Gene's Blog: Things click for teams, photographer

Three St. Thomas programs -- Football, Baseball and Softball -- have landed on select national Points of Pride lists.

Disclaimer: Statistical or won-loss comparisons across NCAA Division I, II and III athletics levels are often dicey in traditional team sports like football and basketball. But, hey, this is Gene's Blog -- we spin, you decide.

The truth shall set you free... or at least give you some ammo for Twitter or for bragging rights at the July 4 picnic.

 

List 1: Best Football Win Percentage, This Decade (Last 7 Seasons)

Among all 600-plus programs in NCAA football at the FBS, FCS, Division II and III levels, St. Thomas ranks in the top five for winning percentage this decade.

Just 14 programs come into the 2017 season having won 85 percent of their games since 2010:

Top 8

.942, Mount Union (D-III), 98-6 W-L

.938, UW-Whitewater (D-III), 91-6 W-L

.926, Mary Hardin-Baylor (D-III), 87-7 W-L

.898, Northwest Missouri (D-II), 88-10 W-L

.890, St. Thomas (D-III), 81-10 W-L

.887, Alabama (FBS), 86-11 W-L

.885, North Dakota State (FCS), 92-12 W-L

.878, Linfield (D-III), 72-10 W-L

Next 8

.877, Johns Hopkins (D-III), 71-10 W-L

.875, Colorado State-Pueblo (D-II), 77-11 W-L

.860, Shepherd (D-II), 74-12 W-L

.859, Minnesota-Duluth (D-II), 79-13 W-L

.859, Wabash (D-III), 67-11 W-L

.849, Ohio State (FBS), 79-14 W-L

.848, Wheaton (Ill.) (D-III), 67-12 W-L

.843, Harvard (FCS), 59-11 W-L

 

The next best FBS teams in this decade are Florida State (78-17, .821) and Stanford (76-18, .809). Minnesota State Mankato (D-II) just missed the top 16 cutoff with a 71-16 record (.816).

 

List 2: Longest Current Football Regular-Season Win Streak

Among all 600-plus programs in NCAA football at the FBS, FCS, Division II and III levels, just five come into the 2017 season with a regular-season win streak of 20 or more:

  • 41, Johns Hopkins (Md.)/D-III
  • 26, Northwest Missouri State/D-II
  • 23, St. Thomas/D-III
  • 20, Alabama/FBS
  • 20, Shepherd (W.V.)/D-II

All but Johns Hopkins has placed first or second nationally in 2015 and/or 2016.

The previous leader, D-III juggernaut Mount Union, had a streak of 112 regular-season wins before it fell 31-27 to John Carroll last November.

Last year's Division III national champion, Mary Hardin-Baylor, has won 73 of its last 74 regular-season games. The Crusaders face a Sept. 16 showdown game at Linfield (Ore.).

UW-Whitewater has won 41 of its last 42 regular-season games.

St. Thomas won 36 regular-season games in a row in a span from 2009-2013.

UST lost 35-24 at Bethel late in the 2014 season, but since then it's won its last 23 regular-season games. The most impressive victory came last fall in Moorhead when it drove 56 yards in three plays in the final 30 seconds on the clock to edge Concordia, 23-20.

Coach Glenn Caruso's Tommies also have two other notable current streaks -- 10 consecutive road wins; and 20 home games in a row scoring 30 or more points.

A third streak ended last December in the NCAA playoff quarterfinals -- UST had won 26 consecutive Saturday games before falling 34-31 to UW-Oshkosh.

 

List 3: Top-4 NCAA Team Finishes in Baseball and Softball, Same Season

More than 900 NCAA institutions programs at Division I, II and III levels sponsor both baseball and softball. But only eight times in the last nine years has one NCAA insitution placed in the top four nationally in both baseball and softball in the same season.

Florida did it this month with an NCAA crown in baseball and a close second place in softball. The Gators also have done in 2011 and 2015.

St. Thomas made the select list in 2014 with third-place national finshes in both of its diamond sports.

Schools to do it in this decade:

2017: Florida (D-I)

2015: Florida (D-I)

2014: UW-Whitewater (D-III) and St. Thomas (D-III)

2013: Grand Valley State (D-II)

2011: Florida (D-I)

2010: UCLA (D-I) and Linfield (D-III)

 

Eye for Emotion

Even before he graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from St. Thomas in 2002, Mike Ekern has been documenting campus life with his camera and imagination. News, action sports, portraits or everyday life -- his portfolio has it all.

When it comes to "Wow!" moments, Mike either captures them, or creates his own.

The nation now knows what those of us at Cretin and Summit long ago learned -- he's an all-star shooter. Ekern has won the 2017 Platinum Award for Excellence in Photography in a national competition of higher ed entries presented by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The CASE website says its Platinum category honors the "Best of the Best."

His winning portfolio included a March 2016 celebration photo of UST's Grant Shaeffer, taken moments after Tommie Men's Basketball had secured the Division III national crown in Salem, Va.

Ekern was among eight finalists for this award in 2016 when a photographer from Brigham Young University was the Platinum recipient. This year, he topped a field of finalists that included shooters from NCAA Division I institutions Boston University, Maryland, Georgia and Richmond.

Ekern's work has been recognized nationally and regionally by CASE and other contests over the years.

2017 CASE Photography Awards

 

PHOTO: Mike Ekern


Click below to see a variety of images by St. Thomas Photo Services photographers Mike Ekern and Mark Brown taken in recent years.

Best of UST Photo Services, 2016

Best of UST Photo Services, 2015

Best of UST Photo Services, 2014

Best of UST Photo Services, 2013

Best of UST Athletics, 2012-13

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Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is working in his 23rd season at St. Thomas and 29th overall in the MIAC. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and Division III sports.

If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at [email protected]