@CycloneMBB Top Plays of 2016-17 – #5 vs. #12 and #4 vs. #13

We continue our bracket-style match up between top plays. You, the fan, will cast the votes as we pick our top play of the year.

To vote: Watch the videos and then vote in the poll at the bottom of each match-up.

Vote now on other match ups:
#1 vs. #16 & #8 vs. #9

5 vs. 12
In the 5 vs. 12 match up, Iowa State rolls into Kansas and gets a big win, thanks in part to this big shot! And the 12-seed features Nick Weiler-Babb coming off the bench to make a significant impact in the Big 12 Championship final.

The No. 5 Seed – “Oh no, oh yes!”
Iowa State was trailing at Kansas by one with 6:30 left, Deonte Burton dribbles down and pulls up for three. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla lets out an “Oh no” and quickly follows with “Oh YES” as Burton’s three rips the net to put the Cyclones in front. Iowa State goes on to win 92-89 in overtime, snappying Kansas’ 51-game win streak at Allen Fieldhouse. Burton scored 29 points, 19 of which came after halftime.

The No. 12 Seed – Weiler-Babb With The Bucket And Foul

West Virginia had jumped out to a big lead, but Nick Weiler-Babb came off the bench and helped spark a Cyclone rally that would ultimately help them take control and win their third Big 12 Championship title in four years. Weiler-Babb takes the pass and finishes through contact to cut the WVU lead from 16-8 to 16-11 and ISU went on an 8-0 run to tie it. Weiler-Babb finished the game with five points and three steals.

5 vs. 12 Winner: Announced Monday, May 15

4 vs. 13
Our 4 vs. 13 match up includes a big-time three from Naz Mitrou-Long and another sweet pass by Monte Morris that resulted in a Darrell Bowie dunk.

The No. 4 Seed – Naz Sends It To A Second OT In Norman
Never go under a screen against a shooter like Mitrou-Long. Iowa State had trailed by as many as six just moments before, but Mitrou-Long scored six-straight points, including this deep three in the first overtime to force another. The Cyclones went on to win 92-87 with Mitrou-Long scoring 20 points.

The No. 13 Seed – Morris Zips A Pass To Bowie For The Slam And The Foul

Monté Morris and Darrell Bowie combined to erase any doubt against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship. After OSU cuts ISU’s lead to just five with just under 13 minutes left, Morris zips a pass from outside the coaching box and Bowie finishes the dunk and draws the foul. Perfect exexcution, as Fraschilla explains.

4 vs. 13 Winner: Announced Monday, May 15

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@CycloneMBB Top Plays of 2016-17 – #1 vs. #16 & #8 vs. #9

The 2016-17 Iowa State men’s basketball team provided us with many highlights that will never be forgotten. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be rolling out a bracket-style tournament that will allow you, the fans, to pick the top play of the year. We hope you will enjoy celebrating these great plays as we reminisce on another magical season. Check back daily as we add another match up and to see the results of the fan vote.

To vote: Watch the videos and then vote in the poll at the bottom of each match-up.

Vote now on other match ups:
5 vs. 12 & 4 vs. 13

1 vs. 16
Our 1 vs. 16 match-up features a rim-rocking dunk vs. a nifty no-look pass for a reverse layup. Both plays took place in the Big 12 Championship as Iowa State made another memorable run to a third title in four years.

The No. 1 Seed – Burton Ends It With Authority
With Iowa State up nine and just over two minutes left to a third title in four years, Cyclone fans were starting to feel comfortable. What happened next nearly blew the roof off the Sprint Center as Naz Mitrou-Long hit Deonte Burton for an alley-oop over a helpless West Virginia defender.

The No. 16 Seed – Mitrou-Long Finds Thomas For The Reverse

As Iowa State was rolling to a 21-point semifinal win against TCU, Mitrou-Long glides to the center of the court, looks off a pair of defenders and delivers to Matt Thomas for a reverse layup. It was part of a 12-0 Cyclone run that put the game away.

1 vs. 16 Winner: Announced Monday, May 15

8 vs. 9
Our 8 vs. 9 match-up includes a high-arcing 3-pointer and another nifty pass. A sharpshooter and one of the best to ever pass the ball.

