Fall sports begin first season without COVID-19 restrictions


Joseph Eichele

Picture of Maxwell Field, where Football and Soccer play. Football will have their first home game on Sept. 10 and Soccer will have their first home game on Sept. 23.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, Sports Editor

As Winona State sports begin conference play this week and next, the energy on campus is bursting with excitement as it is the first fall since 2019 without COVID-19 restrictions.

Football started off the 2022 season against Minot with a new head coach, Brian Bergstrom, as well as new assistant coaches. The Bergstrom era begins with a new mindset of grit, growth, and team followed by four cornerstones of family, faith, future and football.

The team won 24-10 against Minot with Ty Gavin and Clay Schueffner leading the team. They will continue this week with their first home game of the year on Saturday against University of Mary.

Gavin started off the game slow after having shoulder injuries for the past two seasons. He slowly picked up the pace to get 159 rushing yards throughout the game, including an 81-yard rumble during the first quarter.

“The only thing you can do is move on to the next play.” Gavin said about his first quarter slow start. “The offensive line played great, and I just had to do my job.”

Schueffner had a 17-tackle game for a career best performance to start off his second to last season.

“We have a great strength and coaching staff that put us in the best position to make plays and win games,” Schueffner said about what led to his success in the first game of the season.

The Warrior football team was projected to finish sixth in the NSIC preseason coaches’ poll with Payton Dachel and Carter Duxbury named as Winona State’s players to watch this season.

Volleyball, who ranked 25 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, headed to California for the Cal State Dominguez Hills tournament this past weekend. The girls came home with a pair of wins and one loss after the California series this past weekend.

However, the team is ranked to finish eighth in the conference since most of the NSIC teams are ranked nationally, including Concordia at ninth and St. Cloud at seventh.

Prior to Cal State, the volleyball team was in St. Paul for a tournament at Concordia where they walked away with two wins.

The Warriors hit the road this weekend to begin conference play against Southwest Minnesota State on Friday and University of Sioux Falls on Saturday before their first home game on Sept. 16 against Augustana.

In between the Concordia-St. Paul tournament and the Cal State Dominguez Hills series, the volleyball team now sits 4-3.

Women’s Soccer starts NSIC games on Friday against University of Sioux Falls after a rough last pre-conference game against UW-Parkside on Sunday. The team came home from Kenosha with a loss after being at an advantage in every possible way.

Though prior to Sunday’s loss, the team was on a two-game win streak against University of Nebraska at Kearney and East Central University.

The success comes with one main difference: a new assistant coach. Jill Leibforth has her master’s in counseling psychology and has been helping the team focus on visualization and a positive mindset.

“This season, we kind of have a different approach,” fourth-year Ashley Hewitt said. “She’s been helping us focus a lot on like mentality of the game which is something we haven’t really focused on before.”

Hewitt started the 2022 season scoring two goals against East Central which named her NSIC offensive player of the week. In the past two seasons Hewitt has played, she has only scored one goal back in 2019.

The team is projected to finish ninth after finishing third to last in the 2021 season.

As far as golf, men’s was ranked first in the conference and women’s was ranked fifth.

“I think a lot of us have a lot of motivation this year,” fourth-year Bailey Callander said. “So I feel pretty confident, I think we got some good guys.”

The team starts their season with their regional preview here in Winona on Sept. 6 and 7.

Winona State teams will start conference play this month. Make sure to get out and support them and keep an eye on The Winonan for more athletic updates.