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Monday, February 22, 2016

Leap of Faith

Jim Dilling is in his third year as head coach of the
Minnesota State men's track & field program
Most people view injuries as a setback in their athletic careers. Third-year Minnesota State men’s track and field coach, Jim Dilling, on the other hand is not like most people.

Following a successful high school athletic career in Fond du Lac, Wis., Dilling ventured to southern Minnesota looking to play football for the Mavericks.

He left Mankato five years later a four-time NCAA Division II national champion in the high jump and in 2007 finished atop the field at the U.S.A Track & Field Outdoor national championships.  In doing so he represented his country at the 2007 World Championship where he posted a 16th-place finish in Osaka, Japan.

Dilling’s journey, which eventually led to his current position leading the Maverick men’s track and field program is an interesting one.

It all started during Dilling’s freshman orientation when track and field coach and Minnesota State Hall of Fame inductee, Mark Schuck, tried to convince him to come out for track instead of football.

“Mark had tried to get me to come out when I had met him at orientation as an incoming freshman, but at the time I wasn't too interested as I doubted my ability to compete collegiately as a high jumper," said Dilling. "With a 6'6" high school personal best, I wasn't sure what progressions were possible in the event,"

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending how you want to look at it, Dilling’s life changed forever after his decision to give up football and pursue track and field after two broken collar bones which occurred during football workouts. Not only did this decision allow him to have great success as an athlete, but unknowingly, also set him up to become the school’s next men’s track and field coach.

Schuck had a feeling that Jim could be a special high jumper. He didn’t know how easy it would be to coach him.  “He’d listen to an old lady on the street if it helped him become a better high jumper,” said Schuck. “Having been a student athlete here myself, I can relate on an extremely personal level with members of my team. I understand the demands of the sport and the commitment levels necessary to be successful in the classroom. The key is proper balance with priorities and that is where being an alumni of this program holds real value, because they know that you have been there before.”

Dilling, who established an NCAA DII indoor record when he leapt 7-6 in 2006 and following his career as a world class high jumper (he finished 11th at the 2008 Olympic Trials and spent time competing internationally), returned to Minnesota State where he served as a graduate assistant and an assistant coach on Schuck’s staff. Schuck retired following the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year and Dilling was named head coach of the program that August.

Under Dilling’s leadership the program achieved its first #1 ranking in a national poll last year. And, under his leadership, the Mavericks are beginning to attract a strong stable of high jumpers. Currently five Mavericks rank in the top 25 for Division II. No other team has more than one.

Philosophically, being successful is rewarding for Dilling, but it is not the most important thing. “Helping others learn to harness their own ability and reach their true potential is more rewarding than any accolade one can achieve on their own,” said Dilling, who at 6’ 5” towers over most people. 

“People frequently ask me if I miss competing in the sport. Not at all because to me I still am competing each and every day with myself to make these young men and women better than they were the day before.”

Schuck believes Dilling is the perfect coach for the Mavericks. “Jim has all the ingredients to be a great coach. He’s very knowledgeable, personable, and most importantly his relationship building is 

- contributed by Jesse Larson, Athletic Communications intern

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Casey Lloyd has been calling Minnesota State basketball
games since the early 1970's. He was inducted into the
Maverick Hall of Fame in 1998.
Casey Lloyd has a lifetime of stories to tell.  Many of them centering around Minnesota State Athletics.

A 1971 graduate of the school, the Butterfield, Minn., native began broadcasting Maverick Athletic events as an undergrad, joined the radio station which held the broadcast rights to Maverick football and men’s basketball in 1975, and has continued calling games, almost unabated, in the four decades since. Well known in the community as the play-by-play announcer for football and men basketball, he’s also served in play-by-play capacities for and women's basketball, and men's hockey.