The No. 8 Seed – Naz Puts Some Air Under It
With the shot clock ticking down and Iowa State leading by seven points, Mitrou-Long hits a high-arcing 3-pointer over a pair of defenders to put the Cyclones up by double figures with just over five minutes left in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament against Nevada. Mitrou-Long scored 13 points, hitting 3-of-5 behind the arc.

The No. 9 Seed – Morris Freezes Oklahoma State To Find Thomas

Monté Morris had a game to remember as Iowa State won its eighth-straight against Oklahoma State and its fourth in a row in Stillwater. Morris out dueled Juwan Evans, finishing with 30 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, four steals and no turnovers. This assist to Thomas on the fast break with 3:32 left put the Cyclones up 79-71 as they cruised to the 96-86 win.

8 vs. 9 Winner: Announced Monday, May 15


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Voke & Sondjaja: Sustaining Success


AMES, Iowa—The Iowa State men’s golf team has had the pleasure of having two special players make headlines over the last four years in seniors Nick Voke and Ruben Sondjaja.

The tandem are the epitome of what it means to be a Cyclone, helping maintain ISU’s success at a national level.

Their impact on ISU’s team success over the last four seasons is remarkable. Just ask Iowa State head coach Andrew Tank.

“Nick and Ruben are the foundation of the team really,” Tank said. “They’ve emerged as leaders. They came in as freshmen and they were ahead in terms of their maturity and leadership, but over their four years they felt it was their duty to share their knowledge with the younger players. They both add energy to our program. It’s been so much fun to see them mature.”

With Voke and Sondjaja in the lineup, ISU has had unprecedented success: A NCAA Championship appearance (2014), three NCAA Regional berths (2014, 2015, 2017), six tournament titles and annual top-50 national rankings are just a few team highlights they’ve shared together.

The two first competed against each other at a junior tournament in Sydney, Australia. Voke, who is from Auckland, New Zealand, and Sondjaja, who hails from Sydney, were unaware of the special bond they would later form over 7,000 miles away in Ames, Iowa.

“He’s (Sondjaja) an unbelievable person,” Voke said. “The first time we played together was in 2012. We’ve developed a strong connection. It’s almost like the coaches are the grandparents and we’re the parents of this program. Being able to share that alongside such a good guy has been a lot of fun.”

When the two first arrived in Ames in the 2013-14 season, they had two strong upperclassmen to model their style after in All-American Scott Fernandez and Sam Daley.

Fernandez and Daley help build the culture and success of Cyclone men’s golf. Voke and Sondjaja have sustained it.

“As a freshman and sophomore, I was lucky to have Scott and Sam on the team to look up to,” Sondjaja said. “It’s kind of strange because I don’t view myself as one of those guys. I’m a senior now and I remember coming in at the start of my career looking to Scott and Sam and really embracing whatever they had to tell me. I guess I’m in a similar position now, but I don’t view as if I’m better than the guys on our team. I might have a couple extra years of experience here, but I view the underclassmen almost the same way Sam and Scott took care of me. All the guys on our team right now are guys I look up to and it’s been quite special to be able to play golf with them.”

Both Voke and Sondjaja cracked the lineup as rookies in ISU’s magical 2013-14 campaign. Both made the Big 12 All-Tournament team by tying for ninth at the Big 12 Championship, guiding the Cyclones to a fourth-place finish, their best showing at the conference meet since 1997.

The Cyclones secured an NCAA Regional berth and were eyeing the school’s first-ever NCAA Championship appearance.

The odds of making the finals dipped, however, when a freak accident occurred. Voke and Sondjaja were tooling around Ames on skateboards on a beautiful spring evening. Voke’s skateboard hit a crack, tossing him forward in a full tumble.

Big 12 Men's Golf Championship, April 24, 2017

Nick Voke goes over strategy with head coach Andrew Tank. Voke’s 71.96 career stroke average is the best in school history. He also owns a share of the school record for tournament wins with four. 

When Voke tried to get up, he knew something was wrong. The diagnosis validated Voke’s pain, as the freshman would have to sit out of postseason play with a broken collar bone.

Sondjaja may have felt worse than Voke.

