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SEPTEMBER 2020

C O M P L I M E N TA RY


CONTENTS

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COVER STORY 18

A TRADITION OF GREATNESS

North Dakota State athletics has always been defined by tradition and success. Whether it is the recent success in the Division I era or the copious amounts of championships accrued in the Division II days, the Bison have always found a way to thrive. At Bison Illustrated, we are committed to putting that adherence to tradition on full display in every issue. However, where did that desire to succeed come from? We take a look at the past to help us understand why North Dakota State has been so successful in the present. Through notable teams, student-athletes, coaches and events, we take a deep dive into Bison athletics history and tradition.

09/2020

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FEATURES 60

54

RECURRING

THE BISON SPEAK

Read what NDSU student-athletes, coaches and administrators had to say regarding the postponement of fall MVFC football due to COVID-19 and the scheduling of a lone game on October 3.

8 Editor's Note 14 Bison Shots 66 Interactive Content 74 Swany Says

BISON ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME Meet the newest class that will be immortalized in the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame in 2021.

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TEAM MAKERS

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LAST PAGE

Get to know Team Makers Executive Committee.

A final word on one of NDSU Athletics’ biggest legends.

FIND US ONLINE

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nolan@spotlightmediafargo.com

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Let me just say this and get it out of the way immediately.

Cult Of Curiosity FROM NOLAN P. SCHMIDT

Am I upset that fall sports (outside of one scheduled football game) have been postponed due to COVID-19? Yes, I am. Not because it openly impacts my job, but it truly rips my heart out to see student-athletes, coaches and administrators get the things they love taken away from them. Whether it is football, volleyball, soccer, cross country, band, theatre or anything, seeing this all fall by the wayside is upsetting. On the flip side, the safety and well-being of anyone, including student-athletes, coaches and those associated with athletics is paramount. I understand that players want

to play and coaches want to coach. Yet, it is selfish for anyone outside of the athletic department to whine or gripe about these sorts of decisions. Student-athletes and their well-being and experience at NDSU come first and it should come first in the minds of fans and media members alike. For Bison Illustrated, we must move on. Much like NDSU athletics has to move on and figure out what is next. I refuse to define our magazine by COVID-19 and the negativity attached to it. For me, that means we must adapt and turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Our world needs more positivity and we want to be that over the next few months.


FROM THE EDITOR

Okay, that is out of the way now... I am a naturally curious person and I am always excited to learn new things. Oftentimes, I wish there was a profession for those that have unnecessary information stemming from needless Google searches. I would be really good at a profession like that because I am that guy who ends up reading up on things that will in no way benefit my life. For example, I recently discovered a musical act that I had never heard before. I enjoyed their sound, listened to their discography and came to the conclusion that I wanted to learn more about

them. Upon a quick Google search, I found out that the band originated in Ukraine. For you geography nuts out there, that is in eastern Europe and the home country of famous Seattle Supersonic Vitaly Potapenko (do you see how deranged I am yet?). In short, I then found myself reading articles on the recent civil unrest in the country. Now, I will not call myself an expert in geopolitical matters, but I learned something new. All stemming from my curious nature to look up a band I had heard.

some reason.

In a given week, there are several instances like the one described above. All of these scenarios end in me learning something new. That is neat to me, it gets me excited for

The following stories are maybe ones you have heard before, but some may be new to you. My hope is that this issue genuinely interests you and you learn something

When I learned that there would likely not be a fall sports season (other than the October 3 football game), I had to act quickly on what this issue would look like. Usually, it’s our annual football preview, but we could not make that happen this year (yet). Knowing that there are not a lot of sports going on currently, I thought about doing something pithy. Something that will tickle the Bison athletics nerd in all of us.

new along the way. If that is the case, you’ll feel how I felt when I was putting it all together. Don’t be afraid to be a lifelong student and never let your curiosity dwindle. Stay Safe,

Special thanks to North Dakota State athletics and North Dakota State University’s archives for preserving history for all these years and allowing these great stories to be told in this magazine.


SEPTEMBER 2020 | VOLUME 15 ISSUE 5 Bison Illustrated is a free publication distributed monthly (8 times a year). Our mission is to help promote North Dakota State University Athletics, provide a quality and fun reading experience and to improve the way of life in our community. The publication is mailed to homes across the US and has newsstand distribution throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.

Publisher Mike Dragosavich Drago@SpotlightMediaFargo.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director Alexandra Martin Alexandra@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Editor Nolan P. Schmidt Graphic Designer Kim Cowles Contributors Josh Swanson INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager Nick Schommer nickschommer@spotlightmediafargo.com Digital Marketing Strategist Tommy Uhlir Inbound Marketing Specialist Kirsten Lund Social Media Content Specialist Emma Bonnet Videographer Tommy Uhlir, Laura Alexander Executive Sales Assistant Kellen Feeney Graphic Designer Ben Buchanan ADVERTISING Senior Sales Executive Paul Hoefer Paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Sales Executives Zach Olson Zach@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Senior Leader of Digital Solutions Brady Sprague Client Relations clientrelations@spotlightmediafargo.com Client Relations Manager Jenny Johnson Marketing Designer Christy German ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources Colleen Dreyer Account Strategist Cassie Wiste DISTRIBUTION Delivery John Stuber

FOR ADVERTISING, CALL 701-478-SPOT (7768) or email info@spotlightmediafargo.com Bison Illustrated is published by Spotlight Media, LLC. Copyright 2020 Bison Illustrated & bisonillustrated.com All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Bison Illustrated. Bison Illustrated and Spotlight Media, LLC is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on such information. Spotlight Media, LLC accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers. Send change of address information and other correspondence to: Spotlight Media LLC. 15 Broadway N, Suite 500 Fargo, ND 58102 or info@spotlightmediafargo.com


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ophomore quarterback Trey Lance participates in position drills on the first day of fall football practice. Lance, a Marshall, Minnesota, product, led North Dakota State to a national championship in 2019. The sophomore was named the Walter Payton Award Winner, given to the best player at the FCS level. Thanks to his stellar play in his redshirt freshman season, Lance has NFL eyes on him. The Bison quarterback is featured as an early firstround pick on several draft boards.

Want to contribute? Email your best photos to: nolan@spotlightmediafargo.com

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unior linebacker Jackson Hankey participates in stretching drills during NDSU’s first football practice. Hankey was a behemoth for Code Green in 2019, tallying 127 total tackles and helping the Bison defense become one of the best in the country. The Park River, North Dakota, native is also an outstanding student too. Hankey received the NCAA Elite 90 award in 2019 and was featured on the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s All-Academic team.

Want to contribute? Email your best photos to: nolan@spotlightmediafargo.com 16

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Photos Provided By NDSU Athletics and North Dakota State University Archives


By Nolan P. Schmidt

A Tradition Of Greatness North Dakota State athletics has always been defined by tradition and success. Whether it is the recent success in the Division I era or the copious amounts of championships accrued in the Division II days, the Bison have always found a way to thrive. At Bison Illustrated, we are committed to putting that adherence to tradition on full display in every issue. However, where did that desire to succeed come from? We take a look at the past to help us understand why North Dakota State has been so successful in the present. Through notable teams, student-athletes, coaches and events, we take a deep dive into Bison athletics history and tradition.

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Bison Firsts The 1965 national champion Bison.

1965

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Bison Football Football at NDSU has always been the hottest ticket in town. Whether it was braving the bitter cold to witness a game at Dacotah Field or sliding into your seat inside the Fargodome, Bison football has always run through our community. Outside of a few instances here and there, the Bison have always been one of the most competitive football programs, regardless of what conference or division they are in. This is evident in the program's 16 national titles. However, one can assume that this level of greatness on the gridiron does not happen without first laying a foundation. In the case of Bison football, that foundation was laid by head coach Darrell Mudra in the early 1960s. Taking the helm of NDSU football in 1963, Mudra helped lead the Bison to some successful campaigns in 1963 and 1964. However, 1965 was when the foundation for championship tradition was built. 1965 was the year North Dakota State won their very first national championship in football. Going a perfect 11-0 on the season, the Bison found their way to Pecan Bowl and a date with Grambling State for the title. First, NDSU would have to get through a tough nonconference and NCC slate. This began with a dominant 59-20 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the season opener. From there, the Bison continued to dismantle opponents, with only

Players celebrate following NDSU's national title win.

two regular-season games ending in a one-score differential. Among these impressive affairs was a 66-8 win over South Dakota and a 41-13 win over South Dakota State. The closest game the Bison had all season was on Homecoming against North Dakota. A rough and tumble game saw the Bison prevail 6-3. Football was different in 1965. Spectators were treated to several battles in the trenches as compared to the air raid, passhappy game we see today. For reference, NDSU quarterback Terry Hanson threw for 548 yards on 77 attempts in 1965. The workhorses were running backs Ken Rota and Vance Conner. Both Rota and Conner tallied over 150 carries on the year with Rota racking up 857 rushing yards. On top of that, Rota was a touchdown machine, finding the endzone 14 times in 1965. Taking on Grambling State for the national title, NDSU's defense was what shined. They limited Grambling State to just 97 total yards with their only score coming on a kickoff return. In the end, Ken Rota's 96 rushing yards and a touchdown was a difference-maker for the Bison, who won 20-7. Celebrating on the field in Abilene, Texas, North Dakota State football was on the map and they haven't fallen off since.

