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Monday, March 28, 2016

Ries Has Eye on the Prize

Minnesota State junior pitcher Coley Ries had a trio of her
photos appear in Mankato Magazine
Second straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week recognition for Minnesota State junior pitcher Coley Ries? Third career no-hitter? School record for career strike outs?  You bet.

A two-time All-NSIC selection, Ries has been on fire in 2016, tossing her third career no-hitter in a 5-0 win vs. Central Oklahoma and pitching 45.1 scoreless innings up until last Tuesday’s game against the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears.
The Eagle Lake, Minn., native is right at home when it comes to being a player in Mankato. Eagle Lake is situated just east of Mankato and Ries was an all-state performer for Mankato East High School. “I grew up here, and I always wanted to play somewhere that is already developed. I’m fortunate in having my family be able to watch me play and having the community be able to watch as well,” said Ries.

The multi-faceted righthander loves playing softball on the field and was also a talented tennis and basketball player in high school, but off the field, she has other interests.

Ries has an eye for taking pictures, something that started two years ago when she got a camera for Christmas. At first she was taking pictures of things like her dogs or just something she thought was  photo worthy.

On vacation with her family in Florida, she took several images that caught her eye and recently her work was featured in Mankato Magazine, a local monthly publication. When these photos were posted in the magazine, many people were surprised to see her name under the photos. “It is fun to get my pictures out there. I have gotten messages from people who didn’t know I took pictures; it makes me feel appreciated for my pictures,” Ries said.

Taking pictures is more for fun, just a hobby of Ries’. Not only does she take pictures of her dogs or nature, but she takes family photos for people as well. Mike Hastings, coach of the Maverick men’s hockey team is one of those people who had his family photos taken by Ries.

 “Coley is passionate about the game, she is a competitor and doesn’t like to lose,” said Lori Meyer, head coach of the Minnesota State softball program. “Off the field she is fun and has a lighter side to her. She is a teammate, a friend, and really enjoys her dogs.” Meyer, who is in her 31st year at the Maverick softball helm, feels that Ries’ work ethic for photos “carries over into her softball pitching abilities.”

The end goal, both Ries and Meyer agree, is to have those abilities help lead the Mavericks to success in NSIC regular season and a place in the NCAA Division II postseason tournament. Off to a 21-9 mark in the first 30 games of the 2016 campaign, Minnesota State, with Ries' watchful eye on the prize, is well on its way to reaching those goals.


                                                                            contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications intern

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Williams Hurdling Her Way to Success

Minnesota State's Altoniece Williams established a
school record in the 60m hurdles this year
8.36 seconds.

That’s all it took for Altoniece Williams to break her school record in the 60-meter hurdles. And on the cusp of the NCAA Division II national championships, that performance ranks as the second-fastest time in nation.

A sophomore at Minnesota State who is pursuing a major in criminal law and corrections, Williams is a Miami, Fla., native which most everyone one would know, is more than 1,700 miles from Mankato.

Following high school, Williams spent a year at Iowa Central College running track where she caught the eye of Chris Parno, who coaches Minnesota State’s sprinters and hurdlers.  

 “Altoniece came to Minnesota State for a track meet last season as a member of the Iowa Central team and then I saw her at two other track meets. I also know her junior college coach which made it easy to recruit her here.”

“I wanted to experience something new and different,” said Williams about venturing northward from the Sunshine State. Intent on experiencing something different and getting away from the heat of Miami, Williams points out that while she’s experienced success on the track, she also enjoys her time in Minnesota. “I really enjoy the snow and the weather. I had never experienced snow until I went to Iowa. I made snow angels and snow balls and even tasted the snow when I saw it for the first time.”

Concentrating being the best that she can be as a well-rounded student-athlete, Williams does not do much outside of track and school work.

Jen Blue, the who was named 2016 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Women’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year after leading the Mavericks to the league team title appreciates what Williams has contributed to the program in her first year in Mankato.

“Altoniece is a team player and leads by example. She has a solid work ethic and works hard every day at what she does,” said Blue. “Not only do her coaches know how hard she works, but she knows if she puts in the time and effort she will see the results she has been hoping for.

“I push myself to try and get better every day,” said Williams. “My goal is to be number one and it is always great to break my own records, but I also try to improve myself each week.”

Williams competed in the 200 meters, the 60-meter hurdles, and the 4x4 relay at this year’s indoor conference meet a post personal bests of 8.36 in the 60m hurdles and the in the 200m (:25.00).

The Mavericks compete in the NCAA DII championship meet March 11-12 in Pittsburg, Kan., where Williams will make her national debut.

Contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications Intern


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Franklin Finding His Niche

Minnesota State's C.J. Franklin was a member of the
 2014-15 WCHA All-Rookie Team as a freshman

Success can have a different meaning to many people.  For Minnesota State hockey sophomore forward C.J. Franklin his success doesn’t always have to show on the stat sheet after a game.

