Tag Archives: sports

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.













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.