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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Ever?

We're now completely finished with the fall sports seasons and what did we learn?

We learned that our fall sports teams had a pretty good fall, that's what we learned.  O.k., an understatement for sure, as pretty good doesn't do what just happened justice.  At all.

Old news to many of you, but just to reiterate - the Maverick football team just completed its most-successful season ever.  13 straight wins to start with.  A Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Southern Division title.  A Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference overall title.  A berth in the NCAA Division II tournament.  A bye in the first round as a result of being the #1 seed.  Win over Northwest Missouri State in a second round game and a vanquishing of Missouri Western in a national quarterfinal game with both games played at historic Blakeslee Stadium. Then a national semi-final game at The Blake with Valdosta State traveling from Georgia to take on the Mavericks.  Crazy to think about it, but MSU hosted three NCAA football tournament games in 2012 and two of those games were in December.  IN DECEMBER! While the Mavericks may have lost to Valdosta to finish 13-1 for the year (Valdosta ended up winning the national title, by the way), the season was anything but unforgettable and certainly unprecedented.

The Maverick women's soccer team, meanwhile also entered uncharted waters by advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight after capturing its first-ever regional championship.  MSU also claimed its first-ever NSIC regular-season title and including a #1-ranking for two weeks in October, was ranked in the top 25 of every poll in 2012.  The Mavericks finished the year with a 17-1-5 overall record. Nicole Dooher was the league's Offensive Player of the Year, Lauren Sommers the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year, Caitlin Graboskie the conference Newcomer of the Year and Peter McGahey the NSIC Coach of the Year. It had never happened before, but this year the Mavericks swept the NSIC postseason individual awards. MSU led the NSIC in virtually every statistical category and set 21 team or individual school records along the way.

The Maverick men's cross country team returned to the NCAA national meet for the first time since 2008 and posted a 20th place finish.  And although the women's cross country team didn't make it to the NCAA meet (they finished seventh at the regional meet after placing 13th at the same meet the year before), at one point they were rated #20 in the nation.

The question has come up as to whether or not this is the best-ever start for the Maverick Department of Athletics. The Directors' Cup standings, which awards points to schools based on how they finish in NCAA competition in order to determine the top athletic departments in the nation, have the Mavericks in sixth place following the completion of the fall sports season. The Maverick football team finished third nationally and women's soccer placed fifth. Throw in men's cross country and MSU had three teams score points nationally this fall.  Since the inception of the Directors' Cup in 1995-96, the previous best for MSU following the fall was a seventh-place rating in 1995-96 (women's cross country was fourth nationally that year and men's cross country was fifth).

MSU has had other great falls prior to 1995-96, when the Directors' Cup standings were inaugurated.  For example, in 1987-88 the men's cross country team finished second and the football team played in a NCAA quarterfinal game.  Based on the system used by the Directors' Cup folks, MSU would have received 160 points in 1987-88, placing it 17th in this year's standings. MSU has been credited with 210 points this year, based on the national finishes of football, women's soccer and men's cross country.  The next-best point total of 164 points for the Mavericks was in 2007-08 when men's cross country was fifth, women's soccer was ninth and women's volleyball was 33rd. MSU was rated 14th following the fall that year based on those 164 points.  You heard it here - a case can be made that this is the best fall ever for Minnesota State Athletics.

It is interesting to note that when the Mavericks finished second in the final Directors' Cup standings in 2008-09 (our best final finish ever), MSU stood 22nd after the fall.

Have a great Holiday Season everyone!  It's great to be a Maverick!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Mavericks

This year's Christmas video from Minnesota State Athletics.

Merry Christmas from the Mavericks

Lot's to be thankful for.  Tremendous student-athletes, welcoming campus, supportive community, fans and alumni.

Wishing you all the joy, hope and wonder of the Holiday Season.

It's great to be a Maverick!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Get Your Ya Yas Out

Senior wide receiver Adam Thielen helped
lead the Mavericks to a 13-1 record this year.
Some quick catching up to do here as classes wind down and we make the final sprint toward Christmas.

Needless to say, the incredible fall our teams have been experiencing has been soaked in success.

The football team hosted three NCAA play-off games, dispatching Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western before falling in the national semifinals to Valdosta State (Ga.) this past Saturday. The Mavericks went undefeated, racking up 13 straight wins, before falling to the boys from the Peach State at Blakeslee Stadium.  Historic, indeed.

The women's soccer team, which advanced to the Elite Eight, finished an incredible 17-1-5 on the year.  The Mavericks staged an unbelievable comeback late in the national quarterfinal game at Grand Valley State to send the game into overtime, only to eventually fall in a seven-round shoot-out to the host Lakers.

Character, leadership, family. We heard these words constantly as the teams worked their way through their seasons.  Same thing for the men's cross country team which made it back to the national meet for the first time 2008 and posted a 20th-place finish. The women's cross country team, which made an appearance in the national top twenty poll for the first time in a while this year, finished seventh at the regional meet and with several youngsters leading the way, are trending upward. The Maverick volleyball squad finished 18-11 and spent much of the year in the national top twenty poll. Included was a MSU win over Concordia on September 18th, the program's first win over the eventual national champions since 2002.

And so on it goes with our winter programs now in full swing.  More on those programs the next time, with lots of success there, too, to expound upon.

A few other things we did want to mention.

A big congratulations goes out to softball coach Lori Meyer with the announcement that she has been selected for induction into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.  Meyer, who has been skippering the Mavericks since 1985, has racked up more than 900 wins during her outstanding career.  Simply no one better.

A couple of notes on former Minnesota State football coaches with Jerry Olszewski being named a finalist for the head job at Augustana and Chuck Martin coaching in the NCAA Division I national championship game as a member of the staff at Notre Dame.  Olszewski, who has constructed a 32-18 mark in the last five years as the head coach at St. Olaf, had two stints on the MSU football staff (1993-97 and 1999-02).  Martin was on MSU's staff as a graduate assistant in '92.

It looks like Bemidji State will be looking for a new director of athletics this spring with the announcement that Rick Goeb's contract will not be renewed.

How 'bout this great play by senior forward Eriah Hayes of the Minnesota State men's hockey team. A lot of people thought it might be ESPN Top Ten Plays of the Day worthy.

Lastly, want to point out that more than 25,000 fans attended MSU home events over the course of the past two weekends with Blakeslee Stadium, Taylor Center, Myers Field House, All Seasons Arena and Verizon Wireless Center all hosting Maverick competitions. 

Truly great and proud to be a Maverick the past 14 days.