Category: Sports

University of Mary’s Coach Roger Thomas to Retire

BISMARCK – The University of Mary announced the retirement of its athletic director, Roger Thomas, effective June 30. Thomas, who has been the university’s athletic director since 2008, has had a tremendous career for the Marauders, leading the school’s athletic departments in fostering scores of top-caliber athletes to All-American citations, and making the transition to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) of the NCAA Division II from the NAIA. During the transition from Mary’s first A.D., Al Bortke, Thomas had the duty of bringing the school into compliance with its new rank.

“It’s with great pride, gratitude and humility that I have had the opportunity to serve the University of Mary and the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery during its new era of NCAA athletics—a time of great growth for our campus and our student athletes,” said Thomas. “My hope was always for our student athletes to graduate from the University of Mary as champions in their own hearts—knowing they gave it their all in the classroom, competitively in their sport and then confidently go into their communities as true servant leaders. It’s bittersweet that I come to the end of my career in athletics. Having worked with so many wonderful athletes over the years, it’s rewarding to know we helped shape their character and better serve society—and we did it the right way.”

Coach Mike Thorson said of Thomas, “Roger Thomas’s leadership has created a tremendous opportunity for coaches and athletes to excel. Roger believes in the vital role of athletics in forming character and molding young men and women into outstanding servant leaders. His contributions to the university have been invaluable. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Before coming to Mary, Thomas had a distinguished career at the University of North Dakota as UND’s head football coach from 1986-98 and the athletic director from 1999-2005. As the winningest football coach in UND history he compiled a record of 90-43-1 for a win percentage of .674. He guided North Dakota to five NCAA Division II postseason appearances while his team won three straight North Central Conference championships from 1993-95. Thomas was a four-time region coach of the year and a three-time NCC Coach of the Year.

As UND’s athletic director, Thomas oversaw the opening of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Betty Engelstad Sioux Center and Alerus Center. Also under his watch North Dakota won NCAA national titles in football and men’s hockey – the latter of which earned Thomas and the UND skaters a trip to the White House and a congratulatory meeting with the president of the United States. In 2008 Thomas relocated his storied career to the University of Mary, helping to make the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

Roger Thomas has been an exemplary leader at the University of Mary, fully committed to both athletic excellence and academic achievement, and to the vital importance of athletics in building character and fostering the Benedictine values the University of Mary was founded upon.

“The University of Mary is saddened to lose an athletic director so well respected as Roger is throughout the region, but we trust that God will continue to bless us with people like him who will continue his legacy of excellence,” said Greg Vetter, executive vice president of the university. “We are grateful for his service and know that his legacy, along with our new fieldhouse and the fulfillment of Vision 2030, will signal a bright future for athletics at the University of Mary.”

A search for Thomas’ successor will begin immediately.

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Dakota Bowl: Tommys Stand Tall Over Holsteins

FARGO – When it comes to big time football games, they usually come with huge stakes on the line. The 2016 NDHSAA nine man Dakota Bowl state championship was no different. The New Salem/Almont/Glen Ullin Holsteins came into the gridiron affair with an impressive ten game winning streak after dropping their season opener on the turf at Miller Field in Bismarck to Shiloh Christian. After that initial loss, it has been full steam ahead on both sides of the football for the Holstein squad. For the Thompson Tommys, it has been a picture perfect season from the start.

Thompson worked their way through the season like a buzz saw, dominating each and every opponent with an unmatchable force. Their defense was stingy and the Thompson offense averaged 50+ points per game. Their was no doubt that the Fargo Dome was going to be a very special atmosphere with nerves and excitement filling the air with such large stakes on the line. The undefeated and number one ranked Thompson Tommy’s got off to a start which seemed torn right out of the pages of their playbook, scoring the games first and only touchdowns of the first quarter.

The first tally was thanks to a Callin Schwabe 83 yard touchdown run that saw him slice his way through the New Salem defense with sheer agility. That score was recorded at the 6:48 mark and was followed by a failed two point conversion. The next score of the quarter Schwabe was once again responsible for, this time through the air for eleven yards to Collin Grotte. Another two point conversion try was to no avail and the scoreboard read 12-0 as the first quarter time clock expired.

The Holsteins answered quickly and efficiently with a well balanced drive which found Evan Hanke striking back with a rushing touchdown from one yard out. Two point conversion tries were certainly not being handed out as NSAGU was unable to add to the 12-6 tally at the 9:25 mark of the 2nd quarter. New Salem was able to get their offense back on the field in a timely effort and tied the game at 12 after another Hanke touchdown scramble from four yards out, and yet again another failed two point try. The momentum was felt shifting towards the Holsteins after the back to back touchdown drives manipulated by the NSAGU offense.

