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The Bemidji State football team defeated Minot State 27-0 on Aug. 25 in the season opener at Chet Anderson Stadium in front of a school-record turnout of 4,711 fans. Bemidji State wide receiver Matt Gandrud runs with the ball as the fans look on. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

2011 Bemidji State year in sports highlighted by new eras, individual records

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The 2011 Bemidji State year in sports saw many memorable individual performances, some in the postseason and some at the national level.

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Some programs worked to build a foundation for the future while others experienced winning regular seasons.

Here's a look back on the year that was in Bemidji State sports:

Men's basketball

The 2010-11 BSU men's basketball team tied for 10th in the NSIC standings with an 8-14 conference record (11-15 overall).

The Beavers won three of its final four games to close out the season and showed a glimpse of what would come the following season.

Junior transfer James Ellisor led the team in average points per game (17.3), rebounds per game (7) and total blocks (24). He was named to the All-NSIC second team.

Bryce Tesdahl broke David Lee's (1984-88) BSU career record of 314 assists on Jan. 15 against Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The 2011-12 Beavers opened the season with a 9-3 record (4-2 NSIC). BSU entered the holiday break with winning streaks of five games and three games.

Ellisor and Tesdahl are the regular starters on a deep and versatile roster. Ellisor's 19.9 points per game average leads the NSIC at the semester break and Tesdhal's 4.75 assists per game ranks second in the NSIC.

Women's basketball

The 2010-11 BSU women's basketball team finished the season 11th in the NSIC standings with a 4-18 conference record (7-19 overall).

The Beavers ended a 10-game losing streak in February and closed out the season by winning two of its final four games.

Senior Colleen McKay led BSU in average points per game (9.3) and rebounds per game (5.7). Jessie Althoff averaged 9. 1 points per game and senior Anna Hebrink averaged 9.0 points per game.

The 2011-12 Beavers showed improvements over last season and are 5-6 (3-3 NSIC) record at the Christmas break.

Kate Warmack, Morgan Lee, Shannon Thompson and Samantha Baldwin are leading the way through the first half as regular starters. Warmack is averaging 13.5 points per game, Lee 12.7, Thompson 10.6 and Baldwin 9.6.

Men's hockey

The 2010-11 Bemidji State men's hockey team capped two new eras with success.

The Beavers ended the first year of play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the first year at the Sanford Center with a playoff run in March.

BSU finished the regular season in 10th place (15-18-5, 8-15-5 WCHA) and reached the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul with a first-round playoff series sweep at Nebraska-Omaha.

BSU then defeated eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime before the season came to a close with a loss to NCAA Tournament participant Denver in the semifinal round.

Junior goalie Dan Bakala had the third most saves in the WCHA (644) and the end of the year.

Junior Jordan George was BSU's leading scorer with 17 goals and 19 assists for 36 points.

He finished one point ahead of senior captain Matt Read, who led the team with 22 goals and left BSU with the school's Division I records for goals (65), assists (78), points (143) and games played (147).

Read, BSU's Male Athlete of the Year, was signed by the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers after the season ended. He made the team's roster out of training camp in the fall and scored 20 points through his first 29 games (11 goals, 9 assists) as a professional.

The summer offseason is quiet in college hockey, but 2011 was different and defined by conference realignment in Division I.

Spurred by a spring announcement of the formation of a Big Ten conference, teams currently making up the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Central Collegiate Hockey Association will split into two new conferences starting in the 2013-14 season.

North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, Denver, Colorado College, Miami, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan formed the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Bemidji State, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Bowling Green, Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks will play in a new-look WCHA.

The 2011-12 BSU men's hockey team compiled a 9-9-2 (5-7-2 WCHA) record in the first half of the season. Highlights of the first half included a home sweep of Michigan Tech, and the first wins over North Dakota and Denver in the Division I era.

Jordan George and Brad Hunt shared the scoring lead for BSU at the break with 17 points.

Hunt became the first defenseman in the Division I era to reach 100 career points on Dec. 3 in a win over St. Cloud State. He broke Read's Division I assist record the following week in a win against Denver.

Tennis

The BSU tennis team finished 3-12 (2-9 NSIC) during the winter season.