Lloyd has spent most of his adult life travelling across the country along with the Minnesota State teams, and that is something the coaches really value.  Lloyd was with the Minnesota State men’s basketball team that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass., and “having him along with us with meant everything,” said head coach Matt Margenthaler. “He just might be our biggest fan and he truly does bleed Purple and Gold.”

Margenthaler adds that Lloyd’s encyclopedia-like knowledge of the program is important. “Casey is so special because he has so much knowledge of the present and the past of Maverick Athletics. Our players need to know who came before them and Casey plays an important role in us continuing to build our culture.”

His contributions to his alma mater were recognized in 1998 when he was inducted into the Minnesota State Athletics Hall of Fame and also garnered the Kolpack Media Award from the North Central Conference that same year.

Known for finding unusual places to eat on the road, Lloyd has been told many times that he should write a book about his culinary adventures. He has also served in a media relations director and chief public address announcer capacity at several state and national amateur baseball and softball events held in Mankato and spends his time broadcasting Road America during the summers. He also has volunteered his time to the community by teaching StreetSmarts School, where he helps teenagers obtain their licenses and learn how to drive safely.

But, unquestionably, he is most known for his involvement in Maverick Athletics. Having worked in that environment for as long as he has gives him insight into how things have progressed. Lloyd's background with the school, which include working with former coaches such as Butch Raymond, Dan McCarrell, Dean Bowyer, Don Brose and Dan Runkle, gives him a unique perspective. Many of the school’s programs are enjoying a run of success and to the gregarious Lloyd, it’s obvious as to why. “It’s pretty simple. The school has done a great job of hiring good people to run the programs. These coaches want their players to succeed in every aspect of their lives.”

A long time ago, a Drake University broadcaster gave Lloyd a valuable lesson in being a successful broadcaster is remembering to just be you. And throughout his life Lloyd has learned that you can’t get stuck on one thing.  “The more interests you have in life, you will live happier and healthier,” said Lloyd. “And, ultimately, the most important lesson of life is that relationships are what you remember and there is no more important value then family.”
                                                                               contributed by Kaitlyn Kanne, Athletic Communications intern


Monday, February 15, 2016


Paul Selman (right) leads Minnesota State with 23 wins
Being a student-athlete is one busy lifestyle.  You go to school as a full-time student, you practice for your respective sport every day, you’re on the road constantly for competition, and you try and balance a social life on top of all of that.  Now take that into perspective, and imagine if you did not just one, but two sports as a student-athlete.

It’s a rare feat that not many people have done historically, especially in modern times.  Dave Winfield, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson and Jim Thorpe are just a few notable athletes to have participated in multiple sports at a high level.

There have been several athletes at Minnesota State that have played more than one sport including the likes of Chris Reed (football, track), Keyvan Rudd (football, track), Nathan Hancock (football, track), Sidni Trotter (soccer, women’s basketball), Jenna Peterson (hockey, softball), Kelvin Rodgers (football, track,), Ben King (football, baseball), Michael Lawrence (football, track), Donnell Bowyer (football, baseball), Jared Ziemke (football, basketball), Ryan Dutton (football, baseball),  Lester Mitchell (basketball, track), Tywan Mitchell (football, basketball), Monte Dufault (basketball, baseball), Nancy Kelly (volleyball, softball), Luonna Van Meveran (volleyball, track), Mike Yonkey (football, track), Joel Nielsen (football, baseball),  Mike Carroll (hockey, baseball) and Gene Glynn (basketball, baseball). 

It's possible that from the list above, you might notice that there aren’t any track and wrestling combos.  Until now.

“It’s been roughly 20 years since we have had a multi-sport athlete of any kind on our team," said Jim Makovsky, who’s in his 23rd season in charge of the Minnesota State wrestling program. “It’s rare enough that you see a multi-sport athlete in football and track, let alone wrestling and track,” 

The wrestling and track student-athlete Makovsky is referencing one of his current team members in Paul Selman.

