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. 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. 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—Offense. Defense. Special teams. The Fargo Force didn't need any St. Patrick's Day luck of the Irish on Saturday night at Scheels Arena. It was all working in a 5-1 USHL win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints that completed a weekend sweep for the Force, who appear primed to make a season-ending push for a Western Conference title. They scored power play, shorthanded and even strength goals to improve to 29-15-7, good for 65 points. League leader Waterloo has 68 points.
Wyndmere, N.D. The activity at the Black Pelican bar and grille on the outskirts of Wyndmere picked up around 9:30 last Friday night. Until closing time around 2 a.m., they were still making pizzas and talking about the Region 1 boys basketball championship Wyndmere-Lidgerwood had won that night. In one respect, the folks in the communities of Wyndmere and Lidgerwood hadn't felt like that in 47 years.
WAHPETON, N.D.—It's about 14 miles between Wyndmere, N.D., and Lidgerwood, N.D., but nobody cares about that anymore. That rivalry is gone. These days, the two communities are more concerned about how far it is to Bismarck. That's where Wyndmere-Lidgerwood, a basketball co-op that started eight years ago, is headed. The 74-67 win over defending champion Fargo Oak Grove on Friday night at the Blikre Activities Center sends the Warbirds to the North Dakota Class B boys state tournament next weekend.
WAHPETON, N.D.—The game was in doubt until the final minute, but Wyndmere-Lidgerwood made the crucial plays to take a 54-49 win over Maple Valley Thursday night in the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys basketball semifinals. Time to celebrate? Not really. The Warbirds emerged from their locker room afterward like they just got done with a tough practice. "Game faces are still on," said head coach Todd Hosford.
WAHPETON, N.D.—Fargo Oak Grove head basketball coach Kyle Card had a message for his seniors at halftime on Thursday night: Don't let it be your last game. Guard TJ Anderson got the drift. "Step up and play some harder defense," Anderson said. The Grovers did that and more in the third quarter and went on to defeat Kindred 59-52 in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys tournament. The Grovers will play in the title game Friday night at Ed Werre Arena on the North Dakota State College of Science campus for the ninth consecutive year.
MOORHEAD—It happens at basketball tournament time. Those smooth-flowing plays during the regular season sometimes have a different feel in the spacious confines of Memorial Auditorium on the Concordia College campus. East Grand Forks and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton slugged it out Tuesday night in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 girls semifinals, a game in which there was more intensity than offense. The last minute turned into a burst of Green Wave momentum and they took a 50-46 victory.