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 glory of the 2017 Division I FCS national title has somewhat faded over the winter, the result of the North Dakota State football players getting back to work with winter conditioning and the coaches getting back to work recruiting and planning for spring football. It's here already, spring ball, with the first workout set for Wednesday, March 21. The Bison will return 26 players who started at least one game last season, and that doesn't include All-American candidate Greg Menard, who tore the ACL in his knee last August in practice.
FARGO—You hear about the aches and pains of the North Dakota State football players during the Division I FCS playoff run, but details are difficult to come by. Mostly, it's because of the nature of the sport: Players tend to shrug off injuries. The true nature of the ailments was revealed on Monday, March 19, when head coach Chris Klieman gave his state of address of spring football practice, which starts Wednesday. At least 18 players will either sit out the workouts entirely or be limited in what they can do.
FARGO—The joke all week between Amy Olson and her husband Grant Olson at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix was for the LPGA golfer to ace hole No. 17, which would have included a new car. It wasn't just any car, either, but a crossover SUV that would have been ideal for a professional golfer. Well, Olson did get an ace. Only it was on hole No. 6 in the final round on Sunday, March 18. It was followed by the joking tweet from Olson, the former North Dakota State football player and current assistant coach at Indiana State:
FARGO—Spring football starts at North Dakota State this week and if you're a close follower of Bison athletics, it will probably be met with some renewed enthusiasm. The winter sports season came to a close over the weekend at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and the results for the three main programs were less than stellar. The combined record of men's and women's basketball and wrestling was 31-47.
FARGO — North Dakota State is going shopping this spring for a couple more men's basketball players. The season ended in the Summit League tournament semifinals this week, a year in which NDSU had its first losing record since 2010-11. The ship is still sailing, but it sprung a couple leaks this season. And Bison head coach Dave Richman said he's looking for more help on the floor. The Bison have two scholarships available and Richman hinted he's is in the market for a couple of inside players. "Some versatility at the 4, 5," Richman said.
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.