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Monday, December 22, 2014

Is it Over?

Is it over?

It's hard to believe that the 2014 NCAA Division II Football season has finally come to a close. The Mavericks fell to CSU-Pueblo in the national championship game at beautiful Sporting Park in Kansas City Saturday, 13-0, in finishing the year with a 14-1 mark.

One loss for Minnesota State and it came in the national championship game. In getting to the last game of 2014, this team took everyone on an unprecedented ride.

We've had football at this institution since 1922. This was the 89th year of varsity football for us and no team had ever won 14 games in a season before.

Who does that? Who wins 14 football games in a season?

Including three NCAA playoff games, we hosted nine games at Blakeslee in 2014. Nine. In the last three seasons the Mavericks have gone 14-1 (2014), 11-1 (2013) and 13-1 (2012).  No team in NCAA Division II has won as many games during that time. Eight NCAA play-off games in three years. Minnesota State has not lost a conference game since 2011 and will head into 2015 riding a 33-game league unbeaten streak.

Those that follow the Mavericks, and we saw a ton of them in Kansas City at the national championship game and social media tells us that many who weren't there were watching on ESPN2, witnessed something special.

There's a lot of pride amongst our alums, the parents of our players, the students and staff at Minnesota State and the folks in Mankato with what happened and there's a tremendous amount of optimism moving forward.

This year's team loses 21 seniors who unquestionably have served as the backbone to the success the program has enjoyed during this run. So as we bid adieu to Nathan Hancock, Eric Clark, Erik Ruhland, Keyvan Rudd, Dorian Buford, Andy Pfeiffer, Anthony Lewis, Jeff Burns, Darius Clare, Kris Fleigle, Shonquille Dorsey, Josh Meeker, Gary Hiatt, Barry Ballinger, Max Hoffmeister, Kaleb Wendricks, Chris Reed, Jeffrey Raymond, Bryan Keys, Austin Rieder and Darin Howell, we also offer up our gratitude.  You'll walk together as champions for the rest of your lives.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season.

It's great to be a Maverick.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rudd Chipping In Both On and Off the Field

Keyvan Rudd with Deven
For four seasons, Minnesota State senior Keyvan Rudd has roamed the gridiron for the MSU football team, but for the last two years Rudd has been  making an impact in the community as a mentor children at Garfield Elementary in the Mankato area.

“A friend of mine used to do it and asked if I would be interested in helping too,” Rudd said. “After helping out my first student, the principal asked me if I wanted to come back and help out with another student and I’m excited to do so.”

Rudd makes a couple of visits to Garfield Elementary each week. Once there, he meets with his student’s teacher who tells him about his student’s week, before discussing with Deven on what he can do to improve in his behavior.

After talking with Deven about his week, Rudd will head out to recess with Deven where they play some football. As recess ends, Rudd gathers up the kids and gives them a pep talk before heading back to class. 

“It feels great to help out,” Rudd said. “I saw me in them when I was that age, which was why I jumped at the chance to take part. They needed a positive role model and I was more than willing to help out”

Deven has also had his chance to see what Rudd does in his time at Minnesota State.

“Around the second or third week or the season, Deven got a chance to stop by our practice,” Rudd said. “He loved being out there with all of the guys.” 

Contributed by Nick Burns, assistant director of communications.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Added Weight

It takes a village to achieve success in intercollegiate athletics.  

And in the village known as Minnesota State Athletics, in which the football and women's soccer programs simultaneously own #1 national rankings and other teams are enjoying similar notariety, the coaches point to the school's strength and conditioning program as one of the primary reasons its teams rank amongst the nation's best.

Housed in the bowels of Taylor Center, the Minnesota State Athletics weight room spans more than 7,300 square feet under the west end of the building.

Under the guidance of Glandorf, Ohio native Tom Inkrott, who has run the program since the fall of 2009, Maverick Strength and Conditioning's priority is injury prevention. "Along with that," said Inkrott, who graduated from Bowling Green in 2006, "we want to improve our student-athletes' performance each and every year they are here. Thirdly, we'd feel we can have a positive impact on our student-athletes, helping them to realize what they are capable of both in the weight room and outside of it as well."

With 17 squat racks, eight platforms, five lat pull down machines, three sets of dumbells that range from five lbs to 150 lbs, 15 medicine balls, various size bands, three sets of long ropes, a power plate, stationary bikes, three big tires, seven benches, four Russian plyo boxes, three plyo boxes and a vertimax, Inkrott and his staff, have an array of equipment to work with in providing programming for the Mavericks.