“We’ve had a lot of experiences together, good and bad,” Sondjaja. “What happened to Nick in his freshman year is a good example. But all of these experiences we have shared, competing for four years and traveling, we definitely created a bond that is very special. To have a great golfer and leader like Nick on your team makes everything easier. Whenever I’m having a bad day, he lifts me up, and if he’s having a bad day, I hope I can do the same to him.”

Despite Voke’s absence at regionals in 2014, the Cyclones shocked the golfing nation by still qualifying for the NCAA finals.

Making it back to the finals is a goal the pair marked down back in September when the season began.

“In one of our first team meetings we set a goal to not only make it to the NCAA Championships, but to also advance to the Elite Eight (match play),” Voke said. “That would be phenomenal for us as a program. However, with goals so high, we know we needed to buckle down and get to work.”

The farewell tour of Voke and Sondjaja has been record-setting. The senior leaders have helped the Cyclones hoist three team title trophies, the most by a Cyclone squad since 1996-97, and record a pair of runner-up finishes.

“All the guys routinely say that lifting the team trophy is a lot more important than the individual trophy,” Voke said. “It is really nice to bring home some silverware. We expect it now, and if we don’t come away with some silverware then we will be pretty frustrated.”

Sondjaja echoed Voke’s sentiments.

“It’s a great feeling and each time we have won in different ways,” Sondjaja said. “Each tournament victory is very special and we understand that in golf winning doesn’t happen very often, so we embrace that. Every time that we do get the chance to win, we just enjoy it.”

Big 12 Men's Golf Championship, April 24, 2017

Ruben Sondjaja has 11 career top-10 finishes to tie for seventh in school history. 

Team awards and accomplishments are a by-product of outstanding individual play.

Voke and Sondjaja, who are both ranked in the nation’s top-160 by Golfweek, also have that covered.

Voke, ranked No. 79 nationally, has won four tournament titles in his career (2014 VCU Shootout, 2015 General Hackler, 2016 NIT, 2017 Hawkeye Invitational), tying for first in school history, and placed in the top-10 17 times, ranking third in school history.

His 201 at the 2016 ASU Thunderbird Invitational set the school mark for low 54-hole score.

Voke is aiming to break Fernandez’ season scoring mark of 71.27. He currently is averaging 71.50 strokes per round.

Voke’s accomplishments on the links can be attributed to his incredible ball-striking. If you walk 18 holes with Voke you will hear a distinctive sound. It’s a routine sound of a ball connecting squarely on the club face with high force, a reverberation a professional makes.

Sondjaja, who is ranked No. 152 in the nation, joined Voke in the champions club a year ago when he won medalist honors at the 2016 Hawkeye Invitational. His 11 career top-10 finishes ties for seventh in school history.

Sondjaja owns a share of the school record for low 18-hole score, carding a 64 at the 2014 ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

Don’t let Sondjaja’s diminutive stature fool you. He stands only 5-8 and is just a shade over 150 pounds, but Sondjaja can blast it off the tee.

He is one of the longest hitters on the team, gaining an advantage with consistent drives of over 300 yards.

Both will graduate with top-three career scoring averages. Voke is currently first at 71.96. Sondjaja is third at 72.81.

There is more to Voke and Sondjaja’s legacy than just wins, honors and awards, however.

Perhaps their impact at Iowa State is important for their commitment to maintaining a winning culture and nurturing younger players for future success.

Voke and Sondjaja will pass the torch off to players like Denzel Ieremia, Sam Vincent and Tripp Kinney, who have already benefited from their mentoring.

“The first day I got here, Nick gave me a couple of drills and he said that if he doesn’t finish them, he’s not going home until they’re done,” said Kinney, a rookie on the Cyclone squad. “Seeing that, I just went, ‘Wow,’ these are really tough drills. It’s a blessing to have such great senior leaders in Ruben and Nick. They know what they’re doing and have been around the block a couple times. I just watch them and try to follow their lead.”

Tank will for vouch for Kinney’s assessment of the pair’s outstanding leadership.

“When Ruben and Nick first got here they were both taken care of by the older guys, so I think they are trying to return the favor,” Tank said. “You look back at some of the guys and how they’ve moved on and what they’ve done for the program, I think that each year there becomes more of that sense of ownership. Both Nick and Ruben wanted to leave ISU golf in a better place than they found it, and they certainly have.”