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1991

Bison women’s basketball

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For Bison women’s basketball fans, the wait for a national title opportunity was well worth it. With coach Amy Ruley taking the reigns in 1979, it was not until 1991 that the Bison women won their first national title. However, from 1979 until 1991, Ruley was able to coach NDSU to three North Central Conference championships. This included a Division II Final Four appearance in 1988. Once the 1990-91 season came along, the Bison women were hungry and ready to prove that they belonged on the national stage. What ensued will forever remain one of the best seasons in Bison basketball history, men’s or women’s. North Dakota State went a staggering 31-2 on the season on their way to a national championship game appearance against Southeast Missouri State. Coach Ruley and the Bison had the Midwest buzzing and the attendance numbers are a showcase of that. In the two rivalry games against North Dakota, the two teams welcomed in a total of 13,594 basketball fans. One of NDSU’s two losses on the season came against North Dakota, who snapped a 14-game NDSU winning streak at the time. The other Bison loss came on the road to Augustana in early January 1991. Outside of those two losses, the Bison women were firing on all cylinders in 1990-91. A large reason for that was their potent offensive attack. NDSU scored over 80 points in 25 of their 33 games, scoring 90 or more eight times and passing the century mark twice. This included an unbelievable 11877 win over Northern Colorado on February 2.

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Head coach Amy Ruley led the Bison to their first national championship in 1991.

This offensive onslaught came thanks to a balanced approach by the Bison. NDSU had four players average double figures in scoring led by Jill DeVries and Nadine Schmidt, who each averaged 13.8 points per game. Ruley’s club was also shockingly efficient with the shots they took, shooting an impressive 48 percent from the field over 33 games. This included a 34 percent clip from long range. So when the Bison arrived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for the Division II Final Four, one had to wonder who was going to stand in their way. The answer was nobody. In the national championship game against Southeast Missouri State, sophomore Jodi Buck paced the Bison with 19 points. Buck was one of five Bison in double figures. By the game’s end, NDSU had shot a staggering 54 percent from the field. From there, Ruley and the Bison would go on to win four more national titles in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.


Kathy Stoll (right) played a big role in NDSU's first NCC title season.

1981

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Bison Volleyball NDSU volleyball enjoyed great success throughout their time in the North Central Conference. With 12 NCC titles, including five straight from 1988 to 1992, the Bison commanded the league as soon as they joined in 1979. However, it took a few seasons before they were able to call themselves conference champions in 1981. Coached by Bison volleyball legend Donna Palivec, NDSU won 29 matches in 1979, their first year in the NCC. In 1980, they went a formidable 26-14 in match play. However, that 1980 Bison team tasted what it was like to succeed in tournament time, winning four matches at that year's NCC Tournament before falling to top-seeded Northern Colorado. The writing was on the wall for the rest of the conference to see: the Bison were coming. So it should come as no surprise to see how well the Bison performed in 1981. Compiling a 41-11 record throughout 1981, NDSU was poised as one of the top teams in the league. Heading into the North Central Conference Tournament, the Bison were confident about securing the program's first conference championship. Much of this confidence stems from the Bison's attacking ability. NDSU had four players that finished the season with over 200 kills. This was led by Jen Miller, who accounted for 381 kills to lead the team. From there, greats like Pati Rolf, Laura Jacobson and Kathy Stoll all racked up at least 225 kills for NDSU. The Bison killers were also efficient in making their attacks count. Of the four leading attackers, each had at least a .246 attack percentage. As a team, the Bison had a .250 attack percentage. In enemy territory in Brookings, South Dakota, the Bison showcased why they were the best team in the North Central Conference. They picked up tournament wins over South Dakota State, Augustana, North Dakota, Morningside and Omaha en route to a conference title. The most impressive thing about that run? The Bison did not lose a single set, sweeping the tournament with a 10-0 match record. North Dakota State would win the NCC Tournament again in 1982 and would follow that up with 10 more conference championships.


1999 bison soccer

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North Central Conference soccer has an interesting history behind it. While the league did have schools playing soccer, there is no presence of a conference tournament in NDSU’s records. There were playoff games in the NCC, but the only playoff game listed in NDSU’s history in the conference came in 2000 against Minnesota State Mankato. While the details behind postseason soccer in the NCC may seem a bit muddy, one thing that can not be contested is the Bison’s trip to the Division II NCAA Tournament in 1999. NDSU has since enjoyed great success in the Summit League, winning the league four times and making one NCAA Tournament appearance. However, it was the historic 1999 season that paved the way for Bison soccer to succeed in the Division I era. NDSU soccer was still in its relative infancy in 1999, having only been a sanctioned sport since 1995. Depsite the youth of the program, the Bison had finished above .500 in each of its first four years including an 8-0 campaign in 1996.

Nicole VandenBos was a vital offensive weapon for Bison soccer.

North Dakota State was a balanced offensive machine in 1999 with five players (not including VandenBos) who scored at least six goals. Of those five players, three of them also doled out at least eight assists. The Bison were also solid in net on the other end too. Splitting up goalie duties, the Bison were led by Tara Sweeney in net. Sweeney only allowed five goals in 10 starts leading to a .917 save percentage. Kelly Tierney started the other nine games in net for NDSU, allowing just six goals with a .903 save percentage. With their impressive NCC mark, the Bison were able to qualify for the Division II NCAA Tournament. It was the program’s first appearance on such a stage in just their fifth year of existence. Traveling to Wilder, Kentucky, to take on the seventh-ranked Northern Kentucky Norse the Bison fought valiantly. Unfortunately, their effort came up short in a 1-0 loss to Northern Kentucky.

1999 was different, though. With offensive firepower unseen before in Bison soccer history, NDSU had their eyes on the NCAA Tournament. Coached by Matt Townsend, the Bison went 14-3-2 in 1999 including 4-1-1 in North Central Conference games. NDSU scored 60 total goals on the year, led by Nicole VandenBos, who netted 15 and dished out seven assists. To date, VandenBos is still the school’s leader in total goals scored.

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2000

Bison Softball

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Softball has been a sport, like football, that has seen a stellar amount of success throughout its entire history, especially in the late 90s and early 2000s when NDSU was looking to transition to Division I. Many know about the string of 12 Summit League titles Darren Mueller and company have enjoyed in the Division I era. Yet, the Bison were able to be successful in the North Central Conference before moving to Division I. For many, a key example of this is the Division II national title team from 2000. NDSU had been successful in the late 90s winning 45, 64 and 53 games in 1997, 1998 and 1999 respectively. Heading into the 2000 season, head coach Mitch Hanson was aware that this may be a special season forthcoming. The Bison were coming off of a North Central Conference title in 1999 and an NCAA Regional win. Something special was about to happen on the diamond in Fargo. Needless to say, that something special just happened to be a 68-10 season which included a 12-3 NCC mark. Much like the Bison teams we see today, it was an all-around effort to have a season that successful. NDSU was sharp in every facet of the game, highlighted by their offense. Hanson’s team had six players batting over .300 led by Nikki Flynn’s astonishing .506 batting average. Shelly Rhein and Nikki Almquist drove in 68 and 56 runs respectively, leading to a very tough offense to stop. On the other side of the ball, NDSU continued to hammer home one of their staples to success: defense. Not a single player on the Bison roster had a fielding percentage below .918 and the team had a collective fielding percentage of .963.

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2000 Bison softball team that won the Division II national title.

What ties all of it together was great work in the circle by the Bison pitchers. Julie Fromm led the way with a 45-6 record, 305 strikeouts and a 1.39 ERA. Not to be outdone, NDSU’s other pitcher, Melissa Hobson, went 23-4 on the year with a 1.28 ERA. All of that made NDSU a juggernaut in Division II softball. That does not mean it came easily as NDSU did not win the NCC Tournament in 2000, losing in the finals to Nebraska-Omaha. North Dakota State was able to rebound from that and win the NCAA North Central Regional. That victory gave them a chance at the national championships. With wins over Lewis, Bloomsburg, UC Davis and Kennesaw State so far, the Bison would have to defeat Kennesaw State once more to capture a national title. North Dakota State was able to gain a three-run advantage in the first inning. The Owls were able to muster up one run on Julie Fromm before the Bison defense and Fromm clamped down. Fromm would pick up her fourth win at the NCAA Tournament on the back of a two-hitter. In the end, the Bison won their first national championship with a 3-1 win over Kennesaw State.


2013

The 2013 Bison women's golf team won the program's first conference championship.

Bison Women’s Golf

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The North Dakota State women’s golf team was unable to win a conference championship in the Division II era. With the program being discontinued in 1990 (along with men’s golf, tennis and swimming) it obviously made that an impossibility for almost six years. Both men’s and women’s golf were reinstated ahead of the 1996-97 season, but the Bison women were still not quite able to get over the NCC hump. As the Bison transitioned to Division I, this hunger for a conference championship only continued to cultivate within the women’s golf program. The Bison women were able to steadily improve on the links as they joined the Summit League. Since joining the league, their best finish to that point at the conference tournament was a runner-up finish in 2011-12. They had the talent in place to challenge for a Summit League title in 2012-13, there was no doubt about that. With the sour taste of a runner-up finish the year before still in their mouths, the Bison were on a quest to get the program’s first conference title. Throughout the fall season, the Bison women were able to get tournament wins at the Concordia Cobber Open as well as the Jackrabbit Fall Invitational. Along with that, the Bison placed in the top five of two other tournaments that fall. With that momentum in their back pocket, NDSU looked to dominate the spring slate.

