Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
Let me preface everything I am about to say with this: I love football season and I look forward to watching North Dakota State’s 2019 football season unfold.
However, I think we might have a problem. We’re not giving the other fall (and winter) sports enough love. All of us are so transfixed on football that we fail to realize that high-level sports are being played on North Dakota State’s campus on a daily basis. Not only that, each of these teams is poised to be competitive in their respective leagues.
Take soccer for example. Bison soccer was selected to finish third in the Summit League in their preseason poll. Mike Regan’s squad welcomes back six starters from the 2018 team that made it to the Summit League semifinals. They possess arguably the best pure scorer in the conference in Mariah Haberle, who may just win the league’s Offensive Player of the Year award if she continues her play from last year.
Then there is Bison volleyball, who returns all but one player from last season. This year, Jen Lopez features only one senior on her roster, but her junior and sophomore classes are as experienced as any in the country. With this level of experience, there is no reason to believe they will not be competing for a conference title by year’s end. In fact, I’d go on record and say they do.
To round out the fall sports, we cannot forget about the golf and cross country teams. While the fall is a preparatory time for men’s and women’s golf, one cannot be impressed by their talent moving forward. Andrew Israelson tied for first at the conference meet last year. Van Holmgren had a tremendous offseason, performing well at the U.S. Amateur. Taylor McCorkle and Maddie Herzog have the potential to be the best one-two punch in the league on the women’s side.
As for cross country, they welcome back Kelby Anderson, the Summit League’s runner-up, on the women’s side. Anderson has the potential as just junior to be one of the best distance runners in school history. For the men, Evan Kottsick, Alex Bartholomay, Tim Heikkila and touted freshman Isaac Huber look to push the Bison to the top of the conference.
That is not even touching on the winter sports that will be played as the football season wears on. The women’s hoops team opens up a new era with head coach Jory Collins, who looks as good as advertised. He will be the one to turn this program around and there are reasons to believe the women will be competitive in the Summit League this season. They also welcome huge basketball names like Iowa State, Wisconsin and Wyoming to the SHAC this season.
The men’s basketball team is easily the favorite to capture the Summit League this season. It’d come as a shock to this editor if they were not the preseason number one in the league. Vinnie Shahid should also be the preseason Player of the Year too. I’d go on record and say a return trip to the NCAA Tournament is imminent for Dave Richman and company. They also play some high-profile opponents in Kansas State and Marquette (both winnable games, honestly) this year.
Wrestling is another program who is destined for success in 2019-20. They have multiple guys who can compete for a Big 12 title in Andrew Fogarty, Cam Sykora, Lorenzo de la Riva, Luke Weber and Brandon Metz. If I’m being honest, I don’t think Roger Kish has had this many weapons at his disposal in one season.
Finally, the indoor track & field season is sure to impress as usual. North Dakota State track is perhaps the most dominant program on campus with the women winning 12 straight conference titles and the men winning seven Summit League titles.
So, what is my point? There are other things to be excited about outside of football, Bison fans. Yes, football games are awesome and watching this run unfold has been amazing, I am not taking anything away from that. However, we have to recognize that North Dakota State athletics is poised for excellence across the board this year.
This season has the potential to be historic and I believe these teams deserve to be supported properly. So get out to Dacotah Field, the BBF, the Ellig Indoor complex or the SHAC this fall and winter. You may just witness history.