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 — North Dakota State opens football practice on Monday, July 31, and the sporting eyes of the Bison bandwagon want the answer to the question Forum News Service tries to answer every opening day: What are the five burning questions? Here is our take, in order of importance:
VALLEY CITY, N.D.—There's a neighbor's backyard beyond the outfield fence, not a field of corn so the Wiffle Ball World Series is not something for the big screen just yet. Don't expect Kevin Costner to play the role of one of the founding members like he did in "Field of Dreams," a movie in which a baseball diamond was built in an Iowa cornfield. But there's a sense of celebration every summer in the backyard of Bob and Joni Bergan, and it has everything to do with that child in everybody.
FARGO—The large headline on The Forum's sports page on Thursday, July 20, was all fine and dandy. The Big Ten Conference is back on the FCS scheduling table, it read in so many words. It hasn't been made official by the league but word is out Big Ten schools will be allowed to schedule FCS programs on the years when they have four home games in a nine-game league schedule. In other words, every Big Ten school in every other year will have room for an FCS game, if it so chooses.
FARGO—The lighted center stage in the darkened Fargodome that is home to the USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle National Championship title matches is usually a haven for wrestlers from other parts of the country who are going to other Division I schools. This year, the dome got some home cookin'. Not only did Jared Franek and Brandon Metz make the finals, but both have committed to North Dakota State, Franek verbally and Metz signed and delivered.
FARGO—North Dakota State University and the city of Fargo has hosted the USA Wrestling tournament every year since 1993, a run that is in jeopardy when the contract is up after this year's event. With a strong bid, Louisville, Ky., is lobbying for the tourney, said Pete Isais, director of national events for USA Wrestling.
FARGO — It was in 1978 when Bob Nelson and his camera wandered onto the North Dakota State campus and started documenting history. He was just a kid out of Fargo North High School who joined the yearbook staff at NDSU back when universities actually had yearbooks. If only Bob's camera could talk. Imagine the stories it could give us this week. "He was always there," said Craig Maas, a longtime friend. "With colleges people come and go but he was always there."
FARGO—One by one, Harold Larson went around the room talking about each player, pointing out details that would be tough to remember five weeks ago much less 50 years ago. From who had the best-looking girlfriend to who had the best professional baseball shot, there was constant laughter and smiles. The last guy at the end of the table, Larson said one thing about himself. "I was so blessed to play with you guys, every one of you," he said. The thought choked him up.
FARGO — It was in a meeting room at the Arrowwood Resort hotel in Alexandria, Minn., in 2002 when the old Division II North Central Conference was dealt the first spear into the midsection. North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Colorado wanted the entire league to move to Division I. The rest, essentially said, hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more no more no more no more. Well, Jack may come back after all.
FARGO—Those days of North Dakota State getting a rush of football verbal commitments in November or December are so far in the rearview mirror that you can't see them anymore. This week, in the middle of summer, the Bison hit the jackpot of sorts with six commits in one day. It's almost as if the Sunderland Family Football Office Complex on the second floor of the Fargodome turned into a hot casino.
FARGO—The plan was for utility infielder Andy Young to finish the three-game minor league baseball series with the Peoria (Ill.) Chiefs and then drive to Midland, Mich., for the home run derby in the Midwest League All-Star game. Then he got the call. No home run derby and no All-Star game. He got something better. A promotion. "It was a surprise," Young said.