One cannot mention this team’s success without first mentioning Amy Anderson. The best golfer in school history, Anderson posted a historic 72.84 stroke average over the course of 2012-13. This included five individual tournament wins. Anderson did not finish outside the top five all year. The rest of the Bison roster was stellar as well with five golfers posting a stroke average of 83 or less. At the Summit League Championships, Anderson won the individual title by 11 strokes. Along with that, the Bison ran away with the tournament as a team, winning by 11 strokes. On top of Anderson’s first-place finish, each Bison competing finished in the top 20. Those great results guided Matt Johnson and the Bison to their first conference title. Anderson went on the finish tied for 26th at the NCAA West Regional with the Bison finishing 23rd as a team. Since graduating, Anderson has gone on to great success as a professional in the LPGA. The Bison would go on to win another Summit League title in 2018 as well. Matt Johnson and company have also broken the team scoring average record four times since 2012-13.

That momentum proved valuable as NDSU finished in the top ten in all of their spring tournaments. This included wins at the Kansas City Kangaroo Invitational and the Creighton Invitational. Both of those wins came in consecutive order just before the Summit League Championships. 27


Bison Icons

Bison Icons

Darrell Mudra F

ew coaches have had the impact on Bison athletics quite like Darrell Mudra, who helmed the Bison football program during the 1963, 1964 and 1965 seasons. While Mudra's name has become synonymous with the game of football across the country, one could consider North Dakota State as a portion of his humble beginnings. Beginning his coaching career at Adams State in Colorado in 1959 following his playing career at Peru State, Mudra found his way to Fargo ahead of the 1963 season. Not only would he be tasked with putting the football team on the right track, but Mudra would also assume the duties of athletic director at North Dakota State. Throughout the rest of his career, NDSU would be the only position where he held an administrative position. In his first year in Fargo, Mudra helped the Bison to a 3-5 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the North Central Conference. Following that season, Mudra would only lose one football game as the head coach of the Bison. In 1964, NDSU went 10-1, winning the NCC title and defeating Western State in the Mineral Water Bowl. It was in 1965 that Mudra left his lasting impression on Fargo and Bison football. He led NDSU to an 11-0 season and a Pecan Bowl victory over Grambling State. That victory clinched North Dakota State's first football national championship. During his time in Fargo, Mudra's coaching record stood at a glowing 24-6 overall and 14-4 in NCC play. While Mudra moved on following the 1966 academic year, the title he won in 1965 would be his only national title.

Mudra stands on the sideline of Dacotah Field

However, Mudra did not leave the program without first replacing himself. He hired Ron Erhardt, his assistant coach, to his position. Erhardt would lead the Bison to five consecutive NCC titles and two national titles in 1968 and 1969.

is credited with creating the foundation that would become NDSU's football dynasty. Mudra was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.

After NDSU, Mudra went on to coach at Arizona, Western Illinois, Florida State, Eastern Illinois and Northern Iowa. In total, Mudra won 200 college football games throughout his career. Outside of that, he

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Bison Icons

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Harold “Red” Blakely

1923-24 Bison men's basketball.

The 1925-26 Bison men's basketball team.

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here is not too much known about Harold “Red” Blakely other than he was a basketball player that was seemingly ahead of his time in the early to mid-1920s. We do know that Blakely was a stalwart in the middle for those early Bison squads under coach George Dewey and later I.J. Cortright. In the years that Blakely was on campus, the Bison won 63 games to just 15 losses. Throughout the 1920s, NDSU was one of the most successful basketball schools in the Midwest, winning 148 out of a possible 213 games. Included in this was just two losing seasons in that decade. Blakely was a two-time All-North Central Conference performer for NDSU in the years he was on campus. He was also named an All-

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American by the Chicago Tribune. Much of NDSU’s notoriety came from their big wins over Wisconsin, Washington State and Washington in Blakely’s years. Blakely and the Bison were also able to push Big Ten champion Iowa to overtime. In 1925-26, Blakely helped the Bison to a 22-3 season and the school’s first conference championship. Blakely led the team and the conference in scoring during that season. Blakely was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1972.


Amy Ruley

Ruley in 1994, a season where the Bison women won their third national title. Ruley with her team following her 600th career win.

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here are few coaching resumes that can hold a candle to Amy Ruley’s. The coach of the Bison women’s basketball team for 29 seasons was able to accumulate 671 career wins in her time at NDSU. Perhaps more importantly, Ruley and her teams were able to place a needed spotlight on women’s athletics in a time where women’s collegiate sports were a relatively new concept. Not only were Ruley’s teams great, but they would often pack the Bison Sports Arena to the brim with fans. Much of this was thanks to Ruley’s coaching ability and her famous recruiting acumen. Despite being a Division II program, Ruley was able to beat out Division I and Power Five schools for local talent. The product on the floor can be described as second to none. Not only could Ruley get players to NDSU, but she could also bring the best out of them. The results for Ruley were 25 consecutive winning seasons from 1980 until 2005. She was also able to guide the Bison to 20 seasons of 20 wins or more and 18 NCAA playoff appearance. Ruley also brought 12 North Central Conference titles to Fargo.

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Yet the most important number for Amy Ruley is her five national championships in the early 1990s. North Dakota State won their first national title in 1991 with a win over Southeast Missouri State. The Bison made it back to the national title game in 1992, but fell to Delta State. Following that defeat, Ruley’s teams won national titles in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. Ruley was also able to help bring Bison women’s basketball through the Division I transition. The legendary head coach retired in 2008 after more success in the early Division I era. Ruley then worked inside the NDSU athletic department and was instrumental in helping the building and funding of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Ruley was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.


Bison Icons Bison Icons

Bernie Graner T

he earliest recorded statistics and records for the Bison baseball team dates back to 1909. It was not until 1969 that the Bison were able to win their first conference championship in the North Central Conference. That monumental victory for the program is thanks in large part to the stingy pitching of Bernie Graner that spring. Graner, a Mandan, North Dakota, native was dominant on the mound for an NDSU squad that was coming off a solid 12-8 season in 1968. Under head coach Ron Bodine, the Bison went 14-11 in 1969 including an 11-5 NCC mark. Of those 14 decisions, seven of them went to Graner, which was a school record at the time. Graner also set an NCC record in strikeouts in 1969 as well.

The 1969 Bison baseball team that won the program's first NCC title.

By the end of Graner’s career, he had set school records in career strikeouts, career wins, career innings pitched, career shutouts and season strikeouts. His name was also littered throughout the North Central Conference record books in many of the same categories. To date, Graner is still in the top five in school history in career strikeouts, career shutouts, career wins, career complete games and career ERA. Graner was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

The deciding game in that year’s NCC tournament came against South Dakota, who the Bison had lost to the day before. With their season and a conference championship on the line, Graner pitched a shutout as the Bison beat the Coyotes 2-0. It was the first conference championship in program history.

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Carolyn Schmidt

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he late 1960s and early 1970s saw a revolution in women’s athletics. Not only were women becoming better than some men in various sports, but they were also vying for inclusion at the intercollegiate level. The late 1960s saw NDSU make volleyball and women’s basketball intercollegiate sports on campus, among others. Carolyn Schmidt was the first great woman studentathlete as those sports were beginning to gain steam. Under coach Collette Folstad, Schmidt helped the Bison to a 5-5 record in 1967 followed up by a 2-6 campaign in 1968. In both years, Schmidt was named the Most Valuable Player of the team. Schmidt also served as co-captain in those two years. As for her basketball career, Schmidt played under coach Folstad (who coached both volleyball and basketball) in her senior year in 1968-69. NDSU went 5-4 that season with wins over Valley City State, Mayville State, MSU-Moorhead and North Dakota. Schmidt was again named the Most Valuable Player to the team, bring her total to three MVPs across volleyball and basketball.

Norm Vennerstrom

T

he true reach of Norm Vennerstrom within the game of golf may never be accurately quantified. Vennerstrom certainly still has an impact on the men’s golf program today with the scholarship named in his honor. His performance on the golf course is just as legendary. Vennerstrom won an individual North Central Conference title in 1960 as a member of the Bison golf team. To follow that up, he helped the Bison to NCC team titles in 1961 and 1962. Those titles were the third and fourth in the program’s history. At the time, he was one of the most notable names in golf throughout the Midwest. After graduating from NDSU in 1962, Vennerstom continued to cement his place in the golfing world. He was the North Dakota Men’s Amateur champion three times after leaving NDSU. In 1970, the same year he won his second North Dakota Amateur, Vennerstrom qualified for the United States Men’s Amateur Golfing Championship. Vennerstrom was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Bison Icons

While both of those sports were in their infancy, Carolyn Schmidt was one of the early pioneers in both. Without her performance, who knows where NDSU women’s athletics would be today. Schmidt was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

Bison Icons 34

BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0


INDIVIDUAL

GREATS

Slack with his 1972 national title trophy.

Mike Slack There is a certain mystique behind distance runners at North Dakota State. Traveling miles upon miles throughout the cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field seasons, these men and women are seemingly built of iron. The Bison have shown that they are rather formidable in distance running too, with five men's conference titles and 10 women's conference crowns.

The 1971 track & field team. Slack helped lead NDSU to conference titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field that season.

One cannot begin to speak about the cross country and track & field tradition at NDSU without mentioning Mike Slack in the first sentence. Slack, who graduated from NDSU in 1973 was (and still is) potentially the most talented and accomplished distance runner in the school's history. It is thanks in part to Slack that the Bison cross country and track & field history is so rich with conference and national titles. Slack set a precedent of greatness in Fargo.