A native of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Selman attended Glenbard West High School, where he exceled in not one, not two, but three sports -  soccer, wrestling, and track.  After graduating, he enrolled in nearby Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., where he was a member of the soccer and track programs at the NCAA Division III level.  Selman had a tremendous freshman season, attaining  indoor and outdoor track and field all-conference honors in the 100-meter dash while qualifying and competing at the 2015 NCAA DIII national outdoor track and field championships.

While participating in soccer and track, Selman missed participating in his third sport from high school, wrestling.  It was at that time that he met two of the coaches from the Minnesota State wrestling team in Makovsky and assistant coach Marc Harwood, who helped him get back into the sport he loved and missed so much.  Agreeing to transfer to Minnesota State to participate in track, Selman would then switch his second sport from soccer to wrestling. 

He currently leads Minnesota State in his freshman year with the Mavericks with 23 wins, while holding a 23-9 record overall while wrestling at 133 for the 14-rated Mavericks.

 “Paul is learning a lot this year since coming back to wrestling. He’s a great athlete, a hard worker, and he’s gone on to have a steady season,” said Makovsky.

While competing at the college level in sports that run concurrently poses challenges, Selman feels that in his instance, track and wrestling complement each other fairly well, albeit with some adjustments.

 “In wrestling, you run a lot, so it helps keeps me in shape going into track in the spring, and the same goes with track complementing wrestling.  I had to get out of any procrastination habits I had and get all of my homework done ahead of time.  Time management has been key for me, and I couldn’t do it without the support from my teammates and coaches”, Selman explains.”

He also said that due to the timing of practices and competition, his primary focus during the winter will be limited to wrestling, but would plan on competing in the outdoor track season.

In the meantime, there's the matter at hand with the conclusion of the wrestling season drawing near with regional and, hopefully, national tournament competition slated. The Minnesota State men's outdoor track and field season begins near the end of March. It's likely Mr. Selman has that date written down on his busy schedule. 

                             contributed by Cameron Klade, Minnesota State Athletic Communications Intern

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Right in Their Backyard

Sisters Allison and Erica Ellstrom are members of the
Minnesota State women's swimming & diving team
The list of siblings who have competed for Minnesota State is a rather lengthy one.

The women’s basketball-playing Andrews and Walters sisters. Bryant and Bennett Black played golf together for the Mavericks. The Dusosky’s and Enlgehart’s (women’s soccer), Lepel’s (baseball), Erickson’s (softball) and the Essel’s, Carroll’s, Follmer’s and Jutting’s (men’s hockey). The Kelly family had Tim, Marty and Pat, all who played football for coach Dan Runkle. Kathy (vollleyball) and Nancy (volleyball and softball) are also part of the Kelly family-Maverick connection.

There are others.

Allison and Erica Ellstrom didn’t have to travel too far when finding a school that was right for them to compete at. Hailing from Mankato East High School, their roots stayed here in Mankato.

A senior at Minnesota State and a four-year letterwinner with the Mavericks, Allison was named an NSISC Scholar Athlete as a junior. Erica, who like her older sister, competes in the freestyle events for Minnesota State, is in her first season of swimming collegiately. Both of the Ellstrom sisters were team captains at East High School and both were team MVPs as prep athletes with the Cougars.

“Allison is a very hard worker. She is very passionate about what she does and is always looking to get better. She has also exceeded the coach’s expectations and is having her best season yet,” said assistant swimming coach Sophie Kaeter when asked about the role the two Ellstroms play on the team. “As for Erica, she is competing in some tough events and always has a great attitude.”

Both Erica and Allison came to Minnesota State after not knowing what they wanted to study in college. They wanted to swim after high school and so they looked for colleges to attend. Both girls toured the school and found their niche here in Mankato.

“It is nice to have somebody on the sidelines cheering you on when you swim," said Allison. "She (Erica) knows what’s good and bad when I compete.” Erica also enjoys having someone to cheer for her and be supportive of her when she swims.

