Out like a lamb?

This March certainly lived up to the old saying, "In like a Lion," and I suppose things are fairly mild enough at the moment to say it's going, "Out like a lamb." However, with MIAC spring sports teams chomping at the bit to open conference play it feels much more like we're going up against the always-intimidating "Ides of March."

Most of the conference softball openers have been postponed, and tomorrow was supposed to be MIAC Opening Day for our baseball teams, and all those games have been postponed as well, and we're already starting to worry about Wednesday's slate as well. Basically, it feels like the MIAC office, all our spring teams and all our dedicated umpires are being held hostage by Mother Nature. Hopefully someone pays the ransom soon and we can get on with the games!

However, I'm already starting to feel optimistic about next spring. My first year in the MIAC office was 2010-11, and that was an equally troubling spring, that was aided by the collapse of the Metrodome, which knocked out our one indoor baseball option. But last spring was incredible ... some 80-degree days in March, zero snow-outs and very few rain-outs. I'm thinking this is starting to be an "every other year" cycle, so we'll put our heads down and push through all the 2013 rescheduling efforts while optimistically assuming things will be better next year. If there's wood near you, knock on it for us.

One prevailing thought I've had during our back luck with the weather this "spring" (I have to sarcastically put spring in quotes because really, this is still winter) is the delay of a much-anticipated event - the opening of the new baseball stadium at Saint John's University.

When Target Field opened in 2010, I was still the sports information director at Dakota Wesleyan University and living in Mitchell, S.D. However, I opened up the pocketbook for opening day tickets a few months prior and figuratively kept my fingers crossed for about three months that the fateful day would be met with weather at least acceptable enough for the game to take place. With my work responsibilities, I had opening day off, but likely couldn't have stuck around for a make-up game.

Fortunately, the weather was beautiful that day. I was perfectly comfortable wearing shorts and a Twins jersey, and a full stadium enjoyed a win over the Boston Red Sox. However, Johnnie fans who have been anticipating the opening of their new field aren't quite as fortunate as Twins fans were in 2010. The new field is slated to host its first contest Wednesday, when Carleton is scheduled to visit Collegeville for a MIAC doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. However, one look outside makes that seem doubtful.

There have to be few things more frustrating for Johnnie coaches, players and fans, than to spend all year pining for the home opener at their new field, only to have winter linger around like an annoying, uninvited guest.  Fortunately, the new turf field should recover better than a natural surface, and it's a bet the SJU crew is working overtime to get their new field ready to play. Hopefully they'll get to enjoy their new field very, very soon.

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new facility during a visit to the SJU campus in November. Athletic director Tom Stock took the MIAC staff onto the new SprinTurf field and into the dugouts. We were impressed then, and are excited to see game action there this spring.

A virtual look at SJU baseball's new home.

Fans who have been to either of the last two MIAC Playoffs were surprised to see an ALL turf field at Veterans Field in Minnetonka - including the pitching mound and batter's boxes. SJU's new stadium has the same setup, which makes for easier field maintenance and a better chance to play through Minnesota's unpredictable weather. The new surface will play a little faster than natural grass, but should have truer hops, and SJU pulled its fences in a little around the outfield which could result in a few more balls leaving the park in Collegeville.

The new stadium will take a few years to be completely finished. The field, dugouts and everything needed for games are ready to go for 2013, with a grandstand and plaza in the works as well. To learn all the details, read the informative press release by SJU Sports Information Director Ryan Klinkner. 

There are a few games taking place this weekend. Augsburg softball has been able to host its first two conference doubleheaders in its dome yesterday and today. For all the information on this crazy spring, stay tuned to the MIAC web site and the MIAC scoreboard.

Finally, as we exit March and all hope for drastic weather improvements in April, I'd like to offer one final round of applause to the dedicated and talented athletic trainers in the MIAC. March is National Athletic Training Month, and for the second year in a row, the MIAC has worked to spotlight the efforts of the professionals and student workers that keep our athletes safe and healthy. This year, we put out two MIAC Friday Features about the MIAC athletic trainers and student athletic trainers, and Jim Rakow of Augsburg and Twin Cities Orthopedics joined the MIAC Media Podcast earlier this month as well.

