MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- It's barely halfway finished, but March 2017 has already proven to be one of the most extraordinary stretches in the long and storied history of University of North Dakota Athletics Department.
Conference championships. Postseason berths. School records. No-hitters. Professional debuts. International recognition.
It was a dizzying 14-day span in which Fighting Hawks fans were given enough goosebump-inducing moments, milestones and memories to last a lifetime. It all started on the very first day of the month.
Let's take a look back, shall we?
Wednesday, March 1: WBB CLINCHES SHARE OF BIG SKY REGULAR SEASON TITLE
Makailah Dyer (21 points) and Lexi Klabo (20) paced the offense and Leah Szabla surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for her career as North Dakota cruised past host Sacramento State, clinching head coach Travis Brewster’s second conference championship in the last four years.
“I’m proud of these ladies and thankful for my staff,” said Brewster. “The process would not have been the same without them.”
Thursday, March 2: FAISON NAMED UNDER ARMOUR FCS AD OF THE YEAR
Over the previous calendar year, UND Athletics laid claim to a national championship in men’s hockey and the first-ever Big Sky titles in football and volleyball. The successes also extended outside of competition for the Fighting Hawks, who boasted their second-highest collective GPA in department history (3.201) and gave a record number of hours to community service.
Behind it all was UND Athletics Director Brian Faison, who was named a 2016-17 Under Armour Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Director of the Year.
“This award is a reflection of the work done by our staff, coaches and student-athletes at UND,” Faison said. “They continue to get the job done for Fighting Hawks Athletics in the classroom, in competition and in community service.”
Friday, March 3: FOUR FIGHTING HAWKS ATTEND USA VOLLEYBALL TRYOUT
UND volleyball standouts Faith Dooley, Alivia Fraase, Sydney Griffin and Jordan Vail are among more than 240 athletes from across the country taking part in the three-day tryout in Colorado Springs for a spot on the U.S. National Team.
“This is another opportunity for some of our athletes to recognize that we can compete at a high level with anyone nationally,” said UND head coach Mark Pryor.
Saturday, March 4: MBB CLINCHES REGULAR SEASON TITLE, NO. 1 SEED
UND makes it a sweep of regular-season Big Sky titles as the men’s basketball team defeats Portland State 82-73 on Senior Day at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Senior Quinton Hooker scored 29 points in his final home game.
“Quinton is such a special player and for us to be able to send those seniors out like this and win a conference championship on Senior Day, you couldn't script it any better,” said UND head coach Brian Jones.
UND became the first school in Big Sky Conference history to win league titles in football, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball in the same season.
Saturday, March 4: MEN’S HOCKEY CLINCHES HOME ICE WITH SWEEP OF MIAMI
The possibility of opening the playoffs on home ice may have seemed dire just days earlier, but Trevor Olson scored the game-winning goal on consecutive nights to lift UND to a pair of road wins at Miami. With the sweep, UND clinched home ice in the opening round of the playoffs for the 15th straight year, the longest such streak of any NCHC school.
“The very first (goal) is to get home ice,” said head coach Brad Berry. “We’re very blessed to be playing at Ralph Engelstad Arena. We attained that one tonight. It took the last game of the regular season to get it, but we did it.”
Sunday, March 5: VANDOMELEN THROWS NO-HITTER AGAINST UCONN
Junior pitcher Kaylin VanDomelen enjoyed a game for the ages against UConn, firing UND’s first-ever no-hitter against a Division I opponent. She struck out six Huskies and aided her own cause at the plate, blasting a two-run home run in the 4-0 win.
“We got an outstanding pitching performance today from Kaylin,” said UND head coach Jordan Stevens. “It was a good way to end the week.”
Sunday, March 5: SCHMALTZ THE LATEST TO REACH THE NHL
Former UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz makes his National Hockey League debut with the St. Louis Blues, becoming the 20th alum this season to play in the NHL. No team in the NCHC has had more.
Monday, Mach 6: FRESHMEN DUO DIVE INTO COMPETITION AT NCAA ZONES
“It was the guys' first experience in postseason at NCAA Zones, for two freshmen they did really well,” UND diving coach Brian Strom said. “There were some nerves, but overall a pretty good performance.”
Tuesday, March 7: BREWSTER NAMED BIG SKY COACH OF THE YEAR
For the second time in four years, women’s basketball head coach Travis Brewster is named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Fighting Hawks to the league’s regular-season title.
“I'm humbled by this,” said Brewster. “Thank you to my staff for their tireless work ethic and excellent teaching abilities. It’s the players that continue to work at making the University of North Dakota proud and the community of Grand Forks special.”
Tuesday, March 7: LAMOUREUX TWINS NAMED TO U.S. WORLDS TEAM
Decorated UND women’s hockey alums and Olympic medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando were both named to the United Sates National Team for their seventh appearance at the IIHF World Championships, scheduled to begin at the end of the month.
Senior defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak was previously named to the Canadian roster, marking her third appearance at the world championship.
Wednesday, March 8: JONES COLLECTS BIG SKY COACH OF THE YEAR ACCOLADES
One week earlier, UND men’s and women’s basketball swept the Big Sky regular-season basketball titles. Their respective head coaches were honored two days apart for their efforts.
