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Gene's Blog: We set the table for a feast of fun facts

Liam Doyle photo
Liam Doyle photo
To get you ready for next week's Thanksgiving feast, here's our six-course menu of Tommie sports notes, from guest blogger Chef Gene:
No Cupcakes
On Nov. 9, when Tommie Men's Hockey rallied late to win 4-3 on the road over No. 1-ranked UW-Stevens Point, it marked the third time this calendar year that a St. Thomas team posted a victory over a returning NCAA champion team.
Last March, Tommie Women's Basketball beat March 2018 national champion Amherst in overtime in the NCAA round of 16, and Tommie Men's Basketball eliminated No. 1-ranked and March 2018 NCAA champ Nebraska Wesleyan in the second round in Lincoln.
So far this school year, St. Thomas has wins or a tie against top-10 ranked opponents in football; volleyball; men's golf; women's and men's soccer; and men's and women's hockey.
Wednesday night's women's basketball game at Schoenecker Arena, won 78-60 by St. Thomas over UW-Superior, featured two programs that have distinguished themselves across all of college hoops.
The visiting Yellowjackets have built a 63-1 record in Upper Midwest Athletics Conference regular-season play over the last four seasons. That includes a 53-game UMAC win streak that ended last January.
The Tommies will bring a 74-game win streak over MIAC opponents into this season, and they open league play Saturday at St. Catherine. With a parade of younger players in new roles, St. Thomas moved to 3-0 with Wednesday's victory.
Coach Ruth Sinn relied heavily on seniors and a few junior role players during last season's 30-2 march to a third-place NCAA finish. This year's Purple roster has no seniors, and only two juniors (forward Kaia Porter, guard Macy Hatlestad). Against Superior, sophomores Amber Darge, Brynne Rolland and Shayla Wallin combined for 47 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals
Big Cheese
Josh Parks was limited to a total of 64 yards of rushing in 24 carries in his previous two games against Bethel -- a 58-13 home win in 2017, and a 21-15 loss at BU last November.
But last Saturday -- in what proved to be his final college game -- Parks' 168-yard rushing day kept the first-down chains moving and led the Tommies to a 17-7 victory. It was just the second time in Bethel's last 30 games that the Royals' stingy defense had allowed a 100-plus yard rushing game.
Parks also has recorded two of the five 100-plus yard rushing games that St. John's has allowed over the Johnnies' last 45 games.
Over the last two seasons combined, Parks' 7.8 yards-per carry clip ranks third best in all of NCAA football. His average trails only Clemson's Travis Etienne (8.4 ypc) and D-II Tarleton State's Daniel McCants (8.1).
Last Saturday produced a rare low-scoring victory for St. Thomas. In 120 regular-season games under Coach Glenn Caruso, the Tommies are just 15-13 in games when they score under 25 points, but 92-0 when they score 25 or more.
The last time the Tommies scored less than 20 points at home and still won came in 2010, a 10-6 defeat of Bethel.
A Serving of Grit
A rare two-sport Tommie athlete, Paige Cater shows finesse on the soccer field each fall, then displays grit as a middle-distance runner and hurdler indoors and outdoors in track and field.
The junior from Woodbury has been part of an impressive team hardware stash at St. Thomas. Her Tommie soccer and track and field teams have won eight of a possible 10 MIAC team championships so far during her era. That includes soccer regular-season and playoff crowns each of the last two seasons, and indoor/outdoor conference sweeps in 2018 and 2019.
Cater scored the game's only goal last Saturday in Toms' NCAA win over Monmouth (Ill.) -- Tommie Women's Soccer's first NCAA playoff game on campus in 17 seasons.
Next up is Friday's 1 p.m. NCAA playoff round of 16 game at once-beaten and No. 6-ranked Wheaton (Mass.).
Whitman Sampler
This Saturday, No. 15-ranked Tommie Men's Basketball (1-1) has a rematch with No. 8-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan (4-0) in a non-conference tournament in Chicago. A Sunday game follows against either Chicago or DePauw.
College basketball's early season is often one big adventure. St. Thomas shot just 25.4 percent from the field in last Saturday's road loss to a tough Whitworth College team. Then in their next game Wednesday night in Duluth, Tauer's guys bounced back and shot 60.6 percent from the field in a runaway victory.
If Johnny wasn't able to sleep after last Saturday night's contest, like all coaches, he probably went to the internet to research past seasons box scores. If he did, he would not have been able to find a game in the last 17 years when a Tommie men's team shot under 30 percent from the floor.
Animal Crackers
The Colorado Buffaloes have announced that the athletic department's live mascot Ralphie V, age 13, will soon retire. She won't lead the team onto the field in the home finale this Saturday.
Ralphie's run is considered among the many fun traditions in college sports.
The good news for Colorado: the Buffs have landed the black cat from the recent NFL game at Giants stadium to fill in for Ralphie.
Meanwhile, the CU mascot has signed on for some Geico TV commercials, and will host an annual awards show on ESPN honoring college sports mascots called... the Raphies.
(Gene's Blog has not independently verified the part about the black cat, Geico ads, or the awards show... But the stuff about Josh Parks and Paige Cater is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me Ralphie.)

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