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Mustang Hoofprints: March 3

March 3, 2012
Marshall Independent

Hello Mustang fans!

Be prepared, this week's Hoofprint's article has the greatest amount of information (it's long) during the six years I have been writing it for the Marshall Independent.

Thank you to all who attended last Friday's Gold Rush Raffle. We had over 350 people attend the event creating an electrifying environment from start to finish. Derek Klinkner (football/wheelchair basketball) and Kelly Fitzgerald (soccer) were our student-athlete speakers who kicked off the fundraising event with heartfelt memories of their experiences as Mustang student-athletes. Derek and Kelly also thanked the Mustang Booster Club for their support of SMSU athletic scholarships.

The night was a huge success and we exceeded our goal of raising $40,000 for athletic scholarships. The live auction, silent auction and gaming tables all set records for dollars raised at the Gold Rush Raffle. The big winners on the night were Kurt Hovaldt and Kari Ehlers, who each walked away with $2,500, splitting the $5,000 grand prize for the reverse raffle. On behalf of the entire SMSU athletics department and the Mustang Booster Club, we have very thankful to all who attended the event and supported our effort.

I have to recognize the Gold Rush Raffle Committee: Brian Gruhot, Karen VanKeulen, Shelli Hawkinson, Mike Struve, Doug Fraunfelder, Kacie Weatherly, John Smallwood, Rolly Muller, Kelly Loft and Tim Steinbach for all the time and effort they put into making this a successful event. There is a lot of time that goes into preparing for an event of this magnitude, and each year this committee finds a way to enhance the experience for the people who attend the evening's events. Thank you Gold Rush Raffle committee!

We are very fortunate to have four individuals who sell over 70% of our Gold Rush Raffle tickets: Ken Mukomela, Mike Ellingson, Karen VanKeulen and Brian Gruhot. Without these four individuals out selling tickets for us, I know we would not sell out this event every year. Thank you, Ken, Mike, Karen and Brian for your continuous support of the Gold Rush Raffle and the Mustang Booster Club.

Fact Box

Hoofprints Trivia Question

What Mustang softball player recorded the highest single-season batting average at SMSU?

The first person to email me at with the correct answer to this question will receive an SMSU t-shirt.

For all your news and information on SMSU athletics, go to

Upcoming Schedule of Events for Mustang Athletics:

Congratulations to the Mustang men's basketball team (17-10 overall), winner of seven of its last eight games, which will travel to Rochester for the semifinals and finals of the 2012 NSIC/Sanford Health Men's Basketball Tournament this Saturday and Sunday. SMSU, the No. 2 seed, will take on No. 6 seed Winona State (25-4) on Saturday night, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Taylor Arena at the Mayo Civic Center.

The Mustangs advanced to the semifinals with a 99-92 victory over No. 7 seed Minnesota-Duluth on Wednesday night, while WSU moved on with a 64-53 win over No. 3 seed St. Cloud State. If SMSU defeats WSU on Saturday, it will play either No. 1 Bemidji State or No. 4 Minnesota State-Moorhead in the championship game on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

On Thursday, the NSIC announced that SMSU junior guard Jordan Miller was named first team All-NSIC, while sophomore center Nick Smith has earned second team All-NSIC accolades. The conference also announced sophomore guard Vinard Birch has been named the league's Defensive Player of the Year.

Miller, a 6-foot-5 native of Mitchell, S.D., leads SMSU in scoring at 14.6 points per game and has connected on a team-high 55 three-pointers. Miller is shooting 44.5 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from three-point range and 85.1 percent from the free throw line. He has also racked up 74 assists, 30 steals and 14 blocked shots. Miller finished the NSIC season (conference games only) ranked fourth in free-throw percentage, eighth in three-point field goals made, 13th in steals and 14th in scoring. In 82 career games, Miller ranks 13th in school history with 1,074 career points and also ranks third in career free-throw percentage (.841) and fourth in three-point field goals made (175).

Smith, a 6-foot-9 native of Johnston, Iowa, is second on the team in scoring with 12.0 points per game and leads the team with 5.5 rebounds per game and 42 blocked shots. He is shooting 56.8 percent from the field and 81.4 percent from the free-throw line. Smith finished the NSIC season ranked third in blocked shots, fifth in field goal percentage and 16th in rebounding.

Birch, a 5-foot-10 native of Eagan, ranks second on the team with 33 steals and leads the squad with 91 assists. In NSIC games only, he recorded 25 steals, finishing tied for 13th in the conference. He also finished the conference season ranking fifth in assist/turnover ratio and 10th in assists. Birch is the third Mustang player in program history to earn NSIC Defensive Player of the Year honors, joining Jimmy Dekker (2002-03) and Ryan Krome (2008-09).

The SMSU women's basketball team ended its season last Saturday with a 65-84 loss to MSU-Mankato. The Mustangs finished with an overall record of 6-20 and finished 13th in the NSIC with a record of 5-17.

Also on Thursday, the NSIC announced that SMSU senior center Abby Kenealy was named second team All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference as selected by the league's head coaches.