Meg Hafdal had five wins in singles play to pace BSU. Kelli Christiansen and Britney Greenwaldt each had four wins.

Greenwaldt and Katherine Wolack were BSU's best doubles team with a 7-6 record.

Women's hockey

The 2010-11 BSU women's hockey team finished the season fifth in the WCHA standings (14-17-4, 11-13-4-2 WCHA) and lost to North Dakota in a three-game playoff series in Grand Forks.

Senior Erin Cody was BSU's leading scorer with 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points. She participated in a Team USA Development camp during the season and earned a roster spot on the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Cody was the first player in program history to score 20 goals in back-to-back seasons and she was named to the All-WCHA third team.

Junior goalie Zuzana Tomcikova was named to the All-WCHA second team with a .933 save percentage and a 1.84 goals against average, which set a new program record.

BSU was 9-5-2 in the first year at the Sanford Center and beat four nationally ranked teams on home ice including No. 1 Mercyhurst, No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth, No. 8 North Dakota and No. 7 Minnesota.

BSU is 10-7-2 (6-7-1-0 WCHA) at the holiday break and are ranked No. 8 in the country. The Beavers first cracked the top 10 in the USCHO.com national poll the week after Halloween, marking a first in the history of the program.

Men's track

The 2010-11 BSU men's indoor and outdoor track seasons were the last at the programs ended as a result of administrative budget cuts.

Sophomore Raphael Gelo recorded a height of 16-00.75 to win the NSIC Indoor Championships in February and cleared 15, feet 11 inches to finish 11th at the NCAA Indoor Championships held in New Mexico in March.

Gelo took third in the pole vault in the NSIC Outdoor Championships in May and reached June's NCAA Outdoor Championships in California, but was unable to record a height in the competition. He broke the 1995 BSU vault record of 16-5.5 on May 4 in Moorhead.

Sophomore Brian Leonhardt finished second in the shot put (53-5.5 feet) and discus (169-5, school record) at the NSIC Outdoor Championships.

Sophomore Tandy Juell won the NSIC Decathlon title with a personal best score of 6,531 points to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he became an All-American with a seventh-place finish (6,485).

Women's track

Senior Kristi Buerkle ended her BSU career in style to highlight the 200-11 BSU women's indoor and outdoor track seasons.

She defended her 400-meter dash title in the NSIC Indoor Championships with a time of 55.22 seconds. She competed in the 400 and 200 dash events at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Though she did not qualify for the finals in the 200, she finished fifth in the 400 to gain All-American recognition with a time of 55.36 seconds.

The 400 dash was Buerkle's signature race at BSU. She defended her title in the race at the NSIC Outdoor Championships (56.09) and also won the NSIC 200 dash title.

She finished fourth in the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a time of 55.04 seconds.

Buerkle ended her career as a six-time All-American, a five-time NSIC champion and two-time BSU Female Athlete of the Year. She left BSU with a number of program records. She owns the BSU 200 and 400 outdoor records. Indoors, she owns the 60, 200, 300, 400, 600 and 800-meter race records.

Baseball

The 2011 BSU baseball team recorded its best record under manager Tim Bellew and the best finish since the 2002 season with an 18-29 (12-21 NSIC) record last spring.

Left fielder Nick Jelacie and center fielder Colton Smith paced the offense. Smith led the team in hits (52), RBIs (25) and tied with Jelacie for the most runs scored (30).

Jelacie had the second-most hits (43) and the top slugging percentage (.483) and the most home runs (6).

Ryan Sander and Phil Bray were the leaders of the pitching staff.

Sander tied with Logan Kalis for the most wins (3) and had the lowest ERA on the team at 4.28. Bray pitched the second-most innings behind Sander and led the team in strikeouts with 49.

Softball

The 2011 BSU softball team finished the spring season with a 5-27 (4-20 NSIC) record.

Junior Courtney Anderson pitched 111 2-3 innings and struck out 124 batters. Her 7.7 strikeouts per game average ranked fifth in the NSIC.

Sophomore Kayla Babinski led BSU with a .298 batting average and had the most RBIs (11).

BSU Golf

The 2010-11 Bemidji State men's golf team finished seventh in April's NSIC Championship, which concluded the five-round tournament that spanned six months.

