News and notes from weekly MSU press conference
Sprinkled in with the routine match/meet review analysis from this past week and the optimistic preview comments for what lies ahead, the Minot State athletics weekly press conference on Tuesday morning also offered up some extra noteworthy tidbits of information.
Listed below are the most interesting news and notes from the six MSU head coaches who attended the press conference.
WBB: Reflecting on the death of Duane Schwab
Minot State women’s basketball coach Mark Graupe shared his condolences and admiration for former Lake Region State women’s basketball coach Duane Schwab, who died unexpectedly on Feb. 11.
Schwab was a Minot State alumnus. He also gave Graupe his first chance to coach at the college level.
“He hired me at Lake Region, and I worked with him for seven years there,” Graupe said. “I was the men’s coach and he was the women’s coach. He always kept in touch with me since then.”
Schwab was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2016. He retired in 2014 after 25 seasons as the women’s basketball head coach at Lake Region State in Devils Lake.
“There are a lot of people out there that know him and know who he was,” Graupe said. “It’s a tough passing. It’s a blow for the state of North Dakota.”
MBB: Taking a rare
peek at the postseason
During the season, Minot State men’s basketball head coach Matt Murken avoids looking at the conference standings. The annual exception comes at the end of the regular season when possible travel implications are in the balance.
“I had to take a peek because we have to start making travel plans because we know we are going to be on the road,” Murken said. “The big thing now is to play well and try to win. Obviously, you are doing that the whole time. But, try to win this weekend for the momentum’s sake of it.”
MSU (10-16, 4-16 NSIC) is already locked into the North Division No. 8 seed, which means the Beavers will play the South Division winners on the road in the first round of the NSIC Tournament.
Sioux Falls (20-6, 16-4 NSIC) is the likely destination, but Upper Iowa (17-9, 14-6 NSIC) is still in the running. The Peacocks need two wins and a pair of Cougar losses this weekend to steal the top spot.
MSU beat Sioux Falls on Jan. 18 at home, 69-66. MSU lost to Upper Iowa on Feb. 8 at home, 94-71.
“More than likely, we will be at Sioux Falls,” Murken said. “It’s a team we have already played, had a great game down to the wire and we were able to get a victory against them.”
Right now, with the Beavers currently on a five-game losing streak, regaining confidence before the NSIC Tournament is the main priority.
MSU will undoubtedly be tested again this weekend on the road against Minnesota State Moorhead (16-10, 12-8 NSIC) and the North Division leaders Northern State (20-6, 16-4 NSIC) to close out the regular season.
WR: Jordan Will
out, torn ACL
Minot State heavyweight wrestler and football defensive lineman Jordan Will suffered a devasting ACL tear in his 285-pound bout with U-Mary’s Dominic Tudor on Sunday.
The Minot native and former state wrestling champion at Bishop Ryan is out for the rest of the season and has a long recovery process ahead in the hopes of being ready for the upcoming football season in the fall.
“(Will) is a returning region champion,” MSU wrestling coach Evan Forde said. “I think in any sport when you lose your best athlete, it’s not easy. I just feel for him. He is the type of kid that does everything right and works his tail off. It was sort of a freak accident. It wasn’t a dangerous situation or anything. His knee just sort of buckled on him.”
Will finishes this season with a 13-3 overall record and currently bolsters a 33-9 career record at Minot State.
“If there is anybody who can bounce back from (an ACL tear) and make the most out of that sort of injury, it’s Jordan Will,” Forde said. “He is going to attack this rehab, and hopefully there is enough time for him to get ready for next football season. But, certainly, he should be ready to go for us next winter.”
WHKY: Looking to
avoid another letdown
Dropping in the ACHA Division I standings was a substantial concern for Minot State women’s hockey coach Ryan Miner after the No. 2-ranked Beavers tied No. 9 Midland, 3-3, on Feb. 8.
That fear didn’t come to fruition, as MSU held its No. 2 spot.
After having this past weekend off, the rejuvenated Beavers want to avoid any more possible slip-ups with their conference tournament and more than likely national tournament appearance coming up.
MSU travels to face another team on the bubble of reaching the national tournament this weekend: No. 8 Minnesota.
“They are fighting for their spot,” Miner said. “With everything set up with the way it is right now, the western conference with Colorado would bump them out with the auto bid. They are fighting to move up to the No. 7 spot; otherwise, they won’t make the national tournament.”
The top eight teams move onto nationals with three conference tournament winners getting automatic bids.
“We can’t take them lightly,” Miner said about Minnesota. “We obviously have a leg up on them with two wins (against them) at home here. But, at the same time, we will be in their home rink, and we know we are going to get their best effort.”
on top of records
The Minot State track and field team broke six school records (and tied another) this past weekend — the most in any single weekend during the tenure of head coach Mark Del Monaco.
“I joked it was a record weekend of records,” Del Monaco said.
Those records included Landon Dunlap and Abby McGee in the mile, Taylor Laumeyer in the weight throw, Lauren Reeves and Ashley France in the 5K, Whitney Hanson in the 800m run and Franz Boothe in the 60m.
The Beavers competed at both the Grand Valley State Big Meet (Mich.) and the South Dakota State Indoor Classic.
“Two years ago, when I arrived,” Del Monaco recalled. “Guys and girls were running PRs and lifetime bests, but we were just getting our butts kicked, if I can be brutally honest.”
Now, those flashy personal-bests and school records are helping the Beavers finish closer to the front.
“It’s cool to hear Minot State, Minot State, over the loudspeaker,” Del Monaco said. “You certainly didn’t hear that two years ago.”
SB: Batting order
changes a possibility
Early season tinkering is often a necessity and unavoidable.
The Minot State softball team used this past off week to get healthy, get back to basics and toy around with the idea of moving the batter order around.
“Average is such a misleading stat,” MSU head coach Nat Wagner said. “We look at the quality of at-bats. We also look at the on-base percentage and OPS. So, we will make a couple of changes based on power and on-base percentages, probably.”
Wagner is confident with the hitters currently in the lineup. It’s about putting them in the right spot in the order so they can do the most damage.
“You could almost pick them out of a hat right now,” Wagner said. “There will be a little more science than that. But, my guess is we will shuffle a couple of kids up and down. We will give some kids a better chance at seeing better pitches too.”
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.