Franklin has spent his entire hockey career playing at the wing position, specifically left wing. However, things have recently changed for the second year Maverick and about six weeks he was moved to the center position.

“ I think I switched mainly so I could get speed coming through the zone and attacking from the middle,” Franklin said. “I did go through a slump earlier this year but then we made the switch and it’s helped a lot I think.”

When the 2015-2016 season started Franklin had high hopes as he came off a very impressive freshman year with the Mavericks. Selected to the 2014-2015 WCHA All-Rookie Team, Franklin registered nine goals along with 19 assists for 28 points in 37 games Those numbers tied for sixth on the Maverick scoring charts as the program rolled to Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season and postseason championships. However, through the first half of this season, the shots weren’t going in as easy as they use to for Franklin.  A switch to the middle of the ice helped get things going.

“Playing center is a lot different than playing wing,” Franklin said. “We’re getting the puck out a lot quicker which means more time on the offensive end. So I feel like that’s a big part of why my offense is succeeding.”

Mike Hastings, who in his first three years as head coach of the Mavericks has guided his program to a trio of NCAA tournament appearances, feels that while Franklin’s numbers haven’t necessarily taken the leap that some thought they might in his second year with the program, knows that there are other ways to measure a player’s impact on the team.

“His success in the second half of the season is really a combination of a few things. The move to center was fresh and just allowed him to receive the puck inside the dots,” Hastings said. “But ultimately it’s his work ethic and him getting his confidence back that have been just as important and just because he hadn’t been scoring doesn’t mean he wasn’t playing well.”

Franklin’s work ethic started long before he advanced the junior and college hockey ranks. He played at Forest Lake (Minn.) High School under coach Aaron Forsythe, who played defense for Minnesota State for four seasons (2000-04).

“You know, I didn’t really put two and two together (that Forsythe is a former Maverick) right away because I didn’t talk to that many schools when I was playing in high school,” Franklin said. “I knew he supported Minnesota State and we may have an a conversation once or twice, but it’s more of a coincidence more that anything.”

Before arriving in Mankato, Franklin toiled with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League where he was named an alternate captain his last season with the Stampede and tallied 54 goals an 111 points 115 games in his two years with the Stampede.

Joining the Mavericks last year was very exciting for Franklin and he knew right away he wanted to do his best for the team.

“Last year was a turning point in my career because I came in expecting to make a difference,” said Franklin, who was selected in the fifth round (129th overall), by Winnipeg in the 2014 National Hockey League draft.  “Coach made it obvious that he wanted me to come in and play so I felt more pressure last year and I think the difference this year is that it has been more of a learning experience.”

“Right now our team goal is to finish the second half strong and try to win out the rest of the year going into the playoffs,” Franklin said. “I think we need to take it one weekend at a time and we can’t be dropping points, every point and every goal is crucial for us and our goals.”

As it is with most college athletes, being a part of a program is what Franklin feels is enjoying the most about his Minnesota State hockey experience. “Being a part of a tradition, really a winning tradition if I can help that out that’s a morale booster,” Franklin said. “And really just coming to the rink every day with the all the guys, it’s really just something special.”

Contributed by Kelcie Richmond, Minnesota State Athletics communications intern

Thursday, March 3, 2016

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

Sports has its unbreakable records, right?

Gretzky has a passel of them (51 goals in 39 games, 51-game point-scoring streak, three consecutive 200-point seasons, 2,857 career points....you get the idea).  Joe DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak. Cy Young won 511 career games. Ty Cobb hit .367 over the course of his 24-year major league career. Cal Ripken, Jr. played in 2,632 straight games. Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game in 1962 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. The Boston Celtics won eight straight NBA titles from 1959-66.  Eric Heiden won every men's speedskating event at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

It gets the mind to wandering, as it is wont to do when one does what one does. In my case, the question becomes what are our unbreakable records?  Are there any? Given that our sports date back the 1920's, one would think so.

So, after some reflection, let's peel back the onion to see what comes up.  For your review, here's a list. Certainly not an end-all, be-all compendum as certainly there are others. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

There are many others, so just a smattering listed above. A question we had upon compiling this was which one is the most unlikely to be broken.  Ted Nelson's record in the 800m has held up more than 50 years. Brad Henry pinned his opponent in four seconds. Jason Hoppe set a NCAA record when he did not allow a run (earned or otherwise) in 55 straight innings and Butch Meyeraan was perfect when he made 20 of 20 free throws in a game vs. UW-River Falls in 1961.  In order to get past Lori Meyer's career wins mark, a coach would have to average 35.1 victories a season for 30 years.  Well, Lori's still coaching. And winning. Good luck with that.

It's great to be a Maverick!