Category Archives: sports

Future Bright For Warriors After Shortened Season

The Winona State University women’s basketball team finished their 2020-21 campaign this weekend after a sweep of the Upper Iowa University Peacocks, a feat which head coach Scott Ballard described as difficult to accomplish during the shortened season.

“We had four separate quarantines during our season and it’s really hard to gain any momentum when you have interruptions all the time,” Ballard said, “practice is important to gain confidence in what you’re doing, when it gets taken away periodically, the confidence isn’t there.”

Ballard said winning both games of a weekend series against the same team is challenging because of the lack of opportunity to adjust due to the infrequency of practices.  “You can talk but there’s no repetitions,” Ballard said. He added there is also the extra layer of motivation for the team that loses the first game.

Despite the lack of a tournament seed due to the field being cut in half from years prior, the Warriors will have much to look forward to next season.

An extra year of eligibility for their four senior starters, each of whom have continued to develop in Ballard’s program, will provide the Warriors with a combination of experienced talent to match the youth of four incoming high school recruits.

Perhaps the most decorated member of the team, three-time NSIC second team All-Conference selection and former WSU and NSIC Freshman Female Athlete of the Year Allie Pickrain, has dealt with a knee injury the entire season resulting in her playing time decrease.  The injury will require surgery.  The sharp-shooting wing does not expect to miss any time next season.

Video: Allie Pickrain drains a wide-open three against Upper Iowa University.

While Pickrain has seen her minutes decrease, she has stayed a threat through efficiency, shooting 51.9 percent from beyond the arc.  Pickrain also achieved a career goal in reaching 1,000 points.

The team gathers to celebrate Allie Pickrain’s 1000 point. Photo: WSU Athletics

“At first I felt like I was doing something wrong,” Pickrain said, “but in reality, it’s because this season really, although it sucks to say, it didn’t mean that much because we’re coming back next year.”

The Warriors did not view this season as a waste of time.  They implemented a new defensive scheme, switching defensive matchups, a break from their traditional man-to-man defense which relied on fighting around screens to stay with their assignment.

The style of defense requires players to be versatile in defending across all five positions and has seen its popularity increase since the recent Golden State Warriors championship seasons.

On offense, the Warriors had to find a way to combat the triple teams sent against leading scorer and former NSIC first team All-Conference selection Taylor Hustad.

The Warriors also faced the backed-off approach teams took toward senior point guard Emily Kieck, who was coming off a season that saw her three-point shooting percentage fall almost 15 points from 32.2 percent to 17.8 percent.

Center Emma Fee, who has seen her role increase each year on the squad, made the most of this season benefitting from the new system and increased opportunities.

“Emma had to wait her turn and pay her dues behind some all-conference players,” Ballard said, “had to be patient and keep working hard, and she didn’t get bitter she got better and now she’s an all-conference caliber player.”

Fee has transitioned from a five minute-per-game player to starter averaging 10.8 points per game with a 30-point outing against Sioux Falls on January 17.

Video: Emma Fee sinks a shot to beat the buzzer and secure the win against Concordia St. Paul.

“Emma’s scary to go against, she’s a big body, she’s in your face, there’s not a whole lot you can do.” Pickrain said.

Next season the Warriors will look to get to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign, and the team hopes there will be fans in the stands to take the journey with them.

Basketball struggles to get on track due to COVID-19

This basketball season has been unlike any before it. After March cancellations due to COVID-19, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference announced a modified schedule in November. In this season, Winona State University basketball teams are struggling to compete, facing frequent COVID cancellations.

The Warriors prepare for a rebound from a Duluth free throw. Matt Drewry

The Winona State University women’s team has played four of eight scheduled contests, falling to 0-4 after a 81-79 loss against Augustana University Saturday 26th, before cancellation of Sunday’s game due to COVID. Winona State men’s basketball beat Augustana Saturday 87-82 and lost a rematch Sunday 63-73 to a 3-2 record, playing five of eight games so far.

Both Winona State basketball teams faced University of Minnesota-Duluth Jan. 2 before a positive COVID test within the Winona program ended the series. The Warriors resumed last season’s schedule against the Duluth Bulldogs, with the men’s matchup in Duluth’s Romano Gymnasium and the women facing off in Winona State’s McCown Gymnasium.

The Bulldogs handily beat both Warriors teams. Men’s basketball lost 59-81, while the women’s team fell 47-68. 