"We do have a nice room," said Inkrott. "But the unique thing about exercise and lifting weights is that it helps build self confidence. An attribute our student-athletes can apply on the field, court, ice, track, water, etc. And in the classroom, in their jobs and life adventures."

In addition to Inkrott, the strength and conditioning staff also includes two graduate assistants and three interns.

Matt Margenthaler, who has constructed a 284-111 record in 13 seasons as head coach of the Minnesota State men's basketball program and led the Mavericks to a NCAA DII Elite 8 appearance in 2010-11, says that the school's strength and conditioning program have played a vital role in his team's sustained excellence.  "Tom and his staff play a big piece of the puzzle developing elite athletes. It makes them stronger, more explosive and aids is preventing injuries. We couldn't do it without them."

It's great to be a Maverick.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Isaac Kolstad helped lead Minnesota onto the field at Blakeslee Stadium
Sitting down to blog about what happened at Blakelee Stadium during our season-opening game two weeks ago on Sept. 4, the biggest challenge the writer faces is to adequately convey the feeling of emotion that was felt that night.

How does one describe a five-hour lump in the throat that started from the moment you saw Isaac Kolstad in the parking lot adjacent to the football field?

Having not seen him since before that fateful night in May when he suffered severe head trauma in an assault that took place in downtown Mankato and although you've read the updates on his CaringBridge site, your frame of reference is skewed by the last time you saw him play football for Minnesota State.  That would have been back last December when the Mavericks hosted St. Cloud State in the second round of the NCAA play-offs. Isaac had nine tackles in what would be the last game of his college football career.

Isaac starred at Mankato East High School and after heading to Fargo to play for North Dakota State, he returned to his hometown where he was a three-year starting linebacker for Minnesota State. He completed his Maverick career with 182 tackles while becoming a leader on a team that ascended to the top of the NCAA DII heap.  The Mavericks rode an undefeated regular season and a #1-ranking into the postseason before falling to SCSU in that play-off game. He graduated last Christmas and began working for Fastenal here in town.

Given where he was initially after the incident (on life support and in a coma for three weeks), his recovery has been nothing short of unbelievable. "He wakes up every morning saying, 'I want to go home. But I know I have to get better," said Molly, his wife, who spoke at a pre-game press conference. "It's a miracle, that's all I can say," said Molly.

Isaac continues his  rehabilitation at an in-patient facility in the Twin Cities and his speech therapy is a work in progress.

As the game neared, Isaac helped lead the team toward the field, walking onto the natural-grass turf as they always do on the northwest, scoreboard end of the stadium. The team surrounded him and one of the players (I think it was senior wide receiver Keyvan Rudd, who led the chant), began getting the team fired up.  Since the team had engulfed him in the center of the group, we lost sight of Isaac.  But one of our videographers had a camera mounted on the end of a monopod and in the video you can see Isaac chanting along with everyone else.

The crowd, our largest ever for an opening game, was loud.  So loud you felt like you could reach out and touch it. It felt like a living thing. There was electricity that made the hair on your arms stand up and your heart was pounding so cartoonishly hard that you began to look for Jeff Chambers, the school's athletic trainer. Just in case.

Then the players did something they've never done.  Led by Isaac, who was arm-in-arm with his teammates, the Mavericks went to the center of the field.  They never do that. Not pre-game. This was something unplanned that just happened organically.  The crowd continued its ear-busting drone and I took a quick glance at the St. Cloud State sideline.  The Huskies, like everyone else in the stadium, were applauding. Again, impossibly, the emotion goes up another notch.

I had two thoughts at that point.  Number one....there's no way we're going to lose this game.  And number two....Isaac is with his brothers. He's home and it feels incredibly right.

The win was never in doubt, with the Mavericks rolling over SCSU 31-0. It ended when the players accepted the Travelling Training Kit as victors and headed straight to sideline where they presented it to their smiling brother.

I can't wait to see Isaac again.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vikings at Minnesota State - Taking a Stab

It's been on the back of our minds for a while. So we're taking a stab.

As you are most-likely aware, the Minnesota Vikings are back in Mankato.  For the 49th consecutive year summer.

You can get all kinds of information regarding their time here in the Key City from a variety of sources, be it via social media postings, online blogs or the multitude of traditional news and sports entities that provide daily coverage in the traditional fashion such as newspapers, television or radio.

The Vikings public relations folks have told us that they'll credential more that 400 members of the media who pass through Mankato during their 20-day stay.

