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Gene's Blog: '19 is here... and here are 19 notes

Gene's Blog: '19 is here... and here are 19 notes
The 2019 year has arrived, and several St. Thomas winter teams have jumped back into competition. Here are 19 quick notes every Tommie fan needs to know:
 
1) Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the 1949 New Year's Day Cigar Bowl game in Tampa, Fla., that featured St. Thomas and Missouri Valley playing to a 13-13 tie. Among the few surviving members of the team is former NFL player Jim "Popcorn" Brandt, who lives in Rochester, Minn.
 
2) For those keeping track, St. Thomas has played 1,008 varsity football games since its inaugural season in 1903. The Cigar Bowl was one of just 34 Tommie football contests that ended in a tie before the overtime rules went into effect in 1996. It also was one of six season-ending games that ended in a tie. The most recent deadlock in the finale was 7-7 with St. Olaf in 1977.
 
3) Tommie Women's Basketball played Washington (Mo.) last Saturday in the Wartburg tournament and posted a 66-36 win. In the process Coach Ruth Sinn's team helped limit the Bears to their program's lowest scoring game in 35 seasons. 
 
Although both schools have produced numerous elite basketball teams since the 1990s, this was just the third hoops game between the Tommie men or women and a Wash U. The St. Thomas women lost to the eventual national champion Bears at home in March 2001 in the NCAA playoff round of 16. The 30-0 St. Thomas men lost to the eventual NCAA champion Bears in Illinois in March 2009 in the NCAA playoff Elite 8 game.
 
4) St. Thomas Women's Hockey finished the 2018 calendar year with a 19-0-5 record over parts of the last two seasons. That includes an 11-0 start this winter. Coach Tom Palkowski's team plays at home Saturday (2 p.m.) against St. Scholastica. The Toms have allowed only five goals in 11 games.
 
5) St. Thomas Women's Basketball finished its 2018 calendar year with a 28-2 record over parts of the last two seasons. Both losses came in the same arena in Waverly, Iowa -- an overtime NCAA playoff defeat last March to East Texas Baptist, and last Sunday's road loss to No. 24-ranked Wartburg.
 
6) Last season, St. Thomas Men's Basketball went just 2-4 between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day en route to a final record of 14-12. This season's Tommies went 6-0 from T-giving through the recent holiday break and now are at 9-1.
 
7) In the first nine seasons of play in the new Schoenecker Arena, Tommie Women's Hoops has built a 117-9 record. In the same span, St. Thomas Men's Basketball is 101-15, while Tommie Volleyball is 78-16.
 
8) Tommie Swim-Dive is six weeks away from its conference championship. Besides a busy month of training, the men and women have a multi-team home meet Jan. 12 and a dual meet later in January
 
9) The oldest school record and the newest school record for Tommie Men's and Women's Track and Field are both in the shot put. Mark Dienhart's 1974 toss of 56-4 still stands on the men's side. Freshman Megan Gehrke threw 45-10 1-2 last month in her first college meet to break a 10-year-old record on the women's side.
 
10) St. Thomas Indoor Track and Field will have three home meets in the first five weeks of its season, all on Fridays: Jan. 11 and 18 and Feb. 8. The conference indoor meet is Feb. 22-23 at St. Olaf. St. Thomas will play host to the MIAC outdoor meet next May 10-11 at O'Shaughnessy Stadium. 
 
 
Midnight Express
 
11) Division III baseball teams can begin practice on Friday Feb. 1, and St. Thomas will start off with a bang with a midnight to 3 a.m. day one practice. Chris Olean's team was assigned a 6 a.m. practice time slot that week, and the coach decided a midnight session would be even more productive.
 
12) Tommie Baseball will have to hit the road to fill out most of its 2019 March schedule. The US Bank Stadium will be out of commission for all baseball due to preparations for the April Division I men's Final Four. St. Thomas will travel to St. Louis in early March for four games at Washington (Mo.); and take a bit longer of a trip to Florida for spring break, including a doubleheader against UW-Whitewater.
 
13) Division III softball teams can start practices one week earlier in 2019, ahead of the previous Feb. 1 date. Tommie Softball is scheduled to play two doubleheaders at the Rochester Dome ahead of its March spring trip to Florida. The Tommes have more than a dozen seniors and should be ranked nationally in the top 20 to start 2019.
 
14) In less than five months, Tommie Men's Golf will play in the NCAA Championships in Kentucky. It will be the Tommies' sixth appearance in the national meet in the last eight seasons.
 
15) Popular Tommie Men's Golf assistant coach Jim Deutsch recently received the elite Steve Weidner Award from the Minnesota section of the PGA. The Weidner award recognizes an individual "whose total contributions to the game are extraordinary and beyond normal day-to-day activities." Past winners include PGA professionals, media personnel, and tournament founders and operators.
 
16) Josh Parks is the third St. Thomas running back this decade to be selected to one of the on-field All-America teams, and the first Tommie rusher since 1989 to make All-America without having his team in the postseason. Parks joins Colin Tobin (2011) and Jordan Roberts (2015) as recent All-Americas. In five other seasons St. Thomas was also represented by running backs on the CoSIDA Academic All-America teams with Jake Barkley (2000, 2001, 2002) and Ben Wartman (2009, 2010).
 
17) If the name Annalese Lamke sounds familiar, it could be her connection to Tommie Football. The 6-foot-3 senor center from Galesville, Wis., has played a big role in the 12-1 start recorded by Minnesota Gopher women's basketball. Her older brother Chandler Lamke -- who played his final season at 6-foot-8, 335 pounds -- was a two-year starting offensive lineman for Coach Glenn Caruso.
 
18) Former Tommie assistant coach Travis Wall was hired last month as St. Olaf's head coach for men's soccer. Wall assisted current Coach Jon Lowery in 2012 and 2013. He becomes the third Ole fall head coach with St. Thomas ties, joing Volleyball's Emily Foster (All-America player for the Tommies) and Football's James Kilian (former assistant and coordinator for the Purple).
 
19) Both Tommie basketball teams are shooting above 50 percent from the field (each at 39 percent from 3-point range), and they have a combined record of 20-2. Both the women and men play at home Saturday against Hamline in a 1 p.m., 3 p.m. set of games. The men are home again Monday to play MIAC co-leader St. Olaf, and face co-leader St. John's here Monday Jan. 21.

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Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is working his 25th season at St. Thomas and 31st overall in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the MIAC and Division III sports.

If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at ejmcgivern@stthomas.edu