Center Ava Sergio shoots against the Duluth defense.
Matt Drewry

Winona State women’s basketball coach Scott Ballard said the team faced an old opponent with a new playstyle. 

“We’re basically running a new offense and a new defense from last year and It just takes time and reps to become consistent, Ballard said. “When you play a team the quality of Duluth, they will expose your inefficiencies or inconsistencies.

After the initial matchup, a positive test in the Winona sidelined both teams before their rematch, for the following two weeks, this meant cancelling contests against Southwest Minnesota State University and the men’s game against the University of Sioux Falls. 

Precautions for this season included back to back games against a single opponent per week and mandatory cancellations and quarantines, following NCAA Sports Science Institute guidelines for COVID safety. The Warriors compete in McCown Gymnasium with only players and media present. 

Second-year point guard Bill Flowers described the new environment COVID brings to the court.

“Being in silence, it’s very weird.” Flowers said. “It’s like actually playing a five on five in, like, an empty gym.”

The Warriors’ Women’s bench watches the game  against   Duluth. Matt Drewry

Athletes also face stringent COVID restrictions off the court.

Ballard said those restrictions include COVID testing three times a week in addition to testing on game day. 

Flowers said the whole team faces restrictions beyond cancellation of games.

“If you did not test positive, we are allowed to have the coaches setup an individual workout,” Flowers said. “But each player has to be at their own separate basket, like at least 20 feet away,” 

Ballard said quarantining challenges the whole team in unique ways.

“Our goal is to get better every week.” Ballard said. “Well, how difficult is it to get better every week when you have to stop and pause for two weeks and then restart again? You have to backtrack and review and relearn some things.” 

The Winona State Warriors women’s basketball team huddles during a team timeout. Matthew Drewry

Ballard described the frustration players face against the invisible opponent of COVID, including the toll on their mental health. 

“The mental health and mindset of our players going through this is my biggest concern because even those who have had a positive test at sometime in the last six weeks, none of them had symptoms,” Ballard said. “Everybody feels great. They feel normal. They just have a test that says positive on it. It’s really difficult for athletes and competitors to handle.”

Flowers said the experience has brought the team together.

  “It changed my opinion on how close a group of teammates and a group of players should be,” Flowers said. 

Flowers also said this has changed his perspective on the season.

“We’re not guaranteed to have a season. We’re not guaranteed to even play basketball or make it to the championship or anything,” Flowers said. “But one thing is guaranteed: we’ll have one another’s backs and be together and just make the most [of this] opportunity.”

Side Hustle- Sports Podcasting

Having the same conversation over and over can be tiresome, especially when you’re talking in circles.

One of the most common debates in sports is, “Moss is better than Rice,” or vice versa, and it usually gets nowhere.

That’s why in 2014, Garret Greenlee created a Twitter and YouTube channel where he could prove his sports-related thoughts through facts.

“I got sick of having the same conversation with people like, ‘man this guy’s good, or this guy’s good,’” Greenlee said.  “I just created an account and thought whatever happens, happens.”

The accounts grew rapidly.

After four years, Greenlee’s Best NFL Matchups had more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

Only problem was, he had no idea what email he used when he made the account.

“I was following people way too fast, so Twitter thought I was a spam account,” Greenlee said.  “They sent an email to the account I had with it, but I had no idea what that email was, and I lost the account forever.”

Greenlee had to start all over.

Lucky for him, he had a couple friends with similar accounts, and they gave him a shout out to help build his new channel, Football Analysis.

“I only have 1,500 subscribers on YouTube right now.  Not ‘only,’ like I’m grateful for them, but I want to get to the point where I’m at 30, 40, 50, 100 thousand subscribers and do a giveaway once a month of a signed whatever,” Greenlee said.  “I do appreciate the support, but I want to get to a point where I can use this as a side income just for talking about what I love, which is football.”

Greenlee’s set up.

How does Greenlee make money with these videos?

“You have to have 1,000 subscribers,” Greenlee said.  “But within the past year, you also have to have four thousand watch hours of your content. So that took a little bit to build up.”

Four thousand hours may seem like a lot, but with browse features, you can reach more people than just your subscribers, which happened to Greenlee a few times.

“I have a couple with 30 thousand, 20 thousand views and that really gets a lot of the hours at almost the snap of your fingers,” Greenlee said.  “So, in reality you could have one video that has 60 or 100 thousand views, and you get your four thousand hours, then the rest of your videos combined could have only 500 views.”