NDSU distance running on the map for the first time, but he showed just how great a runner he was. Slack finished third in that Division I national meet. The top finisher? Oregon's Steve Prefontaine, who is potentially the most recognized distance runner in history.

Throughout his decorated career at North Dakota State, Slack accumulated 12 individual conference championships. This included two North Central Conference titles in cross country as well as five NCC crowns in indoor and outdoor track & field.

As if that showing was not impressive enough, Slack continued to dominate the sport in 1972. While he finished second at the NCC meet in 1972 (and the Bison failed to win the conference title) Slack more than made up for it on the national stage. Running the Chicago Golf Course fivemile course in 24 minutes and 36 seconds (17 seconds short of his own course record), Slack won his second individual national title. On top of that, the Bison won their first and only cross country Division II national title as a team.

In 1971, behind the leadership of coach Roger Grooters, Slack helped the Bison to a second-place finish at the Division II national meet. It was at this meet where Slack would become the first NDSU individual national champion in cross country. To date, Slack is only one of three student-athletes to accomplish this feat at NDSU. It was also in 1971 that Slack competed at the Division I cross country championships. Not only did he place

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The astonishing portion of the story is that Slack was reportedly sick on the day he was scheduled to defend his title in 1972. Further blood tests showed that Slack was suffering a short-term virus, but would still be able to run for a title. 1973 saw Slack and the Bison win the North Central Conference title, but he was unable to make it a three-peat nationally. Still, Slack ended his career as a twotime All-American, a two-time national champion and a 12-time conference champion. Slack was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.


Bob Backlund And Bill Demarary

Bison great Bob Backlund as WWF champion

In 1964, a young, upstart wrestling coach named Bucky Maughan found himself at the helm of North Dakota State's wrestling program. At the time, the program had never won a North Central Conference title nor had they had any individual national champions. For Maughan, the success of the program relied on the quality of wrestlers he was bringing to Fargo. In just a few short years as head coach, Maughan had two studentathletes winning on the national stage. The rest of this story, you know, as Maughan went on to become one of the most revered figures in Bison athletics. Those two wrestlers were Bill Demaray and Bob Backlund. To date, they are still widely regarded as two of the best wrestlers to step foot on campus. Demaray is still one of the most decorated Bison wrestlers. He was a three-time NCC individual champion, winning two titles at 177 pounds and another at 167 pounds in 1970. In 1971, in front of a home crowd in Fargo, Demaray became the first wrestler to win an individual national title in program history. Winning at 177 pounds, Demaray was able to follow up that performance with another national title in 1972. By the end of his career, Demaray was a three-time AllAmerican thanks to his sixth-place finish at NCAAs in 1970. He completed his Bison career with a 67-7-0 record, a truly astonishing mark when thought about deeply. His .905 winning percentage would have been the best in school history, but he failed to meet the 75 match minimum by just one match. Regardless, he remains perhaps the best wrestler in Bison history. As for Backlund, he also captured a national title on that night in 1971. Wrestling at 190 pounds, the burly Backlund followed up Demaray's performance with a national championship of his own. Despite only wrestling for two years at NDSU, Backlund was able to post an impressive 16-4-1 record. In 1972, Backlund bumped up to heavyweight, where he placed fifth at the

Bill Demaray became the first official individual national champion for the Bison at 177 pounds in 1971. national meet.

The 1970-71 Bison wrestling team featuring Bob Backlund and Bill Demaray, who won the program's first individual national titles.

Backlund was also a stalwart for the Bison football team during his time on campus. Playing defensive tackle for NDSU in 1970 and 1971, Backlund was a starter for those early '70s teams. Upon leaving NDSU, Backlund became a household name in professional wrestling. He was a two-time WWF/WWE Heavyweight champion in his near-45-year career. Up until 2018, Backlund was still competing in matches in Japan, at 68 years of age. He was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2013 and is still regarded as one of the best technical wrestlers in pro wrestling history. As for Bucky Maughan and Bison wrestling? He was able to capture 17 NCC titles and four team national titles in his tenure. This also includes 30 individual championships. Demaray was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame in 1982. Backlund was inducted in 1983. 37


INDIVIDUAL

GREATS

Nancy Dietman If Mike Slack paved the way for men's cross country and distance running at NDSU, Nancy Dietman has to be considered the catalyst of distance on the women's side. Still one of the most accomplished cross country and track & field runners in Bison history, Dietman was also a history-maker. On top of that, her influence on distance running has no doubt attributed to the NDSU women's success up until the present day. A native of St. Cloud, Minnesota, Dietman came to NDSU as an already accomplished prep runner. However, no coach could have foreseen the amount of success that she would have as a Bison. In her second year on campus in 1983, Dietman was already ranked fourth nationally in cross country. Throughout her career, she would also be ranked in the top four in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs two different times. Rankings do not mean a whole lot if you cannot back it up with top results. Luckily for Dietman and the Bison, she was able to shatter those expectations put upon her. This begins with her historic performance in a conference championship setting. In cross country, Dietman was a twotime NCC champion, taking the title in 1984 and 1985. As for indoor track & field, Dietman won conference titles in 1,000 meter (twice), 1,500 meter (three times), 5,000 meter (once) and the 3,000 meter (twice). Throughout her outdoor track & field career, she would win NCC titles in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs. Her senior season saw her win the NCC Triple Crown, winning titles in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track & field. In total, Dietman was a 13-time North Central Conference champion across her cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field careers. Somehow that is only scratching the surface of what Dietman did at NDSU. She was an eight-time All-American and finished runner-up at the NCAA cross country meet twice in 1984 and 1985. It was at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 1985 that Dietman cemented herself in NDSU's athletic lore. Competing in the 3,000-meter run, Dietman became the first woman in NDSU athletics to win an individual national championship. That is a record that will never be broken. It is part of what makes Nancy Dietman such a legendary figure in Bison athletics. She continues to be one the pioneers of Bison women's distance running and her impact on the program today is surely immeasurable. Dietman was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame in 2001.

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

Dietman with one of her 13 North Central Conference titles.


INDIVIDUAL GREATS

Kinsey Coles There will never be another Kinsey Coles. To this day, she remains one of the most successful student-athletes in Bison history with her accolades and records still holding up today. She was also a perfect conduit to NDSU’s jump to Division I, setting the precedent for the greatness to come in the Division I era. Coles is a North Dakota native, hailing from nearby Hillsboro. Her Class B background only serves to make her chapter in Bison history that much more impressive. As a true freshman in 2000-2001, Coles won North Central Conference titles in the 500-meter (indoor) and 400-meter hurdles (outdoor). She also received her first All-American honor in the 400-meter hurdles. That list of victories is enough to make a student-athlete great. Conference titles and All-American honors are difficult to come by. In 2001-2002, Coles not only won another NCC title in the indoor 500, but she also accrued two more All-American distinctions.

Coles (right) pictured with her national title 1,600-meter relay team of Tamara Brudy, Nicole Rieck, coach Ryun Godfrey and Jill Theeler in 2002. The Bison women won the Division II indoor national title that season.

national titles in the 800 meters and 1,600-meter relay in 2004. In 2003, she won a national title in the outdoor 400-meter hurdles and followed that up with a national title in the 800 meters in 2004. This would make her the last Bison woman to win a national championship in track & field. Within those two historic seasons, Coles continued to dominate the North Central Conference, piling up title wins at the conference meet. After using up all of her track & field eligibility, Coles continued to a fifth year at NDSU as a member of the cross country team as well. As her career came to a close, Coles was a 13-time All-American, a 12-time NCC champion (including seven total titles in the 1,600-meter relay) and a five-time national champion. Once her track & field career was over, she held the NDSU school records in the indoor 500 and 600 meters as well as the outdoor 400-meter hurdles and the 800 meters.

Perhaps more importantly, Coles etched her name in the history books as a member of the national champion indoor 1,600-meter relay team. In part, that team’s performance helped guide NDSU to an NCAA Indoor national championship in 2002. That 1,600-meter relay team set a school record of 3:41:48 to win the national title. The Bison as a team ran away with the NCAA championship, winning by 22.5 team points. Coles continued her crusade to the track & field history books with more monumental victories in her junior and senior season. Over the next two seasons, Coles won two indoor

41


A TITLE TIMELINE

See how successful North Dakota State has been through the years.

