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Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson State senior Johnie Sanders goes in for a layup against Rocky Mountain College on Dec. 5 at Scott Gymnasium.

DSU Notebook: Season heating up for Blue Hawk men's basketball team

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Coming off its the first Frontier Conference men's basketball victory in school history, Dickinson State head coach Ty Orton feels good about where his team is heading.

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As the Blue Hawks' season goes into grinder mode, the coach said his team looks faster and more confident than it has all year.

"I like the way the guys are coming around," Orton said. "They're heading in the right direction."

DSU hosts Briercrest College of Caronport, Saskatchewan, at 7:30 p.m. today in its final nonconference game. On Saturday night, Carroll College visits Scott Gymnasium for the first of a dozen Frontier games to end the regular season.

The Blue Hawks (7-10, 1-2 Frontier) are coming off a 75-73 road victory over Carroll last Saturday that Orton said not only signified a step in the right direction for the team, but also showed them just how challenging the league will be.

They lost a tightly contested game against No. 10-ranked Montana State-Northern, 72-65, on Friday night. It was a game Orton said boiled down to a handful of possessions.

"If you don't show up, you're going to get burned, you're going to get beat," Orton said. "If the kids show up, they're ready to play and they can do some things, every game is going to be a tight game. One mistake. That can be the game. That's what we try to do. You can't be perfect, but the kids understand that you can't sit there and take a mental minute or physical minute. That's when they can score and they can lose by two points."

The Blue Hawks are 4-4 since former NAIA All-America forward Matt Lee parted ways with the team following their Dec. 5 loss against Rocky Mountain College.

Since then, the team's offensive balance has improved behind senior leading scorers Johnie Sanders (13.2 points per game) and Jarek Hansen (11.1 ppg).

Ty Ackelson and John Hanstad are averaging 8.2 points per game. Five players are averaging between three and six points per game, including surging junior point guard Robbie Morey who is averaging 5.5 points and 2.8 assists per game but has seen his minutes and production climb steadily throughout the season.

"I think it's got to be hard to scout," Orton said. "We were 10 deep and anybody can come off at any time and do some special things for us. The way Robbie has been playing has just been phenomenal."

However, Orton said DSU could be without sophomore Tevin Russell the remainder of the season.

The 6-foot-4 swingman has been sidelined since late November because of a groin injury. A transfer from Texas A&M-Kingsville, Russell barely had a chance to get settled into his new surroundings. He played in just five games and averaging 3.6 points and 2 rebounds per game.

"That's another big blow for us," Orton said.

Bowman County's Palczewski among DSU track recruits

DSU track and field coach Pete Stanton has added one of North Dakota's top recruits to the fold for the 2014 season.

Bowman County High School senior Michael Palczewski signed his letter of intent with the Blue Hawks on Monday.

Palczewski won the Class B championship in the 400 meters as a junior last May with a time of 51.03 seconds, far worse than his personal-best time. He was also fifth in the 200 (23.04).

"Getting Michael here is huge for us," Stanton said. "We're excited to have him join our program. The one thing with Michael is he's a hard worker. He's got a great upside."

Palczewski is one of five high school seniors who have already signed with DSU track and field, including long jumper Zach Girard of Dillon, Mont.

DSU has also inked three for the women's team, including sought-after thrower Whitney Leuenberger from Sidney, Mont.

Stanton said Leuenberger garnered interest from North Dakota State, Montana and Montana State, amongst others.

She has thrown 41 feet, 11 inches in the shot put and 135 feet in the discus. Both of which are close to NAIA national qualifying standards.

"I think the sky is going to be the limit for her," Stanton said.

Also signing with the Blue Hawks are Shelby Stagner from Deadwood-Lead (S.D.) High School and Alyssa Breuer from Mandan.

As a junior, Stagner was a state qualifier in the 200, 400 and 800. She helped the Lead-Deadwood 800 relay team to a fifth place at the state meet and took sixth in the 800.

Breuer was a state qualifier in the pole vault. She is the younger sister of Ty and Casey Breuer, bareback riders on the pro rodeo circuit.

Stanton said one of the team's goals for upcoming seasons is to improve the depth of the women's team.

"Having those three ladies sign before the start of the second semester has been big for us," he said.

Hawks wrestling team ready to go after month-long layoff

With more than a month between its last action and Thursday's dual at Jamestown College, DSU wrestling coach Thadd O'Donnell felt it was probably a good idea to get his team back in the practice room shortly after Christmas.

The Blue Hawks, who have been idle since beating Chadron (Neb.) State 21-18 in a dual on Dec. 5, have been doing two-a-day practices since Dec. 28 and O'Donnell said it's paying off.

"We're kind of weeding things out that way," he said with a smile.

After Thursday's dual at Jamestown, which begins at 3 p.m. MST, the Blue Hawks are off to the NAIA National Duals in Springfield, Mo.

Pairings for the National Duals has not been released because the latest NAIA rankings are not announced until today.

The Blue Hawks were ranked No. 4 in the NAIA North Group poll that was released Tuesday, down two spots from their ranking prior to Christmas. They went into the holidays ranked No. 10 in the NAIA, though they're likely to fall a bit in that poll too because of their region ranking.

Fortunately for the Blue Hawks, NAIA All-Americans Cameron Schrempp (174) and Jose Lopez (285) are both set to return in the second semester.

"I think we'll be ready," O'Donnell said. "The guys are excited about it. We'll see how we show up."

Former DSU AD Ternes named to William Woods inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame class

Former DSU athletic director Roger Ternes will be one of three named to the inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame class at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo.

Ternes was the university's athletic director for 20 years and guided the softball team to six NAIA national tournaments and coached the women's basketball team to the national tournament once. He is the winningest coach in William Woods history after compiling a 249-115 record as a women's basketball coach and a 594-237 record as a softball coach.

Ternes was DSU's athletic director for 11 years before leaving in 2010 to become the athletic director at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

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Dustin Monke
Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He has been a key member of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, as well as the Press' Sweepstakes win in 2013. As the newspaper's editor, he writes a Sunday column, contributes feature stories, designs pages and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff.
(701) 456-1205
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