FARGO — North Dakota State produced the top story for the months of January and February this past year, but it wasn’t the football team winning a seventh national championship while losing another head coach.
Take a closer look and you can understand why NDSU’s Payton Otterdahl deserves the nod for the top story during the first two months of 2019.
It all started in late January, when Otterdahl threw the shot put 71 feet at the University of Nebraska’s Mark Colligan Memorial. It was the best throw in the world for the season and was within 3 1/2 inches of the NCAA indoor record (71-3 1/2) set by Ryan Whiting of Arizona State in 2008.
Otterdahl, a 2014 state high school champion in the discus and shot put at Rosemount High School in the Twin Cities, would later set the all-time NCAA indoor record with a throw of 71-6 3/4.
Then in March, Otterdahl became NDSU’s first individual NCAA Division I national champion in any sport when he won the indoor shot put title with a throw of 71-2 3/4. For good measure, he won the indoor weight throw title one day later.
Another FCS title, another new coach
North Dakota State claimed its seventh FCS championship in the past eight seasons with a 38-24 victory over Eastern Washington in front of nearly 15,000 Bison fans who made their way south to Frisco, Texas.
Six days later, back in Fargo, the new coaching staff of head man Matt Entz and assistants Noah Pauley, AJ Blazek, Grant Olson, David Braun, Tyler Roehl and Randy Hedberg were officially introduced. Entz, NDSU’s defensive coordinator, replaced Chris Klieman who was named the head coach at Kansas State during the Bison’s playoff run.
It marked the third time during NDSU’s championship run that a new head coach was named. Klieman, who was also a defensive coordinator, became the head coach when Craig Bohl took the head coaching job at Wyoming.
Repeat hockey champs
At the North Dakota state high school hockey tournaments that were held at Scheels Arena in Fargo, two teams repeated as champions.
Grand Forks Central claimed its third straight boys championship with a 3-1 win over Fargo Davies. Bismarck won its fifth straight girls championship with a 2-1 overtime win over Fargo North-South.
Lisbon wins emotional wrestling title
The high school wrestling team from Lisbon had a bittersweet moment at the North Dakota Class B state wrestling tournament in the Fargodome. The Broncos won their first dual wrestling title since 2008, but their thoughts were with teammate Zane Gruba.
Gruba was slammed on his head in his 145-pound match against New Salem-Almont. The Broncos got the six points they needed to clinch the dual, winning the match by disqualification.
But Gruba didn’t move. Gruba eventually came to, moved his feet, bent his legs and waited for the ambulance. He got a standing ovation from the crowd as he was taken out on a stretcher.
“We lucked out he wasn’t hurt that bad,” said Lisbon co-coach Richard Lacina.
Worthy of mentioning
An 82-yard punt that Perham’s Bob Wilkowski booted back in 1961 finally made its way into the Minnesota high school record book.
After 139 combined years on the field, Concordia assistant football coaches Dan Kostich, Dale Hertel and John Marsh retired.
Fargo Shanley women’s basketball standout Sarah Jacobson left North Dakota State after two seasons and eventually ended up playing at Minnesota State Moorhead.
Fargo Davies’ Megan Lundstrom, who holds school records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, signed to run track and field at the University of Minnesota.