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Thundar gaining fame nationally

He's a quiet, intellectual kid whose major study of field at North Dakota State is mathematical-based. But that's not important right now. In fact, we don't care what his name is.

Thundar

He's a quiet, intellectual kid whose major study of field at North Dakota State is mathematical-based. But that's not important right now. In fact, we don't care what his name is.

Just call him Thundar.

And Thundar is on quite a roll right now, right up there with the Bison volleyball team. The Bison and Jackrabbits play football Saturday night for the Dakota Marker, which is nothing compared to what Thundar is playing for over the Internet.

He's a finalist for the Capital One Mascot Challenge. It's the national championship of college bleacher creatures.

Last year, running back Tyler Roehl, tight end Thor "God of Thunder" Brown and the Bison football team were the ESPN darlings at NDSU. This year, it's Thundar.

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He's part of a commercial seen on ESPN that was filmed in late July in Los Angeles. Thundar, a small-town kid from somewhere near the geographical center of North America, got quite the big city, West Coast experience.

An earthquake hit before the director had a chance to yell cut. The crew was doing a tailgating scene in front of the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"It almost felt like the ground was flowing, like waves," he said. "It was right in the middle of filming. The director then yelled 'earthquake' and told us to get away from stuff."

Saturday is Thundar's last gig with the Bison. Maybe then he'll reveal his name, but that's the modus operandi of the position: It's all about the suit, not the human being inside of it.

Even after four years of donning the suit, only a handful of friends know he's the mascot. And that was only because he kept declining invitations to go to the game.

"I was just kind of bored my freshman year," he said. "I was over-involved in academics, so I went to the cheer coach."

He's a tale of two personalities. Out of uniform, he's polite; a bit on the shy side. He wants to get into some type of agricultural economics.

It's as if he bolts into a phone booth when he turns into Thundar. It's a character with its own walk, own dance moves, own reactions and own mannerisms. It's like live puppetry.

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A successor has already been picked and Lame Duck Thundar is tutoring New Thundar starting with this basketball season. Certainly, the first lesson is not to reveal your name.

"It keeps the character alive for the kids," Thundar said. "For a lot of kids, you want to keep that magic alive."

After 11 weeks of head-to-head competition - Thundar is 6-4 - the mascot playoffs start next Monday. If you want to give Thundar a boost, log on to www.capitalonebowl.com and help out the creature.

"It's a critical week of voting," said Thundar, or whatever his name is.

Readers can reach Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546 or jkolpack@forumcomm.com .

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

Opinion by Jeff Kolpack
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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