Thanks to the athletic trainers for all you do, and to everyone else, if you learn one thing this month, remember that there's a big difference between "trainers" and "athletic trainers." Often the two are lumped into one big group, but the medical professionals rushing onto a field or court to care for an injured student-athlete are markedly different from the health and fitness expert at your local gym. Just being aware of the difference between the two will help NATM resonate as a success!

Happy Easter and sit tight ... we'll have baseball and softball soon (we hope)! As always, comments and emails are welcome! If you have any MIAC questions, send them my way and I'll be glad to answer in my next blog post.

Q&A with Coach Carlson

The 2013 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships featured three teams all with serious intents of claiming the women's team title. Three-time defending champion Gustavus was among the favorites, although both St. Thomas and St. Olaf had defeated the Gusties in dual meets during the regular season.
However, Gustavus again ruled the pool thanks to the efforts of MIAC Women's Swimmer-of-the-Year Alissa Tinklenberg and many, many more, and the Gusties captured their fourth-straight title and sixth championship in seven years. All weekend long, Gustavus dedicated their effort as a "Race for Grace" in honor of teammate Grace Goblirsch who is battling a serious illness. The rest of the MIAC joined in the "Race for Grace" efforts in a tremendous show of sportsmanship and compassion throughout the league.
Gustavus Head Coach Jon Carlson joined the MIAC Media Blog for the latest installment of Championship Coach Q&A to discuss his team's title, the Gusties' approach to their preparation and the championship meet, the "Race for Grace" efforts and much more.
MIAC Media Blog Championship Coach Q&A
Jon Carlson, Gustavus Women's Swimming and Diving
Gustavus Head Coach Jon Carlson
MIAC: First of all, congratulations on your 2013 MIAC Women's Swimming  and Diving Championship. Your team put on quite a performance to capture your fourth-straight title, and sixth title in seven years. What made this year's team so successful?
CARLSON: The student-athletes really did care more about their teammates than their own individual performances. This is rare in an individual sport like swimming and diving. They bought into the idea of taking care of each other, which will make sure they will be taken care of by their teammates. Also, the positive attitude everyday at practice made practice a place they looked forward to everyday. They treated practice as a break from their academic rigor and a chance to hang out with friends.
MIAC: Alissa Tinklenberg was tremendous, earning MIAC Women's Swimmer-of-the-Year honors. Talk about her performance and what she means to your team.
CARLSON: As much as Alissa inspired her teammates at meets, especially the MIAC Championships, her real impact was felt each day at practice. You need your best swimmers to set an example of work ethic and attitude. Alissa has done both by the way she goes about practice, meets and her time away from the pool. There is a lot of hard work that goes into a swim season. Alissa embraced the hard work with a sense of trust that all the hard work will pay off. This inspired confidence in the work the whole team did and resulted in some amazing performances by the whole team.
Gustavus celebrates its MIAC Championship.
(Photo by Sara Eisenhauer, St. Catherine Sports Information)
MIAC: Talk about some of the tremendous individual efforts that helped your team win. You had a  number of multi-event winners, great relay performances, and several record-breaking times.
CARLSON: One of the mottos the team adopted throughout the season was: "swim to inspire," meaning give your all when you race, and let your teammates be inspired by your effort. This guiding principle was the reason why we had so many great efforts in the water. A focus like this tends to pick up momentum, swim after swim, as the meet goes on. I was so proud of how the team gave their all every race.
The other thing that was key is, despite losing to St. Olaf and St. Thomas in dual meets during the season, we knew we had a chance to win the meet. But instead of going to the meet focused on the competition, the team went to the meet and treated it like a celebration ... a chance to spend time together and have fun! As fun as it was to win the championship, I rated the MIAC championships a success because I really believe we had a record-breaking number of smiles and laughs throughout the weekend! It was as much fun as I have ever had at a conference championship.
MIAC: A big theme of the meet for your team was "Race for Grace" as your team dedicated their performance to teammate Grace Goblirsch is battling an illness right now. Did that make your championship performance even more special? And what did you think of the support Gustavus and Grace received from the other teams and spectators?
CARLSON: I get a little teary-eyed thinking about how ALL of the other teams in the conference reached out to our team and Grace as she battles leukemia. The "Harlem Shake," dedicated to Grace was insane! The whole place erupted! I will always be grateful that I coach in a conference where every coach is thinking about what is best for the student-athletes as a whole. I can honestly say that the coaches take on the responsibility of every swimmer and diver's experience, not just their own team. I can't thank the coaches and athletes in the conference enough for the love and support they have shown Grace and our team. When the girls went up to receive their championship trophy and the whole building starting chanting: "Race for Grace" ... well, that's a memory that touched my heart and I'll never forget.
MIAC: You have Tinklenberg and others competing this weekend at the NCAA Division III Championships. What are your expectations for your team at nationals?
CARLSON: It's in Houston, so we are all hoping to come back with nice tans! Seriously though, the girls have been great in preparation and I'm looking forward to giving our best effort and letting the results be what they are. The weird thing about swimming is you have no influence on the performance of other swimmers. If anything, an inspired performance many times brings out an amazing performance in the people around you.
Again, I will measure our success by the number of smiles we have over the weekend. I think the swimming will take care of itself.
MIAC: Thanks to Coach Carlson for joining the MIAC Media Blog, and congrats to him and the Gusties on their MIAC Championship. The 2013 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championship was a tremendous three days at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, and the Gustavus women certainly delivered some memorable moments and top highlights.
Good luck to the Gustie swimmers and all the MIAC swimmers and divers competing this weekend at the NCAA Division III Championships in Texas! We're excited to see some tremendous times, All-American performances and outstanding efforts from the MIAC student-athletes on the national stage.