Late in the first half, Thompson showed great poise and everyone in attendance at the Fargo Dome found out first hand exactly why they are the number one ranked nine man squad in the state. With 1:35 left in the second quarter of play, Callin Schwabe delivered a ten yard touchdown strike to Cole Sorby. After the touchdown pass was secured, Thompson found the first two point conversion attempt of the contest by way of the air and wide receiver Brett Sutter-Hegg.

That sequence of events pushed the Tommys out front with and eight point lead. Thompson did not stop there, adding to their lead again going through the air 52 yards to Cole Sorby with 16 ticks left in the first half of championship action. Once again the Tommys were able to capitalize on the extra two points extending their lead to 28-12 heading into the break.

Callin Schwabe continued his domination under center for Thompson as he lead his team to even more success in the third quarter. At the 9:50 mark, another beautiful pass from the arm of Schwabe nestled into the hands of Sorby for 66 yards and another score. Thompson running back Adam Diedrich got into the scoring mix as well finding the end zone from five yards out with 2:21 remaining in the third to push the lead over NSAGU to 40-12.

New Salem answered those scores finally, late in the third quarter when Hanke found Forster for a 37 yard touchdown pass narrowing the margin heading into the last quarter of the championship match to 40-20.

Despite their best efforts and intentions, it was too little too late for the beloved Holsteins team representing western North Dakota in the 2016 Dakota Bowl. The Tommys piled on their lead with two Diedrich touchdown scampers from 53 yards and 30 yards respectively, all but sealing the Thompson fate as 2016 NDHSAA nine man state football champions.

The stars on the field were shining bright all afternoon until the end when the Fargo Dome scoreboard read 54-20 in favor of Thompson. Callin Schwabe finished the fame with 184 yards rushing on eight attempts and a score, also completing 7/13 passes for 162 yards and four TD’s passing. Adam Diedrich finished with 233 yards on 28 carries and 3 TD’s. 

[Filed By TJ Meyer]

Energy Crisis! Coal Country Teams Defeated

BEULAH – Entering the quarterfinal round of the NDHSAA Football playoffs, the Beulah Miners and the Hazen Bison were labeled favorites. Road teams Kindred and Minot Ryan had other plans on Saturday. Minot Ryan defeated Hazen 31 to 14, while Kindred downed Beulah 34-21.

Minot Ryan came off of a huge comeback win over Heart River last weekend, 62 to 33. They kept their roll going right away, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. On Hazen’s first possession, they went three and out. The Lions roared to a quick touchdown and made it 14 to 0 before most Bison fans had a warm seat. Two more first half touchdowns made the score 28 to 0.

Meanwhile, at Riverside Park in Beulah…..

The Kindred Vikings took the opening kickoff, and marched on an impressive opening drive, covering 70 yards, and making it 7-0. At the end of the first quarter, it was the Vikings leading Beulah 21-0. Kindred added another touchdown to make it 28-0, while Beulah struck with a late first half score to make it 28 to 6.

Back in Hazen, the Bison made the game interesting, scoring two third quarter touchdowns to make it 28-14. But, they couldn’t get any closer despite a few chances. Ryan added a field goal to make it a 31 to 14 final.

The Beulah Miners also made the game more interesting, getting a 30 yard touchdown from Matt Schnabel to make the score 28 to 14. Then came the backbreaker, as Kindred scored on a 57 yard connection from quarterback Ethan Lingen to Brock Benson. Beulah had some late chances to get within a score, but couldn’t get in the endzone.

[Filed by Derek Stacklie and Donavon Schnabel]

Off the Saddle! Aggies Down Cowboys

KILLDEER – The Killdeer Cowboys were looking for a third straight trip to the Dakota Bowl, while the Velva/Sawyer Aggies were looking for revenge, since they had lost to the Cowboys in last year’s state semifinals.

They got their revenge with a 28 to 9 win. The game started out with the Aggies quarterback Nick Effertz finding Hunter Brabandt for a 15 yard touchdown. On the next possession for Killdeer, a costly fumble gave the Aggies great field position, and another connection from Effertz to Brabandt that made it 12 to 0.

The Cowboys continued to shoot themselves in the foot, fumbling three more times in the game, and falling behind 28 to 0 in the 2nd quarter. The Cowboys defense stiffened in the second half, but the offense couldn’t get any consistent traction, and the Aggies defense continued to play well.

Tough way to end a good season for the Cowboys, but they simply committed too many turnovers to expect to beat a good team like the Aggies. Velva/Sawyer will travel to Des Lacs-Burlington next week in the quarterfinals.

