Young Team Getting Better Each Day

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The first full month of the 2014-15 golf season has already elapsed. Having lost two seniors who made a tremendous impact on our victorious Big Ten Championship team last year, I knew the fall could produce inconsistent results. Rolling into our fifth  event of the fall, my premonitions were accurate as we have endured a few "bumps in the road" already. Having said this, my new assistant, Justin Smith, and I have enjoyed these 10 guys as much as any team in my coaching career at the U.

I wake up every morning wanting to get to practice knowing our group is so eager to get better. The strides freshmen Charlie Duensing and Riley Johnson have made in 45 days on campus is mind blowing. These young guys listen, concentrate, ask great questions and implement the on-course strategies our coaching staff directs. The trick is to ask each of our eight freshmen and sophomores to be patient, as it is a process. Drills are being completed after our designated practice time, players want to stay late in preparation for qualifying and tournament play, conversations surrounding golf swing are at a high level and the camaraderie within our team is the culture I envisioned starting five years ago. Finally, our traveling squad has been interchangeable thus far and although it creates a few more unpredictable variables, we loved every minute of our trips to Chicago, Cal and Albuquerque.

The Windon Memorial in Chicago was played at Evanston GC, which is one of the original Donald Ross designs. Coach Smith finally got to see firsthand our young phenom, Jose Mendez, in action after hearing from me just how talented he is. Jose held the lead wire-to-wire only to lose on the final three holes after a blazing round of 63 (-7) by Colton Staggs of Tulsa University. This was another example of the consistent play Jose has brought since stepping foot in Minnesota. Everyone asks me, "How good is Jose?" This is a fair question knowing the golf knowledge of our fan base in Minnesota and the number of All-Americans Gopher Golf has produced throughout the years. I tell each and every person, he has NO weaknesses in his game. He doesn't have bad days scoring on the course because he is one of the finest putters in the country. When reading putts for Jose as a coaching staff, the pressure is on us. He doesn't miss the chosen line. Jose drives it very straight, can work the ball either direction at will with any club in his bag and has a champion's mentality.

What is a champion's mentality in golf? Many of us had the good fortune of watching Tiger Woods in his prime birdie the last hole seemingly every round. Jose has birdied his last hole in 43 percent of his rounds as a Gopher! His playing competitors admire his game and personality, coaches speak highly of his character, he is a joy to coach and everyone who has been fortunate enough to get to know him within Gopher Athletics raves about his smile, humor and ambition. Next year's Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm GC September 13-14 will be the next time you can watch him compete in person in Minnesota but in the meantime, check out our calendar on Gophersports.com to see if you might be close to us during the year. It is well worth your time as a fan of golf!

Go Gophers! Jose Mendez
Go Gophers!
Jose Mendez has a champion's mentality.
Go Gophers!
Coming off a disappointing 13th-place team finish in Chicago, we turned around three days later heading to the home course of the Lobos at the University of New Mexico. Thick rough, 7,700 yards and windy conditions were ordered up by the Golf Gods during tournament week. We amassed 20-plus double and triple bogies during the three rounds of the tournament, which proved to be our undoing. Driving the golf ball consistently has continued to be our issue throughout the fall with most of the players. Driving the ball well again and leading our team for the ninth consecutive tournament dating back to 2013 was our sophomore All-American, Mendez. His 16th-place finish led our team followed by Jon DuToit, Runar Arnorsson, Daniel Luftspring and Tyler Lowenstein.

Most of our lineup decisions have been influenced by team qualifiers. Qualifying...recruits ask how we do it, parents wonder whether their son make the next trip and our coaching staff gets the opportunity to evaluate each player's "State of the Game" multiple weeks each year in pressure-packed situations that will determine who is afforded the opportunity to travel to destinations like Sonoma, Calif.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Phoenix, Ariz., and Naples, Fla., just to name a few. I always attempt to stage our qualifying on golf courses similar to the upcoming tournament venue. Qualifying for the Alister MacKenzie was set at Southview CC, home of the Tapemark Charity Pro Am, and Edina CC. With Jose Mendez and Jon DuToit exempt based on picks that I reserve, Runar Arnorsson was able to take home the win at the qualifier, followed by freshman Riley Johnson and sophomore Matt Rachey. All qualifying scores can be found on our men's golf home page on GopherSports.com.

Jose Mendez, Jon DuToit, Runar Arnorsson (freshman from Iceland), Riley Johnson (making his first collegiate start as a member of the Gophers) and Matt Rachey competed for the team in the Alister Mackenzie Invitational at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif. Going a day early, our coaching staff treated the team members to a round of golf at the historic Sonoma GC, which sits amongst the vineyards in the Napa Wine Region. Whether it's Los Angeles CC, Sonoma GC or Calusa Pines GC, our players know wearing the Maroon and Gold is a privilege and will be one of the best rides of their lives. Check Gophersports.com for the results from the California event!

Whether you're playing golf in Minnesota still or have left to play golf in the Southern half of the United States already, always remember...Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!

John Carlson

Schleper Skates with Tampa Bay Lightning

In case you missed it, Gophers alumna and 2014 Olympic silver medalist Anne Schleper recently skated with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the team's morning skate as part of the 2014 IIHF World Girls Hockey Weekend.

Read more:
USA Hockey: Schleper Skates with Lightning (NHL) 
Yahoo Sports: U.S. Olympian Anne Schleper joins Tampa Bay Lightning for morning skate 
NBC Olympic Talk: Anne Schleper skates with Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning: Olympic Silver Medalist Anne Schleper Participates in Bolts Morning Skate 
Fox Sports: Olympian Anne Schleper enjoys morning skate with Lightning
Team USA: Hilary Knight, Anne Schleper Skate With NHL

Royal Oaks Qualifying

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The Gophers finished their qualifying tournament Wednesday for the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate (Oct. 27-28). Six Gophers will play in Dallas, with five scores counting toward the team score each round. Jose Mendez, Matt Rachey, Riley Johnson, Runar Arnorsson, Daniel Luftspring and Grady Meyer will travel.