Since the interview, Greenlee has reached the 2,000-subscriber mark with his new account.

The content is starting to pay off.

He explains this in the video.

Andy Carlson, a Winona State graduate and creator of the Purple FTW! podcast, said a Vikings vs Ravens blizzard game in 2013 sparked his interest in talking sports.

Carlson looks at all the players on the Vikings roster and analyzes the national media coverage of the Vikings, while adding his own twist of humor for his 23,000 subscribers.

“There will always be a market for fan content,” Carlson said.  “People want niched down perspective over national media jabronis.”

Here is a clip from a recent video.

With this being his side job, Carlson said he always finds the motivation to release numerous videos a day.

“The viewers who continue to make us part of their day (motivates me),” Carlson said.  “If we can be a nice little five minute break from life and give some info and some entertainment. Worth it.”

Carlson offers monthly memberships for $4.99 and $24.99 on his YouTube channel that offers extra benefits such as one-on-one chats and free merchandise.

Teespring has teamed up with Carlson and Purple FTW! to sell this merchandise that includes t-shirts, mugs and stickers.

Purple FTW! merchandise for sale on Teespring.

“It’s a very decent side hustle,” Carlson said.  “Merch is fun, and everything helps keep the production lights on.”

With the quarantine giving people more free time than ever, podcasts and YouTube may be a good pass time to listen to, or maybe even try.

Football Analysis Link

Purple FTW! Link

Finding A Voice

I wake up, It’s Thursday.

The Winona State University women’s basketball team leaves today at 3:30 p.m. for games in Marshall, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I, being the radio guy, cannot miss the bus as the men’s team does not arrive before the start of the women’s game.

Time to pack my bag and prepare for the fourth weekend on the road this season.

I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never really got on talking terms with any of the players.

They all do their thing while I sit there quietly and mind my business.

I’ve covered the WSU basketball teams for three years while working at the campus radio station, 89.5 KQAL, so you’d think I’d have a better relationship than this.

It’s just not the case.

I get to the bus stop, say hello to Coach Scott Ballard, and take my seat.

I’ve debated sparking conversation, but I don’t feel like the team is interested in my small talk, plus I feel like they discuss basketball enough as it is already.

Hours later, we arrived in Marshall.

They eat their team meal together at Texas Roadhouse or Pizza Ranch, I usually eat off to the side, then we head to the hotel for the night.

I’ve said two words since the start of the trip.

Team meal at Pizza Ranch in Marshall, Minnesota.

Being secluded and keeping to myself isn’t what I’d like to be doing, it just happens.

The nerves of saying something stupid or sitting where someone else wants to sit triggers my anxiety.

My boss and longtime radio professional Doug Westerman explained that it’s not unusual for radio personal to be introverts off the air.

“They just want that high energy ‘Hey everyone! Blah blah blah we got a great day in store for you!’ then all of sudden you’re walking down the hallway and they give you a nervous ‘hi.’”

How could someone be an introvert and be on the radio where you talk for hours?

Pat Broe, former KQAL Program Director and Sports Director, described the flipping of the switch from off-air to on-air as being trapped in a corner with no way out.

“There’s something about when that red light comes on that you have to start, you can’t do anything but be that person,” Broe said. “You’re trapped in a corner, you are live on air, there’s thousands of people listening to you, and you have to figure out a way to entertain them.”

Sounds pretty intense, but I found that to be accurate.

Waiting in the hotel lobby until the team leaves for their shoot around.

In the morning I checked out of my room at 11 a.m.

I sit in the hotel lobby until we leave for the game at 3 p.m.

5 o’clock rolled around and I plugged in the comrex, got my mics into position, and waited for my producer Ryan “Baby Shaq” Mandli to send the call my way.

“That’s going to do it for the Warrior Tip-Off Show as Buck Wallert is waiting in the R/A Facility in Marshall Minnesota, take it away Buck,” Baby Shaq said.

And I picked it right up with, “Welcome to the R/A Facility over here in Marshall Minnesota as we have a good match up in store for you tonight as your Winona State Warriors take on….”

Like that flip of a switch, I was in a zone.

Calling the Tip-Off Show before the women’s game in Marshall.

From saying two words in almost an entire day, to rattling off names, stats, and match up history, you would think I knew these players their whole lives.

Anything to paint the best picture possible for the listeners back home, as according to Doug Westerman, “radio is the theatre of the mind.”

Not talking at all, to saying thousands of words, then right back to not talking after the game bothered me.

