MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 4, 2023 

Comets shine brightly in Watertown

The Watertown (S.D.) Civic Arena was bursting at the seams with Mayville State Comet Pride last weekend during the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) women’s and men’s basketball championships. The teams participating had won their opening round games in various NSAA locations and qualified for the opportunity to play in the NSAA Final Four. I am elated and proud about the fact that Mayville State’s women’s AND men’s teams claimed championship games and are now headed to national tournament play!

It is simply an amazing feat for both of our teams to claim tournament championships. I would say the odds of that happening for any university would be extremely rare. That rarity is expounded when you consider the fact that the same thing happened for Mayville State in 2020. Unfortunately, only the women’s team was able to actually play a national tournament game that year. The men were all set to begin their national tournament play in Sioux Falls, S.D. when the NAIA abruptly canceled the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.

We at Mayville State are grateful to be members of the NSAA. The conference is strong in support from member institutions and the competition is keen. We work together with the highest level of collegiality, but yet are able to enjoy the best of competition on the courts and fields. The NSAA doesn’t get a lot of national recognition, but there is no doubt that this kind of acknowledgement is well-deserved by our member institutions, teams, coaches, and student athletes.

I have the honor of serving as chairman of the NSAA president’s group this year. Our group met Feb. 24 in Watertown to discuss matters related to the conference. There was strong support for our conference all the way around. Current member institutions are Bellevue (Neb.) University, Dakota State University (Madison, S.D.), Dickinson (N.D.) State University, Mayville State University, Presentation College (Aberdeen, S.D.), Valley City (N.D.) State University, Viterbo University (La Crosse, Wis.), and Waldorf University (Forest City, Iowa). We will lose Presentation College at the end of this academic year as that institution will be closing, but the conference remains strong.

Also on the evening of Feb. 24, conference teams gathered for the annual NSAA awards presentation. I am thrilled for our student athletes and coaches who received much-deserved recognition.

Mayville State Women’s Basketball Honors: Jordan Zrust - NSAA Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, and All-Defense Team; Erin Walcker - NSAA First Team All-Conference; Mackenzie Hughes - NSAA Second Team All-Conference; Jes Mertens - NSAA All-Defense Team, NSAA Honorable Mention; Taylor Dean - Champions of Character Award.

Mayville State Men’s Basketball Honors: Thomas Gieske - NSAA Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference; Trent Blackshire - NSAA Second Team All-Conference; Brandon McGruder - NSAA Coach of the Year; Jamison Kramer - NSAA Honorable Mention; Sam Grayson - Champions of Character Award.

Mayville State University fans far and away won the prize for school spirit and team support throughout the Final Four Tournament. It was absolutely wonderful to see our students get out and support their fellow Comets, along with members of the community and family members of the student-athletes and coaches. It was definitely Mayville State’s weekend to shine and I am so happy I could be there to take it all in.

It’s fantastic to experience this kind of support at games played in Mayville, but to know that so many made the 200-mile trip to Watertown to get behind their teams and share in the victory makes me grateful to be a Comet. There is a special bond we all share as Comets that is not replicated anywhere else. To be a member of the Mayville State family is a special kind of gift.