Qualifying Scores
Round 1 - Oct. 19 - Wayzata CC - Par 72 - 7,106 Yards
Round 2 - Oct. 21 - Interlachen CC - Par 72 - 6,981 Yards
Round 3 - Oct. 22 - Southview CC - Par 71 - 6,512 Yards
Runar Arnorsson 82-72-73--227
Charlie Duensing 79-78-72--229
Daniel Luftspring 73-82-76--231
Grady Meyer 80-74-81--235
William Leaf 76-79-81--237
Tyler Lowenstein 81-85-72--238

Exempt from qualifying but played Interlachen on Tuesday:
Jose Mendez 70
Matt Rachey 74

Gophers Set for B1G Media Day

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Head coach Marlene Stollings, seniors Rachel Banham and Shae Kelley and sophomore Amanda Zahui B. will represent the University of Minnesota women's basketball team at Big Ten Basketball Media Day Thursday in Chicago, Ill. The event, which takes place at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, will have the quartet talking with local, regional and national media outlets, including BTN and ESPN.

Each of the 14 Big Ten women's basketball coaches will participate in a press conference Thursday morning, with Coach Marlene's presser set to stream live on BTN2Go beginning at 8:56 a.m. CT.

Along with her press conference, Coach Marlene, along with Banham, Kelley and Zahui B., will do interviews with BTN, participate in a photo shoot and sit down for one-on-one roundtable interviews with regional and local media.

Fans can get take part in media day by submitting their questions for Banham, Kelley and Zahui B. on Facebook and Twitter. The players will be answering fan questions via Vine beginning around 11 a.m.

NHL: Big Night for Gophers Alums

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MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Tuesday night's NHL action was a great night for Gopher Hockey as Minnesota alums contributed a total of seven points including this overtime game winner by Phil Kessel. 


Kessel also picked up an assist earlier in the contest. 

Elsewhere, the Islanders remained unbeaten with two goals and three points from Gopher Hockey alums Kyle Okposo (one goal, one assist) and Nick Leddy (one goal -- his first with the Islanders). Okposo's goal marked his 100th in the NHL. 


Also worth pointing out, Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski assisted on the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over Todd Richards' Columbus Blue Jackets and logged a game-high 25:11 of ice time. Erik Johnson also picked up an assist and led all skaters with 26:27 of ice time as the Avalanche fell in overtime to Toronto. 

BLOG: First Week of Practice

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Go Gophers! Shae KelleyGo Gophers!
The 2014-15 season officially got underway for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team last week when it opened preseason camp. It also marked the first week of practice for senior Shae Kelley as a Golden Gopher and her last as a student-athlete. Kelley shared her experience in a guest blog for Gophersports.com:

Go Gophers! Shae Kelley
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
The first week of practice at the U has been an exciting one, not just for me, but for the team as well. Having a new coaching staff, we were anxious to see how practice would flow. Not to our surprise, the coaches had prepared us for what practice would be like over the summer. But, instead of practice being one hour, it now is 2.5 to 3 hours of intense, but fun, work. We do a lot of full court drills, because the pace we want to play is fast. Much of our practice consists of playing against the scout team, whether it is half court or a full court scrimmage, we always are playing to win. It is very competitive and we appreciate that, because it is only making us better.

We also have plenty of fun as a team. It can't always be all work and no play. Our video shoots are always goofy and fun to be at, and our personalities really come out during these times. Being a fifth-year senior, this is my last go-round and I want to cherish it as much as I can. My focus on the court is more intense than it's ever been and I know that we have the pieces of the puzzle to make a great run this year. I am excited to play my final year of college with this group of ladies and staff.

I can't wait to see all of our fans at Williams Arena this season.

Shae Kelley
  

MAGIC Blog: Gophers Update (10/13/14)

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NHL: Wheeler Scores Two in 15 Seconds

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ICYMI last night, Blake Wheeler didn't waste much time before picking up his first goal of the season in last night's 6-2 win over Arizona in Jets' opener. But frankly he wasted even less time before picking up his second of the year. 

The forward scored a pair of goals 15 seconds apart on Friday night including the eventual game winner for Winnipeg. Actually, Wheeler closed out a gap of four goals in less than two minutes between the two teams midway through the first period, but we've got highlights from both of his goals for you -- he added an assist later in the game for good measure. 

NHL: 14 Gophers Earn NHL Roster Spots

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Nick Bjugstad
Go Gophers!

MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Gopher Hockey will list a total of 14 alums on National Hockey League opening rosters as the NHL regular season begins tonight with four games. 

The Maroon & Gold are represented on 10 different NHL teams including the Minnesota Wild, which leads all league teams with four Gophers on roster. 

Gopher Hockey in the NHL
Erik Johnson - Colorado Avalanche
Alex Goligoski - Dallas Stars
Nick Bjugstad - Florida Panthers
Keith Ballard - Minnesota Wild
Stu Bickel - Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula - Minnesota Wild
Thomas Vanek - Minnesota Wild
Nick Leddy - New York Islanders
Kyle Okposo - New York Islanders
Paul Martin - Pittsburgh Penguins
Jordan Leopold - St. Louis Blues
Phil Kessel - Toronto Maple Leafs
Nate Schmidt - Washington Capitals
Blake Wheeler - Winnipeg Jets

Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs kick off the season tonight at 7 p.m. ET against Montreal.

MAGIC Blog: Gophers Update (10/6/14)

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