It just didn’t make sense.

Mike Martin the original KQAL radio jock and now the guy who keeps the radio station going, met with me the next day and explained how radio gives you confidence.

“It makes you think on your feet, spontaneously, and being kind of a shy kid, you’re doing it in a room by yourself, so that kind of helps too,” Martin said. “You’re talking to people, but they aren’t right in front of you. You’re by yourself, but you’re not talking to yourself, there’s maybe hundreds of people.”

Thinking of the amount of people listening to me makes me even more nervous, do I sound okay? What if I say something I shouldn’t or panic?

And panic is just what I did the first time on air.

Pat Broe reflected on the first time we were thrown into the spotlight.

“It’s a day you and I will never forget.  I was producing and co-hosting, you were hosting, and neither of us knew what the heck we were doing.  TJ Leverentz and Tyler Jeffries kind of just gave us the keys and let us go and let us fail, and we did,” Broe said.  “I think we went to commercial 25 or more times; we didn’t turn our mics off one time, and there might have been a word that the FCC doesn’t like that got on the air.  Basically, anything that could have gone wrong went wrong.”

That was just over three years ago.

Now when I go on air, I have fun with it, take it and run.

Notes or no notes I was going to think of something.

“It’s so funny too, I thought I was prepared for that day, I thought I had enough information to put a show together, but I was not even remotely close,” Broe said.  “Now putting together a pregame show is easy.”

But it’s not always as easy as he says, when you’re having a bad day, you still have to be happy go lucky on air.

Martin explained this well when talking about his experience as a disc jockey.

“I had been just having a horrible bad day or something, and I was just grumpy…. Then I flip the mic on and immediately I’m cheering and I gotta play the role, I gotta play the radio guy,” Martin said. “Flipped the mic off again and went back into grumpy mode. This other guy in the control room with me said ‘how did you do that, how did you just change personality like that.’ And I’m just like ‘hey, that’s what they pay me to do.’”

I receive $20 for each game I call, as well as the free hotel rooms and couple of meals.

But, the radio has given me a voice, so I’d say I’m living the dream.

Super Bowl provides busiest time of year for Wincraft

For many in Winona, the Super Bowl may not mean as much as it did a few weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings still had a chance at winning the championship. For one Winona company, the Super Bowl proves to be the busiest time of the year.

Headquartered on 960 E Mark St. (pictured), Wincraft, a sports merchandising company that has license rights for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the NCAA; the Super Bowl is one of their biggest events of the year.

According to Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath, the company has been making 60 different products for each team in the big game such as decals, pennants, and a variety the sports memorabilia. The company also produces the signature Gatorade towels that are handed to the players at the conclusion of the big game.

Horvath confirmed the Super Bowl is the biggest money-making event for the company throughout the year.

“Playoffs are a great and a hot market for any sport,” Horvath said. “So, the Super Bowl is one of our best-performing events, and usually production picks up significantly from the second week of January through the balance of February.”

Horvath also noted this year’s game is especially marketable given the competitors in the game, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that have not been in the Super Bowl in more than five years.

“Market-specific, demand changes a lot,” Horvath said. “Last year with the Rams and the Patriots was good, not great. This year with the 49ers and the Chiefs, it is going to set records. The fan support is all new. Fans that really want to capture the first time for them in their lifetime or, something that has not happened for a long time.”

Horvath also noted the teams’ lack of success compared to a dynasty like the New England Patriots, who have appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls, means that their fans are more likely to purchase products that a typical Patriots fan.

“If you think about it, the Patriots were dominant for a long time in the league, so often the market actually said ‘you know, AFC Champs, we don’t need as much AFC Champ product, we are just going to focus on the Super Bowl Champ,’” Horvath said. “While with these two markets, the Chiefs and the 49ers, AFC/NFC Champ product is in high demand. So, they want to prepare for this Super Bowl and then compound that with the Super Bowl.”

A team like the 49ers also creates the need for a new product that would not be made if any other team had been in their position, such as special edition seven-time NFC Championship apparel.

Despite this being the biggest event for the company, Horvath has said they have not had to rely on overtime for employees. Instead, shifting their focus ahead of time before the event.

AUDIO: Does Wincraft make Super Bowl Champion merchandise for teams before the big game? Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath address the longtime rumor.

Horvath dispelled the rumor that Wincraft makes a certain amount of Super Bowl Champion apparel ahead of time, saying the company waits until a champion is determined to “hit the presses.”

