 2012-13 campaign this past weekend with a pair of home games with second ranked Wisconsin (the Badgers won Friday's game 3-2 with a shoot-out goal and then claimed a 3-2 win in regulation Saturday).  MSU continues action this weekend with two games at the University of North Dakota.

The Maverick men's hockey squad hosts the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Sunday at Verizon Wireless Center in an exhibition tilt that is scheduled to get underway at 5:07 p.m.  One thing of note in that game is that Devon Kalinski, the younger brother of former Minnesota State forward Jon Kalinski, is a sophomore winger for Lethbridge.  The elder Kalinski is currently a farmhand with the for the Washington Capitals and is in camp with their American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey.

Other former Mavericks in AHL camps include Travis Morin (Texas),  Kael Mouillierat (Abbottsford), Ben Youds (Rockford) and Tyler Pitlick (Oklahoma City).

The names of former Mavericks appear on several East Coast Hockey League rosters:  Cameron Cooper (Las Vegas), Channing Boe (Las Vegas), Joe Schiller (Las Vegas), Geoff Irwin (Ontario), Andy Sackrison (South Carolina), Zach Harrison (Alaska), Trevor Bruess (Florida) and Rylan Galiardi (Gwinnett).  Defenseman Kyle Peto (Rapid City), forward Adam Mueller (Wichita) and goaltender Austin Lee (Missouri) have hooked up with Central Hockey League teams.

Several others are playing Europe (Andy Hedlund, Kurt Davis, Nick Canzanello, Michael Dorr, Aaron Fox, Steve Wagner and Mike Zacharias) or are awaiting the NHL owners and the NHLPA to find common ground on a new collective bargaining agreement (David Backes, Ryan Carter and Tim Jackman).

Hope to see you at a rink sometime this winter.  It's great to be a Maverick!