Jones led his program to a Division I-record 19 wins and the top seed in the Big Sky Tournament.
“This is extremely humbling and I’m appreciative of the hard work that our staff and players put into this season,” Jones said. “This award is as much for them as it is me and is a byproduct of the special season we have had. I’m grateful to be honored by my peers.”
Thursday, March 9: SIZZLING START LIFTS UND INTO BIG SKY SEMIS
Senior Cory Baldwin posts his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Fighting Hawks open the Big Sky Tournament with a 95-72 win over Portland State in the Big Sky quarterfinals.
Friday, March 10: UND GRINDS OUT WIN OVER IDAHO IN BIG SKY SEMIS
Baldwin came up big once again, drilling a key 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to give UND a 69-64 win and a second appearance in the Big Sky title game.
Friday, March 10: DETLOFF DOMINATES WITH HAMMER HISTORY
Senior thrower Molli Detloff annihilated the school hammer record at UNC Wilmington, launching a throw of 202 feet (61.56 meters) that was the first 200-foot hammer throw in UND history – male or female. It was also the sixth-best mark in Big Sky history.
Saturday, March 11: BERGH NO-HITS HARTFORD IN 9-0 ROUT
For the second time in less than a week, a UND pitcher hurled a no-hitter. The previous Sunday, it was junior Kaylin VanDomelen; this time, it was classmate Hannah Bergh. It was Bergh’s sixth win of the young season and her second career shutout.
Saturday, March 11: NORTH DAKOTA TO ACCEPT BID TO WNIT
The women’s basketball team made school history, accepting its first-ever invitation to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
It marks the fourth straight postseason appearance for Brewster’s squad after consecutive trips to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) and a 2014 trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Saturday, March 11: FIGHTING HAWKS PUNCH TICKET TO BIG DANCE
In one of the most memorable games in UND history, the Fighting Hawks downed nemesis Weber State with a 93-89 overtime victory in the Big Sky championship game, earning their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
UND erased an 11-point deficit and overcame a six-point Weber State lead in the final 51 seconds. Hooker led all players with 28 points.
“Unbelievable,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “What a resilient bunch of players, who never lost faith that we were going to come out with a victory. We put this team together for this very day.”
Saturday, March 11: TWO DAYS, TWO HISTORIC PERFORMANCES FOR DETLOFF
UND’s history-making weekend continued, this time back on the track, as Detloff broke her second school record in as many days. One day after shattering the school hammer record, Detloff toppled the school’s longest-standing outdoor record: the discus. She hit a throw of 176 feet, 8 inches (53.86 meters) to break a record that had stood since 2001. It was also the sixth-best discus throw in Big Sky women’s history.
“This was a major weekend for Molli,” said head coach Kevin Galbraith. “Two school records in two days is absolutely incredible.”
Saturday, March 11: OLSON’S OT WINNER SENDS UND TO NCHC FROZEN FACEOFF
During the second intermission of UND’s NCHC Quarterfinals game against St. Cloud State, Fighting Hawks fans watched on the in-arena videoboard as the men’s basketball team punched its March Madness ticket.
Approximately one hour later, junior Trevor Olson scored his third game-winning goal in the last week, this time in overtime to send UND to its conference semifinals for the 15th straight year.
“I don't know what's going on,'” Olson said of his recent late-game magic recently. “I went however many calendar years without a goal and now all of a sudden they're starting to fall my way.”
Sunday, March 12: WELCOME HOME, CHAMPS
North Dakota makes its first-ever appearance on the NCAA Division I Tournament Selection Show, where it was revealed that the Fighting Hawks, the No. 15 seed in the West Region, will open the “Big Dance” against No. 2 seed Arizona in Salt Lake City.
Both the UND men’s and women’s basketball teams were welcomed home from Reno by hundreds of fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
“Honestly, I’m lost for words,” said Hooker while addressing the fans.
Monday, March 13: UND HEADS TO SOUTH DAKOTA IN WNIT OPENER THURSDAY
The women’s basketball team, meanwhile, learned that its first-ever appearance in the WNIT would come against an old foe: the South Dakota Coyotes.
The teams were longtime rivals in the North Central Conference (NCC) in Division II and went through the jump to Division I together in the Great West Conference. UND will move to The Summit League in 2018-19 to re-join the Coyotes.
Tuesday, March 14: FIVE MORE HEADED TO WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
“The women’s hockey team earned five more representatives for the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, as current players Anna Kilponen and Emma Nuutinen and alums Michell eKarvinen and Susanna Tapani were named to the Finnish Women’s National Team, while alum Johanna Fallman was named to the Swedish Women’s National Team.
Earlier in the month, senior defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak was named to her third Women’s World Championship roster with Team Canada, while former standouts Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando were named to the seventh championship roster with Team USA.
Despite the incredible log of achievement already written, the book that is March 2017 is hardly finished. On Thursday night, the UND men's and women's basketball programs made history with their first appearances in the NCAA DI Tournament and the WNIT, respectively.
One night later, the men's hockey team faces top-ranked Denver at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. A win that would likely secure a 15th straight national tournament berth and extend the second-longest such streak in the history of the sport.
UND's golf, tennis, softball and track & field programs are all in midseason and the spring football scrimmage is just around the corner (April 14).
There will be no going out like a lamb, not this month.