While the NFL’s biggest game proves to be the biggest event for Wincraft, the company is still constantly busy throughout the entire year.

“It is a really dynamic business because we hold so many licenses. Every month something is going on,” Horvath said. “You have the Super Bowl in February, you have March Madness, you have NBA/NHL playoffs when May and June hit, then in July and August you hit training camp and back to school.”

Horvath also noted how it is important for Wincraft to keep a local presence in Winona throughout the year, despite their sales being nationwide, citing their relationship with Winona State University.

“WSU is one of the great partners of Wincraft, we love to volunteer and talk to students, prepare them for the real world, tell them how a pro-sports license company works, and what to expect post-graduation,” Horvath said. “We have speaking events at WSU and St. Mary’s. We volunteer on boards around town and we try to help as much as we can with young professionals and help them understand what Winona has to offer.”

Some of the products Wincraft makes on display at the Winona Walmart. Products like these will be made for the Kansas City Chiefs to commemorate their Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Jacob Bleess and the Need for Speed

By Zach Bailey

As he left class on a cool, Friday afternoon last fall, Jacob Bleess knew the big day was finally upon him. He dropped his backpack off at home, grabbed his gear and began getting in the zone for later that evening.

He walked past the grandstands, ready for what that night might bring him. After putting on his gear, he took a couple slow breaths, then slid his helmet on. He took one last look at the packed grandstands.

Then he ignited the engine to his racecar.

Bleess, a senior business administration major from Chatfield, Minnesota, is one of hundreds of Winona State students who would consider themselves “nontraditional student-athletes.”

A nontraditional student-athlete is a student who participates in a sport that is not university sponsored, or is not a varsity level sport, such as club sports like rugby and hockey, or, in Bleess’ case, stock car racing.

Bleess was initially introduced to the fast-paced world of racing at the age of 10, when his father first got him into go-kart racing. After two years behind the wheel of a go-kart, Bleess began feeling the urge for more power, the need for speed.

Bleess moved out of the go-kart industry and hopped behind the wheel of a full-sized “B-Modified” stock car, four years before he would be legally allowed to climb behind the wheel of a full-sized car on the road. He continued to race his B-Mod for the next four years, then moved his way up to the top stock car class in the “A-Modified” division, where he has remained since.

Stock car racing, otherwise known as dirt track racing, is similar to NASCAR racing in which a pack of cars race counterclockwise around a track. The main difference between the two is swapping out the traditional asphalt of NASCAR to a mixture of dirt and clay, as well as the various body styles and build of the cars.

Bleess can be seen weekly throughout the April-October season at local tracks such as Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin, and Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota.

A majority of his races are in the area, but it is not uncommon for Bleess to go farther south for the racing series, traveling to places such as Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, among others.

Even though a majority of the racing season takes place over the summer, the first and last couple of months do take place during the school year, which can make things difficult for Bleess.

“We go down south during the summer, but while in school we stay close to home so I can do my homework and go to class,” Bleess said. “All that fun stuff.”

Along with a few months of actual racing, the off-season can also be a busy time for Bleess, as he uses this time to swap parts on his car and make sure everything is ready to go come spring.

Though his racing schedule is more open than that of a traditional student-athlete, Bleess said there are conflicting schedules at certain times of the year.

“There are conflicts with school and racing, but school does come first,” Bleess said. “If it’s a big event, though, I go racing first, then do school work as needed.”

As a nontraditional student-athlete, there are many perks that Bleess and other athletes do not receive because their sport is not university sponsored.

Justin Loehr, the associate athletic director of the Student-Athlete Success Center, said that the main disadvantage to being a nontraditional student-athlete would be the resources the students do not have available to them.

Along with various sports scholarships, there are also other resources that nontraditional student-athletes could be missing out on, such as the Student-Athlete Success Center.

“[The Student-Athlete Success Center] helps student athletes in many ways,” Loehr said. “They hold weekly academic meetings with first-semester athletes, and athletes under the required GPA, as well as make referrals to tutoring services, access services and help with both career and major exploration.”

Along with the missing resources available, both agreed that there are other struggles to being a nontraditional student-athlete, such as professors’ reactions to missing class.

“It depends on the individual professor and how student communicates with them but being a part of a university-sponsored event helps (when missing class for a sport).”

Bleess had similar things to say about different professors’ willingness to mark him excused for missing class.

“I try not to skip class; school comes first,” Bleess said. “Some professors don’t mind (skipping class for racing), but some do.”