So, this summer, led by Lisa James (one of our undergraduate interns), we're launching our first Minnesota Vikings Training Camp blog. 

Hope you get a chance to stop by when you get a chance.  A work in progress, our new blog is located HERE.

It's great to be a Maverick.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Proving Ground: Gretta, Brittany, Dax & Michelle

While MavBlog isn't necessarily all about the transactions agate one will see online or in the local paper, it does provide the opportunity to keep everyone aprised as to where staff affiliated with Minnesota State Athletics, both past and present, is coming and going.

This is one of those posts.

First off, Gretta Arvesen. The former Minnesota State women's soccer assistant coach, who joined Peter McGahey's staff at Central Michigan when he went there from MSU in the spring of 2013, has been named head coach of the women's soccer program at St. Cloud State. Arvesen was a member of MSU coaching staff beginning in 2008 and helped the Mavericks get to four NCAA tournaments, while winning a pair of league titles. SCSU's announcement regarding Gretta's hiring appears HERE.

There there's Brittany Henderson.  A Milwaukee, Wis., native, Henderson was named MSU’s Senior Female Athlete of the Year for 2009-10 after a track & field career that saw her rack up 14 All-America placings. The owner of three school indoor records (60m, 200m, 4x400m) and three outdoor school records (100m, 200m, 4x100m), she was a four-time indoor conference champion and won four conference outdoor crowns.

After earning a master's degree in sociology, Henderson joined the MSU athletics department when she was named Academic Coordinator in August of 2012. She recently took a position with George Washington University Athletics where the Colonials are members of NCAA Division I and the Atlantic 10 Conference.

A former undergraduate and graduate assistant with MSU Athletic Communications, Dax Larson has been named Director of Sports Information & Media Relations at Colorado State-Pueblo.

Larson, a Bloomington, Minn., native who earned a master's degree from Minnesota State in 2009, has spent the last five years as the Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations at Bemidji State.

And Michelle Beck, who has served as MSU Athletics Director of Marketing and Special events the last year and half, has been named Assistant Commissioner for external relations and marketing with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.  In that role she will help build the NSIC brand and work with league marketing initiatives and corporate sponsorships.

"I absolutely loved coming up through the program," said Beck, a Chaska, Minn., native who started as an intern with the department's marketing operation before becoming a graduate assistant with the Mavericks which led to a full-time marketing position at Drake. She returned to Minnesota State Athletics in 2012.  "I feel fortunate that I was able to have gained a lot of different knowledge at every step along the way in Mankato and had a great experience in all of my roles with Maverick Athletics. We work in a family-oriented and supportive environment here. The coaches are at each others games and the adminstrators are at all the events. That's not typical at a lot of places."

Beck looks at the NSIC opportunity as a natural progression in her career. "I'm very excited to be joining the NSIC office. It's certainly a new challenge, but I'm looking forward to being able to work with all 16 of the institutions in the league to help enhance the student-athlete experience."

It's great to be a Maverick!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Professional Development

Minnesota State offensive coordinator
Jason Eck is serving a guest coach at the
Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp.
In Minnesota, when we speak of going camping up north, typically we're talking about going somewhere along near Lake Superior.  Along the lines of the Gunflint Trail.  Maybe Lutsen, Grand Marais or Grand Portage.

In the case of Minnesota State offensive coordinator Jason Eck, however, we're going in a different direction.

Think of a little further west and much further north.  Think Saskatchewan.  And in terms of camping, forget the canoe, tent, trail mix and freeze-dried chicken. But be sure to bring along your whistle.

Eck, who joined the Mavericks prior to the start of the 2013 season and helped lead MSU to a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship and an 11-1 record, is serving as a guest coach at the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp in Saskatoon.

One of five guest coaches assisting the Roughriders, Eck is making his first trip to Saskatchewan.

"I had helped out at the Montreal Alouettes' camp in 2011 when Marc Trestman (current head coach of the Chicago Bears) was there. But this is my first time in working with the Roughriders," said Eck.

The camp, which is taking place at the University of Saskatchewan, runs from June 1 to June 13th. Saskatchewan is coming off a season in which it went 11-7 and claimed the Grey Cup as the CFL champions.

"The campus is really nice," said Eck. "It's a great set-up for camp with dormitories, dining hall, turf field, etc. It's a pretty city with a a river that runs through it," said Eck. "The people are great, the team has a tremendous following and there's alot of fans attending practice."