Chris Curb was BSU's top finisher and ended the tournament in 14th place.

Junior Justin Johnson was named All-NSIC Honorable Mention with an average score of 77.9 in a team-high 22 rounds. He earned medalist honors in two meets.

The 2011-12 BSU men's golf team won the home invite at Bemidji Town & Country Club in September and were led by Andrew Ellefsen's third place finish.

BSU wrapped up the fall portion of its schedule in October by finishing sixth after the second round of the NSIC Championship, which resumes in the spring. Senior Casey Hill is in fourth place.

The 2010-11 BSU women's golf team finished seventh in the NSIC Championship and were led by sophomore Kathryn Stoffel's 29th place finish.

Led by sophomore Maria Sloan, the 2011-12 BSU women won the home invite at Bemidji Town & Country Club in September. BSU closed out the fall season in 10th place after two rounds at the NSIC Championship and freshman Rachel Christofferson stands 34th in the individual tournament.

Volleyball

The 2011 BSU volleyball team finished the season 6-22 (3-17 NSIC).

Bethany Thompson and Kelsi Crawford paced the offense. Thompson had a team-high 294 kills and Crawford had 203.

Laura Carlson was the defensive leader with 257 digs and Rachel Craig had a team-best 56 blocks.

Jessi-Beth McCannell led the team in set assists with 740 and had 18 aces in her senior season.

Soccer

The 2011 BSU soccer team finished the fall season 8-8-3 (6-4-3 NSIC).

Senior forward Kirsten Erickson was named to the All-NSIC Third Team and senior defenseman Kathryn Bjorge was named to the All-NSIC Honorable Mention Team.

Erickson started in all 19 games and led the team in scoring with nine goals and four assists for 22 points. She accounted for the game-winning goal in five of the BSU wins.

Bjorge scored a goal and had two assists, and was part of a defense that allowed 10 goals in NSIC play.

The Beavers had eight shutouts during the season to rank third in the league.

BSU reached the NSIC Tournament for the third consecutive year and lost to Minnesota State University, Mankato 1-0 in the opening round.

Cross country

The 2011 BSU cross country team ended the fall season in October with a ninth place finish in the NSIC Championship.

Senior Kirsten Maras finished the 6,000 meter course in 23:27.17 to lead BSU with a 51st place finish.

Senior Brittney Becker was 62nd, junior Michelle Ohman was 70th, sophomore Tina Larson was 72nd and senior Alison Hougen was 75th.

Football

The 2011 Bemidji State football team finished the fall season 8-3 (7-3 NSIC).

The Beavers started the year 6-1 before back-to-back losses thwarted playoff hopes. BSU earned signature wins over No. 16 Augustana on the road and No. 6 St. Cloud State at home.

Bemidji State's No. 7 ranked national defense was led by NSIC Defensive Player of the Year Brody Scheff, a senior safety. It marked the third time in program history a BSU player was recognized as a NSIC player of the year.

He had six interceptions on the season - including three in the homecoming win over Concordia-St. Paul - and had 96 tackles on the year.

BSU's rushing attack was ranked No. 13 in the country and averaged 241.5 yards per game. The Beavers ran for over 300 yards in four games this season and totaled 31 rushing touchdowns, the second most since the 1970 season.

At the end of the season there were 12 players who earned recognition on the All-NSIC team including Scheff.

Senior center Cory Immerman and junior tight end Brian Leonhardt were named to the All-NSIC North Division First Team Offense.

Scheff and sophomore nose tackle Matthew Shaver were named to the North Division First Team Defense. Senior punter Jesse Sundby was named to the North Division First Team Special Teams.

Junior wide receiver Justin Lee was named to the North Division Second Team Offense. Senior safety Dusty Sluzewicz and junior linebacker Cory Crosby was named to the North Division Second Team Defense.

Senior offensive tackle Davis Mickelson, junior offensive guard Brett DeLange, running back Dustin Kroeplin and quarterback Lance Rongstad were honorable mention selections.

BSU opened the season with a 27-0 win over Minot State on Aug. 25 at Chet Anderson Stadium. A new school record of 4,711 fans attended the game.

Y estromgren@bemidjipioneer.com

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