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Walker Excelled After QB To LB Switch


AMES, Iowa – The buzz during Iowa State spring football drills surrounded senior Joel Lanning when head coach Matt Campbell announced that the quarterback began taking the majority of his reps at linebacker.

Lanning, who has totaled 14 career starts at QB in his Cyclone career, spent his first four years as a signal-caller.

Preliminary reports from spring practice indicate Lanning is making a smooth transition to the defensive side of the field.

Making a switch from QB to LB isn’t common, but it has been accomplished before.

In fact, not only has it occurred at Iowa State, it was a resounding success. Just ask Derrick Walker, who was converted to a LB in 2000 after playing QB for the Cyclones in 1999.

Walker was glad he made the switch.

“It gave me an opportunity to compete, and that’s all I was really looking for at the time,” Walker said.

A native of Houston, Texas, Walker arrived at Iowa State in 1999 after a stellar two-year career at Blinn Junior College where he passed for nearly 1,000 yards. He was recruited as a QB by former ISU head coach Dan McCarney and his sights were set to win the job when he entered fall camp.

His competition that season was Sage Rosenfels, a junior who saw limited action his first two seasons while backing up Todd Bandhauer.

“It was really tight (the competition for the starting QB),” Walker said. “The coaches evaluated us on a daily basis in fall camp and it was kind of neck and neck all the way up until game week. They (coaching staff) charted everything as far as practice and scrimmages and things of that nature, and they let us know how we did afterward.”

The QB battle went down to the wire. McCarney made the decision to go with Rosenfels just a week prior to the season-opener vs. Indiana State.

Though promised he would still get snaps, Walker was devastated.

“I was told we’d both play regardless, but I didn’t feel okay with it,” Walker remembered. “I ended up being the backup, but I’d still have an opportunity to play.”

Walker served as a backup for Rosenfels in 1999, appearing in five games, completing 9-of-18 passes for 106 yards. The Cyclones showed signs of progress that year, and Rosenfels was a big part of ISU’s improvement.

Derrick Walker010

Walker as a QB in 1999. 

With Rosenfels securely locked into the starting spot for 2000, Walker was in limbo.

Ever the competitor, Walker desperately wanted to play. His immediate thought was to transfer until he had a meeting with McCarney.

The Cyclone coach didn’t want to give up on him and laid out some options. He mentioned he could switch positions to either wide receiver, tight end, safety or linebacker, noting that there was a spot open at outside linebacker.

Walker was reluctant, but after mulling it over, he thought it just might work.

It was a decision Walker does not regret.

“I was all for it, especially when he (Coach McCarney) told me it was my position to lose,” Walker said. “I had an opportunity to play in my last year and that’s all I really wanted.”

Like Lanning, Walker already had a linebacker build. Lanning is listed at 6-2, 230 pounds and Walker was a rugged 6-2, 235 pounds.

And also similar to Lanning, both didn’t have an aversion to contact. Their styles directing an offense included punishing runs in between the tackles if necessary.

All of this added up to a transition to defense that was much smoother than predicted.

“I felt like I picked it up pretty quick because of my experience playing quarterback,” Walker said. “If you understand football, quarterback is probably the most complex position to pick up just because you’re responsible for knowing so much about the entire offense. I felt more free and able to use my athletic abilities at linebacker. Getting myself physically able to wrestle the linemen, taking those blocks, and tackling the running backs coming out of the backfield was the more challenging part. I was more concerned about the physical attributes of it, as opposed to the mental aspects.”

Heading into the 2000 campaign, expectations were high. There was a quiet confidence within the locker room that this could be a special season, and Walker wanted to be a part of it.

Walker worked hard in fall camp and eventually shocked many by earning the starting nod at outside linebacker for the season-opener against Ohio.

“I wasn’t shocked about starting, because I expected to,” Walker said. “I was more shocked, I guess, being able to physically compete against other competition. Going against teammates compared to going against an opponent, it’s completely different. Once I got that game action and experience, I knew I could do it.”

Walker and his teammates were indeed in the midst of something special. The Cyclones ended the year by tying the school record for wins (9-3), culminating with the school’s first bowl victory with a 37-29 triumph over Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl.

