Gene's Blog: Pride, joy, relief after fruitful weekend
February 21, 2012
Team members react to the final relay victory that lifted the Tommie men's swimming and diving team to a close MIAC championship. (Greg Smith photo)
St. Thomas’ Eyo Ekpo cleared 6-8 3-4 in the high jump and leaped 47-11 1-4 in the triple jump last Friday night at the U of M Snowshoe Open.
Those are the kind of performances you come to expect from the talented junior All-America.
Still, you can argue that Ekpo’s impressive double probably doesn’t rank among St. Thomas’ best dozen stories of a terrific sports weekend at Cretin and Summit Avenues.
Here’s a quick St. Thomas “Best-of” countdown for a memorable Feb. 17-19, as pride, joy and relief were overriding emotions for people in Purple:
12) The Tommie women’s tennis team shuts out Division II opponent Minnesota-Duluth, 9-0
11) Track & Field’s Ben Sathre breaks his own school-record in the indoor mile with a 4:10 clocking Friday at the U of M meet
10) Women’s Hockey’s Alise Riedel records her sixth shutout of the season on Sunday in a 5-0 victory
9) Jennifer Easton sweeps one- and three-meter diving events, named Women’s Diver of the Year at MIAC Championships
8) Men’s Hockey extends its string of consecutive power-play kills to 36, blanking Augsburg to the tune of 0-for-11 in two weekend games
7) Women’s Track & Field runs Division III’s fourth fastest time this season in distance-medley relay with Kayla Goeman, Emily Van Heel, Larissa Peyton and Taylor Berg.
6) Freshman Mariann Kukielka breaks all-time MIAC record in winning the 100 fly, helps UST women take third place of 11 teams in conference swimming and diving team standings
5) Men’s Tennis overcomes two injuries, edges archrival St. John’s by 5-4 score as four singles match go to third-set tiebreakers
4) Senior Erik Huls joins a select group of MIAC swimmers to win one event (100 fly) all four times in his career
3) Women’s Basketball tops St. Mary’s, closes out rare 22-0 run through MIAC regular season and improves to 11-0 at home
2) Men’s Basketball wins fourth game in eight days, shares conference championship, the seventh in row for Tommies to match the 1946-53 Hamline team’s streak
1) With points from 19 different athletes on the final night of competition, Men’s Swimming and Diving rallies to win the MIAC team championship by a razor-thin 765-762 margin over perennial champ St. Olaf
Just Getting Started
If you enjoyed last weekend, consider the fun that awaits as a spectator during an upcoming 10-day stretch from Feb. 24-March 4:
--The Tommies will play host to at least three and as many as five MIAC playoff games from this Thursday through Sunday in basketball (AARC) and men’s hockey (Mendota Heights). St. Thomas is the top seed for all three playoffs.
--On Monday Feb. 27, St. Thomas baseball open its 2012 season with a 5 p.m. Metrodome doubleheader vs. St. Scholastica.
--Four days later on March 3, the two-day MIAC indoor track and field championships will be contested at Macalester.
--From March 3-5, the Tommies’ nationally-ranked softball team will play three doubleheaders in Rosemount.
--During that 10-day span, St. Thomas tennis plays three matches vs. St. Catherine and Macalester
Tommie men’s teams won conference team titles this winter in hockey, basketball and swimming. The last time one school won all three in the same winter season was back in 1948-49 (St. Thomas).
The Tommies have now won a total of 101 MIAC team championships in the sports of football (16), men’s basketball (27), men’s hockey (27) and baseball (31).
Tommie junior Riley Horgan won the MIAC scoring title in men’s hockey. In 16-game MIAC stats, Horgan (shown at right) finished with four goals and a whopping 20 assists for 24 points. Philipp (nine goals-11 assists/20) finished fourth.
Horgan is ranked third in Division III in assists per game with 25 in 21 games.
That’s a Record
Coach Ruth Sinn’s Tommies set a new MIAC women’s basketball record for margin of victory in an MIAC regular-season race. UST’s 22-0 finish was five games better than runner-up Gustavus (17-5). The old record was four games.
The men’s basketball record is six games set in 2008-09 Tommies, whose 20-0 record topped 14-6 Bethel.
The Tommie women allowed just 49.2 points a game in their 22-0 run through the conference. That’s the fewest points allowed by an MIAC team since the 1998-99 Tommies surrendered only 48.6 ppg in a runner-up finish.
Here’s to Balance
The Tommie men’s basketball team won a share of the conference title despite having: 1) no MIAC Player of the Week recipients thus far in 2011-12; 2) no player ranked in the top 20 in rebounding in 20-game conference stats; 3) no player ranked in the top 15 in scoring in 20-game conference stats
John Tauer is the latest St. Thomas head coach to guide a team to the MIAC team championship in his/her first season. Tauer (shown at right) is UST’s fifth rookie coach to win a crown in the last 11 years alone, joining John Tschida (2001 softball), Thanh Pham (2003 volleyball), Sara Evens (2005 women’s golf) and Chris Olean (2010 baseball).
In 20-game conference stats, Tommie junior Noah Kaiser led all MIAC men’s players in field-goal percentage at just over 60 percent (70-of-116).
100 Club, Part 1
St. Thomas men’s basketball has 102 victories over the last four seasons –- the most in Division III. The Toms’ 102-14 won-loss record includes a 27-3 record in February games.
100 Club, Part 2
Tommie women’s hockey co-captain Jamie Tiede (shown at right) played in career game No. 100 last Sunday in a 5-0 win over Augsburg. Teammate Taylor Schluter is set to play game No. 100 herself next Friday night at Hamline. Teammates Kaylee Keys and Meghan Parker have a chance to reach 100 career games during the MIAC playoffs.
Tommie freshman tennis player Allen-Michael Muench is off to a 6-0 start thus far in 2012 at No. 4 singles and and No. 3 doubles play. He’s from the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, Tex. UST’s top doubles team of Brian McCarthy and Dan Cooper is 3-0.
On the MIAC indoor track and field season performance list, the Tommie men are seeded first in nine events and have 19 top-three seeds out of 21 events. The Tommie women have 17 top-three seeds.