Q&A with Coach Sweeney

For 14-straight years the same name has been inscribed on the MIAC Women's Indoor Track and Field Championship - the University of St. Thomas. Earlier this month, the Tommies captured title No. 14 in a row with a tremendous all-around team performance at St. Olaf College's Tostrud Center in Northfield, Minn.

The Tommies' head coach, Joe Sweeney, visited with the MIAC Media Blog for another installment of Championship Coach Q&A to discuss his team's latest title. Sweeney also talks about some of his team's keys to success and philosophies, another star performance by senior Taylor Berg, and takes a quick look ahead to the outdoor season, where his Tommies will try to add another title on their home track as St. Thomas is set to host the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

MIAC Media Blog Championship Coach Q&A
Joe Sweeney, St. Thomas Women's Track and Field

St. Thomas Head Coach
Joe Sweeney
MIAC: First of all, congratulations on your 2013 MIAC Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championship. Your team has now won all 14 MIAC Indoor women’s titles in a row. What does it feel like to carry a streak of success like that, and is there any pressure that comes along with it?

SWEENEY: We don't talk about streaks or numbers much. The athletes and staff take a lot of pride in being successful and enjoy the process of working together to win team championships.  As we start each season it's just an understanding that we are going to aspire to be conference champions.  One of our mottos through the years has been: "UST/TTE," which means: "Total Team Effort." Whether it's practice or meets, that's what we try to deliver - everyone in all the events contributing. Having the winning tradition is definitely a plus, and gives people confidence when the big meets roll around.  When we have had some close ones, our athletes  have been very good at rising to the occasion, and that comes with experience.

MIAC: What were some of the keys to success for this year’s St. Thomas team? How does this particular team stand out among all your other past championship teams.

SWEENEY: We had 10 first-place finishes in the conference meet which is a lot for us. There is something special about being an individual or relay champion,  and in many situations it is by a hundredth of a second or a fraction of an inch. I saw that those who had a chance to win really dug deep to get the victory. It is not easy to be, "the very best,"  in your event in a competitive conference like ours, so I have great respect for those individuals who were able to achieve that. Ten first places - that's 100 points right there, so it was a key factor to our success.