In the end, however, it is not all challenges.

“I don’t have weekly meetings to go to like a football player would. I mostly get to pick my own times to race and work on the car,” Bleess said. “I can do schoolwork whenever I want, and put in the amount of hours I want to put in. I can pick and choose which races to go to, and when to take a break from school to work on the car.”



Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.

2019 Warriors Season Preview

Coach Sawyer previews the 2019 Winona State Warriors Football Season.

The Winona State University Warriors football team started spring practice in preparation for their upcoming 2019 season.

The Warriors, who missed the playoffs in 2018, finished 8-3 and are returning 17 starters from last year’s team.

The 2019 team will have 15 practices including the spring game on April 27. The Warriors, who lost 14 starters to injury during the 2018 season, are looking to put an injury-plagued season behind them.

Senior linebacker Nick Pridgeon, who suffered a knee injury in the second game of the 2018 season, said his goal for 2019 is to stay healthy.

“Really just comeback strong,” Pridgeon said. “Just really finish out the season.”

Pridgeon said he should be cleared from his ACL injury by mid-summer.

Tom Sawyer, WSU’s head football coach, said the future is bright this year.

“The silver lining is a lot of other kids got experience,” Sawyer said. “We got all of those kids that were injured they’re all back, plus the experience our other kids got.”

For three years, the Warriors have been in a trend of getting speed up front. Now, with more scholarship money, they were able to put the money to get higher-profile, larger athletes for the offensive line.

Winona State Warriors offense huddles up after doing practice drills.

“Two years ago, we signed four kids, last year we signed five,” Sawyer said. This year, the Warriors have five additional guys coming, putting them over the 300 pound-average mark.

The Warriors, with their rebuilt offensive line, know they have a job to do, which is to be physical.

Joe Holtzclaw, offensive line coach, said his close-knit unit will be different.

“We want to protect the passer first and foremost,” Holtzclaw said.

When running the ball, Holtzclaw said the offensive line is physical by nature.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive assistant Lee Pronschinske, said he wants his group to continue flying around and cause turnovers.

“We always want to communicate, disrupt the ball and create turnovers,” Pronschinske said. “That’s big when the defense can get the offense the ball back on a short field.”

Pronschinske said he is already seeing the linebackers and defensive backs causing turnovers in practice.

“We haven’t been too handsy because we’re playing against our own teammates, so we don’t want to get too physical, maybe cause an injury,” Pronschinske said.  “We’ve been playing off a little bit that way, but it’s still been nice to see our guys fly around.”

Pridgeon said the defense has to focus on their technique and it all starts with attention to detail and accountability.

“We have a young group but a lot of talent,” Pridgeon said. “A lot of leadership in the young group as well. Really our main focus going into the season is trying to do the best as we can and reach our full potential.”

Sawyer said he wants the preparation and planning to be right, to give them their best chance at a win.

“We just have to make sure we’re planning right, preparing them right and give us the best chance to win,” Sawyer said.

The Warriors start their 2019 season at Maxwell Field Saturday, Sept. 7, against Wayne State College of Wayne, Nebraska.













Fast Family Fun

By Zach Bailey


Nervous energy fills my body as I wake up to the rustling of last minute packing. The worst thing that could happen is that we forget something.

My father, sister and I double- and triple-check everything, then climb in the truck and make our way out of Winona.

After an hour and a half (though it seems like an eternity), we reach the open field in Mazeppa, Minnesota, our destination. We are the first to arrive.

The time is 7:06 a.m. Mist falls upon the dew-filled grass as the sound of crickets fills the air on this early morning in May of 2009.

We unpack and change as more and more people begin to drive in to the lot. Two hours later the day begins.

My time is coming up, and I know what I must do.

I climb on the machine that will lead me to straddle the line between safety and danger, calm and fear, going through life and truly living life.

The 30-second board goes up, signaling the amount of time until the race starts as I bring life to the engine of my 65cc Kawasaki motorcycle.


Every summer thousands of youth take part in different types of motorcycle races throughout the nation. These races include everything from motocross, which involves twists, turns and jumping over obstacles, to flat track, which involves sliding into corners at speeds of 40-120 mph.

Dan Bailey, my father and a lifelong motorsports enthusiast, is a personal supporter of youth in racing.

Bailey was first introduced to motorsports at a young age but was not initially on the motorcycle side of racing.

