Saturday, October 15 is no ordinary day for Hamline athletics. No less than nine varsity teams will be in action in some way, shape or form.
As noted elsewhere, the Piper football team has a major challenge with a game at No. 3 (and undefeated) St. Thomas. The men's soccer team is at Carleton, which is also undefeated in MIAC play and tied for first place. The women's team, meanwhile, face the Knights at Paterson Field in a 1:00 p.m. game that may go a long way towards deciding which team stays in the playoff spot. Both teams are within striking distance of fourth place, the final MIAC playoff spot. HU is coming off a first-ever win over Gustavus, 4-1, Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at LaCrosse, WI, the cross country teams will face a rugged field in a final tuneup before the MIAC meet in two weeks. Coach Paul Schmaedeke said he was looking forward to the meet because it would give his team a chance to size up against all the teams they figure to battle with for the conference crown. Several other talented squads are on hand as well.
Games, however, are not the only thing going on Saturday. It's the first day of practice for the basketball and hockey teams. The basketball teams will be at Hutton Arena. The men's team, which nearly eliminated eventual NCAA champ St. Thomas in the MIAC semifinals last year, will start life without All-American center Carl Hipp. But a slew of returnees and a nice group of fresh faces are ready to lead the Pipers, who were 16-11 overall in 2010-11, into battle. HU will play two exhibition games at home prior to starting the regular season at home against Northwestern Nov. 15.
The women's team also starts life without their big gun, All-American center Mary Wilkowski. Coach Kerri Stockwell, however, has three starters back and a renewed enthusiasm her team can im,prove on last year's final mark of 11-14 overall.
New men's coach Scott Steffen greets 28 players for a first practice Saturday at their new home arena in Vadnais Heights. The defending MIAC champs, who advanced to last year's NCAA quarterfinals and finished 17-7-5, have just two weeks to prep for a game against Bethel in the annual MIAC Showcase.
Women's coach Steve DeBus will hit the ice at Drake Arena Saturday morning with several returnees. The Pipers are hoping to find some extra offense and improve on last year's 4-17-3 overall mark. They will play all but one of their home games at Warner Coliseum on the state fairgrounds this year.
So there is something for nearly everybody this Saturday.