Kenealy, a 6-foot-2 native of Farmington, led SMSU in scoring (14.0 ppg), rebounding (4.8 rpg) and blocks (0.8 bpg). She also led the team in double-figure scoring games (22) and finished the season with one double-double. Kenealy finished her career playing in 108 games, ranking 17th in school history, while scoring 1,151 points, which ranks 11th in program history. She finished with 71 blocked shots, which ranks ninth in school history.

The SMSU wrestling team (10-6 overall, 3-4 NSIC) concluded a great season last Sunday, competing in the NCAA Super Region Three Tournament hosted by St. Cloud State. SMSU finished 12th out of 12 teams, finishing with 44 team points, while host St. Cloud State earned 164 points to earn the region championship for the second straight season.

The season will continue for SMSU's Justin Reinsma, who finished in fourth place at 133 pounds to qualify for the NCAA championships. Reinsma earned a bye in the first round at the region tournament before earning a 9-3 decision over Ethan Harris (Indianapolis) in a quarterfinal match.

Reinsma then matched up against Upper Iowa's Trevor Franklin, who went on to win the region championship at 133 pounds, and lost a 9-1 major decision. The sophomore rebounded with an 8-7 decision over Terrel McKinney (Maryville) before dropping the third-place match in a 15-6 major decision to Andy Pokorny (St. Cloud State). The trip to the national tournament will be the first for Reinsma.

Jacob Begin, who had won 13 consecutive matches heading into the regional tournament, went 0-2 on the day, dropping a 7-4 decision to Matt Morris (Augustana) and a 9-6 decision to Taylor Nagel (Mary). Senior heavyweight Brian Rodas picked up a fifth-place finish at the regional tournament. Rodas had a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships, but lost a 14-2 major decision to Zach Rosol (Upper Iowa) before defeating Mary's Martin Patron in an 8-6 decision in the fifth-place match. Senior Martin Hagen finished in sixth place at 197 pounds, going 1-3 on the day.

Reinsma will compete at the NCAA Championships on March 9-10 in Pueblo, Colo. The championships will be hosted by Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Next week, the SMSU wheelchair basketball team, which went 7-12 in regular season, will return to action on March 7-10 at the NIWBT Championships in Champaign, Ill. The national tournament will be the last competition of the year for the Mustang wheelchair basketball team.

The SMSU tennis team (0-6, 0-2 NSIC) will return to action on March 17 with a non-conference match against Concordia-Moorhead in St. Cloud.

The SMSU baseball team (2-0) returns to action Sunday, as it begins a nine-game road trip at the Tucson Invitational in Tucson, Ariz. All games will be played at the Kino Sports Complex, the former spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox. This is the Mustangs' first spring trip to Arizona under head coach Paul Blanchard, having gone to Florida for the past sixteen years.

The Mustangs will open the week taking on Concordia-St. Paul in a non-conference doubleheader starting at noon on Sunday. It's the only doubleheader the Mustangs will play during the week. SMSU will have two games on Monday, taking on Southern Vermont and William Penn (Iowa) in a pair of nine-inning games. SMSU will face Concordia-St. Paul again on Tuesday before taking on William Penn on Wednesday, St. John's (Minn.) on Thursday, Concordia-St. Paul on Friday and concluding the trip on Saturday versus St. Ambrose (Iowa).

The Southwest Minnesota State softball team is set to begin the 2012 season traveling to Kissimmee, Fla., to participate in the Rebel Spring Games under the leadership of first-year head coach Missy Bruggeman. The Mustangs are scheduled to play 14 games from March 4-12. The Mustangs open the season on March 4 against Ferris State (Mich.) at noon before taking on Sciences in Philadelphia at 2 p.m.

SMSU finished the 2011 season 29-19 overall and 16-9 in NSIC play, which was good for a sixth-place finish in the conference standings. The Mustangs earned the sixth seed in the 2011 NSIC Tournament and went 1-2 before being eliminated by Minnesota State. For the first time since the 2005 season, SMSU will play its first game of the season in Florida.

The SMSU women's golf team returns to action this week, competing at the nine-team Classic Club Invite at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif., on Wednesday and Thursday. The Mustangs will start the 36-hole tournament on Wednesda at 9:30 a.m. PDT and will begin the final round at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Teams joining SMSU include Ashland (Ohio), California (Pa.), Concordia-St. Paul, Illinois-Springfield, Minnesota State-Mankato, St. Cloud State, Upper Iowa and Western New Mexico. Following the tournament in California, SMSU will compete at the 22-team Lion Invite hosted by Texas A&M-Commerce at Tanglewood Resort Golf Club in Pottsboro, Texas, on March 12-13. SMSU last played at the NSIC fall championship on October 8-9, 2011, finishing in fifth place.

Good luck to all of our teams this week, travel safe and Believe in Brown!

n No one was able to provide the correct answer to last week's Mustang Hoofprint's Question: What Mustang baseball player recorded the highest single-season batting average at SMSU? Curt Strasheim hit .462 (61-132) in 1981 for the Mustangs recording the highest single-season batting average of any SMSU baseball player to date.



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