Fifty-eight days until UMD Volleyball vs. Northern Michigan.
Fifty-nine days until UMD Soccer vs. Southwest Baptist.
Sixty days until UMD Football vs. Concordia St. Paul.
Sixty-one days until UMD Men’s Cross Country at the St. Johns Invitational.
Before you know it, the 2014-15 season of UMD Bulldog Athletics will be upon us and underway. Last year’s records and performances across all Bulldog athletics was astounding! UMD experienced a multitude of highlights, including a few program firsts. These achievements were made in each of the three C’s expected of student-athletes: Competition, Classroom and Community. It started with a 2-1 home soccer triumph over Northern Michigan University on September 5, 2013 and wrapped up with an All-American outdoor track performance by Samantha Rivard on the 2014 Memorial Day weekend.
What other highlights and firsts will our UMD athletes achieve in this upcoming season of Bulldog sports? Only time will tell. But to get pumped up for the quickly approaching 2014-15 season openers, let’s take a stroll down memory lane of the noteworthy athletic, academic and community achievements of our Bulldog student-athletes.
• UMD produced 12 All-Americans, one national player of the year (senior outside Kate Lange, American Volleyball Coaches Association) and one NCAA Division II champion (Samantha Rivard in he indoor mile). Rivard secured All-American status four ti mes during her debut collegiate season — twice in indoor track (mile run and third place in 5,000 meter run) and once each in cross country (8th place) and outdoor track (second place in 5,000-meter run).
• For the first time ever, UMD hosted three different NCAA fall playoff events — football, volleyball and soccer. All three UMD teams in those sports were ousted in the playoffs by the eventual national champion. The Bulldogs also qualified for the NCAA II Cross Country Championships after winning their first-ever NCAA II Central Regional title. Freshman Samantha Rivard placed eigth to earn All-American honors.
• UMD equaled a soccer program record for victories with 17 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA II tournament for the first time.
• The Bulldogs went 33-3 overall in volleyball, captured the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament championship, and made their 12th straight NCAA II playoff appearance. The Bulldogs, who season came to an end in the NCAA II Central Region title game, produced the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II National Player of the Year in senior outside hitter Kate Lange, a three-time All-American who exited the UMD program as its all-time kills leader.
• The football Bulldogs closed out the year with an 11-2 overall record and reigned as the NSIC North Division champion for a sixth straight season. UMD also earned a sixth consecutive NCAA II playoff berth.
• Curt Wiese capped off his first season of head coaching duty with the football Bulldogs by receiving the prestigious Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award for Division II. He became the second Bulldog in four years to be so honored.
• In the final respective national polls for fall sports, UMD was ranked 4th in volleyball (AVCA), 7th in soccer (NSCAA), 7th in women’s cross country (USTFCCCA) and 8th in football (AFCA).
• UMD placed 5th in the fall 2013-14 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) / Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. This represented the schools thried highest showing ever, bettered only by a second-place finish in 2009-10 and No. 4 placing one year earlier. Bolstered by a team championship in women’s cross country and runner-up finished in both football and volleyball, UMD also ended the fall season occupying the No. 1 spot in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference / US Bank All-Sports Standings following the fall season.
• In men’s hockey, the Bulldogs, whose strength of schedule was ranked first in the country, secured a home playoff berth in the inaugural season of competition in the NCHC, and climbed as high as 11th in the PariWise ranking during the 2013-14 season. UMD’s average home attendance (6,183 per night) was the sixth highest of any NCAA I school.
• Two current UMD defensemen — junior Tea Villia (Finland, pictured below on the left) and sophomore Lara Stalder (bronze medal-winning Switzerland, and pictured below on the right) — competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in February and were among the 11 ex-Bulldogs who represented six countries at that event in Sochi, Russia. As had been the case in each of the previous four Winter Games, UMD churned out more hockey Olympians than any other school in the country in 2014.
• In addition to becoming just the third Bulldog woman ever to claim a national individual title in any sport, Samantha Rivard helped lead UMD to its first NSIC indoor track title in five years and was part of the largest contingent (six athletes) the school had ever sent to the NCAA national indoor meet. She was named the NSIC Indoor Athlete of the Year for her efforts.
• Samantha Rivard and senior Cole Toepfer were chosen U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Central Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. Toepfer qualified for the NCAA II indoor championships in the mile run and also in the distance medley relay along with senior Tyler Stevens and juniors Phil d’Entremont and Chris Wilson. Joanna Warmington received USTFCCCA Central Region Women’s Coach of the Year honors.
• UMD’s 417 student-athletes, which includes red-shirted freshmen, posted an average GPA 3.14 — an all-time high — in 2013-14. Of that group, 95 achieved GPAs of 3.50 or above, and 10 turned in perfect 4.00 marks. The women’s basketball Bulldogs registered the best collegiate GPA (3.58) of any UMD team during the 2013-14 school year while softball (3.31) and soccer (3.27) were next.
• A total of 88 UMD student-athletes qualified for a spot on the NSIC All-Acadmeic Team at some point in the 2013-14 school year. In addition, 14 Bulldog men and women earned All-Academic Team status from the NCHC and WCHA, respectively.
• A trio of Bulldogs — Katrina Newman (basketball), Dani Potter (soccer) and Randi Timerman (cross country) — were bestowed with a prestigious NSIC Myles Brand All-Academic Award.
• Junior offensive lineman Andrew Pattock was a CoSIDA Academic All-American first team selection while junior soccer forward Maureen Stormont received NSCAA Scholar All-American acclaim.
• USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country recognition was awarded to four women — Breanna Colbenson, Hannah Olson, Alexandra Rudin and Jacque Thament — as well as Bulldog junior Dan Nielsen.
• Seniors Jordan Bauman, Chris Blake, Alex Brown, Jeron Johndon, Joe Reichert and Austin Selvick all attained National Football Foundation Honor Society distinction.
• UMD student-athletes and staff logged approximately 2,000 volunteer hours during the 2013-14 school year. In addition to volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, Churches United in Ministry (CHUM), the Damiano Center Kid’s Cafe, Arrowhead Juvenile Center, Second Harvest Food Bank, Minnesota Teen Challenge, Men as Peacemakers, and numerous local elementary schools (reading), hospitals and youth sports organizations such as the Salvation Army Basketball League, the Duluth Amateur Hockey Association, the Duluth Girls Hockey Association, and Duluth Little League Baseball/Softball, the Bulldogs also were involved in a large number of charitable projects such as Mentor Duluth (Big Brothers/Big Sisters), Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family, Habitat for Humanity, Adopt-A-Highway, Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish, the ALS Blizzard Tour, Essentia Health’s Breast Cancer Awareness, UMD’s Stop Domestic Violence Campaign, Lions Club Pancake Day, Locks of Love, Think Pink Night, Toys for Tots, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, UDAc’s Walk a Mile in Our Shoes Walkathon, and the ALS Walleye Tournament.
The Bulldog volleyballers pose following the Whipper Snapper Races Friday in Duluth. They are (Front Row Left to Right): Ashley Hinsch, Katie Ledwell, Sheenagh Caroline, and Julie Rainey. (Back Row) Sydnie Mauch, Alyssa Kujawa, Jess Zieman, Maddy Siroin, Taylor Wissbroecker and Megan Norby.
• Eight individuals – the most in school history — were named finalists for the Shjon Podein Community Service Award, which has been presented annually since 2003 to a UMD student-athlete who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the field of play and has made noteworthy humanitarian contributions in the Duluth and University communities.That honor was bestowed on Bulldog basketball senior Hannah Rutten at UMD’s Dinner With Champions banquet in late April.