Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO—Andre Smith did more than just become the physical presence inside that helped North Dakota State make the transition to Division I men's basketball. Ben Woodside did more than just make the game-winning hoop that got the Bison to their first NCAA tournament. Both started a trend that hasn't stopped since Smith left NDSU in 2007: A Bison presence in professional basketball. Smith and Woodside have already retired from the game. Still playing are Lawrence Alexander, Taylor Braun, Kory Brown, TrayVonn Wright and Dexter Werner. Paul Miller may be next in line.
FARGO—Nick DeLuca has been walking the same path the past two months that Carson Wentz did when he finished his North Dakota State football career. It may not result in the same NFL draft status, but DeLuca likes where he's at heading into this weekend's NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Like Wentz did two years ago after his NDSU career, DeLuca signed with Rep 1 Sports in Irvine, Calif., and has been working out with the agency's stable of experts in preparation for a possible NFL career. And that includes more than just working out and eating well.
FARGO—One by one, some of the top heavyweights in the FCS left the building. It was like taking Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield out of boxing and replacing them with a bunch of cruiserweights. There just doesn't seem to be much left to excite the fight fan and the ratings have reflected that. Anthony Joshua has the WBA, IBF and IBO belts, making him the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. How many of you knew that? How many of you even heard of Anthony Joshua?
FARGO—It was four years ago about this time when true freshman A.J. Jacobson was watching six North Dakota State University players give their Senior Day speeches, a final-home-game ritual that at times can get emotional. At some point late Saturday afternoon, Feb.17, it will be Jacobson's turn. This week, he's somewhat in disbelief that five years has gone by so fast. "I thought to myself that will be a long time to get here," he said of the 2014 Senior Day. "And all of a sudden it's here. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but it's been a good ride."
FARGO—For a Division I FCS program like North Dakota State University, which locked up 23 players during the early signing period in December, Wednesday's second round of football commits who make it official will be more like Signing Day Jr. The Bison are expected to sign four players to national letters of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
FARGO—The first half was a dud. The second half was a electric. The result, however, left North Dakota State unplugged on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3, at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The University of South Dakota stuck a 20-point halftime deficit on the Bison in a 20 minutes that was rather forgettable for the home team and the 3,722 fans. There was more life in the second half, but the result—a 76-72 USD win—left the Bison virtually out of the race for a top two seed in the Summit League postseason men's basketball tournament.
FARGO—It was more than three years ago when a young freshman from Hutchinson, Minn., went to Shelly Swandal, his academic advisor, and told her he wanted to attend North Dakota State—all while continuing his professional snowmobile racing career. It's not a combination you hear about every day. But Blaine Stephenson was determined to not let racing interrupt his quest for a agriculture economics major and crop and wheat science minor. Not even a severe accident on the track got in the way.
FARGO—You see glimpses of brilliance from Deng Geu from time to time, whether it's a no-doubt dunk from the 6-foot-8 North Dakota State sophomore or a shutdown defensive play. It was there again on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 27, just when the Bison needed it. Geu didn't play many minutes, 12 to be exact, but they were effective. His presence midway through the second half sparked the Bison to an 80-69 men's basketball victory over Western Illinois. It kept NDSU in third place in the Summit League in front of 3,187 fans at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
FARGO—North Dakota State hired a women's head soccer coach with 13 years of experience in the college ranks. Michael Regan is only 33 years old. It's been a quick ascent in the business and on Friday, Jan. 19, NDSU introduced its fifth head coach in program history. Regan was 20 years old when he took the head men's coaching position at North Iowa Area Community College. He was a player at North Iowa for two years before taking over for Colin Murphy, a coach who was also a lawyer in town.
FARGO—The leap from being one of the top wrestlers in Minnesota at Jordan High School to Division I competition at North Dakota State was higher than Andrew Fogarty figured. The first couple of years took some acclimatizing. "It kind of shocked me I guess," he said. The shock is long gone. The redshirt sophomore will take NDSU's winningest record into NDSU's Big 12 Conference dual Saturday, Jan. 20, against No. 22-ranked Wyoming, a matchup that will probably determine once and for all if the Bison deserve to be a Top 25 team in the wrestling polls.