All posts by rpeters14

New To Winona: Raw Dog Supplements

In small towns, the nutrition supplement market is often dominated by one or two big chain stores.

The only place Winona citizens can buy pre-workout supplements is GNC or Walmart and the options are limited to what those chains wish to sell.

Winona State student Michael Bennett said he was dissatisfied with the lack of healthy options and decided to create his own supplement company.

Raw Dog Supplements LLC was created because Bennett said he was tired of paying a large mark-up for products containing artificial ingredients.

“Basically in here you got nine ingredients. All 100% pure,” Bennett said while holding a container of his pre-workout. “No additives, no fillers, no proprietary blends, no colors, no artificial flavors. Everything about it is natural.”

Reid Peters: Michael Bennett, owner of Raw Dog Supplements LLC, before an interview.


Bennett said many companies throw a wide range of ingredients in their products consumers don’t know about.

These ingredients are hidden behind names such as “proprietary blend.”

Bennett is concerned someone new to the gym will consume these products without knowing what it contains

“I just wasn’t having what other companies were throwing in their products,” Bennett said.

“There’s a better way to achieve those results than what other companies are providing. I think I’ve got down the most effective way”

Bennett’s personal trainer and long-time friend Sam Ziemke has been making pre-workout concoctions for years and said he’s happy to see Bennett make a business out of it.

Ziemke said he believes much of the supplement industry is detrimental to the health of consumers.

He said many of those artificial stimulants added to these products can hurt the adrenal glands, kidneys and heart.

“These bigger supplement companies like C-4 will spend most of their money on promoting the product with celebrities who don’t even take the stuff,” Ziemke said. “They could be putting that money into adding more and better ingredients into their product.”

On top of the health concerns, Ziemke criticized the mark-up pricing of popular supplements.

He said one scoop of C-4 is like paying $3 for one serving of pre-workout while Raw Dog is priced at $1 per serving.

Keith Jones, an employee at GNC in Winona, said while they don’t carry a lot of pre-workout supplements without additives or stimulants, there are options within the store.

“We do have one or two that I know of that are not only stimulant free – they have a lot less additives,” Jones said. “We don’t have a lot of those in store, though, which is unfortunate. We need to branch out a little bit.”

While there isn’t a lot of pure pre-workout options, Jones said they carry a line of vegan protein, organic green juice complexes and other supplements regarding holistic health.

Jones said he takes pride in educating customers about exactly what Is in products before he recommends anything for them to buy.

After, he said it’s up to the customer.

“The best I can do is tell them what we have in the store,” Jones said. “If they don’t like it or can’t accept it then I’m sure they’ll find what they want online.”

Bennett said this is why he believes Raw Dog is important – a clean product is available in Winona for local pickup or delivery.

Although Bennett is registered as a Limited Liability Company and said he would love to make money from his company, he is doing this because it’s a passion and he wants to be able to offer something he believes in to others.

“I’m not about trying to make a ton of money off of it,” Bennett said. “I’m trying to give the people what they want. I’m hearing a lot of feedback and I’m loving it.”

Bennett said he has invested between $5,500 and $6,000 total.

This includes the industrial mixer, the raw products, containers, silica packets, container seals, tee-shirts, LLC registration, scoops, labels, stickers and a website.

Bennett said after a few months he has made around $3,000.

“That is much better than I ever expected,” Bennett said. “I have all these supplements that don’t go bad for three years now and I’m already about half way to making my money back.”

Bennett said he would be fine not making all his money back.

What he has gained through experience and knowledge is more valuable to him than money.

This same mentality is why Bennett isn’t concerned with expanding past Winona.

For the time being, he said he wants to continue doing what he loves and master the market in Winona.

“When I’m not at one of my three jobs, this is what I’m doing,” Bennett said. “This is my heart and soul. As corny as it sounds, this is what I enjoy doing.”

Winona State’s First Ever Ebony Night

The Winona State University African Students Association will be hosting the first ever Ebony Night on April 21st at 7 p.m. in Kryzsko Commons on the WSU campus.

ASA members Beke Eromosele and Nyalen Pidor are organizing the event and described it as a celebration of African and African American culture.

The night is going to be hosted by African comedian Chief Obi and

will include dance performances, a fashion show, various student performances, a red carpet photo shoot, east and west African food and more.

Eromosele and Pidor said they are excited not only about how much fun they are going to have, but for how important an event like this is for a university without much diversity.

“It’s really important to have,” Pidor said. “It celebrates a culture that is ignored at our school because we have a very small demographic of black students.”

Pidor said an event like this will make that demographic feel special and appreciated.

Both Eromosele and Pidor said it will be cool to showcase their culture to anyone who would like to come.

“It will be cool to show people our customs and our traditions,” Pidor said. “It’s a fun way of educating people who don’t know much about our culture.”

Nyalen Pidor (Right) and Beke Eromosele (Left) said they have become close friends through ASA.

Eromosele said most people don’t know a lot but would like to know more and this is a great chance for them to do so.

Pidor and Eromosele said they urge anyone to come to the event especially if they are not African or African American.

ASA is an inclusive club, according to Pidor and Eromosele.

The event is meant for all groups of people.

“When we were planning it, we had some worries about white people feeling like, ‘I don’t know if I should come or not,’” Eromosele said. “We made it known that white people and other cultures and other races can come.”

WSU’s Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Dr. Johnathan Locust, said he’s thrilled about the event and thinks it can do a lot of good things for the university.

