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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SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—It was all looking so pretty. Too pretty as it turned out. North Dakota State was leading Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne by 23 points with 15 minutes left in the game and the Bison were in the driver's seat—with Fort Wayne nowhere near the vehicle. Then it suddenly turned into a race to the finish line.
WEST FARGO—A North Dakota swimming dynasty came to an end on Saturday afternoon, March 3. Bismarck Century, after winning five straight North Dakota State Swimming & Diving Meet boys championships, finally met its match. Minot claimed the state title at the Hulbert Aquatic Center without winning an individual event. "You talk about depth, that is a true team effort," said Minot head coach Jake Solper. "The guys responded."
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.
WEST FARGO — If the North Dakota state boys swimming and diving meet could talk, it would probably have a few questions this weekend. Like, for instance, where am I? For the first time since the debut meet in Mandan in 1975, it's being held in the state's largest metro area. The opening of the Hulbert Aquatic Center in West Fargo is the first facility in Fargo-West Fargo capable of hosting the event, and the North Dakota High School Activities Association wasted no time in giving it a chance to host a major high school event.
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 — The pursuit of medical school won out over playing another season of basketball at North Dakota State for Spencer Eliason. The junior center says this will be his last season of eligibility. Eliason, from Chadron, Neb., will graduate in May with a zoology major and a minor in chemistry. That means the Summit League game against Fort Wayne on Saturday, Feb. 17, will be his last at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
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.