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1953

1954

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1925

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1927

Men's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship 1928

Men's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship 1932

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1933

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1935

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1940

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1941

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1942

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1952

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

1955

Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1956

Men's Tennis Wins North Central Conference Championship 1961

Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1962

Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1963

Men's Tennis Wins North Central Conference Championship 1964

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Tennis Wins North Central Conference Championship 1965

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1966

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1967

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1968

Football Wins North Central

Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1969

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Baseball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1970

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1971

Men's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1972

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Cross Country Wins Division II National Championship 1973


Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Baseball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1974

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1976

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1977

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship 1978

Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1979

Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1980

Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1981

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship

Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship 1982

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship 1983

Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Tennis Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1984 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference

Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1985 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1986 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference

43


Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1987 Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship 1988 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship Wrestling Wins Division II National Championship 1989 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field


Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1990 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Golf Wins North Central Conference Championship Football Wins Division II National Championship 1991 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins Division II National Championship 1992 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Volleyball Wins North Central

Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1993 Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins Division II National Championship 1994 Football Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field

Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins Division II National Championship 1995 Men's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins Division II National Championship 1996 Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field

45


Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins Division II National Championship 1997 Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 1998 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins Division II National Championship 1999 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Softball Wins North Central Conference Championship

46

BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

2000 Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins Division II National Championship Softball Wins Division II National Championship 2001 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins Division II National Championship

2002 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Softball Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Division II National Championship 2003 Volleyball Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship 2004 Women's Basketball Wins North Central Conference Championship Wrestling Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field


Wins North Central Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins North Central Conference Championship Baseball Wins North Central Conference Championship 2006 Football Wins Great West Conference Championship 2008 Volleyball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship 2009 Soccer Wins Summit League Championship Volleyball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Basketball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship

Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship 2010 Soccer Wins Summit League Championship Volleyball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship 2011 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Volleyball Wins Summit League Championship Women's Cross Country Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship

2012 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2013 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Women's Golf Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2014 Football Wins Missouri Valley

47


Football Conference Championship Men's Basketball Wins Summit League Championship Wrestling Wins Western Wrestling Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Baseball Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2015 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Soccer Wins Summit League Championship Men's Basketball Wins Summit League Championship Wrestling Wins Western Wrestling Conference Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2016 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Soccer Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins

Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship 2017 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2018 Football Wins Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Golf Wins Summit League Championship Women's Golf Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2019 Football Wins Missouri Valley

Football Conference Championship Women's Cross Country Wins Summit League Championship Men's Basketball Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Men's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Outdoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Softball Wins Summit League Championship Football Wins Division I FCS National Championship 2020 Men's Basketball Wins Summit League Championship Men's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship Women's Indoor Track & Field Wins Summit League Championship I n d i v i d u a l l y, N D S U h a s a l s o fielde d c opious c onferenc e and national champions: Wrestling = 30 individual national championships (21 student-athletes) Men's Indoor Track & Field = 5 individual national championships (3 student-athletes) Men's Outdoor Track & Field = 8 individual national championships (4 student-athletes) Women's Indoor Track & Field = 9 individual national championships (11 student-athletes) Women's Outdoor Track & Field = 4 individual national championships (3 student-athletes) Cross Country = 5 individual national championships (3 student-athletes)

49


A Bison team s wi meet c irca 196 m 9.

The 1968-69 ing men's swimm team. In only their second year in the NCC, the Bison finished second at the eet. conference m

men's and The 1982-83 ming teams. women's swim nished third The women fi in the NCC.

Swimming Men's and women's swimming is one of the muddier aspects of Bison sports history. While women's swimming did not become an organized sport for women until 1981 at NDSU, the men had been competing since the late 1960s. The earliest North Central Conference records indicate that the Bison began competing in the conference in 1967-68.

Bison women's swimming began in 1981 and the team immediately became a top conference team in the NCC. The program's highest finishes at the conference meet came in 1981 and 1982 (the first two years of the program's existence) where they finished third. North Dakota State continued to bolster a roster of solid swimmers up until the 1989-90 season.

Despite being the "newbie" in the NCC, North Dakota State put out solid results in the conference. The 1968-69 men's team, in only their second season in the conference, finished second at the NCC meet. That would be the highest finish the Bison ever had in the NCC as they were unable to capture a conference title in their time as a sanctioned sport. However, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, they continued to be formidable finishing fifth in the NCC in 1976-77 and fourth in 1977-78.

Men's and women's swimming was discontinued at NDSU in 1990.

50

BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0


In 1953, Bis on men’s te nnis won th program’s fi e rst conferen ce champions h

ip.

The Bison women’s rifle team circa mid-1920s. The 1983 Bison women’s tennis team won the ly program’s first and on ce ren nfe Co l tra North Cen p. shi ion mp cha

n women’s In 1973-74, Biso urth in the fo ed tennis finish inn-Kota later defunct M Conference

Men's And Women's Tennis

While tennis has not been a sanctioned sport at North Dakota State for nearly 30 years, the Bison still have a rich tradition in the sport. Records show the Bison fielded a team as early as 1924 where the team had two matches, both against the University of North Dakota. In their first match, the two teams worked to a draw at the Island Park tennis courts in Fargo. In the rematch, NDSU captured a match victory after traveling to Grand Forks and defeating UND. It was not until 1956 that NDSU won its first recognized conference title. Competing in the North Central Conference, the Bison, led by head coach Erv Kaiser, plowed through the teams of the region, going undefeated on the year. This included meet wins at the Herd Invitational and the state meet in Dickinson. At the conference championship, the Bison cruised to victory, compiling a perfect seven-win to zero loss ledger. The next conference crown for NDSU did not come until 1963 where the Bison won back to back North Central Conference titles in ‘63 and 1964. From there, Bison men’s tennis continued to compete with some successful campaigns through the 70s and 80s. However, 1964 would be the last time North Dakota State won a conference men’s tennis title. Women had been playing organized tennis on campus as early as 1928. The Bison women fielded some competitive teams, including a team that finished fourth in the Minn-Kota Conference in 1973-74. At the time, the Minn-Kota Conference was made up of NDSU, UND, Bemidji State, ConcordiaMoorhead, MSUM and Minnesota-Morris. NDSU women’s tennis won their first and only North Central Conference title in 1983. They finished that season with a 12-4 dual match play record. This included three meet wins including the NCC Conference Championships. Both men’s and women’s tennis were discontinued in 1990.

The 1926 NDAC women’s bask etball team. Bison gr eat Gladys Bockw aldt Lauf can be se en in the back row , second from right.

Rifle As the North Dakota Agricultural College (what we now know as NDSU) was being established in 1980, there was a select few areas of instruction for students. One of these was what was referred to as “military tactics” and weapons training. In the early days of NDAC, this fielded both men’s and women’s rifle teams. As time has gone on and NDAC turned into NDSU, these instructional courses became more intensive and it has helped cultivate the current military science and ROTC programs we see at NDSU today. One of the early pioneers within NDSU athletics was Gladys Bockwaldt Lauf, who was a member of the early women’s rifle teams. On top of being a successful riflewoman, Bockwaldt Lauf also competed in baseball, soccer, basketball and bowling while on campus at NDAC. Graduating in 1928, Bockwaldt Lauf was a member of the Women’s Athletic Association and an original member of NDSU’s Delta Psi Kappa fraternity. Bockwaldt Lauf helped pave the way for women in athletics at the then NDAC and her influence can still be seen today at North Dakota State. Inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame in 1980, becoming the first woman to do so.

53


Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame To Welcome Eight New Members 54

BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

eet the newest class that will be immortalized in the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame in 2021. These inductees had originally been inducted into the 2020 class, but due to COVID-19 concerns, 2020’s Hall Of Fame ceremony has been postponed to fall 2021.


Chuck Klabo Football Klabo was named a 2000 All-America second-team offensive tackle by D2Football.com and Football Gazette. He was also named an All-America honorable mention by Football Gazette in 2001. Klabo also found himself on the All-North Central Conference team in 2000 and 2001. Klabo lost his senior year to injury after the first two contests. However, he started 36 of his 37 career games played. As a redshirt freshman in 1999, Klabo began as a right guard before moving to left tackle and right tackle before season’s end. He started in 29 straight games, the last 26 at left tackle, prior to his injury. One of the unsung heroes for a Bison offense that bolstered NDSU’s all-time leading rusher and Bison Hall of Famer Lamar Gordon. Beyond NDSU, Klabo spent the 2003 season with the Cleveland Browns and the 2004 season with the Rhine Fire in Germany.

Lindsey (Graham) Gustafson Softball Gustafson led North Dakota State to four NCAA tournaments including a pair of North Central Region championships with a third-place national finish in 2003 and fifth place in 2002. NDSU won the 2002 North Central Conference tournament and compiled a 180-38 during her career. She is a three-time NFCA Division II All-American, including first-team honors in 2002 and 2003. Gustafson also earned a place on the 2003 NCAA Division II national alltournament team...Two-time NCAA North Central Regional all-tournament team. Impressively, Gustafson was a three-time North Central Conference Player of the Year (2002-03-04) and a four-time All-NCC pick. She is the program’s all-time leader with 1,019 strikeouts. Gustafson also holds the

school records in shutouts (49), earned run average (1.11), opponent batting average (.177) and strikeouts per seveninning game (8.43). Gustafson is also tied for first at NDSU with seven career saves and had three career no-hitters. At her time of graduation, Gustafson’s 137 pitching appearances and 117 starts were school records. Earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NDSU and was a graduate assistant for the Bison in 2005 and 2006.

Dr. Andrew Moen Track & Field Moen is a seven-time NCAA Division II Track & Field All-American (four indoor/three outdoor)and a ten-time North Central Conference champion including four times in the 800-meter run and six in the relays. He was the runner-up in 800 meters at 2002 NCAA indoor and placed fourth in 2000 and sixth in 2001. Moen also placed third in 800 meters at 2004 NCAA outdoor and eighth in the event in 2001. Moen’s list of NCC accomplishments includes two outdoor championships in 800 meters in 2000 and 2004, two indoor 800-meter championships in 2001 and 2002, an outdoor championship 1,600-meter relay, three indoor championships in the 3,200-meter relay and an indoor championship in the 1,600-meter relay. Moen is a part of the school-record time of 7:40.61 in the indoor 3,200-meter relay. That mark has stood since 2002. He is also a part of an indoor distance medley team whose 10:02.87 at Nebraska was an NDSU record for 10 years and still ranks fourth in program history. Individually, Moen is ranked in the NDSU indoor top 10 for the 500 meters (8th, 1:04.76) and 800 meters (6th, 1:51.06). In outdoors, he ran on two school-record setting 3,200-meter teams in 2000 and 2002. Graduated with a degree in electrical engineering before transitioning to a career in medicine as a board-certified podiatrist.