St. Thomas' Taylor Berg runs to a first-place finish in the women's mile
at the 2013 MIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
(Photo by Matt Higgins, MIAC)
MIAC: Taylor Berg continued her great senior season with MIAC Indoor Track Athlete-of-the-Year honors and the Performance-of-the-Meet honor. Talk about what her success has meant to your team, both this season and throughout her career.

SWEENEY: Taylor is a great team leader who personifies what we like to see in a student-athlete: overachiever, tough competitor, accomplished student and team player. She has a real passion for running and the success of our teams, and that is as strong today as it was her freshman year. She has improved season-to-season and is a great role model for our younger athletes.  It will be a huge loss when she graduates, but she has left a legacy that will inspire others to achieve excellence by applying themselves in a similar way.  What I will remember most about her is that she simply, "loves to be a Tommie," and be part of everything we represent. As a coach that means a lot, knowing that she is in the right place.
MIAC: Talk about some of the other tremendous individual and relay efforts that helped propel your team to victory.

SWEENEY: All the individual event winners were awesome performances; it's hard to single out any of those out. The one pleasant surprise was the Distance Medley Relay. For rest and recovery reasons, we had one just person from our National team running on the conference team, junior Erin Statz. We had two freshman and a junior running with Erin, and they did a great job keeping us in the race. It was the last event on Friday. Coming from behind and winning that gave us a nice emotional boost heading into Saturday - the perfect ending to a good day.

St. Thomas celebrates its 2013 MIAC Indoor Track and Field championship.
(Photo courtesy of Chad Thomas, CJT Photography)
MIAC: Up next is the outdoor season and the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be hosted on your home track. Is your team looking forward to competing outdoors, and what are some of the differences between the two seasons.

SWEENEY: We only get to host about once every eight years so it's always a big deal for our athletes when we do. We have our new video board in the stadium, so we are looking forward to incorporating that into the meet.  We add a few events like hammer, javelin, steeple chase and 400 hurdles,  so the dynamics and scoring potential outdoors is a bit different. We will have athletes in all those events, and they are looking forward to getting outdoors. The best thing we can do is have great weather for that weekend. If we have that, I'm sure the meet will be a great event for all involved. Of course, it would be nice to win, so we'll push for a UST/TTE "Total Team Effort" to carry us one more time.

MIAC: Thanks a ton to Coach Sweeney for joining the MIAC Media Blog and congrats to the Tommie women on a great performance en route to the MIAC indoor title. Good luck as outdoor season gets set to begin, and we're looking forward to visiting St. Thomas in May for the 2013 MIAC Outdoor meet.

Championship Coach Q&A is nearly complete for the winter season with only swimming and diving remaining. Stay tuned to the MIAC Media Blog, as the Q&A with Gustavus women's swimming and diving coach Jon Carlson is set to run later this week, with the men's swimming champions also coming soon. The MIAC Media Blog will also shift gears with a look ahead to the spring season soon, even though the snow continues to fall in our great state.

Q & A with Coach Mathre

There have been 29 MIAC Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships. Amazingly, the University of St. Thomas has won them all. The Tommies' most recent title to put them one shy of 30 in a row came earlier this month, as UST captured the 2013 MIAC Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship at St. Olaf's Tostrud Center in Northfield, Minn.

The MIAC Media Blog Championship Coach Q&A returns with St. Thomas Head Men's Track and Field Coach Steve Mathre. Coach Mathre discusses his team's amazing streak of success that spans nearly three decades, as well as some of his top performers including four-time MIAC Indoor Field Athlete-of-the-Year Eyo Ekpo. The Tommies will host the Outdoor Championships this spring as they look to continue their legacy.

