DULUTH, MN – It started with a 2-1 home soccer triumph over Northern Michigan University on Sept. 5 and wrapped up with an All-American outdoor track performance by Samantha Rivard on Memorial Day weekend. In between, the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) experienced a multitude of highlights -- including a few program firsts -- in each of the three C's (competition, classroom and community) during the course of the 2013-14 athletic season.
"We could not be prouder of our Bulldog student athletes, coaches and staff for their collective accomplishments over the past year," said UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo. "Their dedication, teamwork and pride was well on display nationally, regionally and locally as excellence was achieved in the academic arena, in the community and in our many competitive victories. We thank all of Bulldog Country for their support and making these achievements a reality."
Those noteworthy achievements included:
• UMD produced 12 All-Americans, one national player of the year (senior outside Kate Lange, American Volleyball Coaches Association) and one NCAA Division II champion (Samatha Rivard in the indoor mile). Rivard secured All-American status four times during her debut collegiate season – twice in indoor track (mile run and third place in 5,000-meter run) and once each in cross country (8th place) and outdoor track (second place in 5,000-meter run).
• For the first time ever, UMD hosted three different NCAA II fall playoff events -- football, volleyball and soccer. All three UMD teams in those sports were ousted in the playoffs by the eventual national champion. The Bulldogs also qualified for the NCAA II Cross Country Championships after winning their first-ever NCAA II Central Regional title. Rookie Samantha Rivard placed eighth overall in her national meet debut to earn All-American recognition.
• The soccer Bulldogs equaled team record for single-season victories with 17 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA II tournament for the first time in its 20-year history.
• UMD went 33-3 overall in volleyball, captured the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament championship, and made its 12th straight NCAA II playoff appearance. The Bulldogs, whose season came to and end in the NCAA II Central Region title game, produced the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II National Player of the Year in senior outside hitter Kate Lange, a three-time All-American who exited the UMD program as its all-time kills leader.
• The Bulldogs closed out the 2013 football season with an 11-2 overall record, reigned as the NSIC North Division champion for a sixth straight and also secured a sixth consecutive NCAA II playoff berth. Curt Wiese capped off his first season of head coaching duty by receiving the prestigious Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award for Division II, becoming the second Bulldog in four seasons to be so honored.
• In the final respective national polls for fall sports, UMD was ranked fourth in volleyball (AVCA), seventh in soccer (NSCAA), seventh in women's cross country (USTFCCCA) and eighth in football (AFCA).
• UMD placed fifth in the fall 2013-14 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)/Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings. This represented the school's third highest showing ever, bettered only by a second-place finish in 2009-10 and a No. 4 placing one year earlier. Bolstered by a team championship in women's cross country and runnerup finishes in both football and volleyball, UMD also ended the fall season occupying the No. 1 spot in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference /US Bank All-Sports Standings following the fall season.
• In men's hockey, the Bulldogs, whose strength of schedule ranked first in the country, secured a home playoff berth in the inaugural season of competition in the NCHC, and climbed as high as 11th in the PairWise rankings during the 2013-14 season. UMD's average home attendance (6,183 per night) was the sixth highest of any NCAA I school.
• Two current UMD defensemen – junior Tea Villila (Finland) and sophomore Lara Stalder (bronze medal-winning Switzerland) – competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in February and were among the 11 ex-Bulldogs who represented six countries at that event in Sochi, Russia. As had been the case in each of the previous four Winter Games, UMD churned out more hockey Olympians than any other school in the country in 2014.
• In addition to becoming just the third Bulldog woman ever to claim a national individual title in any sport, Samantha Rivard helped lead UMD to its first NSIC indoor track title in five years and was part of the largest contingent (six athletes) the school had ever sent to a NCAA national indoor event. She was named the NSIC Indoor Athlete of the Year for her efforts.