Working with the offensive linemen at the camp, Eck sees working with the Roughriders as not only a circumstance in which he can learn new techniques and hone his coaching skill set, but also one in which provides valuable networking opportunities.

"I received an invitation from head coach Cory Chamblin to come up here and hopefully this will allow me to be a better coach for the Mavericks. You hope to immerse yourself while you're here and I'm learning a lot from Doug Malone (Saskatchewan's offensive line coach)," said the University of Wisconsin grad. "There's ten coaches and around 90 players in camp and while some of the rules are different (with the CFL), working with offensive linemen with base fundamentals is the same where ever you go. And you never know. You're hoping to develop connections that will eventually, maybe, help us place our guys. There's lots of good Division II players in the CFL and we're always looking to help our guys however we can."

Eck expects to return to Mankato this weekend where he and the rest of the Minnesota State staff will get to work preparing for the 2014 campaign.  Training camp for the Mavericks begins August 14th with the first game of the year scheduled for Sept. 4 vs. St. Cloud State in Mankato.

It's great to be a Maverick.


Thursday, June 5, 2014


Paul Mills was the 1998 North Central
Conference Pitcher of the Year
The mind does wander occasionally and it's crazy how one gets from one place to another.  Something will trigger a thought and things come racing back.

That happens this time of year, every year for me.

As we were discussing the possibility of California Chrome winning horse racing's Triple Crown with the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes taking place Saturday, I thought back to 1988.

The Maverick Baseball team that year featured a lanky blonde-headed righthanded pitcher from Coon Rapids, Minn., named Paul Mills.

Millsie, a senior who threw from the side, was in his second year with the program after transferring from Anoka-Ramsey where he was was a dominant player for the Rams, earning all-state, all-region and All-America honors as a JUCO performer.  After his first year with us in 1987, he proved to be dominant at the NCAA DII level as well. He was named the 1988 North Central Conference Pitcher of the Year, All-NCC First Team and All-Region after going 6-1 with a 1.71 earned average while fanning 44 batters in 42 innings his last season with the Mavericks.

I can remember having a conversation with Paul in the dugout at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud prior to a MSU game vs. St. Cloud State that spring. The Kentucky Derby was taking place that day (May 7) and he asked me who I thought would win the race. Now I'm no horse racing afficianado, but have on occasion been called a dilettante. While the exact details of our conversation remain foggy, I do recall him initiating things by saying something like "Hey, PA, who do have in the Derby today?" and us discussing each other's picks.

A quick check on Google (like I said, I'm a dilettante) shows that Winning Colors with Gary Stevens aboard, won that day in Lexington.

In any event, our office conversation made me think of Paul Mills. The types of memories, like the one I had with him in the dugout that day in St. Cloud, are the little things that in a lot of ways makes this profession special. We're so fortunate to interact with young people on a daily basis.

A year after his senior season, I learned Paul had been in a tragic accident and lost his life, along with two other young adults, when an Amtrak passenger train rammed a van carrying five male adults late at night at a railroad crossing in Coon Rapids. The date was Nov. 12, 1989.

Paul was an engaging, personable and funny type of person. One who made a lasting and memorable impression. He would be 48 years old when this year's Triple Crown races would be taking place.

Thanks to the Kentucky Derby, I think of Paul Mills this time of year. Every year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Eric Peterson's family - here with Will (brother), Molly (mom)
and dad (Tom) - are in Cary, N.C., for the NCAA DII
Baseball national championship tournament
  Cary, N.C. --- Back in May of 2012 we documented nearly 50 instances in which multiple members of families had played a sport for Minnesota State.

Brothers and sisters, brothers with brothers, sisters and sisters, sons and daughters, etc. Shoot, the Swanson family started with Ken playing football, basketball and baseball at Mankato State Teachers College in the late 1940's and early 1950's before his granddaughters Amy and Angie played basketball for the Mavericks in the 1990's.

The Peterson family is currently continuing on with this Maverick Legacy tradition with a father/son combo of their own.

Dad, Tom, played hockey for the Mavericks from 1982-85 where he totaled six goals and 39 assists for 45 points in 83 games played under Minnesota State puck coaching legend Don Brose

Son, Eric, is a freshman second baseman with the Maverick baseball team currently vying for a national title in Cary, N.C.  The Eagan (Minn.) High School product has enjoyed a tremendous maiden season for Minnesota State having started 52 of 55 games while hitting .315 and picking up 2014 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Freshman of the Year honors.