Not only are the Ellstrom sisters well-liked and compete on a team that is ranked 22nd in the CSCAA national poll, but they have also been swimming with many new and young faces.

“Practically a third of all swimmers and divers on the team are new faces,” said Nathan Owens, who is in his 12th year as head coach of the Mavericks.  “We have a big and fun freshman class on the team. They bring lots of new energy and talent and strive to improve and get better each day.”  The younger Mavericks have greatly stepped up and played a huge role on the team, including Erica.

The Maverick swim and dive team competes in the New South Conference. Owens takes his squad to Cleveland, Miss., this year for the NSISC Championships, which takes place Feb. 17 through Feb. 20 with the goal to be in the top three or four team in the meet. Ultimately, the primary objective is to qualify as many swimmers, relay teams, and divers as possible for the NCAA Championships.

“My goals for the postseason and the NSISC Championships are to make it back to the finals, where the top 24 swimmers and divers make it back," said Erica. "I would also like to drop my time a lot at the NSISC Championships.”

While Erica’s time of being a student-athlete at Minnesota State has just begun, the time is coming to an end for Allison’s swimming career as a Maverick. “My goals for the post season are to not have any regrets,” said the four-year veteran. “I am going to miss the girls and the team, but not so much practice.” 


      contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications intern

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mr. Apple.....Meet Mr. Tree

The son of former major league hurler Todd Frohwirth (right),
Tyler Frohwirth is a junior relief pitcher for Minnesota State
Some say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in Tyler Frohwirth’s case, that has proven to be true.

A  business management major, Frohwirth is a junior righthanded pitcher with the Minnesota State baseball team.

Tyler’s father, Todd, was also a pitcher. His collegiate career at Northwest Missouri State University turned into one of professional stature when he was 24-years-old.

The elder Frohwirth was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1984 and began a nine-year professional career that spanned from 1987 until he retired in 1996.

Throughout that time, the elder Frohwirth played for four different major league teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and California Angels. He spent the majority of his time – four years – with the Phillies.

Frohwirth, who appeared in 284 MLB games in his role as a reliever, accumulated a record of 20-19, 11 saves with a 3.60 earned run average and 259 strikeouts in 417.2 innings pitched.

His son, Tyler, emphasized that when he was growing up, his dad was just that – his dad.

“For me, honestly, that was just who he was – he’s just my dad. He happened to just be a guy who did pitch at that level. I didn’t think anything else of it,” Frohwirth said. “At the same time it was pretty cool that that’s what he did and it pushed me to want to try and reach that level.”

Even though his dad made a living out of baseball, he “let me decide what I want to do,” and never “pushed me into anything,” Frohwirth said.

“His favorite sport was actually basketball, so he probably wanted me to play basketball more than anything, which I loved,” Frohwirth said. “But baseball was really in the beginning what I wanted to do. It’s what I like the best.”

Frohwirth played basketball along with baseball at Brookfield Academy High School in Brookfield, Wis. Even though he also loved basketball, Frohwirth “liked baseball a little more,” and eventually decided to go that route.

Throughout his baseball career, Frohwirth’s father was there to teach him and give him advice. Aside from inheriting a similar submarine-style of pitching, some wise words have also stuck with Frohwirth and helped him enhance his own pitching.

“Even if you’re not better than the guy you’re facing, you just got to be better than him for those 30 seconds, is a big thing that he kind of pushed,” Frohwirth said. “He was a guy at that level that felt like he was lucky to be there, and he had to face some guys that were maybe a lot more talented. He just decided to be better than them for that short amount of time.”

Tyler’s father is a professional scout for the Baltimore Orioles organization, and is still involved in baseball full-time.

Tyler has had a rather impressive baseball career himself. He graduated from Brookfield Academy in 2013, and went 9-2 with a 1.57 ERA and 74 strikeouts in his high school baseball career.  An all-conference performer as a senior and a two-time team captain, he was named team MVP and selected to the Wisconsin High School All-Star game in 2012.