His father worked as a radio announcer in Dubuque, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, where he began to cover events at the local county fairground dirt tracks. Through meeting people at the racetrack his father became friends with them and launched his career, which led to my father becoming involved in motorsports.

“When I was in second grade I saw a program on TV called ‘Wide World of Sports,’ where they covered a race from Millville, Minnesota, and it immediately made me think motorcycles were cool,” Bailey said. “Getting into stock car racing I became infatuated with motorsports, then in high school I saw a program on TNN called ‘Thursday Night Thunder,’ which was speedway motorcycle racing from Orange County Fairgrounds in Los Angeles. It was a cool combination of oval stock car track, but with motorcycles.”

From there, Bailey decided he one day wanted to make this a family affair.

“Then when we moved houses 13 years ago, I was looking for something we could do for fun together as a family, so I bought you the 70 [cc, child-sized motorcycle], Allie [my sister] the quad [four-wheeler], and me the 125 [cc, young adult-sized motorcycle] so we could do trail riding. Then we started getting involved in motocross racing and it exploded from there… Or, some would say, got out of control from there,” Bailey said with a laugh.


The gate drops on that cool, May morning, and I blast out of the gate.

My heart races as I follow one of my competitors down the start straight and into the first turn. All I can hear is the screaming of the small, 65cc cycles, and the continual pulsing in my eardrums caused by the mix of excitement and pure terror of what could happen.

I follow the other competitor through the twists and turns and the ups and downs of the first three laps, my eyes continually drawn to the bright orange of his rear fender. I follow close behind him at every straightaway and watch as he slowly pulls away through every turn.

A few turns before I reach the white flag (which signifies the last lap of the race), my rear tire slips out from under me. I feel myself begin to go over the handlebars, but I know that that will ruin my chances of finishing well during my first real race. With all my might I hold on and save myself from what could have been.

I regain control and race to the white flag.

One. More. Lap.


“Overall, I believe [youth in racing] is a positive thing,” Bailey said. “It broadens horizons and gives kids the chance to explore something new that is not common or typical. It’s a sport that is a little different and out on the fringe. There aren’t as many families in motorsports as in baseball or football.”

Bailey continued by saying that, along with being a different type of sport to be involved in, there were multiple other reasons as to why he brought his family into the world of motorcycle racing.

“One is it’s just fun. Second, I think it can be a true teacher for the realities of life. If you want to succeed you have to work hard at it. Just because you do it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be good or win,” Bailey said. “You have to learn about what you’re doing, learn about the motorcycle, the rules, and the concept of competition. Also, at a young age, it teaches kids good mind, hand and eye coordination. It’s kind of like playing an instrument. You have to do all these different things at the same time to successfully ride a motorcycle, and then push it to its limits.”

According to Philip Rispoli, founder of Coolskunk, which is a sports promotion organization and racing team, motorcycle racing is not a sport that kids should be thrown into nonchalantly.

“They need the right combination of parental support and the right rider attitude,” Rispoli stated in an interview with the American Motorcycle Association (AMA). “The parents must be committed to supporting the rider, and the rider needs that twinkle in the eye.”

Rispoli continued by stating that attitude is a key attribute to having a child enter the world of racing.

“If you end up with a world champion, great, but that’s not what this is about,” Rispoli stated. “We want to build a winner both on and off the track.”


I race past the white flag and grab a handful of throttle to clear one of the smaller jumps on the track, one of the few I’m not scared to do so.

Beneath me, out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of orange off to the side of the track. By the time my tires hit the ground, the flash is already out of my memory. A passing thought which may as well stay forgotten.

Gaining more confidence with each turn, I slowly begin to race faster and jump farther. Finally, what seems like a lifetime from when the gate first dropped (even though it has been 10 minutes at most), I round the final corner and race through the checkered flag, not letting off the gas until I’m sure I’ve passed the finish line.

I ride back to the truck, climb off my metal steed, and begin to take off the seemingly hundreds of pounds of protective gear that I wear during each race.

Out of the corner of my eye I see my dad running up to me, thumbs raised and a huge grin across his face.

We high-five, hug and talk about how everything went and what I can improve for next time.

A motorcycle rides by in the background.

A flash of orange.

Memories flood back to me as I look over at my dad.

“Hey dad,” I say, simultaneously nervous and confused. “I think I passed the leader on the last lap.”


Though Bailey is a supporter of introducing people to motorcycles at a young age, he does understand that it has both its pros and cons.