2000 Football012

Walker started 11 games at linebacker for Iowa State’s 2000 Insight.com Bowl champion team. 

Walker was instrumental of ISU’s success in 2000, starting 11 games and recording 61 tackles, the fourth-best total on the team.

Being a strong contributor on one of ISU’s greatest teams makes Walker proud.

“It was probably one of my most fulfilling accomplishments as a football player,” Walker remembered. “To actually help Iowa State win a bowl game, be a part of it as a starter, it was like a dream come true.”

After his Cyclone career was over, his limited experience at linebacker didn’t deter him from gaining interest from the NFL.

Walker signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles and spent much of the summer in camp with the team.

After getting cut by the Eagles, Walker had offers to compete in other professional leagues. However, he had a wife and young child to support and needed a more stable job.

“I was picked up by the Eagles after the NFL draft in 2001,” said Walker. “I went out to Philly for that summer and was there until the end of June when I got released. I had opportunities to play in the Arena League, but I had kids and a family and needed to make money at the time.”

Walker still follows Cyclone football and knows what Lanning is going through right now.

He has some advice for the Cyclone captain.

“My advice to Joel is to tell him that this could be the start of something big,” Walker added. “I was kind of shocked to get the opportunity to go with the Eagles. He needs to look at it like a new beginning. He might not see it now, but it will open up lot more doors than being a backup quarterback. I think he’s making a right decision for his career. He will have a lot more opportunities if he excels like I did. I just didn’t know it at the time.”

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Harger Launches Career At NASA


AMES, Iowa – Mitchell Harger loves challenges. It’s in his DNA.

When looking at colleges to attend, Harger yearned for a challenge academically and athletically.

His unique confident and competitive nature guided Harger to Iowa State University for the sake of accomplishing two major goals he set out to achieve: Graduate in one of the most demanding majors at the school, aerospace engineering, and make an impact as a walk-on at a “power five” football program.

Harger fulfilled both goals at Iowa State, becoming one of its greatest success stories.

He is not in a position to sit back, relax and rest on his laurels, however. The profession he chose will not allow him that luxury.

Harger works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a job he accepted a month after the 2016 football season ended. It’s high-stress, dynamic work, but Harger cherishes every day he walks into the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

“It was always kind of a dream that you never thought would be a reality,” Harger said. “I always thought it would be the coolest thing in the world if I could say, ‘Hey, I work for NASA.’ After all the opportunities kind of presented themselves, and things started lining up, I remember stopping to think right around my second interview, ‘holy crap, I’m about to get a position at NASA!’ It is kind of a surreal feeling, especially now that I’m down here.”

The 2012 Alburnett (Iowa) High School class valedictorian has an official title of Extravehicular Activity Flight Controller (EVA) for NASA. Harger’s responsibilities include training astronauts and ensuring the safety of an astronaut’s spacesuit.

He fully understands the importance of his daily duties.

“Whenever the astronaut steps outside the international space station, goes to work on the space station or eventually, the astronaut would land on the moon again, or hopefully on Mars, I’m in charge of their spacesuit,” Harger said. “I’m in charge of everything the astronaut is doing task-wise and I’m basically in charge of their safety out there, because every time an astronaut steps outside in the vacuum of space, the harsh environment of space presents a 1 in 6,000 chance of dying, whether it’s from micrometeoroids hitting them, suit malfunctions, or whatever it may be. It’s a very high intensity, high stress environment.”


ISU WR coach Bryan Gasser and RB coach Lou Ayeni visit Mitchell Harger at NASA.

Harger could have had a head start on his career like his fellow classmates who graduated in the spring of 2016. He spent four years as a walk-on on the football team and then underwent shoulder surgery after an injury in the 2016 spring game.

He earned his degree. He gave his all for Cyclone football. Time to move on, right?

Not Harger.

He had one more goal to check off.

“Honestly, when I was on the scout team, I knew I would eventually get my chance,” Harger said. “The only time I ever doubted my decision making was after I graduated in aerospace engineering and I decided to come back for that fifth year. It was during fall camp. My shoulder was killing me and I could be starting my career. It kind of dawned on me, ‘Why am I here?’ I then remembered I had unfinished business with the football team and realized I was devoted to the football team. I was going to finish this. My motto was always to finish what you started and that’s how I’m going to be for the rest of my life.”