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Nick Severson Wrestling Severson is one of the great heavyweights in Bison history. A two-time NCAA Division II national champion at heavyweight in 2001 and 2002, Severson helped the Bison capture the 2001 NCAA Division II national championship. It came in dramatic fashion too, as Severson scored a pin at 5:59 over South Dakota State’s Jon Madsen, the turning point in NDSU topping the Jackrabbits for the crown. The heavyweight was also the 2002 North Central Conference individual title and a four-time NCC placewinner overall. Severson was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016. Throughout his career, he posted a 70-22 career record including 32-8 in duals with 36 pins. In his final two seasons on campus, Severson fashioned a 47-4 record with 23 pins including 23-0 in duals. He compiled 17-1 record including 11-0 in duals with eight pins at 285 in 2000-01 and rolled up a 30-3 record including 12-0 in duals with 17 pins at 285 in 2001-02. Severson also placed fourth at 2003 U.S. World Team Trials, fifth at 2003 U.S. Greco-Roman Nationals, fourth at 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and eighth at 2011 U.S. Nationals.


Andi (Noel) Olsonawski Track & Field Olsonawski was a seven-time NCAA Division II AllAmerican. She was NDSU’s only four-time All-American in the outdoor heptathlon, including fifth-place finishes each of her final two seasons. Olsonawski was also part of the thirdplace 400-meter relay team at the 2000 NCAA outdoor. She was a four-time North Central Conference champion, winning back-to-back NCC indoor pentathlon titles and NCC outdoor 400-meter relay titles in 2000 and 2001. She passed the school heptathlon record set with a score of 5,294 points at the 2001 NCC championship. That mark still ranks fifth in school history. Olsonawski tied the NDSU indoor record in the 55-meter hurdles (8.02) and graduated second in NDSU history and still ranks 10th in the indoor long jump (19-7 1/2). On top of that, she ran the third-best 100-meter outdoor hurdles time in NDSU history (14.05) and still ranks seventh all-time. Passed away in June 2020 after a nearly five-year-long cancer journey.

Don Larson Track & Field Larson will be inducted as one of the most influential coaches in Bison history and one of the most successful too. Larson is an eighteen-time Summit League Coach of the Year and has earned 60 Coach of the Year honors at the conference, regional and national levels. Swept the Division II indoor and outdoor National Coach of the Year awards in 2004. Throughout his career, Larson coached 55 conference championship teams in the North Central Conference and Summit League. He was also able to successfully transition the Bison from Division II to Division I winning three Division I independent outdoor titles and one cross country crown. Larson had six individual competitors combine for 14 national championships. In 40 outdoor seasons, Larson’s teams never finished lower than third in a conference meet. He won 21 NCC outdoor titles including a conference-record 13 straight from 1987-1999. Larson had seven Top 10 finishes at the NCAA Division II outdoor championships including eighth in 2003 and third in 2004 before reclassifying to Division I. Larson also coached Bison teams that won 11 of 12 Summit League outdoor titles before retirement. Indoors, the Bison won 8 of 13 Summit League titles. NDSU tied for ninth at the 2019 NCAA Division I indoor meet behind two-time individual national champion Payton Otterdahl in the weight throw and shot put. Led 14 teams to NCC indoor championships and finished as high as fourth at the NCAA indoor championship (1989) in addition to three fifth-place finishes (1990, 1994, 2004) and seven other Top 10 showings. On top of that, he coached nine cross country athletes to 13 NCAA Division II All-America awards.

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Nicole (VanderBos) Hurt Soccer Hurt is a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Central Region selection in 1996 and 1999. In 1996, she was named the North Central Conference Freshman of the Year as a forward for the Bison. By the end of her career, Hurt was a two-time allNorth Central Conference selection in 1998 and 1999. Hurt helped make history as part of the first NDSU women’s soccer team to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 1999. The Bison went 14-3-2 in 1999 including 4-1-1 in the NCC. Hurt became NDSU’s career leader with 122 points (50 goals, 22 assists), 1.67 points per game (73 games), 50 goals and 0.68 goals per game. Her 14 game-winning goals were an NDSU career record and still rank second. She currently ranks second all-time with 236 shots attempted, third with 3.23 shots per game, tied for 4th with 22 assists, seventh with 0.30 assists per game, and tied for fifth with 73 games started. Hurt also holds three of the top four NDSU single-season marks for points and goals including a school-record 37 points and 15 goals in 1999 that still ranks second. Led the Bison in points and goals in 1996, 1999 and 2000.

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Jill (Theeler) Schlekeway Track & Field Schlekeway is a nineteen-time NCAA Division II All-American in the 400 meters and the 400- and 1,600-meter relays as well as a twelve-time North Central Conference champion. She also ran on the school record-setting and national champion 1,600 relay team to help NDSU to the 2002 NCAA indoor team national championship. As a freshman, she was named the NCC indoor championship MVP. Schlekeway was also a two-time NCC outdoor championship MVP in 1999 and 2002. In 2002, she was the NCAA Woman of the Year for North Dakota, NCC Stan Marshall Award winner, NCAA Division II Conference Commissioners Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the Woody Hayes National Scholar-Athlete Award and the CoSIDA Track & Field/Cross Country Academic AllAmerican of the Year. Schlekeway was a recipient of two NCAA postgraduate scholarships and a four-time USTFCCCA All-Academic honoree. Named to the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, joining her father, Jack, who was inducted in 2014. Set NDSU indoor records in the 55 meters (7.05), 60 meters (7.64), 400 meters (54.63), 1,600-meter relay (3:41.58). Her 55-meter record still stands today and she ranks among the top 10 in every other category. In outdoor, Schlekeway set NDSU records and still ranks among the school’s top 10 in the 400 meters (7th, 53.91), 400-meter relay (7th, 46.02), 800-meter relay (8th, 1:41.01), 1,600-meter relay (9th, 3:38.54), 3,200-meter relay (5th, 8:53.74) and sprint medley relay (9th, 3:56.89). She began her professional career as an athletic administrator in 2002 interning with the North Central Conference, NCAA and University of Washington before spending a year as a compliance coordinator at the University of Southern California. Today, her resume includes serving as associate athletic director at the University of South Dakota and community relations coordinator at Augustana University.


The

Bison speak Matt Larsen NDSU Athletics Director

On The Hardest Thing About Postponing... “The tough thing is when you see behind the scenes how hard our coaches and student-athletes work for the opportunity to participate. To have that taken away from them is incredibly hard. We are focused on what we can do moving forward and focused on getting ready for the spring.” On His Message To Players Who May Decide To Leave Before The Spring... “We want them to have all the information so they can make the best possible decision for them.” “There are still a lot of pretty big lingering questions for some of the guys. I want to make sure we have all of that information so we can present it to them. That way, they can make the best decision for them.” On What Postponement Means For NDSU Athletics... “Athletic directors throughout the country are all in a similar position where we still need to see where the fall goes here in a lot of ways. From a financial perspective, we’re taking a look at a lot of different things. When you lose three football games and 60

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everybody around here knows how valuable football games are to us. Having to fill two lost home games and an FBS guarantee game will be a challenge, but a challenge that our staff is up for. We’ve dealt with financial challenges over the last couple of years and have found a way to pull together and come out stronger on the other end. I don’t see this as any different. Certainly, it is going to be a team effort and we’ll pull everybody together. At the end of the day, we still want to make sure our student-athletes have a great experience at NDSU and that we’re competing for championships in the spring.” On The Frustration Of The Unknown... “We have 115 guys in our locker room and extend that out to our other fall sports that aren’t competing now and they have a lot of questions. For our seniors, this is their future and they’re trying to figure out what the next step for them is. Not having those answers is incredibly hard and not being able to supply those answers to our student-athletes is frustrating. We need to have these answers in short order so these student-athletes can figure out their futures.” On If Fundraising Efforts Needs To Ramp Up More With The Absence Of Sports... “We are incredibly fortunate here. Bison Nation is as good as it gets when it comes to financially support our program. No matter what the challenge is, they always seem to step up. I am going to challenge our staff too. We need to be creative and find what opportunities are out there over the course of the next 10 months to creatively generate revenue. It’s going to be on all of us to figure

this out because the expectations are not going to change. The expectation is that we are going to win championships and graduate our student-athletes while they have a great experience here. If we have a budget cut, those expectations do not change for me, our coaches or our studentathletes and I know they don’t change from the fanbase.” On Winter Sports... “Those are conversations in the Summit League joint council that we’ve started to have already. Once we have kind of figured out the fall and it quickly moves to winter. Basketball, indoor track and wrestling and what it will look like for them. Traditionally, they start in late October, early November, but I think we may be looking to push there too. Hopefully, we’ll have a little greater direction in the next couple of weeks because now those coaches are in our offices asking what this all means for winter. We’re trying to get the and their student-athletes some answers as soon as possible.” On The Decision To Schedule One Fall Game... “We’ve gotten evolving information from the NCAA. As they looked at what the fall would look like for competing institutions and non-competing institutions, there was not a huge difference. We talked with coach Entz and his staff that if we’re going to move forward with practicing over the next month, culminating in a green and gold game, let’s just go for the real thing. Knowing that Central Arkansas was an opportunity as they looked to fill out a full schedule, I reached back out to their AD and we were able to put this game together.”