MIAC Media Blog - Championship Coach Q&A
Steve Mathre, St. Thomas Men's Indoor Track and Field

MIAC: First of all, congratulations on your 2013 MIAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship. Your team has now won all 29 MIAC Indoor men’s titles. What does it feel like to carry a streak of success like that, and is there any pressure that comes along with it?

St. Thomas Head Coach
Steve Mathre
Mathre: We rarely speak in terms of needing to win the MIAC championships, but rather frame it as an opportunity to be a part of something special. Our tradition is strong, yet we never take for granted the effort required or the talent in our conference.   We talk more in terms of winning by paying attention to the little details that make a difference; the small things that when added up can lead to big things. We focus on workout execution in practice, staying healthy, maintaining a balance, training consistently, teammate support,  etc. – that if done individually, collectively as a team we will be in a position to win the MIAC team title.

MIAC: What were some of the keys to success for this year’s St. Thomas team? How does this particular team stand out among all your other past championship teams.

Mathre: We had a big contribution from a lot of event groups this year. Our goal is always to be well-balanced across the different events, but what sticks out to me is the tremendous team support athletes gave one another during the event. For example, it’s important that distance runners are engaged in what’s happening in the throwing events and that hurdlers know what’s on the line the 1,000 meters.  As coaches, we pre-score each conference meet before it begins to get a sense for the potential for different outcomes – we over-reached our potential on paper by breaking 200 points; something I thought, especially with a couple of key injuries, we could not have done. We were able to do this I think because of the great support our athletes gave each other. The team absolutely exceeded my expectations and I am very proud of them for that. 

MIAC: Eyo Ekpo was clearly a catalyst for your success, winning all three jumping events and earning MIAC Men’s Indoor Field Athlete-of-the-Year honors for the fourth-straight season. Talk about what he meant to this year’s team, and how important he’s been to St. Thomas over his amazing career.

Mathre:  Without question he’s a huge asset to his teammates and to our program. Aside from his athletic achievements, perhaps his biggest impact is his down-to-earth personality.  He’s a fierce competitor and a huge success, yet his teammates see him as regular guy who expects to be treated like everyone else.  He sets a great example for our younger athletes in the way he conducts himself.  Having just been voted by students and faculty as the ‘Tommie of the Year’ – says it all.  He’s as well-rounded and as quality an individual as you can find. We're proud of him as an athlete and moreso as a person.  

MIAC: Talk about some of the other tremendous individual and relay efforts that helped propel your team to victory.

Mathre:  was very impressed with our throws performances led by Bryan Thell and Abajemo Omot, who finished 1-2 and 2-1 in the shot and weight throw. Joe Wistrcill defended his 60-meter hurdles title after struggling mid-season. His performance was a big lift to our entire team. Sophomore Doug Thoresen was a double winner in the 400 meters and the 600 meters and showed his teammates how to win the close battles. Gavin Yseth won the Heptathlon title and continued our tradition in that event with several great performances. It’s difficult to list names because I will leave others out, but overall it was a great team effort.

Perhaps one of our best performances came from two time Decathlon champion Devin Dirth who no-heighted in the Heptathlon in High jump and ended his quest for a national qualifying mark. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, the fifth-year senior and two-time team captain went on the set several personal bests in his remaining events, including a 5th place finish in his 8th event of the weekend. He’s been very huge part of our program for years and I was very impressed how he composed himself and rallied back to score in the heptathlon and finish so strong.

MIAC: Up next is the outdoor season and the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be hosted on your home track. Is your team looking forward to competing outdoors, and what are some of the differences between the two seasons?

Mathre: We are very excited about the outdoor season; especially hosting the MIAC meet in May. Our athletes have all the motivation they need and are happy to have another opportunity in front of them.

MIAC: Thanks a ton for joining the MIAC Media Blog, Coach Mathre! Congrats to your team on its amazing 29th title in a row, and we look forward to visiting St. Thomas this spring for the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships!

The Championship Coach Q&A will continue next week with St. Thomas Women's Indoor Track and Field Coach Joe Sweeney and the two MIAC Swimming and Diving Championship coaches as well. Stay tuned.