The decision to attend graduate school and compete for his fifth and final season for the Cyclones ended up being a script Hollywood would covet.

The running back was an outstanding prep football player.

He was the Class 1A Player of the Year in 2011 after rushing for 2,716 yards and 40 touchdowns at tiny Alburnett High School. However, at only 5-10, Harger had only a few offers to continue his football career at the next level.

This didn’t bother Harger, however. He was going to Iowa State, one of the best engineering schools in the nation, and he was determined to score a touchdown for the Cyclones.

Nothing was going to stop him.

The day Harger’s number was called is something dreams are made of, but it didn’t happen overnight.

Harger toiled on ISU’s scout team for four seasons, earning a spot on special teams in his redshirt junior season. He won the Outstanding Walk-On Player Award at the postseason banquet that season.

Harger’s position coach at ISU for three seasons, Lou Ayeni, observed his determination up close.

“Nothing shocks me about Mitchell,” said Ayeni, Iowa State’s Running Game Coordinator and Associate Head Coach. “I watched what he did, how he led our running back room and how he carried himself. There was something special about Mitchell. He’s got it.”

Harger wasn’t shy about letting Ayeni know he could count on him in a game. He would strategically sidle up to Ayeni at practice and games, always in his sightline, displaying bravado and exuding confidence.

“I’ve had guys faster, stronger and bigger, but nobody was more determined than Mitchell,” Ayeni said. “Every practice, every game he would come up to me and say, ‘I’m ready when you need me. I’m ready.’”

On Nov. 12, 2016, Harger was indeed ready.

The Cyclones were in a dogfight with Kansas in Lawrence in a game where both teams were seeking their first Big 12 victory. ISU was down 24-16 late in the third quarter and freshman running back David Montgomery needed a break after taking a hit to his quadricep on the first play of the series.

Looking for a replacement, Ayeni spotted Harger. He sent him in.

Getting the signal, Harger furiously strapped on his helmet and darted onto the field.

His time was now.

“It was kind of like your football life flashing before your eyes,” Harger remembered. “Coach Lou said I was going in and I went on a full sprint out there. I started thinking, ‘Okay, this is what I went through three years of the scout team for. Why I stuck out shoulder surgery and why I decided to come back even though I graduated with an aerospace engineering degree.’”

Harger’s first rush went for 16 yards. His third carry goes for 17 yards. Eleven more yards by Harger, and suddenly the reserve gave ISU first-and-goal at the KU four-yard line.

All Harger envisioned now was the goal line.

Now third-and-goal at the one, it appeared Harger would realize his dream. However, another setback crept in. An illegal shift cost the Cyclones five yards, resulting in a third-and-goal situation from six yards out.

Harger thought his window of opportunity was over. This down and distance is typically a passing situation, and Harger was keenly aware of this fact.

“We finally get down to the four-yard-line and I’ve got the goal line just staring at you,” Harger recollected. “Then we get the penalty and we get pushed back. It just seemed like another punch, another kick that I had to get through.”

Much to Harger’s surprise, however, the next play call was for him. He received the handoff from quarterback Jacob Park and bolted up the middle untouched for a six-yard touchdown scamper.

“They called another running play and finally I got across the goal line,” Harger beamed. “I just felt sudden relief. I said to myself, ‘I did it. I made it. This is for my team. This is for my family and all my friends who supported me.’”

Elation set in. The roar was audible from the press tower.

“To finally get that carry and have it all play in slow-motion and to finally wham it in, it was just an incredible feeling,” Harger said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be stopped.”

Harger had eight carries for 58 yards and a TD in his lone series of action during the game. His score was the impetus for ISU’s 31-24 come-from-behind win over KU.

As he left the field victorious, he found his family in the bleachers and embraced in a group hug that seemed to last an eternity.

You could not find a happier person on Earth.

Harger family

Mitchell Harger rejoices with his family after the Kansas game.

Ayeni was just as proud.

“I have coached a long time, but Mitchell’s performance that day was one of the most rewarding and special moments I have ever been associated with,” Ayeni boasted.

Harger is at peace now.

His football career is over and his job is top priority. He takes pride in it. He’s aware he is among a select group of former Iowa State engineering graduates who have made significant contributions to NASA.