• Samantha Rivard and senior Cole Toepfer were chosen U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Central Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. Toepfer qualified for the NCAA II indoor championships in the mile run and also in the distance medley relay along with senior Tyler Stevens and juniors Phil d'Entremont and Chris Wilson. Joanna Warmington received USTFCCCA Central Region Women's Coach of the Year honors.
• UMD's 417 student-athletes, which includes redshirted freshmen, posted an average GPA 3.14 -- an all-time high -- in 2013-14 and of that group, 95 achieved GPAs of 3.50 or above and 10 turned in perfect 4.00 marks. The women's basketball Bulldogs registered the best collective GPA (3.58) of any UMD team during the 2013-14 school year while softball (3.31) and soccer (3.27) were next.
• A total of 88 UMD student-athletes qualified for a spot on the NSIC All-Academic Team at some point in 2013-14. In addition, 14 Bulldog men and nine women earned All-Academic Team status from the NCHC and WCHA, respectively.
• A trio of Bulldogs – Katrina Newman (basketball), Dani Potter (soccer) and Randi Timerman (cross country) – were bestowed with a prestigious NSIC Myles Brand All-Academic Award.
• Junior offensive lineman Andrew Pattock was a CoSIDA Academic All-American first team selection, and along with soccer's Dani Potter and Maureen Stormont, attained Capital One Academic All-District V first team acclaim. Stormont also was cited as a NSCAA Scholar All-American acclaim.
• USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross County recognition was awarded to four women -- Breanna Colbenson, Hannah Olson, Alexandra Rudin and Jacque Thaemert – as well as junior Dan Nielsen.
• Seniors Jordan Bauman, Chris Blake, Alex Brown, Jeron Johnson, Joe Reichert and Austin Selvick all attained National Football Foundation Honor Society distinction.
• The Jamar Athletic Academic Study Center, which is housed in the UMD Sports and Health Center complex, celebrated its 16th year of existence and through the support of the Jamar Company (and in memory of Walker Jamar Jr.), it continued to pay major dividends for the Bulldogs in the classroom.
• UMD student-athletes and staff logged approximately 2,000 volunteer hours during the 2013-14 school year. In addition to volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, Churches United in Ministry (CHUM), the Damiano Center Kid's Cafe, Arrowhead Juvenile Center, Second Harvest Food Bank, Minnesota Teen Challenge, Men as Peacemakers, and numerous local elementary schools (reading), hospitals and youth sports organizations such as the Salvation Army Basketball League, the Duluth Amateur Hockey Association, the Duluth Girls Hockey Association, and Duluth Little League Baseball/Softball, the Bulldogs also were involved in a large number of charitable projects such as Mentor Duluth (Big Brothers/Big Sisters), Salvation Army's Adopt-A-Family, Habitat for Humanity, Adopt-A-Highway, Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish, the ALS Blizzard Tour, Essentia Health's Breast Cancer Awareness, UMD's Stop Domestic Violence Campaign, Lions Club Pancake Day, Locks of Love, Think Pink Night, Toys for Tots, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, UDAc's Walk a Mile in Our Shoes Walkathon, and the ALS Walleye Tournament.
• Eight individuals – the most in school history -- were named finalists for the Shjon Podein Community Service Award, which has been presented annually since 2003 to a UMD student-athlete who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the field of play and has made noteworthy humanitarian contributions in the Duluth and University communities. That honor was bestowed on Bulldog basketball senior Hannah Rutten at UMD's Dinner With Champions banquet in late April.
In addition, UMD Athletics' Mission and Vision Statement, was updated following three months of revision work from a committee made up of three UMD student-athletes -- Jordan Rice (softball), Aaron Roth (football) and Allie Rudin (track and field) -- along with Athletic Director Josh Berlo, Associate Athletic Director Karen Stromme, Head Volleyball Coach Jim Boos and Office Manager Kristina D'Alliard. The Mission and Vision Statement, which emphasizes UMD's commitment to the three C's and seven core values, was approved by the UMD Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) this past spring.