Read what North Dakota State football studentathletes, coach Entz and Matt Larsen had to say regarding the postponement of fall sports due to COVID-19 and the addition of one football game on October 3 against Central Arkansas Hillary Ehlen

matt entz

NDSU Head Football Coach

On The Hardest Thing About Postponing... “Miserable. I’m wrapping it up in one big term. It’s been frustrating for our players. I think when you go back to when our game against Oregon was canceled due to the Pac 12 changing their schedule, I think our seniors had a sense that we were going to be unable to schedule some games. Unfortunately, not allowing those guys to finish their careers on the football field was tough for them, but also for our staff.” His Approach To Telling The Players About The Season... “Rip the band-aid off as quickly as I could. Our seniors needed to know, they were the ones that were the most frustrated. Like I said, when you go back to when our game against Oregon was canceled I think there was a sense amongst the team that it was going to unlikely that we would be able to play some games.” On Trying To Manage A Spring MVFC Season... “You’re going to see a lot of coaches have concerns about the well-being and roster management because injuries are going to happen and then we’re going to turn around and try to have another season.

There will have to be some conversations on the start date of the 2021 season and also we’ll have to go back and see how we use the summer and what kind of access we’ll have in June, July and August.” On If He Believes If There Will Be Spring MVFC Football... “I have to stay positive right now. There is no way I can be more negative so I have to stay positive.” What His Saturdays Will Look Like In The Fall... “It’s been since probably 1979 or 1980 since I haven’t had a fall with football. I’ll have to try and find some other things to do. Unfortunately, my wife told me I don’t have any hobbies, football is my hobby.” The Team’s Reaction To One Fall Game... “I think a lot of them thought that this is what we do at NDSU. We play football and so let’s go to work and let’s get going. I think a lot of them were hoping that things would change and it was good that we could make some decisions as a university and as a football program. Up until this point, all of the decisions out there were handed down to us.”


aaron mercadel NDSU Senior Linebacker

On Hearing About Postponement... “Besides Friday, I haven’t really thought much of what has been going on. The seniors kind of went through it together and some fun over the weekend. So we’ve been trying to keep some high spirits.” When The Oregon Game Was Canceled... “It was kind of jolting. We were still lifting in the summer so we were up here grinding and getting ready for the season. Having that game canceled kind of propped the question up, but I think we were still confident that we would have something to play for.”

jackson hankey NDSU Junior Linebacker

“It was heartbreaking because we haven’t played an FBS school in a long time and we were ready for that to put the Bison on the big stage again.” On If There Is Any Clarity In This Situation... ”No. There have been a lot of uncertainties, but we can control what we can control here. I think we did a great job getting guys back lifting on June 1. I think we were the first school to do that and those negatives thoughts never came until the first day of practice, honestly.”

Is There Anything Attractive To Playing MVFC Football In The Spring... “To be honest with you, not really. All of a sudden, we’re looking at a full spring season, followed up by a two-month offseason and a full fall season. I guess I can’t see a whole lot of advantages to it. Obviously, I would have loved if we had a normal season in the fall, but that just wasn’t in the cards for us. If the spring is an option, at least we get to play some football games. I’d rather have that than nothing.” On The Oregon Game... “The biggest thing will probably be not being able to see how good this team was going to be. I think back to the championship game and I think we had a good shot to do that again this year. Now, we’ll just never know. The other big one is the Oregon game. I thought that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think

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On His Message To Guys Returning In The Spring... My message to the team was to just control what we can control. Everybody is always chasing stats and wanting to be the best team in Bison history and I promised them that this would be the strongest football team in Bison history because we’re going to come back from this stronger than anyone in the country.”

about myself, I am a kid from Park River and I had the opportunity to play against the Rose Bowl champs, the Oregon Ducks, a team that everybody who watches college football knows about. We had a chance to go and play them and who knows what would have happened.”


phoenix sproles NDSU Junior Wide Receiver

On This Group Of Seniors... “It hurts that I can’t see them live out potentially their last time playing football. It hurt me and I know I wouldn’t want to go through that and I can’t imagine how they’re feeling. I’m playing for those guys now so they can live out their careers through me.”


TEAM MAKERS

Meet The Team Makers Executive Committee GET TO KNOW TEAM MAKERS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. How did you first get involved with Team Makers? During my time on the NDSU Alumni Association/Foundation Team, we partnered with Team Makers on many alumni and fan events. From the big events starting in MSP to championships in Frisco, the fans were always amazing. What interested you about becoming a part of the Team Makers Executive Committee?

Meet Sherri Schmidt Title: At-Large Board Member

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NDSU students bring a great deal of energy to our community and being engaged with an organization that supports students is important and rewarding. It is amazing to witness the gratitude student-athletes demonstrate to donors and fans. They do not take their scholarships, coaches or facilities for granted. It is inspiring to see this genuine caring relationship between those who provide gifts and those who receive the gifts. What would you say you enjoy the most about being on the Team Makers Executive Committee? Being engaged provides a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities that arise in NDSU Athletics. It allows us to quietly assist and make an impact.

In your time on the Executive Committee, how have you seen Team Makers evolve? The organization is continually evolving as we focus on expanding engagement, streamlining systems and enhancing communication. Where would you like to see Team Makers go in the next 5-10 years? With the current state of affairs, 5-10 years is challenging to predict. The best course of action will be to listen to fans and student-athletes and be as nimble as possible to adapt to changes and seize opportunities. What are some of the rewards in being a member of the Team Makers Executive Committee? What are some of the challenges? The rewards are the people and the strong and solid values of the organization. Our greatest challenge is to overcome past stereotypes of the organization. In this crazy time (especially with no sports), what is the best way to support Team Makers? The best way to support Team Makers and NDSU is to be a positive community voice and remain steady in your support. Now more than ever we need the Bison Family to stay connected and strong.


What would you say you enjoy the most about being on the Team Makers Executive Committee?

and being on the Executive Committee provides an opportunity to connect with former leaders.

I enjoy interacting with other Team Maker leaders and the NDSU Athletics Department staff.

In this crazy time (especially with no sports), what is the best way to support Team Makers?

In your time on the Executive Committee, how have you seen Team Makers evolve?

Meet Eric Dodds Title: At-Large Board Member How did you first get involved with Team Makers? I first started regularly attending the Thursday Team Maker lunches several years ago. Then I was asked to help on a fund drive team, and then I was asked to serve on the Executive Committee. What interested you about becoming a part of the Team Makers Executive Committee? I really enjoyed helping the success of NDSU Athletics, and I enjoy supporting the amazing student-athletes in all of our programs. I was a student-athlete (wrestler) during my time at NDSU, so when I had the opportunity to serve on the Executive Committee it was an exciting and easy decision for me.

The organization has had many significant changes over the past few years, but yet the underlying purpose of Team Makers remains consistent in our commitment to supporting student-athletes. Over the past few years, Team Makers has increased our financial support for NDSU. We have also transitioned from the long-time leadership from Pat Simmers into a new generation with Derrick Lang as the Executive Director. In addition, we have added a staff person in the Twin Cities focused on growing membership and support from the large number of alumni around the metro.

The student-athletes, coaches, training staff and everybody within the athletic department are working hard, training and preparing for competition. Their dedication and commitments during these crazy times are impressive. Fans of NDSU Athletics can show their support by continuing or starting their Team Makers membership as a direct way to support our student-athletes and programs. There will be competition again, and we want the success to continue. Team Makers has been essential at funding scholarships and full cost-of-attendance for all studentathletes at NDSU. Thank you to those who continue to show their support.

Where would you like to see Team Makers go in the next 5-10 years? I would really like to see a growth in membership. We have a strong presence in the Fargo-Moorhead area and across North Dakota, but we can continue to grow our local membership. In addition, we have opportunities to grow membership in our alumni pockets across Bison Nation. What are some of the rewards in being a member of the Team Makers Executive Committee? What are some of the challenges? Serving on the Executive Committee provides a great opportunity to interact with other Team Maker leaders, NDSU Athletics Department staff and support our exceptional student-athletes. In addition, the Team Makers organization has such a strong history of support,

Bison Nation Lunches Join Team Makers for lunch this fall. Each luncheon will start at 11:30 a.m. and are open to the public. Friday, September 11 at The Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd St SW, Fargo Friday, October 2 at The Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd St SW, Fargo Friday, November 13 at Holiday Inn 3803 13th Ave S, Fargo Friday, December 4 at Holiday Inn 3803 13th Ave S, Fargo

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wordsearch

Horns Up Herd Bison 66

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NDSU Thundar Fargo

Fargodome SHAC Ellig

Newman


bisoncrossing 1

2

3

4 5 6

7

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8


Across 3. Last name of most recent NDSU women’s track & field national champions. 6. First name of the current head baseball coach at NDSU. 7. Last name of the current Director of Track & Field and Cross Country.

Down 1. Last name of the first NDSU men’s cross country national champion. 2. Last name of the most winningest coach in NDSU softball history. 4. Number of total football national championships. 5. Total number of wrestling national championships (team). 8. Last name of the current head volleyball coach at NDSU. Slack 1. Mueller 2. Coles 3. Sixteen 4. Four 5. Tod 6. Keller 7. Lopez 8.

o g e w e r he gold green &


Conference Foe quiz Western Illinois Illinois State Southern Illinois

Can you match the city in which this conference rival is located?

