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 — Most of the North Dakota State football players had left the Dacotah Field Bubble after practice had ended earlier this week. Sean Engel remained, doing some drills under the watchful eye of receivers coach Atif Austin that looked more like something from an armed forces boot camp. All Engel cared to say about it is "coach Austin is helping me get better." "He expects a lot of out of me and I expect a lot out of myself," Engel said.
FARGO—James Hendricks asked a pointed question in his post-season meeting with North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman: What is the best way to get on the field on Saturdays? It probably wasn't going to be at quarterback, where as a redshirt freshman last year, Hendricks was No. 3 on the depth chart behind sophomore Easton Stick and junior Cole Davis. So the coach and player came to a mutual decision: Move to defense.
FARGO — North Dakota State went into the 2013 Division I FCS national title game with a team of 26 seniors. When it comes to a mature team, that was almost semi-pro in nature with so many guys in their early 20s. The Bison played like it too, easily handling Towson (Md.) University 35-7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. "I remember looking at that 2013 team and absolutely loving it," said senior defensive tackle Nate Tanguay. "They were so close and that's how I see us."
FARGO — It was back to work for the North Dakota State football team with the start of spring football this week. For senior Matt Plank, he said it was fun getting on the field again colliding, hitting and getting a little chippy at each other. Good times. That's the mentality of a middle linebacker anyway and it's the last go-around for Plank, who enters his final year of eligibility as an established starter. But so is the guy he replaced.
FARGO — North Dakota State was admitted into the school known as the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the spring of 2007. But classes didn't officially start until Oct. 18, 2008, a day that will go down as the historical start of the Division I FCS football dynasty. That's when Northern Iowa showed the Bison what kind of student it takes to win at the Valley level.
FARGO—North Dakota State basketball player Dexter Werner, who just finished his decorated career with the Bison, is not done with athletics. He's going to give another sport a shot: Football. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound center will participate in NDSU's annual "Pro Day" next week. It's the skills evaluation that attracts professional scouts from a number of NFL teams that was a national story last year thanks to quarterback Carson Wentz.
FARGO — It's been a spring party in Fargo-Moorhead every year for the last 12 years and other communities have taken notice. Successful events have sprung others to do it and the results have been met with mixed feelings. The good: There are more events out there. The not-so-good: Numbers are declining in races across the country. The Fargo Marathon, at least to this point, appears to be in the same boat. Registrations are down about 5 percent from this time last year, said marathon executive director Mark Knutson.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—North Dakota State spent most of the regular season in the Summit League living in first place. It wasn't until late the Bison faded to the No. 2 seed and on Saturday night, March 4, the lights were turned out on the quest to reach the NCAA tournament.
FARGO — The Summit was a knock-'em-out, drag-'em-out slugfest in 2012-13 when games were often physical affairs and low-tempo offenses. Oakland University (Mich.), for instance, led the league in scoring at 74.1 points per game. Times have changed. Seven of the eight teams that qualified for the Summit tournament that starts today at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., averaged at least 75 points per game. It continued an upward trend in scoring that saw at least five teams score at least 75 a game last season after just one in 2013-14.
FARGO — The drive from Dave Richman's workplace to his home consists of a couple of campus roads, a couple of interstate highways and a few suburban blocks, a couple of which are still under construction. The commute takes about 25 minutes, and they are about the only 25 minutes the North Dakota State head basketball coach gets to decompress from the daily stress of leading a Division I men's program.