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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 05 2012

NDSU wins first Summit Cup

FARGO – North Dakota State won its first Summit League Commissioner’s Cup, which probably won’t be raised in a public ceremony anytime soon. But here’s all you need to know: the Bison had one crazy-good athletic year.

The Cup is awarded to the conference school that has the best combined men’s and women’s finishes in all sports. In NDSU’s case, no program was a cellar dweller, or even close, while every sport ended in at least the upper half of the conference standings.

Moreover, the women’s program was awarded the Dr. Helen Smiley Women’s All-Sports Award for the third straight year.

That race wasn’t even close.

“It puts the final touch on a phenomenal year,” said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. “To be able to get an award like that solidifies a great year our coaches and athletes had.”

On the women’s side, NDSU won league titles in cross country, volleyball, softball, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field. Golf and soccer took second. With the men, the Bison were victorious in men’s track and field and took second in cross country. The other four sports NDSU competes in finished at least fifth with golf and baseball making the biggest leaps in recent years.

“To have baseball and golf be competitive at a high end is good for us,” Taylor said.

A healthier budget certainly helps with all programs. Golf has gone from a part-time coach and no scholarships to a full-time coach to 1.5 scholarships and climbing. Baseball is about two scholarships short of the NCAA allotted 11.9.

The women’s program is fully funded and fully staffed with all sports.

None of these accolades include football and wrestling, which play in different leagues because the Summit does not sponsor them. Football won a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title and took the Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title.

Wrestling finished third in the Western Wrestling Conference tournament.

“You can’t forget about those two,” Taylor said.

The Summit was in the second day of its annual June meeting on Tuesday. Taylor said there were no contentious issues between league members. The league is losing Oral Roberts and Southern Utah while rumors of Oakland University heading to the Horizon League are still out there.

“Oakland is still in the league and we know we’re losing Oral Roberts and Southern Utah,” Taylor said. “Obviously membership is always a topic of conversation but there’s nothing new other than to monitor it right now.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached

at (701) 241-5546.