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Bemidji State honors Thompson, Rongstad, other athletes at Beaver Nation banquet

BEMIDJI — Senior leadership isn’t always a cliché.

For Bethany Thompson and Lance Rongstad, it was a main reason why the two were selected Bemidji State’s Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year.

Thompson was the lone senior on BSU’s volleyball team this season, while Rongstad juggled two sports and a challenging major to lead on and off the field.

“I was really surprised but I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “It’s the icing on top of the cake. I thought the awards stopped when I reached that 1,000th career kill, but this is just a great way of my coaches and peers showing me how much they appreciated my hard work. I appreciate it.”

The awards were given Thursday night at BSU’s “Beaver Nation Celebration” athletics award banquet at the Sanford Center.

Rongstad, a senior from Eleva, Wis., starred on both the football and basketball teams.

As quarterback, Rongstad helped lead the Beavers to a share of an NSIC North Division title in 2012 after totaling 2,681 yards of offense to finish fifth in the NSIC and 35th in the nation.

On the basketball court, Rongstad also stood out. He finished second on the team in rebounding, third in scoring and second in steals while also recording his 1,000th career point earlier this season.

He leaves BSU in the top 10 all-time in career points scored and rebounds. He was All-NSIC in both sports in 2012-13.

“It’s fun to read through what the program says you’ve accomplished,” Rongstad said. “It was nice to look back and see what’s gone on here at my time at Bemidji State.”

Rongstad, a biology major, will be attending graduate school in the University of Minnesota’s biomedical engineering program.

When asked to pick his favorite moment in four years at BSU, Rongstad couldn’t do it.

“It’s hard to pick one thing,” he said. “Mostly what I’ll remember is the support that you get from everyone around here. There are people that show up at every single event. The community support that you see here in Bemidji is a lot of fun to be around.”

Thompson, from Owatonna, was named BSU’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year after finishing the 2012 season with 354 kills, the 11th-most in program history.

Thompson was also the lone senior on a BSU team that finished 4-23 last season. Despite the rough senior year, Thompson said she relished mentoring her young teammates.

“I love to lead by example and I love to state my opinion,” Thompson said. “I had a great time leading this young group of girls and I hope I played an important role in their careers.

“These are girls I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life.”

Thompson also finished the season with 1,000 career kills — the ninth player in BSU history to accomplish the feat. She recorded the milestone in her final collegiate game — Nov. 10, 2012, against Minnesota State Moorhead.

Thompson, a physical education and health major, will remain in Bemidji next fall to student teach. She plans on using her degree to coach and will likely be helping some volleyball teams in the area this fall.

BSU also honored various other athletes at Thursday’s event.

Connor Quinn was named Male Newcomer of the Year and Megan Castro the Female Newcomer of the Year.

Quinn, a freshman linebacker from Geneva, Ill., totaled 73 tackles (35 solo) as an outside linebacker, finishing third on the team and first among freshman linebackers in the NSIC.

Castro, a soccer midfielder from Winnipeg, started in 18 of BSU’s 19 soccer games, helping lead the Beavers to a 10-7-2 overall record and a spot in the NSIC playoffs.

Castro recorded eight points and four assists, leading all BSU freshmen with eight points and ranking fourth on the team overall.

The women’s basketball team and the men’s hockey team received the academic team awards — for the team with the collective highest GPA — while football player Tony Peterson and volleyball player Rachel Craig received the scholar-athlete awards.

Bemidji State boosters also honored outgoing athletic director Rick Goeb at the banquet.

Goeb, who has been BSU’s athletic director since 2001, was notified last November that he would not be asked back at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

On Thursday, a few coaches honored and thanked Goeb during their presentations and Beaver Pride members presented Goeb with a plaque.

“It’s been 12 great years,” Goeb said. “In many ways the greatest 12 years of my life. It’s been great working with the student athletes, working with the Bemidji community and working with all the supporters. It’s been a great, great run.”

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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