This season Concordia’s winter athletes look forward to growing as a team and are excited to compete against fellow D-III institutions
Winter is right around the corner, which means the cold weather is bound to arrive. Luckily for Cobber sports fans, Concordia’s winter athletes will give us something to enjoy in the winter.
Beginning in November, Concorida athletes will be competing in seasonal sports such as basketball, hockey and wrestling. Going into the season, these squads are hoping to get back in the thick of things and maintain their previous season successes.
For some Concordia athletes, the start of the season is an opportunity to hit the ground running and improve their roles and performances. Women’s basketball center, Kalli Bowser, is excited for practice to start, and is hoping the season provides the girls an opportunity to grow together.
“It’s exciting to get the plays going, and build the team because we lost a lot of talent last year,” Bowser said. “It would be nice to see who’ll step up and fill in.”
Despite losing a six-foot, four-inch center and their starting point guard, the women’s basketball team has a large number of sophomores returning and a smaller junior and senior population. According to Bowser, this provides the young team with an opportunity to look for new ways to acquire their wins this season.
“Our emphasis right now is to take chances so we can find what works for our team, not only rely on what we did last year,” Bowser said.
With the women’s basketball team looking to try new things, their male counterparts are focused on improving their discipline of the game. Athletic director Rich Glas is entering his seventh season as the head coach for men’s basketball. This year Glas wants to continue building towards a playoff spot for the Cobbers.
“That means finishing top six,” Glas said. “It’s always been our goal to become a top team in the MIAC consistently.”
Having almost made the playoffs last year, Glas believes the way to achieve this goal is by staying tough and disciplined on the defensive side of the ball.
“You have to focus on both sides of (the ball),” Glas said. “But for us to be a consistent top tier team, we have to be good defensively.”
Combined with a discipline and development through the junior varsity basketball team, Glas believes in elevating the focus of his team as a reference point of success for the upcoming season. The level of commitment to discipline that men’s basketball is hoping to achieve is a trait also much endured by Cobber wrestling.
According to returning sophomore wrestler Mario Williams, the team has upgraded the coaching staff by adding a two-time NCAA wrestling champion. Phil Moenkedick joined the wrestling coaching staff to help his alma mater maintain an elite squad. Williams believes this is a great addition to help the team stay on track.
Williams’ sentiments are shared by the head coach, Matt Nagel. Over the past five years, Nagel has seen the program improve into a highly nationally ranked wrestling program with success stories such as Moenkedick’s.
According to Nagel, a lot of buildup from last season, and discipline is required for the team to stay competitive in all weight classes, and get a fifth straight top 15 national ranking.
“The hardest thing to do is really the discipline of wrestling,” Nagel said. “It is not like other sports where you train, you prepare, but you also have to maintain your weight.”
For the Cobber program that is coming off of an NCWAA national duals championship, getting back to the top requires the efforts of all wrestlers.
“Wrestling is an individual sport, but it is also a team sport because how you do as a team determines how you are ranked,” Williams said. “If individuals qualify, the whole team gets to go.”
For the wrestling team, the whole season is a building up towards the NWCAA championship qualifiers. With a nationally elite squad at the cusp of continual success, Cobber wrestling looks to start the season on a great note.
Like their highly-ranked wrestling colleagues, the men’s hockey team is looking for a fourth straight, top five MIAC ranking while banking on the always electric home crowd of Concordia.
“We want to be competing for a championship,” head coach Chris Howe said. “One of the big things for us is when we have that home court advantage. It’s really important.”
Coach Howe believes the home crowd is more valuable than it knows. This season, the men’s hockey team will play 12 out of 25 games at the Moorhead Sports Center Hockey Arena, which enables students to partake in the excitement.
“I think it’s a challenge sometimes for people to get (to home games), but I would encourage people,” Howe said. “I think it’s awesome and it makes a great impact. I mean if you have 100 people in the game, it makes a big difference.”
Even with the crowd on their side, Concordia’s hockey team is hoping to maintain their top ranking in the nine-team MIAC conference.
“I know that our players take that very seriously,” Howe said. “We talk about growing as a program. We’ve been a top five team the last three years. We would like to continue to keep improving on that.”
A constant point of emphasis from Howe is how much the fans mean to the athletic program. For hockey, not having an actual home arena here at Concordia makes the support from Cobbers even more appreciated. According to Howe, the players look forward to having a supportive crowd as they start the grind of a 25-game hockey season.
“They are focused on the game, but they feel you,” Howe said. “It pumps us up. It’s really a neat atmosphere with what the students create.”
So to all the hockey, hoops and wrestling fans, if you are looking for an exciting way to beat the winter blues, head on over to one of the numerous athletic events happening this season. Aside from providing a much needed study break, the games are a great way to let your Cobber spirit shine.