Tuesday Talk: Championship week for UST contenders

Tuesday Talk: Championship week for UST contenders

Tuesday Talk is a weekly news and notes feature of Tommiesports.com

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Five Tommie winter teams are chasing potential MIAC team titles this week:

  • St. Thomas Men's Swim-Dive will look to make it four consecutive team crowns when it competes Thursday through Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center;
  • St. Thomas Women's Swim-Dive will look to make it three consecutive team crowns when it competes Thursday through Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center;
  • No. 8-ranked Tommie Women's Hoops (16-0 conference, two games to go) can secure at least a share of its fourth consecutive MIAC championship on Wednesday with a win at St. Mary's, OR a loss by St. Ben's (15-1) at home against third-place Gustavus;
  • No. 9-ranked Tommie Women's Hockey (11-1-4 second in conference, two games to go) can secure at least a share of the MIAC title next weekend with a win and a tie in the series against first-place Hamline (13-2-1), with third-place Gustavus (11-2-3) also in the mix;
  • Tommie Men's Hockey (9-4-1 second in conference, two games to go) are in a three-way battle for the title with St. John's and Augsburg, but can win the crown with a sweep of Hamline and a SJU split against fourth-place Gustavus.

  

Women's Stat of the Week

Juniors Alex Howard (10) and Katelyn Strauss (nine) have been a part of multiple MIAC Swim-Dive Championship relay or individual victories in the last two seasons.

 

Men's Stat of the Week

Senior Bailey Biwer has 12 firsts and 10 seconds on his MIAC Swim-Dive Championship career, and can be part of the first St. Thomas swim-dive team since 1951 to win the conference title all four years of their era.

  

Streak Talk
 
Since Nov. 17, Tommie Women's Basketball and Women's Hockey have a combined 26-0-4 record in conference play.
 
St. Thomas Women's Hoops will bring a 50-game victory streak against conference opponents into Wednesday night's game at St. Mary's. The Tommie women also have a 28-game road win streak dating back to the 2015-16 season -- third longest in all of NCAA basketball (men or women).
 
The Tommies -- 165-16 against MIAC foes since January 2010 -- have won 23 consecutive January games over the last three seasons and 32 consecutive February games over four seasons. They also have won 27 consecutive MIAC home games. They have secured the program's 12th consecutive winning season.
 
Tommie Women's Hockey is unbeaten in its last 14 MIAC contests (10-0-4). On home ice, the women are unbeaten against MIAC opponents in their last 15 (12-0-3). The Toms have secured the program's 18th consecutive winning season.
 
St. Thomas Men's Hoops has secured an MIAC playoff spot for the 19th year in a row and 30th season in the last 31. UST needs one win to secure the program's 14th consecutive winning season.
 
 
Poll Talk
 
St. Thomas' four winter hockey and basketball teams are off to a 63-23-6 start, with nine of those losses to nationally-ranked teams. That included a 26-6-4 record in January.
 
Thirteen Tommie teams are currently nationally ranked or finished their fall season nationally ranked:
  • Women's Basketball (8th/10th)
  • Football (4th/4th, tied for fifth place in nation);
  • Men's Soccer (6th, tied for fifth place in nation);
  • Men's Golf (4th/4th);
  • Baseball (8th/19th);
  • Women's Hockey (8th/10th);
  • Women's Swim-Dive (18th);
  • Men's Swim-Dive (17th);
  • Volleyball (25th, tied for 33rd place in nation);
  • Women's Golf (26th, GolfStat);
  • Women's Cross Country (30th, placed 22nd in nation);
  • Men's Indoor T&F (36th);
  • Women's Indoor T&F (37th)

 

M-W Swim Dive

The UST men will attempt to make it six team titles in nine years this weekend at the three-day MIAC Championships, which start Thursday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The Tommie women will try to secure the program's third consecutive team title. Prelims will run each morning at 10:30 with evening finals at 6:30 p.m.

On the MIAC season performance list, the St. Thomas men rank first or second individually 18 times and rank first in all five relays, while the UST women rank first in nine events and three of five relays.

Last February, St. Thomas repeated as UST men's and women's champions as it won 21 swim races and two men's diving events on the weekend, including all 10 relays.

Senior Bailey Biwer has 12 firsts and 10 seconds on his MIAC Swim-Dive Championship career. Diver Andrew Grabowski has won five of six events in hjis career. Warren Melton has 10 firsts, two seconds and two third in his MIAC meet career. Junior Tom Negaard has been part of eight top-three finishes, including four firsts.

Biwer, Melton and Grabowski lead a senior class that can be part of the first St. Thomas swim-dive team since 1951 to win the conference title all four years of their era.

On the women's side, juniors Alex Howard (10) and Katelyn Strauss (nine) have 19 MIAC Swim-Dive Championship relay or individual victories in the last two seasons. Nicole Herrli and Tiana Molitor each have three wins in the last two seasons.

 

Men's Basketball

St. Thomas (13-10 overall, 11-7 MIAC) is 5-9 on the road and 7-1 at home this winter. They close the regular season with two home games this week -- Wednesday night against St. Mary's, and Saturday (1 p.m.) against No. 3-ranked St. John's.

With one victory, the Toms can secure the program's 14th consecutive winning season. They have won a potential tie-breaker to lock up an MIAC playoff spot.

The Toms are 7-0 this season -- and have won 89 of their last 91 -- in games when they shoot 50 percent or better from the field.