“[Motorcycle racing] has similar pros to any other sport or community involvement. It encourages interaction with peers, helps people to socialize and interact with new people, as well as understand they can still be friends with people even though they might lose to them. Also, if someone becomes good at any sport, it teaches them to be gracious winners, not egotistical.” Bailey said. “On the other side, it can potentially be dangerous and it’s pretty expensive, there’s no denying that.”

As Bailey said, the one factor to keep in mind is the potential risk of having a child associated with motorcycle racing.

According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics titled, “Youth motocross racing injuries severe despite required safety gear,” 85.7 percent of patients in a 2016 study were found to have been injured during a motocross competition. The patients, averaging 14 years in age, were all wearing the required safety equipment. Of those injured, just under three-quarters had received bone fractures or dislocations, and just under one-half were given concussions.

Even with the facts, however, Bailey plans on continuing racing as long as he and his family are healthy, able and having fun.


My dad smiles and pats me on the shoulder.

“You did well during that race,” he says, a bit of sadness creeping into his eyes. “But I’m sorry, Zach-Attack, I don’t think you won that race. Don’t worry, though, winning isn’t everything. All that matters is that you had a good time.”

I shrug it off, saying that he’s probably right. It does not matter, though; it was my first race and I had a good time, so I can successfully mark this off as a good day.

We go about the rest of our day at the track, I finish off the rest of my races, then as the sun slowly begins its falling action, marking the day as early afternoon, we begin to pack up and head to the main shed for trophies.

I walk up to the lady at the window, tell her my name and what classes I raced and wait in anticipation. She tells me it will just be a minute, so I take in the scene.

Off to my right, a father yells at one of the counter workers, wondering why his son does not receive a ribbon for participating. The kid elbows his dad, trying to say that it’s fine, he does not even want one, but the father pays no attention to him.

A tap on the shoulder startles me as I’m knocked out of my daze.

The lady at the window places a large, gold trophy in front of me. Scrolled on the front, “First Place.” I look at her, then my dad in confusion.

“You passed the leader on the last lap of this race,” the lady says, looking down at the scorer’s sheet. “This means you won.”



Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.


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.

WSU basketball player stars on and off the court

Winona State Universities, Hannah McGlone, is on track to play in more games for WSU Women’s Basketball, then anyone who has ever played for the team.

When Hannah McGlone steps on to the floor at McCown Gymnasium, Feb. 18 she will tie Natalie Gigler, 2007-11, for most games played, at 119.

McGlone needs to play one game in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament to take the record.

Fortunately for McGlone every team in the NSIC qualifies for the tournament, barring injury she will hold the record when her collegiate basketball career comes to an end this spring.

McGlone said that, playing in 100 games and other career milestone like 900 points, 800 rebounds and 70 steals are all just meaningless stats, if they didn’t help the team win.

McGlone, the lone senior for the Warriors this season, will leave a mark on the Winona State campus not only for her play on the court but also her efforts off-court.

“I’m a hard worker and competitor,” McGlone said. “At the end of the day there is more to life than basketball. Being a good friend, family member and person off the court is what matters most.”

Hannah McGlone leads her team in a 59-51 win over The University of Sioux Falls Cougars

McGlone’s personality when she isn’t playing basketball dates to her humbling roots growing up in what she said is an average family.

Spending her childhood in the middle-class neighborhood of Streamwood, Illinois, McGlone said she never realized her full potential in basketball, until high school where she played on the varsity team for four years.

McGlone’s father always had supported her in everything she did and had high hopes for her future, however he didn’t always expect Hannah to become the basketball player she is today.

“She always had the size, but struggled with catching the ball when she was young.” joked Greg McGlone. “She had what we called blocks for hands.”

Hannah McGlone says that family is everything to her and the reason that she plays basketball.

Both Greg and Peggy McGlone coached their daughters, Hannah and Megan, while they were growing up.

McGlone was the captain of her high school team in Streamwood, Illinois

McGlone claims her parents and uncle are the reason she has become the basketball player she is today.

Everything from coaching to practicing in the driveway, her family was the most important part of her growth as basketball player, said Mcglone.

McGlone said she has no immediate plans for her future but knows basketball will no doubt be a part of it.

“If I get the opportunity to continue my basketball career on the court, it will be hard to pass.” McGlone said. “I know for a fact that I want to coach at some point.”

On track to earn a teaching degree this spring, McGlone wants to eventually work her way into an athletic director or coaching job at the collegiate or professional level.