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 — The Sanford Fargo Marathon is advertised as flat, friendly and fast and at least one running website agrees it's one of the best in the country. Active.com lists the Fargo as one of the top 10 races to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Whether it's actually true is debatable, since Active.com does not present any real quantifying data. All 10 marathons, however, do have some varying degree of flatness to it like the Chicago Marathon, whose only hills are the bridges on the course.
FARGO — North Dakota State students will have fewer available seats for football games next fall, a move that NDSU student body president Mason Wenzel said was unfortunate but in the best interest of both parties involved. The students are giving up Section 16 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, which is on the southwest side between approximately the 25- and 35-yard lines, or the closest student section to midfield. In return, the athletic department will be getting $100,000 less in student fees and students will have priority for standing room tickets.
FARGO—There are photos out there of Blake Stockert when he was a freshman pitcher at North Dakota State. At least they appear to be of him. Now a senior, he's changed that much—both physically and mentally. "If you see pictures of him in the fall of his freshman year to now, it's almost unrecognizable," said Bison head coach Tod Brown. While a lot of athletes change their body by adding muscle mass and weight, Stockert went the other way. He said he dropped 25 to 30 pounds and that was the first step in becoming a legitimate Division I pitcher.
FARGO—The need for the North Dakota State men's basketball team to find an interior player is more intense than ever these days. Bison head coach Dave Richman said junior center Dylan Miller won't return to the team next season. The 6-foot-8 Miller saw his role diminish over the course of the last two years, starting 19 of 29 games as a sophomore and four of 22 games this past season. He was suspended for three games late in the year for a violation of team rules and never did get back into the rotation.
FARGO — The entry way into the indoor bubble over Dacotah Field is a revolving door that fits most people comfortably. On Monday, April 9, as he was leaving spring practice at North Dakota State, Noah Gindorff navigated it with some care. The Bison tight ends just keep getting bigger and bigger. Gindorff is 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds. Josh Babicz is 6-6, 247. Cody Mauch is 6-4, 269. Austin Avery is the lightest of the bunch at 6-3, 246. Costner Ching, who came in as a tight end, is more of a fullback now at 6-3, 270. All five were true freshmen last fall.
FARGO—The hip pain for North Dakota State left tackle Colin Conner was so severe at times last season that just getting through a game was a chore. He had surgery after the season and is out for spring football. Dillon Radunz didn't have the opportunity to play through injuries last season. The left tackle tore the ACL in his knee in the season opener. Surgery has him missing spring ball too. When both Conner and Radunz return to practice when fall camp starts in August, both may find the depth chart crowded.
FARGO—When Alyssa Olin left Mott, N.D., for North Dakota State, expectations were more in the "hope-she-develops" category. She was a Class B state runner-up in the javelin, which is good, but the distances didn't exactly jump off the page. Bison head women's track and field coach Stevie Keller isn't sure if any Bison coach even saw her throw in high school. NDSU offered what Keller said was "a token scholarship" and that was enough for Olin to sign on. These days, she could probably throw a javelin from one end of Mott to the other.
FARGO—North Dakota State isn't alone in its baseball scheduling misery this spring. The poor weather that has hampered a good chunk of the country in the last month has home fields looking empty. The Bison are one of 12 Division I teams that have yet to play a home game, said NDSU head coach Tod Brown. And for the Bison, it's not looking promising anytime soon. Their Newman Outdoor Field still had snow on it Tuesday with forecasted temperatures in the next 10 days not offering much help. Brown thinks NDSU is at a minimum 14 days from playing at Newman.
FARGO—The approach by Amy Olson on No. 18 was nearly perfect, done on the big stage of an LPGA major tournament. She birdied the hole at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Although it wasn't for the victory in the ANA Inspiration, it was a top-10 finish nonetheless in a season that's well on the way to being her best. Meanwhile, a couple of time zones away in Minneapolis, her brother Nathan Anderson was watching it on TV, having seen those laser-like shots from his sister for years.
FARGO—The storyline is getting to be as common as talking about the weather around here. Small-town kid. Walks on to the North Dakota State football team. Works his way into the lineup. Introducing the next candidate to fill that stereotype: Jackson Hankey from Park River, N.D.