The Tommies' 10 losses have come against teams with a combined 130-56 won-loss record, with only one loss to a team under .500. UST is 11-1 when it scores 73 or more points.

 

Women's Basketball

St. Thomas (21-2 overall, 16-0 MIAC) is 14-0 since Christmas with an average winning margin of nearly 30 points. They are allowing just 46 points a game during that 14-0 run. The Toms overcame a 62-58 deficit in the final eight seconds to force overtime and edge Augsburg 70-66 at home last Wednesday. Lauren Fischer sank a desperation trey from the corner to tie the score with :01 to play, and now has 159 career 3-point baskets.

The No. 8-ranked Tommies continue to rank among the national leaders in field-goal shooting (47.2%), free-throw shooting (76.0%), and 3-point shooting (38.4%). 

Junior center Hannah Spaulding leads all NCAA women's players (at all three levels) in field-goal proficiency at 72.3 percent, and tops the MIAC in scoring at 20.5 ppg. The Toms are 30-2 in games on her career when she has scored in double figures.

St. Thomas has already locked up a first-round MIAC playoff bye.

 

M-W Track and Field

Tommie athletes had several top performances last Friday at the UST Select meet:

For the men:

  • Junior Eric Holst was one inch off his weight throw best with a 61-4 3-4, and he still ranks fifth nationally;
  • Junior Conor White finished first of 31 competitors in the long jump in a season-best 23-4 3-4 -- which ranks 10th in Division III; also took fourth in the high jump at 6-2 1-4 and was sixth in the 60 dash with a best time on the day of 7.11;
  • Junior Nick Spann took third in the long jump (22-11 3-4);
  • Senior Chris Mueller won the 600 (1:23.48) and led off the second-place 4x400 relay;
  • Freshman Jake Kelly won the high jump (6-4 1-4) in a season-best mark;
  • Freshman Carl Kozlowski took third in the 800 (1:56.28), a time that ranks No. 33 in D-III;

For the women:

  • Senior Ali Glassbrenner posted a career-best 5:00.27 in the mile -- 10th best so far in Division III -- as she placed second out of 62 runners behind only a U of M Gopher Division I scholarship runner; her 2017 indoor best was 5:25;
  • Senior Katie Murray had a top-10 200-meter time as she won in 25.58;
  • Senior Hannah Helstad placed third in the 800 in 2:16.89 for the No. 12 time this season in D-III;
  • Junior Kendall Novak had a top-20 national and MIAC-leading pole vault as she cleared 11-8.

Both St. Thomas moved into the top 40 of national rankings. UST will have a few athletes fine tuning this weekend as it looks to the Feb. 23-24 MIAC Championships, set for Macalester. The men have some athletes at the University of Minnesota on Friday and St. Olaf on Satuday, whie the women will have some competing Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

 

Men's Hockey

St. Thomas (14-8-1 overall, 9-4-1 MIAC) lost a pair of 4-1 decisions to St. John's last weekend and no longer controls its own destiny in the MIAC title race. If St. John's or Augsburg has a loss or tie/shootout loss in their final series against Gustavus and Concordia, that could open the door for St. Thomas.

UST can secure a top-two playoff seed and a home semifinal game with two wins next weekend against Hamline -- Friday night on home ice in Mendota Heights, and Saturday night in downtown St. Paul at the new Tria rink.

The Tommies will look to jump start their offense after a quiet weekend. They have scored just 10 goals total in their eight losses, but have won their last 13 games dating back to last season when they score three or more goals.

 

Women's Hockey

No. 9-ranked St. Thomas (15-3-5 overall, 11-1-4 MIAC) remains in second place in the MIAC, one point behind 13-1-2 Hamline after a 7-2, 6-1 sweep of St. Ben's. The Toms have scored 34 goals in their current five-game win streak.

Coach Tom Palkowski's team has a 14-game MIAC unbeaten streak (10-0-4). Sophomore Rachel Werdin has scored 10 goals in her last six games.

This weekend UST plays two against Hamline -- Friday night in downtown St. Paul at the new Tria rink, and Saturday afternoon on home ice in Mendota Heights.

St. Thomas will not play in the MIAC playoffs or NCAA playoffs as a self-imposed penalty for an alcohol violation by team members uncovered during the 2017 postseason. Thus this Hamline series marks the squad's 2017-18 finale and the final college competition for Tommie seniors Allison Borgstrom, Paige Kittelson, Kaylee Druk, Breanna Mahoney and Erika Bjorkman.

 

Women's Tennis

St. Thomas (2-0) was off competition last week and is scheduled to play two conference matches this weekend indoors at the University of Minnesota Baseline courts.

UST faces Concordia-Moorhead on Saturday (7 p.m.) and St. Catherine on Sunday (6 p.m.).

 

Men's Tennis

First-year head coach Ted Lauer had a good start as his Tommie team won a pair of 9-0 decisions last Saturday in DePere, Wis., against St. Norbert and Milwaukee School of Engineering. His young team plays again indoors at the University of Minnesota Baseline courts against Concordia-Moorhead next Saturday (7 p.m.).

The Tommies used seven players in the victories last Saturday, including five new faces from the 2017 lineup.

Senior Ben Wait made his career debut at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles by going 2-0 in each. Wait lost the first set to St. Norbert 7-6 before rallying to win 6-3 and 10-5 at first singles. He joined freshman Erich Nuss to win 8-4 and 8-1 in two matches at first doubles. Wait played only seven matches last season due to injury and has primarily played Nos. 5-6 singles and No. 3 doubles in his Tommie career.