Stillwater Tulsa Vermillion

Oral Roberts

Terre Haute

South Dakota

Cedar Falls

Oklahoma State South Dakota State Indiana State Utah Valley Northern Iowa

Orem Macomb Carbondale Normal Brookings

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champions

quiz Can you recall and answer these Bison-themed questions by filling in the blanks?

question1 In which year did NDSU win its first national championship in football?

_________

question2 Who was the head coach of that team?

__________________

question3 In which year did NDSU win its first softball nation title?

_________

question4 Where was that national championship game played?

__________________

question5 When did NDSU volleyball win its first conference championship?

_________


_________

question7 In which year did NDSU have its first individual wrestling national champion? _________

What was his name?

__________________

question9 How many total conference championships has NDSU won in women’s basketball?

_________

question10 Who coached all ten of those teams? __________________

answers

How many total conference championships has Bison volleyball won?

question8

1. 1965 2. Darrell Mudra 3. 2000 4. Columbus, Georgia 5. 1981 6. 16 7. 1971 8. Bob Backlund 9. 10 10. Amy Ruley

question6


SWANY SAYS

*Swanson is a native of Maddock, N.D., a proud NDSU alum and a lifelong Bison fan.

Time For North Dakota State To Go Bowling? nstead of Oregon, it’s Central Arkansas. Join me in the chorus, Bison fans. Forget the Ducks, bring on the Bears. Hey, Herd and Horns and Chubs, Bears fans drink for free until this hellish year called 2020 is in the history books come January.

I

After all, the purple-clad team from Conway, Ark., has salvaged our fall season and what were once dim hopes of seeing guys like Trey Lance and Dillon Radunz putting on their yellow gold rush Bison jerseys one more time. It’s only one game, against a perpetual FCS playoff qualifier, but oh what a game it will be. Fill the coolers, fire up the grills and for one glorious Saturday, we’ll have some much-needed normalcy in a year that’s been anything but.

BY JOSHUA A. SWANSON PHOTOS BY NOLAN P. SCHMIDT 74

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It was only a few months ago when the college football experts at ESPN ranked North Dakota State’s game at Autzen Stadium versus Oregon as one of the

marquee non-conference contests in all of college football. The Ducks are the reigning Rose Bowl champs and finished the year as No. 5 in the AP Top 25 Poll. They’d be the best team, at least on paper, the Herd had ever lined up against. For their part, the Bison capped an undefeated 16-0 season last January, winning their eighth FCS national title in nine years behind the record-setting and Walter Payton award-winning Lance. The offense was going to be explosively spectacular. With a veteran offensive line anchored by Radunz, a first-round NFL Draft prospect, and Cordell Volson, who’s also a legitimate NFL prospect, it may have been the most prolific unit in school history. Toss in Christian Watson, who had emerged as one of the best receivers in the FCS by year’s end, and weapons like Phoenix Sproles, Noah Gindorff, Adam Cofield, Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson, the folks in the Fargodome would have needed a couple of bags of spare LED panels for the scoreboards because the Bison were set to light it up.


Alas, the breaking news on August 14 that NDSU couldn’t find anyone willing to play them, and had to scrap plans for a fall season, hit like a raw blizzard wind piercing everything in sight. The rumors. Oh, the rumors they’re a swirling. Nobody in the FBS (including Nebraska’s Scott Frost) wanted to play the FCS juggernaut. But had the Bison been FBS? Well, that’s a different story, with a potentially full fall slate. Then, August 24 and Central Arkansas happened. Even though it’s a single game, it’s enough to sustain those of us who love the game and despaired at the idea of a fall without Bison football. As I said, you can go quack yourself, Oregon, we’ve got the Bears now. The game, set for October 3 at the Fargodome, is so big that Scott Van Pelt, the heaviest hitting personality in ESPN’s lineup of stars since Chris Berman started hocking something called CarShield, spent three minutes, an eternity on cable sports, in late August talking about this game starring the heralded Lance and the Bison.

Flashing Lance’s 2019 stat line on the screen, the segment included NDSU highlights at the Fargodome, and shots of the green and yellow-clad crowd that’s carved out a reputation as one of the best fan bases in the sport. “October 3. Fargo, North Dakota. Mark it down. The NFL already has,” said Van Pelt. Van Pelt noted it’s the only Bison game set for this fall. But is it? Maybe the better question is, should it be? Should the Bison set their sights on angling for something bigger, like a bowl game invite this year? Say maybe, I don’t know, just spit-balling here, the Frisco Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl? Two of the Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, have canceled their fall seasons, as have several prominent Group of 5 conferences including the Mountain West and the Mid-American Conference. That leaves the SEC, ACC and Big 12 in the Power 5, and Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference as still playing this fall among FBS schools. Last year, there were 40 bowl games


featuring 80 teams. With four upper-level FBS leagues canceling their fall seasons, the Bison are suddenly a very attractive candidate for any lower to midlevel bowl. For reference, of the five FBS leagues still playing plus the FBS Independents like Notre Dame and BYU, only 39 teams finished with a .500 record or better. Suddenly, the Bison look like an attractive bowl team, even if they’re only 1-0. Tulane, Florida Atlantic and Kent State don’t travel quite like the Herd. Those FCS national title trophies and wins over the likes of Kansas State and Iowa also carry some street cred. Very good football team? Check, the Bison got that covered. More importantly, for bowl’s sake, a fan base that travels well – and isn’t too concerned with coronavirus – and spends money? Lots of money and fills local bars and restaurants desperate for business. Check, double-check and triple-check. Big-time players that can move the needle and give the networks something to sell? See above,

check that too. It’s a compelling story to boot. Is that the green and gold lining to this dark cloud? NDSU goes bowling, likes the taste and experience, and decides that after coronavirus turns the FCS into a post-apocalyptic version of itself, the subdivision is on borrowed time. Hey, it’s 2020, man. I wouldn’t write anything off, including going bowling. Everybody up for the kickoff, the march is on!


last

page

A different kind of

legend By Nolan P. Schmidt Photo Provided By NDSU Athletics

T

he sports world, more than any other, is often defined through adulation, imitation and idolization. The late Kobe Bryant idolized Michael Jordan and he imitated his game after the Chicago Bulls great. Bill Belichick imitated and learned under the tutelage of the great Bill Parcells. The New England Patriots coach has six Super Bowl rings to prove that imitation is a most sincere form of flattery. A list like that can go on and on forever.

become legends because we wait to witness them become iconic in front of our very eyes. However, what if I said others can reach legend status despite staying in the background? Seems like an oxymoronic statement, right?

Oftentimes, we worship those stellar athletes and coaches that guide our teams to the top of the sports landscape. They are our heroes. They are legends in our eyes. On a smaller scale, NDSU student-athletes and coaches are seen the same way.

The best possible example of this type of person is Jeff Schwartz.

“Carson Wentz is an absolute legend.” “Amy Ruley is a Bison coaching icon.” Again, a list like that can go on forever. Athletes and coaches are in these conversations because they are visible. It’s simple enough: athletes and coaches 78

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Throughout college and professional athletics, there are legends behind the scenes. Especially in college sports, it is the folks behind the scenes that help create the legends that are so visible. Those people should be recognized, heralded and idolized just as much as your favorite athlete or coach.

Formerly North Dakota State’s longest-tenured sports information director before his retirement this summer, Jeff was as important to NDSU athletics as any student-athlete or coach. Beginning his career at NDSU in 1989, Schwartz saw it all. From national championships in women’s basketball, football, softball and track & field to NDSU’s transition to Division I, Schwartz was at the forefront of it all. Whether it was sending press releases, coordinating interviews or helping facilitate the Bison Athletic Hall Of Fame, Jeff


was everywhere. That is not even taking into account the other daily tasks that come along with being a SID. Through the ups and downs, Schwartz continued to place student-athletes, coaches and fellow colleagues ahead of himself. It was this selfless attitude that made him such a wonderful person to work with and be around. Yet, he did all of this without clamoring for any sort of recognition from his peers. Jeff Schwartz wanted to put his head down and do his best to help Bison student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the athletic department. It really is impossible to quantify the reach and scope of Schwartz’s influence on NDSU athletics. I’d be doing a disservice to Jeff without mentioning what he did to help members of the local media as well. Always quick to set up an interview and accommodate media members in any way possible, Jeff was a mastermind in that regard. He certainly did not have to have that level of care for those in the media, but he did because that’s Jeff. I know this magazine is not currently in your hands without Jeff. The NDSU sports information department is a vital piece to the creation of this magazine each month. Without those guys, I

cannot do this job properly. Their focus on timely communication coupled with true care for the final product and NDSU athletics has helped us make Bison Illustrated what it is. Jeff helped cultivate that attitude and fervor for success within the sports information department. In that way, Jeff helped me become a better professional (and person). Never short on a one-liner or a slice of life, Jeff’s wisdom helped me when I first started at Bison Illustrated. I’ve leaned on his experience and advice throughout my near three years here. I don’t think I can provide enough thanks to Jeff for that. He made my job easier even though it made his job harder at times. In short, that is the most important thing Jeff taught me. Placing others ahead of myself regardless of if it makes my life a little harder for a moment. We should all strive to be that, I know I do.

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That is what makes Jeff a Bison legend. Enjoy retirement with your great family, my friend. Thank you, Jeff. For everything...

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Profile for Spotlight

Bison Illustrated September 2020  

North Dakota State athletics has always been defined by tradition and success. Whether it is the recent success in the Division I era or the...

Bison Illustrated September 2020  

North Dakota State athletics has always been defined by tradition and success. Whether it is the recent success in the Division I era or the...

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