Winter Playoff Recap

The MIAC Winter Playoffs and Championships were quite a three-week stretch. I personally attended three days and six sessions of swimming, three men's basketball games, two women's basketball games one men's hockey game, one women's hockey game and one day of indoor track and field. The postseason took me from Minneapolis to Moorhead to St. Paul to Blaine to Northfield and, finally, to St. Cloud, and now that I've had a few days to exhale, it's time to look back on some of my favorite (or not-so-favorite) memories and scenes from the Playoffs.

Harlem Shaking and Technical Difficulties
The 2013 Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Minnesota was again a classic three days with exceptionally large crowds and amazing performances. I believe there were 10 all-time MIAC records set over the three days and 15 meet records and the swimming community is certainly unique in a great way. There's a real sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie that seems to be a little stronger in swimming than in nearly any of our sports, and I think the coaches throughout the conference deserve a lot of credit for fostering that atmosphere.

The best example of that sense of community has become - by far - the most popular video in the history of the MIAC's YouTube channel. Gustavus swimmer Grace Goblirsch is currently battling a very serious illness, so the Gusties and many other MIAC teams turned the MIAC Championships into a "Race for Grace" with t-shirts, temporary tattoos, chants and more. However, the Gusties had an even bigger idea for a tribute. At the start of Saturday night's final session, they got all the teams and spectators in attendance to participate in the "Harlem Shake" craze, dedicating the video to Grace.

The 30-second video went up on our YouTube channel before the session had ended, and just 24 hours later it had surpassed 3,000 views to become the MIAC's most-watched video. As of Monday, it was at 22,133 views. Some very preliminary research of other Division III Conference YouTube pages leads us to believe it is the most-watched video ever produced by a D-III conference. That's impressive in its own right, but it's an even bigger deal because the video is a touching example of rivals coming together to support someone in need. Anyone in attendance at Saturday's session - especially the student-athletes who went all-out - deserve a standing ovation.
I shared the video with my friends on Facebook that weekend and wrote, "Friday, I had no idea what the Harlem Shake was. Saturday, I was standing on the 5-meter platform filming an Aquatic Center full of people joining in on the craze. Sunday, it became the most-watched video in MIAC history." Pretty cool stuff.

That triumph - and a great three days in general - overshadowed a rough technological weekend for me. Our camera broke early in Thursday's second session, so we only were able to do a photo gallery from the first session. Then my cell phone decided to die Thursday night, and Verizon couldn't get me a replacement until Monday. So I spent our busiest weekend of the year without a camera or a cell phone. Fortunately, that's where the troubles ended. I was worried my laptop or car were next!

Basketball Playoffs up north
The basketball and hockey playoffs were up next, and after taking in Saint John's vs. Augsburg in Minneapolis, I headed up to Moorhead for three days of hoops at Concordia. I hadn't had the chance to make the trip up to Concordia's campus in my first two years with the MIAC, so I was really excited to finally cross the last campus visit in the league off my list. I got to eat a tremendous lunch at the Cobbers' dining hall, got a campus tour and was especially impressed by the new business school, and had a courtside seat for three great basketball games. I also got to invade the Cobber Sports Info office and run the MIAC's online playoff operations from there and couldn't be more thankful for all the hospitality.

The Cobber students get a shout-out for my favorite student-section moment of the winter postseason. During a "White Out" for Friday's men's semifinal game, a group of Concordia students had a special guest in the student section - the upper half of an actual once-live black bear, which was also clad in a white cobber T-shirt. I'm not positive, but I think the bear was a tribute to one of my favorite TV shows - Workaholics - as Cobber students were donning it as an homage to Blake's bear coat, and I think I heard a "Get weird" chant as well. Kudos, Cobbers.
Concordia also gets credit for the best/most unique in-game musical selections. It was like the DJ from my junior high dances was running the Cobber soundboard with a heavy dose of 90s rap and R&B. One stretch included: "Return of the Mack," "This is how we do it," and "Whoop! There it is." Tremendous, and definitely not something heard often alongside today's Gangham Style and Harlem Shakes. To quote Mark Morrison, it's always a treat when Return of the Mack gets, "back up in the game."