“It promotes Winona to different segments of people who may not have been looking at Winona State University in the first place,” Locust said. “We want everybody to talk to everybody.”

Locust said he believes the power in conversation between different groups of people is what can bring those groups closer and Ebony night is going to contribute to that kind of unity.

Winona State student Eric Mullen is not a member of ASA but plans on going to Ebony night.

“I have a decent understanding of European cultures but zero knowledge of African cultures,” Mullen said. “This would be a good introductory point for me to learn more about that.”

Mullen described this event as a ‘stay-cation’ – instead of traveling to these countries to experience the culture, an event like this allows students like him to experience it first-hand at home.

The budget for the event is around $13,000 the club received from Student Senate, UPAC and other private organizations according to Eromosele.

Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for the general admission.

“Have fun and enjoy cultures that you wouldn’t normally experience,” Pidor said. “It’s gonna be a great night.”


WSU All-American Has a Shot at the NFL

Getting to the National Football League from a division two program is not impossible.

It’s improbable.

Out of 1696 players in the league, 120 come from D2 schools, according to Hero Sports.

Some make a big impact, many don’t, but to even be on a practice squad will make the athlete a league minimum $7,200 per week.

This equates to around $150,000 for the regular season alone – quite the entry-level pay wage for a 23-year-old.

Meet Andrew Spencer, a 23-year-old student/athlete at Winona State University who majors in recreational tourism – a degree that earns an average of $40,000 a year.

If he had to pick between careers, Spencer said he is interested in the former.

Craig Johnson: Spencer Joining hands with his fellow captains before a game.

This past season, Spencer was a first-team All-American on numerous publications, earned NSIC Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors and captained a 10-2 Winona State team that forced the second most turnovers in all of NCAA football – D1 included.

Because of these accomplishments, Spencer’s recreational tourism degree may have to wait because he has signed an agent and is training for the NFL combine at the end of February.

“That’s the only occupation I want to do,” Spencer said.

If all goes well, he may join his cousin, Clay Harbor, who plays for the New Orleans Saints and has enjoyed a 10-year career in the league.

Spencer said his driving force throughout this journey is to reimburse those who have invested in him; a shortlist that starts with his mother.

Spencer was born to a single mother with many siblings and not much money to go around.

His father has been incarcerated his whole life.

That is not something he gives much energy to – he said he would rather focus on what his Mom has provided.

“We kind of struggled a lot. We had to grind for money,” Spencer said. “I just think this is how life came out for us. We had it harder than other people, but I feel like this is just hard work paying off.”

Spencer described taking care of his mother with his first check not as something he wants to do, but something he is going to do.

“I just have to do it,” Spencer said. “My mom gave me a good life… she’s just a blue-collar woman who worked hard. She got put in a s*** position, I’m gonna pay her back,” Spencer said laughing.

Submitted: Spencer Joining his mom, Phyllis, after a win.

Loyalty is important to Spencer.

He said it took a community to get him to where he is today and is committed to giving a return on others’ investments in him.

“I got a lot of help and support from my friend’s families so I pay a lot of respect to them for actually getting me to this spot,” Spencer said.

Among those friends is a man who has seen Spencer’s development from the beginning, high school and college teammate, Justin Bergeron.

“He just always had that mentality whether it was pickup basketball in the driveway, football, golf, video games, it was like he was going to win,” Bergeron said. “That’s something that’s always been in him and that’s cool to see.”

It’s never been a question for Bergeron that Spencer is made for sports, but what has increased dramatically over the years is the maturation of Andrew Spencer.

“Along with his maturity changing, the seriousness of his engagement with understanding the purpose of working out and the importance of doing the little things right,” Bergeron said.

Spencer earned second-team All NSIC honors his junior year and Bergeron said this lit a fire under him.

“That’s something that just hit him like, ‘I’m way better than that, something needs to change’,” Bergeron said.

Winona State head football coach Tom Sawyer said he recalls recruiting an immature high school kid with infinite potential.

“I think he’s one of the biggest success stories that we’ve had,” Sawyer said. “I don’t think very many people gave him a chance to get a college degree and play at this level because he didn’t understand the importance of a college degree at that point.”

Sawyer said Spencer came to Winona State as a kid with tons of energy, but developing into a man with direction has been a process.

“We saw the transformation take place. We saw him start to grow as a student and as an athlete,” Sawyer said. “He all of a sudden realized people were looking at him for answers instead of just playing. That’s when he started to become a complete athlete.”

Sawyer explained once Spencer started to focus on the technique of the game, the whole thing opened up for him.

“One is the academic piece – he understood that education is important, then he started understanding technique and doing things right is important, now the culmination of that is one of our most decorated student-athletes we’ve ever had here.”

Heading into the combine in the next few weeks, Winona State defensive backs coach Brian Curtin explained the importance of testing well and stressed the importance of Spencer believing in himself.

“He needs to understand that he can play at that level and have that confidence to go out there and not get caught up in ‘this guy played here that guy played there.’ Just get out there and play ball,” Curtin said.

Spencer said he is confident in his abilities. He admitted to being concerned about his 40-yard dash.

NFL scouts don’t really give D2 guys the benefit of the doubt, so it’s imperative Spencer uses these upcoming weeks wisely.

“We were just there to help him with the football part, now he has people to help him with the combine,” Curtin said. “It’s like in school when they teach for the test, that’s what he’ll be doing for the next couple months is preparing for that test.”

Gerilynn Wood: Spencer returning an interception against Sioux Falls.