The Peterson family also includes mom Molly (also a MSU grad), along with a couple of additional baseball/hockey playing sons in Gavin and Will. We ran into Tom today at the ballpark and he was nice enough to spend a few moments to ponder a few questions.

MavBlog:  How did you end up coming to Mankato to play hockey for the Mavericks?
TP: I had played high school hockey at Bloomington Kennedy and played two years of junior hockey before being recruited to go to Mankato.

MavBlog: What was it like playing for Brosie and tell us a little about your time with the program.
TP: It was a great experience. Don was a terrific coach and we had good teams while I was there.  Met lots of good players and friends to this day.

MavBlog:  Do you still follow Maverick Hockey?
TP: I do. It's fun to watch.  We were Division II-III when I played and it's fun to watch a program that's Division I.

MavBlog:  When did you graduate? What is your degree in?
TP: I graduated in1985 and have a degree in marketing and management.

MavBlog: How special is it that Eric is not only playing college baseball, but playing right down the road at your alma mater?
TP: It's a lot of fun - having had the opportunity for me to have played a college sport then to have my son play a college sport at the same school. We're fortunate. It was the coaching staff here and tradition of the program that led him here. They win and it's a great program.

MavBlog:  And how about the year Eric has had and that you are here in Cary watching him play in the NCAA DII national championship tournament?
TP: It's been unbelievable, tough to beat and can't really ask for anything more than this.  We're proud of him.

It's great to be a Maverick.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Add it to the Resume: College Graduate

David Backes played for Minnesota State from 2003-06 where
he totaled 46 goals and 73 assists for 119 points in 115 games

Before he became captain of the St. Louis Blues and before he became a two-time Olympian, David Backes was a college student.

No ordinary college student, mind you, because Backes was a electrical engineering student with a 4.00 grade point average who also happened to play NCAA Division I hockey.

A forward for Minnesota State, Backes played for the Mavericks for three seasons (2003-06) where he scored 46 goals and had 73 assists for 119 points in 115 games.

Selected by St. Louis in the second round of the 2003 National Hockey League draft, the two-time Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Academic pick was named a Third Team All-American his last year with the program in 2005-06.

After a short apprenticeship in the American Hockey League, Backes has gone on to rack up 357 points on 159 goals and 198 assists in seven and half seasons with the Blues. He has appeared in the last two Olympics with the United States men's hockey team. An accomplished pilot, Backes and his wife Kelly, are the founders of Athletes for Animals - a foundation that includes professional athletes from various sports with a "shared passion for rescuing an protecting the welfare of homeless pets nationwide."

He's accomplished a lot for such a young person, but one of the things left undone was getting his degree.

"I set out going to school to get a degree and I expected to finish.  I didn't necessarily expect pro hockey to happen and certainly not the the way it's happened"  said the Blaine, Minn., native.

And so this past Saturday, he ticked another item off the list. College graduate.

"My degree is in applied organizational studies with a non profit leadership certificate. It's pertinent to what Kelly and I are up to now."

With the sheepskin in hand, one wonders what's next for the former Maverick captain.

"Getting the degree was something that was high on the list.  Now it's sort of let's go find something else we can move forward with."

It's great to be a Maverick. 

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/02/25/3078397/backes-olympic-mission-to-russia.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Travis Checks Out

Graduate assistant Travis Langer traveled the country with
Minnesota State's volleyball, women's basketball and softball
teams the last two years.
When I came to Minnesota State 20 months ago, one of the first things I heard within the athletic department was the term "MavFam" and as an outsider looking in I was kind of skeptical about this term. I quickly learned what it meant. It's a group of people working together, to achieve greatness.

In my time as a graduate assistant in Athletic Communications I have worked directly with the women's basketball, softball and volleyball programs. These three teams in the last two seasons have been great, to say the least. The trio has combined for a record of 163-61, someone in my line of work's dream, covering nationally-ranked teams.

I have had the privilege to travel with each of the squads and the opportunity to really get to know the players and coaches. Some of the trips include a trek with the softball team to Arizona, driving a minivan full of five softball girls from Phoenix to Tuscan and back, trips to Kansas and Colorado with the women's basketball team in addition to a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference volleyball tournament trip to the Twin Cities, which was hosted by the seven-time NCAA national champion, Concordia-St. Paul (a team, by the way, which we beat in a five-set thriller earlier in that season in Mankato).

These aren't just athletes though. These ladies are the definition of student-athletes with all three teams boast well over 3.0 grade point averages and are extremely involved in not only our community, but the global community with a plethora of mission trips in their offseasons as well.