Frohwirth describes his experience with the Minnesota State baseball program extremely positively.

“We are very fortunate – we win a lot,” Frohwirth said. “We have a good group of guys who are passionate about baseball and what it means to be a Maverick playing for coach Magers. I’ve really liked it.”

Following a redshirt year, Frohwirth joined the Minnesota State staff in a relief role in 2014. In his two years of action he has crafted a 3-0 record with a 3.61 ERA, one save and 20 strike outs in 27.2 innings of work.

As for the upcoming baseball season, Frohwirth hopes the Mavericks will be able to return to the World Series, which they missed out on last season for the first time in three years. Frohwirth believes they “have the right group to actually achieve that.”

“I think this is going to be a great year. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Mavericks start their 2016 season Feb. 12 at Arkansas-Monticello.

- contributed by Courtney Johnson, Athletic Communications intern

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Harrington Intent on Building Program with Minnesota State Women's Hockey

John Harrington is in his first season as head coach of the
Minnesota State women's hockey program
They say, “Those who can’t do, teach.” But that is not exactly the case for John Harrington, who is in his first season as head coach of the Minnesota State women’s hockey program.

Harrington, a native of the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, was a standout prep forward at Virginia (Minn.) High School before he landed a spot with Gus Hendrickson’s program at Minnesota-Duluth. He lettered for four seasons from 1975 to 1979 with the Bulldogs and upon graduation, was invited to try out for the U.S. men’s hockey Olympic Team. History tells us that the American squad, comprised of young college hockey players, miraculously earned the gold medal at 1980 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Including an assist on Mike Eruzione’s memorable game-winning goal vs. Russia, Harrington finished with five points on five assists in seven games at the Olympics.

Harrington went on to play for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, and later for Lugano in the Swiss league before returning to the U.S. National Team from 1981 to 1983. He then rejoined the national team for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo before retiring and starting his coaching career at the University of Denver. After much success with the Pioneers, Harrington returned to Minnesota in 1990 as an assistant coach for St. Cloud State University. A few years later, he accepted the head coach position at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., where he led the Johnnies to a 241-142-31 record with four Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play-off and five regular-season titles, along with five NCAA tournament appearances from 1993 to 2008.

Today, Harrington has taken on the position of the Minnesota State women’s hockey program and is in the process of building a program, much like what he went through at St. John’s. “I think the wide range of experience that I’ve had as a coach has helped me a lot,” said Harrington. “Developing relationships with the players is most important; communicating is huge.” Harrington is in his first year of coaching women and is learning to coach a bit differently. “Women want explanations,” said Harrington. “I have to spend a proper amount of time with them and doing repetition is crucial because they ask more questions than men.”

Minnesota State men’s hockey head coach, Mike Hastings, who was a defenseman at St. Cloud State University when Harrington was an assistant coach with the Huskies men’s hockey program in the early 1990’s and he echoes Harrington’s sentiments regarding experience being a key to success moving forward. But feels that there’s much more to it than that.

“I think the with a guy like John Harrington you have someone who can make an immediate impact based on a couple of things. One, his playing experience at all levels is something that he can use to relate to with his student-athletes,” said Hastings. “And his coaching experience at all levels provides him with a foundation of experience and perspective that is hard to duplicate. He’s focused, driven, and a caring guy in which family comes first. That’s his #1 passion. But a close second is his pursuit of trying to improve every day with that program.”

Those that have watched this year’s Minnesota State team can see that there appears to be a bright future for Harrington and the Mavericks in the years to come. The program has made a move to Verizon Wireless Center in downtown Mankato where the facility has gone under an $8-million dollar upgrade to locker rooms, equipment, athletic training and work-out areas.  And a new coaching staff under Harrington’s veteran watch will also play a role in the transition.

