Pelican Rapids' Bruggeman rewriting record book at Southwest Minnesota State

Ryan Bruggeman, from Pelican Rapids, Minn., is the all-time leading scorer in men's basketball at Southwest Minnesota State.

Southwest Minnesota State guard Ryan Bruggeman, who is from Pelican Rapids, Minn. Greg Devereaux Photography / SMSU Athletics

FARGO — Even though Southwest Minnesota State senior Ryan Bruggeman redshirted in his first season with the Mustangs men's basketball program, that's when he started to show long-term promise.

Doug Bruggeman, Ryan's father, remembers hearing through the parent of an upperclassman on that 2014-15 team, that Ryan was primed for a strong college career.

"Wait until you see this freshman play. He's going to be something special," Doug recalled hearing. " That got back to me. So we kind of heard stories through the grapevine that he was tearing it up in practice."

Four years later, Ryan has lived up to that redshirt buzz. From Pelican Rapids, Minn., he recently became Southwest Minnesota State's all-time scoring leader. The 6-foot point guard scored 30 points in a 75-63 road victory against Minnesota-Duluth last Saturday.

Ryan Bruggeman pushed his career total to 1,650 points after the Minnesota-Duluth game. Jacob Fahl (1999-2003) was the program's previous scoring leader with 1,638. Bruggeman also ranks first in career assists (577), steals (182) and free throws made (449).


"I've been lucky to come into a situation that allowed me to grow so much as a person and as a player," Ryan said.

Ryan scored 30 points in 36 minutes on 9-for-17 shooting from the floor as he eclipsed the career scoring mark. He also made 11 of 11 free throws to help lift the Mustangs to victory. He's been a four-year starter for Southwest Minnesota State, starting all 107 games he's played in to this point in his career.

Mustangs head coach Brad Bigler also remembers Ryan starting to show promise during his redshirt campaign, particularly by December of that season.

"He was beating the starting five by himself as a redshirt," Bigler said. "We kind of knew that he had a chance to take over the helm for the next four years. ... By the end of that redshirt year, everyone on the team knew the impact that he could make."

Ryan Bruggeman set SMSU's all-time scoring record with less than eight minutes to play in the second half against Minnesota-Duluth. He hit a running 5-foot floater that he banked in off the left side of the lane. The crowd told him that basket was significant, even though he was locked in on the game at hand.

"There was a few parents that knew," he said. "You could tell they stood up and cheered a little louder for that point."

Doug and Sue, Ryan's mom, were at the game along with friends and family. Doug said there were about 25 people in the group to support Ryan in Duluth. Casey Bruggeman, Ryan's brother and a Concordia graduate, was also at the game on the opposing bench. Casey is an assistant coach for Minnesota-Duluth.

Doug said after Ryan's record-setting basket, Al Colligan, his father-in-law, leaned over to shake his hand.


"To have that kind of interaction is pretty special in our family," Doug said.

Ryan said the emotion didn't hit him until after the game when he was doing a radio interview. He thanked former teammates like Turner Moen, Joey Bartlett and Mitch Weg.

"Those guys have been great teammates and great friends and great examples for me," Ryan said.

A multiple-sport prep athlete, Ryan played running back in high school for Pelican Rapids. Bigler said that football background has helped Ryan excel on the basketball court. Ryan has an uncanny ability to weave his way through the teeth of an opposing defense.

"His ability to take and give contact with the ball in his hands," Bigler said. "Football was very beneficial for him, just the ability to take hits and get to spots on the floor even after he gets hit. ... His ability, in traffic, to be able to change directions and keep the ball live and make plays, even when most people would pick the ball up."

While Ryan had confidence he could play at the Division II level, he said there was an adjustment period for him, especially during his first year in the program.

"Coming down my first couple weeks and months here, I was humbled pretty quick by how hard these guys worked and how much work you've got to do to be successful," Ryan said. "That wake-up call right away was really a good thing for me. ... I took that all in and tried to be the best I could be."

Doug said it's been enjoyable to watch Ryan's growth.


"He wasn't offered a large scholarship coming out of high school and then he redshirted his freshman year," said Doug, who was the Pelican Rapids head boys basketball coach during Ryan's final two high school seasons. "We were just always wondering if he was going to be able to compete at this level. ... For him to not only compete, but excel, has been a fun journey for us."

Southwest Minnesota State guard Ryan Bruggeman, who is from Pelican Rapids, Minn. Greg Devereaux Photography / SMSU Athletics

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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