Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO -- We first saw Zach Vraa at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome as the long-haired wide receiver who couldn't keep his collar bones intact. He broke both, one of them twice. Once that got figured out, thanks to titanium plates, he went on to a stellar career finishing with 195 receptions for 2,957 yards and 28 touchdowns. He caught passes from North Dakota State quarterbacks Brock Jensen, Carson Wentz and Easton Stick.
FARGO—The Fourth of July holiday was just a few hours from being over when the North Dakota State football players were back in the weight room doing their thing. On Thursday morning, around 5:30 a.m., they said goodbye to their one week off in the summer. There are not many minutes to waste in offseason conditioning. NCAA Division I FCS programs have a maximum allowable eight hours per week to train each player. "And we need those eight hours," said Jim Kramer, the director of athletic performance at NDSU.
FARGO — For his summer vacation, Deng Geu got on a plane in Fargo, flew to Dallas for a week, got on another plane and flew to Istanbul. After spending two weeks there, he boarded a plane for Lagos, Nigeria. It was all part of the North Dakota State forward playing for his native Uganda in the FIBA World Cup qualifying men's basketball tournament.
FARGO—The small plane took off from Hays, Kan., and Ed Schultz took his customary seat toward the back. He was quiet, legs crossed, looking out the window often and jotting a few things down on a piece of paper. He just finished broadcasting the NCAA Division II North Central Regional men's basketball tournament in Hays, where the Bison lost to South Dakota State in the 1996 title game. It was a high-scoring contest that probably tested even the most vociferous pitch of Eddie's voice. Something was up on the trip home, however.
FARGO—Life has never been better on the LPGA Tour for Amy Olson. She's been in two major tournaments, has already notched a career-high in earnings by a long shot and has secured full status for next season. On that note, when she returns to Fargo for a July speaking engagement and youth clinic, there will be plenty to talk about. "Honestly it just takes a lot of the pressure off the rest of the season," Olson said.
FARGO—Hayden Zillmer is addicted, but he doesn't need help. At least not until after the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's the goal for the former North Dakota State wrestler, who if not working out twice a day feels like he's missing something. Asked how he gets away from the sport, he says that's not in his vocabulary. "I can't," he said. "I feel like if you get away from it a little bit it mentally wears on you. It's always on your mind and I guess I'm looking at the big picture and the ultimate goal in the sport."
FARGO—Fargo South's Dawson Weisenberger, considered by some the top college football prospect in North Dakota, is staying close to home. The senior-to-be ended his recruitment by giving North Dakota State a verbal commitment on Tuesday. Weisenberger will follow a path taken by several South players in the NDSU Division I era, including running back Ty Brooks, who will be a junior this fall. "It felt like home every time I went up there," Weisenberger said. "I love the coaches, the atmosphere and it felt right."
FARGO—The photo on Travis Yohnke's recruiting website page shows the Parkers Prairie, Minn., tight end with the ball in his left hand and a stiff arm to a defensive back from Browerville—a second before the kid was about to go flying backward. In Yohnke, North Dakota State got a verbal commitment from another big small-town player.
FARGO—The life of a true freshman football player at North Dakota State changed on Wednesday. A new stipulation passed by the NCAA this week will allow those players to play up to four games in a season without losing a year of eligibility. The motion was approved by the Division I Council, a move that NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen expected to go through. But just not this quick. It applies to both the FBS and NDSU's FCS.
FARGO—It had been awhile since Jason Ray had been in front of multiple media cameras and microphones. That changed when he was named assistant football coach at North Dakota State University on Tuesday, June 5. The hire by head coach Chris Klieman puts NDSU back at full strength after Atif Austin took a position with the New England Patriots. Ray, who will coach the receivers, was at Missouri State the past two years and Northern Iowa in 2015. So he's familiar with the Missouri Valley Football Conference.