The Golden Gophers had nine individuals who competed at the 2015 USA Volleyball Open Tryouts, Feb. 20-22. The Gophers left on Friday to train and hopefully land a spot on one of the USA Collegiate National Teams. Check out their experience through USA Volleyball's photo gallery and social media buzz.
Competition...we prepare our team in the first month of the spring semester through a variety of drills, TrackMan combines, "Tour Van" club fitting at 2nd Swing Golf, technical swing changes and match play situations in practice. But the reality is we can never perfectly simulate the feeling of being on the first tee box in the Big Ten Match Play, one of the country's finest college golf tournaments.
I am writing this on our flight back from Hammock Beach Resort, site of the 2015 Big Ten Match Play. I always leave this event with thoughts of how fortunate we are to represent the state of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota in such a unique college golf event. Spending three days with players we have recruited in high school and competed against in other Big Ten Championship events, along with spending time with coaches that I have the utmost respect for in our business, makes this as memorable an event as any. Four matches in two days--actually 34 hours--is a fast and furious pace, even for our well-conditioned athletes. Match play is also the most exciting form of competitive golf you can play. Matches turn so quickly, emotions seem to run higher than normal and knowing that it is you against one player is the purest form of sport. This event did not disappoint.
Jon DuToit won two matches at the Big Ten Match Play.
Not only did we make our trip to Florida with the youngest team in the conference, you could also make the case that we have the most inexperienced team in Big Ten competitions. Seven Gophers, including four first-timers to the Big Ten Match Play, would contribute to our lineup that saw five players compete each round with the goal of moving on in the championship bracket. Riley Johnson (freshman), Runar Arnorsson (freshman), Charlie Duensing (freshman), William Leaf (sophomore playing his first year for the Gophers), Jose Mendez (sophomore), Jon DuToit (junior) and Tyler Lowenstein (senior captain) would all see playing time this week.
I don't want to get too far ahead though without adding that we may have one of the most talented teams in the conference, regardless of age, school year or experience. Lowenstein had played 66 rounds, DuToit 44 rounds and Jose Mendez hadn't missed any tournaments since arriving on campus in September of 2013. These three players also made up 60 percent of our defending Big Ten Stroke Play Championship team from only nine months previous.
Beating a team, Penn State, which had one of its finest fall seasons in many years, was certainly a great way to start. Jose Mendez finished his match under par and Charlie Duensing recorded a victory in his first start for the Gophers.
In Match No. 2, it was a matchup vs. Iowa, who is led by my former assistant coach, Tyler Stith. William Leaf notched a quick victory in his first start as a Gopher and Jon DuToit provided another dramatic moment in our match play history by making birdie in the dark to earn a halve in his match against the 2014 Illinois State Amateur champion, Raymond Knoll.
In our closest match over the two days, Runar Arnorsson played great in winning his match and our All-American, Jose Mendez, closed his opponent out by amassing three birdies in his final seven holes.
We beat the No. 2 seed, Ohio State University. All five players played solid golf as we again finished in the dark with wins by Jose Mendez, Jon DuToit and William Leaf.
You can watch the entire replay for the first time on the Big Ten Network on March 15 at 1:30 pm CST. If you miss it the first time, it will be re-aired multiple times on BTN.
We already depart tomorrow to compete in the Puerto Rico Classic at the River Course at Rio Mar. We will travel six players with five players competing in the team event and the other player competing in the individual competition at the Ocean Course. The six players making the trip to beautiful Puerto Rico will be: Jose Mendez, Runar Arnorsson, Jon DuToit, William Leaf, Charlie Duensing and Riley Johnson. All rounds of coverage will feature live scoring at BirdieFire.com. The first round of play starts Sunday at 6:00 am CST. Rounds 2 and 3 will be played at the same times on Monday and Tuesday. The Puerto Rico Classic is an elite collegiate event with one of the strongest fields we face all year. Participating teams are: Alabama, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Purdue, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina-Greensboro, Tulsa, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Minnesota.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: 2015 GOPHER INVITATIONAL
Please stay tuned for all the information you will need to volunteer at the 2015 Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club, September 13-14. Volunteer opportunities will include ball spotting, walking live scorers, hole scorers, refreshments duties, parking patrol, pace of play timing and scoring tent/scoreboard operations, just to name a few. In 2014, we had a record 131 volunteers during the two-day event and because of this, college coaches and players are all talking about the Gopher Invitational becoming one of the premier stroke play events offered in NCAA Golf. I will keep you updated on a new website devoted to the Gopher Invitational in future blogs. Don't miss the chance to see 15 of the top teams (Minnesota, Kent State, Pepperdine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, St. John's (Minn.), Charlotte, East Tennessee State, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Michigan, SMU, Baylor, California) in the nation compete at one of Minnesota's finest golf courses.
Minnesota's Maxx Williams - along with David Cobb and Damien Wilson - are at the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis. Williams, who is scheduled to meet with 21 teams at the combine, was the first of the Gophers' trio to meet with the media as he was at the podium on Wednesday.