The MavFam extends far beyond these three teams, however. It's a department-wide family. It's a group of student-athletes, coaches and administrators working together toward being the best institution possible. The friendships I was able to build proved invaluable, me being a small-town, South Dakota kid, 550 miles from home.

I have also had the opportunity to enjoy a number of other great sporting memories, including a historic run by our football team with back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, the men's hockey team winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association postseason tournament and bringing the Broadmoor Trophy to Mankato for the first time ever, the men's basketball team hosting back-to-back regional tournaments, something the women's soccer team, softball team and baseball team (hopefully) will also do.

This is not something many schools have the opportunity to do, and it takes a lot of work from a great group of people working behind the scenes. This is the group I have had been a part of for the last two years, and a group that the coaches and athletes also consider part of the MavFam, a group of people working together toward greatness.

From the bus trips with 25 women singing Pitch Perfect at the top of their lungs (my Beats headphones turned out to be a great investment, no offense), to the multiple regionals I have attended and worked, there is no doubt that the relationships, memories and lessons I will take from Minnesota State are things that will not only help me, but everyone else that dons the Purple and Gold achieve greatness.

Thank you!​

A native of Spearfish, S.D., and the owner of an undergraduate degree in public relations from Black Hills State (S.D.), Travis Langer worked as a graduate assistant in the Minnesota State Athletic Communications office the last two years.  He graduates Saturday with a master's degree in sport managament.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kalthoff Leads Mavericks into Postseason

Alyssa Kalthoff has led Minnesota State to a trio of
NCAA DII women's golf tournament appearances

A four-year letterwinner, senior Alyssa Kaltoff is a veteran member of the Minnesota State women’s golf team.

A native of Albany, Minn., Kalthoff came to the Mavericks as a two-time West Central North Conference champion, a four-time high school Most Valuable Player and a participant in the 2010 Minnesota/Wisconsin Cup for the Huskies.

Not wasting any time establishing herself as one of Minnesota State’s top individuals when she averaged 85.2 strokes per round as a freshman in 2010-11, she’s consistently ranked as one of the top small college golfers in the upper midwest during the past four seasons. Kalthoff, who has continued to better her performance as she’s gained more experience, averaged 82.5 as a sophomore and 81.8 as a junior and after placing 26th at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship in her first year with the Mavericks, was tenth as a sophomore and eighth in the league as a junior in 2012-13.

A member of MSU teams that have participated in three consecutive NCAA regionals, Kalthoff said her favorite part of being a Maverick is competing with her team.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during her junior season, the 2013-14 captain has encountered her share of adversity, but points to the support of her teammates as one of the reasons she’s been able to maintain success in the classroom and on the course, while dealing with the condition.

“I have to check my blood sugar four times a day, and I’ve had to eat a lot differently. It’s not just an adjustment as an athlete, but it’s just a huge adjustment in general,” said Kalthoff.  Citing a healthier diet and a more robust work-out regime as a couple of keys in making things work, she also talked about the strong support she received from her teammate, junior Tabitha Kunst

“Tabitha was with me when I was diagnosed and stayed in the emergency room with me. She became very knowledgeable about diabetes and has been like my little doctor,” said Kaltoff. 

Long-time Minnesota State women’s golf coach, Nick Campa, said that whenever he brings recruits in, he highlights the team unity at MSU.

“I’ve had kids from other teams who tell me they wish they had the unity we do. Alyssa and Tabitha go out of their way to make sure people feel welcome and it’s really great to see,” said Campa.

The senior golfer said through this hardship and her time at MSU, she has developed long-lasting friendships. Kaltoff hopes to go to graduate school at MSU for exercise physiology and continue to support the golf team as a graduate assistant.

The close-knit team will compete in the final two rounds of the 2013-14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championship this Saturday and Sunday in Morton, Minn.

                                                           Contributed by Brenda Martinson, Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern

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 Friday 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

2014    NCAA DII Softball Central SubRegional
2014    NSIC Women's Soccer Tournament
2014    NCAA DII Women's Soccer Regional 1st & 2nd Round
2014    NCAA DII Football Second Round Game
2014    NCAA DII Football Quarterfinal Game
2014    NCAA DII Football Semifinal Game 
2015    NSIC Indoor Track & Field Championships
2015    NCAA DII Wrestling Super Region 3 Championship
2015    WCHA Play-Offs First Round
2015    NCAA DII Women's Soccer Regional 1st & 2nd Round
2015    NCAA DII Football First Round Game

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 Meverven (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