 “We are going to have to have some patience to build the team back up,” said Harrington. “We need to make these steps where we want to be. Minnesota State can certainly get in the middle of the pack and play with the teams that are ranked nationally. Anyone can advance through the tournaments, we just need to build up our confidence first.”

Working with a young team this year (the 2015-16 team has 19 freshman and sophomores on its 25-player roster) and developing the relationships needed to build the team back up is the program and staff’s priority.  “Ultimately, though, It comes down to coaching on the ice,” said Harrington.

             Contributed by Amber Dahl, Athletic Communications intern


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coaching With Purpose

Lori Meyer (2nd from left) was a 2013 NFCA Hall of Fame Inductee
Holding the same job for three decades is impressive, especially in the world of intercollegiate athletics. And especially so at one institution.
Lori Meyer has been coaching the Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team for 31 years. As the head coach for the team, Meyer has seen the players take the field for 1,677 games and with 1,049 wins to her name, ranks amongst the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA Division II.
While she has had an abundance of success with the Mavericks, Meyer’s career in the sports world started long before her arrival at MSU.
“I grew up on a dairy farm with four brothers,” Meyer said. “ Really the neighborhood I grew up in was all boys around me. I had no choice but to figure out how to run with the boys and get that tough mentality.”

Growing up Meyer started playing YMCA softball and entering junior high she expanded her sports experiences by participating in basketball and track. While in college at Upper Iowa University, Meyer was on a basketball scholarship but also played softball and joined the track and volleyball teams for one year each.

Next on the sports train, Meyer found herself in a graduate position at MSU. While earning her master’s degree, Meyer was hired as a grad assistant for the softball and volleyball teams, which led to the head coaching with the Maverick softball program beginning in 1985.

Meyer has seen her fair share of success since her start as softball head coach in 1985. She led the Purple and Gold to two North Central Conference titles in 1987 and 1989 and then another one almost twenty years later in 2007. Recently the team won Northern Sun Intercollegiate titles in 2012,2013 and 2014.  Those are just to name a few.

MSU wrestling coach Jim Makovsky has worked along side Meyer for over 20 years and appreciates how the Albert City-Truesdale High School (Iowa) graduate goes about her business.

“I love her intensity, passion and how much she genuinely cares about her student-athletes,” said Makovsky. “ I believe she uses the sport of softball as a tool to help her players grow.”

With 30-plus years of accomplishments in one place some people might take their talents elsewhere for new adventures. However, Meyer enjoys the atmosphere of Mankato and has no plans of leaving.

“ I love the size,” Meyer said about living and working in the Key City.” I love how the greater Mankato community has grown and keeps developing and all the changes that have been made. It’s just a great place to grow and everything I need is right here.”

Besides the team awards and conference championships, Meyer has also assisted hundreds of student-athletes to succeed in their academic lives. During the course of her tenure Meyer has produced 122 academic all-conference student-athletes and six teams finish with a grade point average in the top-five of Division II, including her 1996 squad, which had the best GPA in Division II with a 3.31. 

“I think she has a purpose in the coaching profession,” Makovsky said. “And that is leading student-athletes toward getting a high quality education. She is a true educator and one of the best I have worked with.”

For Meyer, her choice to stay at MSU for so long is attributed to not only her love for sports, but also her love for helping the student athletes grow and mature.

“When you coach, every day that you go to work there is something different,” Meyer said. “I love the flexibility of coaching and I love the relationships that I have built with the players and other coaching staff. Watching the players find their place and have future goals is really what it’s all about.”

Meyer has already achieved so much as the head coach of a successful softball program and entering her fourth decade she isn’t so much focused on her own goals. It’s the students she wants to see succeed.

“The philosophy of our program, is for our young ladies to leave as strong, independent women,” Meyer said. “And we just want to continue that goal that our student-athletes leave with their degree and independence to do what they want.”

The softball team will look to create more memories with Meyer as the season gears up February 12 with several tournaments and NSIC play beginning March 22.

- contributed by Kelcie Richmond, Athletic Communications intern