Bemidji State Athletics Year in Review: 2010 marked by change, outstanding performances

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team opened the WCHA era against North Dakota before a sold-out crowd Oct. 15 at The Sanford Center. Pictured is the opening face-off. Pioneer Photo Illustration/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State University athletics in 2010 was marked by change and highlighted by a number of notable outstanding performances by student-athletes.

The biggest change came in venues when the Beaver hockey program closed down the John Glas Fieldhouse in February and opened a new era in October at the Bemidji Regional Event Center, which was officially named The Sanford Center in December.

Along with the change in venues, the Beaver men’s hockey program changed leagues and left the now defunct College Hockey America conference and joined the prestigious Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The BSU men’s hockey program wrapped up its final year at the John Glas Fieldhouse by winning the final Peters Cup as regular season champions of College Hockey America.

The Beavers closed down The Glas on Feb. 20 with a 6-1 victory over rival Niagara University in front of a sold out, standing-room only house of 2,414 spectators.

The Beavers finished The Glas era with an all-time record of 502-145-1 in the 43 seasons on campus. BSU ended the season 23-10-4 overall (14-3-1 CHA) to earn the first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in program history. The Beavers, ranked in the nation’s top 10 for most of the season, ended the year with a 5-1 loss to Michigan in the first round of the tournament.

Junior Matt Read was BSU’s leading scorer in 2009-10 with 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points.

The BSU women’s hockey team was 12-19-7 (9-12-7-3 WCHA) and earned its first conference playoff victory in February by defeating St. Cloud State. The Beavers welcomed back Slovakian goalie Zuzana Tomcikova from the Vancouver Olympics that weekend and lost the first game to St. Cloud State before winning the next two to advance to the WCHA Final Face-Off tournament in Minneapolis.

The Bemidji State men’s basketball team ended the 2009-10 season by winning five of its final six games for a 12-15 overall record (8-12 NSIC). The Beavers just missed the playoffs in a transition year highlighted by the play of senior Seth Haake.

The Eden Prairie native capped off his BSU career as an All-NSIC second team member. He finished with 1,202 career points to rank 10th on BSU’s all-time scoring list and his 19.5 points per game average during his senior season ranked second in the NSIC.

The BSU women’s basketball team made major strides forward and finished 12-15 overall (6-14 NSIC) after winning just three games the previous year.

Kristi Buerkle and Zac Preble were Bemidji State’s track and field stars in the winter and spring months. The two were named BSU’s Student-Athletes of the Year in the spring.

Buerkle, a sprinter, was national-runner up in the 400 meter dash in the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She set six school records in addition to setting the 400 NSIC indoor and outdoor records in her junior season.

Preble earned his fourth straight NSIC indoor heptathlon championship in setting the school and conference records. He took second place in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

The Grand Rapids native ended his college career by winning his fourth straight NSIC outdoor decathlon title and setting the conference record in the event. He took second place in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The Bemidji State baseball team finished 16-37 (7-25 NSIC) and were led by all-academic infielder Josh Silvernagel. He had a .333 batting average, an 11-game hitting streak and four home runs in his senior season.

The BSU softball team finished 8-39 overall (2-24 NSIC) and was led by Jamie Ford and Courtney Anderson. Ford had a .260 batting average in her final season and sophomore Anderson had 123 strikeouts in pitching 11 complete games.

The BSU women’s golf team was 10th in NSIC Championship in the spring.

The BSU men’s golf team took second place in the 2010 NSIC Championship in May on the scores of Jesse Nelson, Chris Curb, Jim Foss, Casey Hill, Ben Moen and Josh Dale. Nelson was third and Curb was fifth in the individual tournament.

Curb, Foss and Nelson were all named to the All-NSIC team.

The Beavers went on to compete in the Super Regional Tournament in coach Don Niskanen’s final season. Niskanen retired after 17 seasons and was the NSIC’s coach of the year four times.

In October, Justin Johnson won the Twin Cities Classic with a score of 1-under par at Wayzata Country Club in the final golf event of the fall season.

The Bemidji State women’s soccer team put together an outstanding fall season and finished third in the NSIC. The Beavers were 14-4-1 overall (9-3-1 NSIC), reached the semifinal round of the conference tournament and nearly qualified for the national tournament.

The Beavers were led by senior Ashlee Ellefsen, who was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, a first for the program.

Ellefsen leaves BSU with 104 career points (40 goals, 24 assists) and 14 game-winning goals: all of which are BSU records.

Ford also set school records and stands second in program history with 77 points. She is second in career assists (23) and fourth in career goals (27).

The Bemidji State football team started off the season with national tournament aspirations, but those dreams faded with a pair of early season losses to Augustana and eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth.

The Beavers turned around the tough start by winning three straight games in October on the way to a 7-4 overall record (6-4 NSIC).

BSU quarterback Derek Edholm capped his career by setting school records in touchdown passes (57), passing yardage, passing attempts, passing completions and total offensive yardage in his senior season.

BSU senior wide receiver Andrew Schultz, senior defensive end Rob Wills and sophomore tight end Brian Leonhardt were named to the All-NSIC first team. Wills and safety Brody Scheff were named to the Daktronics All-Super Region defensive team.

The 2010 BSU football team continued a tradition of winning football: the Beavers have had a winning season in 12 of the last 13 years and posted a winning record at Chet Anderson Stadium for the ninth consecutive season.

The BSU women’s cross country team finished 10th in the NSIC and 20th in the NCAA Central Regional.

The BSU volleyball team finished 12-16 overall (6-14 NSIC) under first-year head coach Wayne Chadwick.

Senior Nicole Olson ended her standout career with 1,197 kills to rank fourth in the BSU record books. She’s ranked in the top 10 in five career stat categories for BSU.

Senior Brie Groskreutz also set a notable school record and finished her career with a program-best 1,890 career digs. She owns the record by 505 digs.

The fall brought the new era for Bemidji State hockey at The Sanford Center.

The modern facility attracted 4,373 fans for the first official men’s hockey game in the building – also the first game in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association – against North Dakota on Oct. 15.

Jamie MacQueen scored the first official goal in the building at 1:52 of the first period to give the Beavers an early lead, but then No. 2 ranked North Dakota rallied to win the game 5-2.

The Bemidji State women’s hockey team also opened the arena that weekend against No. 1 ranked Mercyhurst. Though BSU lost the opener 4-0, the Beavers rebounded to beat the Lakers 5-3 the next day. It was the first of four BSU wins over teams ranked in the national top 10 this fall at The Sanford Center.

One of those wins was a 1-0 victory against defending national-champion Minnesota-Duluth. It was the first win in program history over the Bulldogs and ended the winless streak at 49 games.

The BSU men’s hockey team also hosted No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth in a pair of overtime thrillers – a 3-2 loss and 1-1 tie – in October.

The following weekend Bemidji State went on the road and defeated St. Cloud State 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 6 for the first WCHA victory in program history. On Oct. 13, BSU earned its first win in The Sanford Center with a 4-0 WCHA victory over Alaska-Anchorage in the first shutout of the season.

The top highlight of the first half of the season for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team came the weekend of Dec. 3-4 when the Beavers swept then No. 4-ranked Nebraska-Omaha by scores of 3-0 and 3-1.

Not only was it BSU’s first sweep at The Sanford Center, it was the first sweep as members of the WCHA against a WCHA opponent.