As the Gophers prepare for their upcoming trip to Japan (March 14-22) the team, coaches and staff are brushing up on their Japanese. This week's edition is freshman outside hitter Alyssa Goehner. Check it out!
The M.A.G.I.C. program (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) and the Unlimited Dance Marathon are continuing its fundraising efforts for the the March 28 event.
This year's event, held March 28 from 12 p.m.-12 a.m., in the Sports Pavilion, will look to make just as big of an impact as it did in 2014. All donations and proceeds go directly towards the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Haven't heard of the Unlimited Dance Marathon? It's a year-long fundraising effort culminating in a 12-hour Dance Marathon. No sleeping, no sitting, just dancing. We also raise emotional, financial support and awareness for children and their families treated at the Masonic Children's Hospital. Not a dancer? Not a problem, attendees can sign up for prizes, play games and listen to music.
As Gopher fans, you can help the cause. Click HERE to make an online donation or visit some of our upcoming events to for monetary donations as our student-athletes will continue the fundraising efforts.
Upcoming Unlimited Fundraising Events (all donations go towards U of M Masonic Children's Hospital) Women's Basketball, Feb. 21 vs. Michigan, 1 p.m. Women's Gym, Feb. 22 hosting Best of Minnesota, 2 p.m. Men's Hockey, Feb. 27, vs Michigan State, 8 p.m. Men's Gymnastics, March 7, vs. Iowa, 7 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - In the midst of a six-game unbeaten
streak and tied for first in the Big Ten for the first time this season, Gopher
Hockey's senior class has come on strong as Minnesota looks to defend its
inaugural Big Ten regular-season title.
Since starting the
six-game unbeaten streak on Jan. 30, no class in college hockey has totaled
more goals than Minnesota's seniors with 16 as the group has scored more than
half of the team's 29 goals during the stretch.
"Our seniors are playing
great hockey right now," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "That's what you
have to have this time of year during the stretch run. Your seniors have to
lead, and they are playing their best hockey right now."
All six seniors
have recorded points over the unbeaten streak with the class totaling 37 points
during the run including the top three scorers on the team in Boyd (4-6--10), Ambroz
(6-3--9)and Rau (5-3--8). Meanwhile, Sam Warning isn't far behind with six
assists over the span while Ben Marshall and Christian Isackson have both
tallied two points each.
The Gopher Hockey
senior class has helped Minnesota to a program-record three-straight
regular-season conference titles and two trips to the NCAA Frozen Four in their
three years with the squad. The quest for a fourth-straight conference crown
continues this weekend at Penn State.
University of Minnesota volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon is not only busy with the Gopher program, but continues to make his mark on the international game as well.
McCutcheon traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, serving his third year of a four-year term on the FIVB Coaching Commission. As a part of their annual meetings, FIVB gathers together 11 groups, which was held the first week of February. (McCutcheon featured in the left back row).
As the secretary of the coaching commission, McCutcheon is the only United States coach represented on 13-person panel. Nominated by USA Volleyball and NORECA, McCutcheon represents USA Volleyball, while other individuals and zones travel yearly from Russia, Brazil, Poland, Japan and France, to name a few. The coaching commission discusses modifications and improvements to the international game.
McCutcheon came to Minnesota after an illustrious 11-year career with USA Volleyball as he earned two medals with the United States Men's and Women's Olympic teams. McCutcheon mentored the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team to a 106-39 record in his four years after leading the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team program to the 2008 Olympic Games gold medal. Counting his 107-33 record leading the U.S. Men's program from 2005 to 2008, McCutcheon held a combined record of 213-72 with USA Volleyball.
Gopher volleyball will report for the spring season in March as they prepare for an invited trip to Japan, March 14-22. The Gophers are set to compete against Japan's University Games roster and train in Japan's National Training Center. The Gopher program is the only United States team in any sport to train at this facility.
The tryouts begin on
Friday, Feb. 20 until 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. The process will be used
primarily to identify prospective athletes for the U.S. Women's National
Volleyball Team. Athletes not invited to participate with the National Team may
be invited to attend a second tryout as part of the U.S. Collegiate National
Teams program (formerly U.S. Women's Senior A2 Teams).
USA Volleyball will have
one U.S. Collegiate National Team of 12 athletes and two coaches travel to the
World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, June 28-July 14,
The second option for
the selected U.S. Collegiate National Team is a 12-team, two-coach group that
will travel to China for a series of training sessions and matches, June 12-26.
The third option is training and participation at the 2015 USA Volleyball
Girls' Junior National Championships (GJNC) held in New Orleans. A projected 36
athletes will be invited to participate in the program with training beginning
on June 21-30, followed by the competition portion June 26-29. U.S. Collegiate
National Teams will compete against each other while serving as inspiration for
junior athletes competing in the GJNC on what the next level of competition is
like in college.