[Filed by Derek Stacklie | October, 22 2016]

Bismarck Larks Launch New Baseball Franchise

BISMARCK – Western North Dakota’s new Northwoods League Baseball Team has officially been announced as the “Bismarck Larks” after receiving over 500 submissions and 1,000 votes, named after the state bird the Meadowlark.

“We’re so happy to develop a brand that is not only fun but represents the community we serve,” said John Bollinger, the team’s General Manager. “It’s the state bird, we’re in the state capital, it just makes sense. And it’s fun! Fans will really enjoy how we integrate the Larks theme at the ballpark.”

The Bismarck Larks will make their debut in Spring 2017, and will play all 36 home games at the newly renovated Bismarck Municipal Park. The roughly 1500 seat stadium has been in use since 1921 and been home to many former teams.

Outside of American Legion Baseball, and regional NDHSAA teams, Bismarck has not facilitated a semi-league team since 1996, with the defunct Prairie League’s Dakota Rattlers.

The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer baseball league, with the Bismarck Larks now the second semi-professional team in North Dakota, after the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

I’m Your Huckleberry! Carr leads Bison over Cowboys in Energy Bowl

KILLDEER – It was just like the movie Tombstone. A man named Wyatt rides into town and creates trouble for a bunch of Cowboys. This time, there was no gunfight at the OK Corral, just a pair of long touchdown runs, three touchdown passes, and a 33 to 25 Energy Bowl win for Wyatt Earp, er Carr and the Hazen Bison.

Wyatt Carr has been a force for Hazen all season long, with multiple touchdowns in most games, including a game with six touchdowns against Garrison. But this week was supposed to be different against a powerful Killdeer team that had lost just once on the season. It was no different.

The game started slow, with both teams going scoreless through one quarter. The second quarter saw Alex Sadowsky of Killdeer open the scoring with a 1 yard run. Carr answered that touchdown with a 77 yard scamper to paydirt. The teams traded scores again, with a Dillon Jepson run and Carr’s 68 yard TD run. Killdeer stretched a lead with another Jepson run and a Garrett LeMieux fumble return made it 25 to 14 Cowboys.

Hazen then scored the final 13 points of the half, on a Jeremy Leintz 6 yard TD catch from Carr. Then came the decision that changed the landscape of the game. Hazen went for and recovered the onside kick and scored on the final play of the first half to take a 27 to 25 lead into the locker room.

The Bison and Cowboys battled to just one score in the second half, another Wyatt Carr pass to Quentin Corchran that made the score 33 to 25. Killdeer had multiple chances to try to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but one fumble, and a tipped pass in the end zone ended their chances to tie the game.

Hazen escaped with the win, and more or less locked up the region 4 title for the regular season. They will wrap up their regular season with Southern McLean next week, and Killdeer will close out their regular season against Garrison/Max. Hazen won this round, but we could see Energy Bowl II in a few weeks with a trip to the Dakota Bowl on the line.

The Cowboys will have to shut down Wyatt Carr if they want to be the ones riding off into the sunset with a win.

[Filed by Derek Stacklie | October 7, 2016]

New Faces, Same Result Miners Win 37th Annual Coal Bowl

BEULAH – The Beulah Miners won the NDHSAA Class AA Football Championship last season behind a huge, talented group of seniors. This year, a new group of starters joined returning stars Mikey Morris, Matt Schnabel, and Reese Hoherz to defeat Hazen 33 to 6 in the 37th Annual Coal Bowl.

Reese Hoherz was a starting defensive back on the Miners state title team, but this was his first year as the starting quarterback. His first start went about as well as it could have, as he completed 8 of 11 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those went to new wide receiver Mason Dolbec, who was making his first start.

Another newcomer, lineman Cory Rueb returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown. Then there was returning All-State running back Mikey Morris, who scored a pair of touchdowns, one on a 14 yard reception, and the other on a 93 yard run.

The game was not as lopsided as the final score would have indicated, as Hazen kept it close in the first half despite turning the ball over multiple times, and stalling on a drive deep in Miner territory at the end of the first half. The Bison couldn’t execute once they got the ball in the red zone. Hazen has a lot to be proud of, hanging with the defending state champions despite not having their best performance with the turnovers.

Beulah looks to be a well oiled machine moving forward, and they will face of with Central Cass next week before opening regional play against powerhouse Bismarck St. Mary’s, while Hazen takes on Bottineau and Westhope-Newberg-Glenburn over the next two weeks. The Coal Bowl however, will reside in Beulah for another year, and the Miners earned it tonight with a mix of new and veteran players.

[BY DEREK STACKLIE|PHOTO DONOVAN SCHNABEL|THE DAKOTA DISPATCH]