The only negatives about my trip to Moorhead? The Fargo-Moorhead area was hosting the world's largest squirt hockey tournament, and early Friday morning the youngsters in my hotel were getting in an early warm-up in my hotel, and I believe my door was designated as one of the "goals." They must have been pretty good because pucks were consistently banging off my door for almost an hour. I also had an extremely odd exchange at the mall in Fargo, where a guy approached me and started peppering me with questions, then asked if I wanted a part-time job working for him doing sales on the side. Clearly he didn't know anything about sports information if he thought I'd have the personality for sales, and the free time.

Game-winning goals
The following week was a fun one in "The State of Hockey." I was able to attend the women's hockey No. 4 vs. No. 5 game, where St. Kate's tied things up in the third, only to see Bethel star Cristina Masten net the game-winner with just a few minutes to play. Fun, exciting game and a thrilling finish. It's possible I also had an eye on my (new) phone tracking the Gopher men's basketball upset of then-No. 1-ranked Indiana for a double-dose of late-February Madness.

I tweeted a picture of my set-up at home Thursday as I had both hockey semifinals displayed on my laptop. I tuned in for both broadcasts to see two more one-goal games. Yesterday I figured out how to hook up my laptop to my TV with an HDMI cable, so I'm wishing I had learned that a week earlier for optimal MIAC Playoff webcast viewing. Oh well, I'm all set for next year!
Saturday my assignment was the Men's Hockey Playoff championship at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, so I showed up about an hour before the puck dropped with the MIAC Playoff plaque and the Ed Saugestad Cup. I learned that people are glad to hold the door for you when your arms are full with championship trophies! It was another great game decided by a goal with just over three minutes to play, and personally, I made it through the trophy presentation without slipping on the ice, so it was a successful Saturday all around!

Other Playoff notes
After three days of basketball on press row at Concordia, it was quite a change to move to the third-level press box for the men's basketball championship game at St. Thomas. I went from eye-level to bird's-eye view, but it was fun to have both unique perspectives.

Augsburg assistant men's basketball coach Ryan Kershaw gave me a great fact prior to the title game tip-off. The Auggies vs. the Tommies was the closest geographical men's basketball championship-game match up, edging out Bethel vs. UST. Usually it's a Twin Cities-area school vs. someone outside the metro. The proximity was certainly reflected in the attendance, as the near-full house made for a great championship atmosphere.

I spent one full day at St. Olaf for the MIAC Indoor Track Championship, and thought the host school did a great job with the event. The indoor track meet is almost a little sensory overload, but I'm sure its great for anyone with a short attention span. I particularly liked being perched up on the overhead warm-up track, where running events finished directly below me, high jump was going on just to my right and I had a great view of shot put and pole vault on the other end. There was also something fun to watch. The Ole Sports Info Office was on-par with Concordia in the music department which made writing the recap and posting a photo gallery an enjoyable few hours.
Winter season winds down
Many people think the busy winter season would end for us after the hockey championship games end and the track championship trophies are handed out. However, we're still busy into this week getting things wrapped up. We've met with each coaches group for their end-of-season meeting and will meet with the Athletic Director's council Tuesday. We've been announcing the awards for each sport and tracking our teams in the national playoff and championships.
It's been a great winter in the MIAC and hopefully the St. Thomas men's basketball team and Gustavus women's hockey team can keep the magic going.

This week the MIAC Media Blog will continue the Championship Coach Q&A series to highlight our champions in swimming and diving and indoor track and field. We'll be doing a few other fun things in this space as things slow down a little, so thanks for reading and stay tuned. As always, if you have a question for the MIAC Media Blog, ask it in the comments below or send me an email. I'd love to make this more interactive! Thanks to all the MIAC schools, teams and fans for making it a memorable winter season.