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Gene's Blog: Mascot sees Yellow, our fans see Purple

Mark Brown photo
Mark Brown photo

Here are some things NOT to think about:

  • Can you believe that only four months remain in this decade?
  • Do dogs get paid when they appear in TV commercials?
  • Would Sweet Martha's state-fair revenue take a hit if she switched to vegetable cookies?
  • Did the Jackson State University tiger mascot, named Wavee Dave, really get a 15-yard penalty in last Sunday's football loss to Bethune-Cookman?
  • Is some rain really in the forecast for Tommie Football's home game this Saturday?

OK, now here are some things to actually think about... enjoy these 19 facts to celebrate the Fall '19 sports season:

1) This marks the 135th year of education at St. Thomas, and officially our 116th year of varsity athletics, at the same plot of land where Summit and Cretin Avenues now intersect.

2) If you are scoring at home, St. Thomas fall teams are unbeaten so far in soccer (2-0-1), volleyball (4-0), women's cross country, and men's golf. The Tommies are in rare air with six of their eight fall teams nationally ranked in Division III.

3) Terry Peck was the Tommies' second longest tenured head coach and one of the five longest athletic department staffers before his recently-announced retirement. A wise and pleasant mentor to so many, Terry steps aside after nearly 30 years as Tommie men's and women's tennis coach, including 900-plus matches.

4) Joe Sweeney is starting his 40th season as head coach in St. Thomas Women's Cross Country. Forty years? In that same span of time, Minnesota has had seven different governors, while the Twins have had eight managers and have played in three home stadiums.

5) Sweeney has unique depth this season led by 11 seniors on his 33-woman roster. His No. 19-ranked team started the 2019 season by having seven of the first 11 finishers at last Friday's Bethel Invite. Sophomore Olivia Moll and seniors Sara Ness and Katie Breuckman finished 1-2-3 in a field of 130 runners.

6) Coach Pete Wareham is looking to build similar depth for his No. 31-ranked Tommie Men's Cross Country team. He has six returning runners who placed last May in MIAC track and field races: seniors Karl Wachter, George McGivern and Collin Kiley; junior Carl Koslowski; and sophomores Mac Karrick and Biel Wiel. Freshman Zach Haire ran well last Saturday to lead a partial Tommie squad at the Crown College Invite.

7) No. 7-ranked Tommie Football opens its season this Saturday at home against Trinity (Ill.) International, a 1:10 p.m. kickoff at O'Shaughnessy Stadium. The Purple on the Plaza party starts near the fountain at 11 a.m. WCCO Radio will again air games live at 830 AM. A bye week and two road games follow, thus the Toms won't return to game action at O'Shaughnessy until Oct. 5.

8) This week's opponent, Trinity (1-0), scored an exciting 28-26 road win last Saturday over Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D. The Trojans rallied from a 13-0 deficit with help from a safety, a key two-point conversion stop and three interceptions. Under second-year head coach Lamont Butler, the Trojans have a young roster with 10 freshmen and five sophomores holding 15 of the 24 starting spots.

9) Three headlines off the Purple's first football depth chart released: A) Coach Glenn Caruso will start 15 seniors (kicker; six on offense; eight on defense). B) Junior Tommy Dolan of St. Thomas Academy will start at quarterback. The brother of ex-St. Thomas outfielder Jimmy Dolan, Tommy Dolan is the third St. Paul resident to start at QB for the Tommies going back 30 seasons, joining Nick Ambrasas and Greg Morse. C) The Toms' 46-player two-deep list has two true freshmen (backup CB Zach Ames and backup LB Jack Mohler) plus 11 sophomores.

 

Did You Know That?

10) No. 12-ranked Tommie Men's Soccer went 1-0-1 against talented teams last weekend, and improved to 59-8-6 overall since the start of 2016. Next up Friday night is a road game at No. 8-ranked Luther. Junior keeper Sean Teske and his defensive mates had shutouts to start the season against Washington (Mo.) (1-0) and No. 3-ranked Chicago (0-0 tie).

11) Tommie Volleyball, receiving votes in the national top 25 poll, will play four matches nearby at the Augsburg Invite this weekend: Friday against U. Mass-Boston and UW-La Crosse, and Saturday against Dubuque and No. 12-ranked UW-Whitewater. Coach Thanh Pham's team plays its first 16 matches off campus before making its Schoenecker Arena debut Sept. 25.

12) Senior libero Ellie Meyer is nearing 1,700 career digs and is on pace to surpass 2,000 for Tommie Volleyball. She recorded 95 last weekend in 16 sets to help St. Thomas go 4-0 on a trip to Oregon. The Purple are 70-22 on her career when Meyer is in the lineup.

13) Callie Haertle had a memorable collegiate debut for No. 19-ranked Tommie Women's Soccer in Friday's 4-1 defeat of UW-Stevens Point. After the Pointers pulled within 2-1, the freshman and Oconowomoc, Wis., native scored two insurance goals in a 2:37 second-half span on the clock. 

14) The St. Thomas women play two games this weekend in St. Louis. Coach Sheila McGill's teams are unbeaten (71-0-2) since early in the 2010 season in games when they score multiple goals. The two ties came against UW-La Crosse. St. Thomas' scoring output last Friday was notable, considering that the Pointers went 12-2-4 and allowed only 11 goals in 2018.

15) No. 22-ranked Tommie Men's Golf started its season with the second-best team total under par in program history: a six-under 274 score in last Friday's 16-shot win over Gustavus. Senior Emmet Herb and junior Miles McCarthy each had career-best rounds with five-under-par scores of 65 at the par-70 LeSueur Country Club. It's rare and possibly unprecedented for one MIAC team to have two 5-under par scores in the same tournament. This marked Herb's fifth collegiate round in the 60s, and McCarthy's second.
 
16) The top four finishers for Tommie Women's Golf in last weekend's season-opening St. Ben's tournament were freshmen: sisters Claudia and Cayla Kim of Woodbury; Kirsten Leonardi of Sussex, Wis.; and Sophia Dooman of Janesville, Wis. Claudia Kim posted Sunday's low round (75) in a field of 71 players en route to a second-place finish. Her 78-75/153 score closed two shots behind medalist Alyssa Akiyama of Carleton (74-77/151).
 
17) Claudia and Cayla Kim (84/81-165, tie for 20th) graduated from Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school in Faribault, and played there in national junior tournaments instead of a typical high school schedule. The sisters competed last school year at tournaments in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Arizona.
 
18) If you want to watch some top college golf in person this weekend, the Minnesota Gophers and St. Thomas are playing host to multi-team tournaments at adjacent courses 30 miles northwest of campus in Maple Plain. Besides archrival and nationally-ranked St. John's, the Tommie men will get another fun test on Saturday and Sunday. Their tournament includes several Division I individual players who are just outside their teams' five-man varsity lineups at the Gopher Invite.
 
19) Tommie Football All-America rusher Josh Parks has scored 39 touchdowns in 31 career games. The senior needs eight touchdowns to surpass the career totals of Fritz Waldvogel and Jordan Roberts (46 each), and 12 to break the school career record shared by Ben Wartman and Colin Tobin (50 each).
 
OK, somebody tell our Tommie the Mascot to stay off the field when Josh gets to the end zone this fall. College cat mascots (click here to watch) are off to a bad start this season with the Zebras.

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Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is starting his 26th season at St. Thomas and 32nd 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