Like Steve Bales, who, as a flight controller, is credited with making a critical last-minute decision to not abort and continue procedures for Apollo 11’s lunar landing in 1969.

Harger strives to be in that same situation someday.

“Right now I’m just a flight controller,” Harger said. “I’m eventually going to become an instructor and then eventually, my goal is to get to the control room. That is where all those big shots are. That is the biggest goal right now. I can’t picture a better job out there for me.”


Harger’s experience competing for the Cyclones has definitely provided him with real-life skills.

“We are graded every day and thrown into stressful situations,” Harger said. “Playing football for five years had me prepared for this. Honestly, it’s a great fit for football players. It’s a lot of high intensity stuff. Every single day there’s something new and something exciting to look at.”

Ayeni visited Harger at NASA and received a tour of the massive complex over spring break. It was a great time for Ayeni and his pupil to reminisce. It also was a great opportunity for Ayeni to reflect on a wonderful success story.

“It is incredible to see how successful Mitchell is and it means a lot to our program,” Ayeni said. “We all know that winning is important, but to watch people like Mitchell reach their full potential in life is just as equally rewarding.”

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Carleton & Co. Take In Ames


When Chatham, Ontario, Canada native Bridget Carleton committed to Iowa State, the Carleton family was inundated with requests from family and friends to go visit Ames, Iowa to cheer her on.

“We had tons of people from Chatham who were like, ‘Oh if you ever go, we want to go,’” Carrie Carleton, Bridget’s mother, said.

After many trips of packing a van full of friends and family, the Carleton’s decided it was time to do one bigger. They rounded up 35 family and friends from Chatham and Michigan, rented a charter bus and drove down to Ames, Iowa to watch Bridget and the Cyclones take on West Virginia on Feb. 18.

The fan bus left at 4 p.m. on Friday from Canada and drove straight to Davenport, which also happens to be the hometown of head coach Bill Fennelly, to spend the night. The drive was over 10 hours to Ames, but the group had no trouble enjoying the ride. They played plenty of games, including some Iowa State women’s basketball inspired trivia, so everyone was well versed before they arrived at their destination – Hilton Coliseum.

The group was not hard to spot once they arrived. Sitting behind the basket on the home bench side of the court, the Carleton crew donned matching gold t-shirts, which were designed by rider Tim Regan. The t-shirt featured a stencil Iowa State logo surrounded by a maple leaf, the unofficial national symbol of Canada. The back featured a basketball with Carleton’s number “21” on the inside.

“Every bus trip needs a t-shirt,” Carrie stated. “It’s just part of the rules.”

The clan witnessed the Cyclones take on and defeat West Virginia, 68-63. Carleton gave her followers plenty to talk about when they returned north of the border. The sophomore played, tough and inspired basketball, helping guide ISU’s second half run, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds and a career-high-matching four blocked shots.

Following the basketball game, the group then got to see the rest of Bridget Carleton’s home away from home. They saw campus, Ames and the Iowa State basketball facilities. It was a full Cyclone experience.

d8t_7387 “You know what, it really truly reminds me of our own hometown,” Louise Kaniecki, who joined the bus trip after also having visited Ames last season with the Carleton’s, observed. “The old buildings, and the character of the whole place is amazing. And [as far as] Hilton, it’s hard to beat that. For her to be able to play here all the time is amazing. It’s an amazing opportunity for Bridget, and I know she appreciates every single minute that she’s here.”

For the Carleton family, the bus trip marked one of many trips over the last year-and-a-half to Ames. The two have made the trek to Ames as many times as they could.

“When you watch your kid play for so many years, and she moves far away, it’s hard,” Carrie said. “So we come as often as we can. And whether it’s a long weekend, or we take a day off, we come as often as we can, and obviously watch every game that we can.”

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Cyclone Super Bowl Memories

AMES, Iowa – It’s Super Bowl weekend and time for fans across the nation to revel in what has become one of the greatest spectacles in sports.

Iowa State has had its share of players and coaches who have been a part of Super Bowl memories. Listed below are five fun facts of Cyclone Super Bowl history.

Keith Krepfle- The First Touchdown

Iowa State Hall-of-Famer Keith Krepfle made history in Super Bowl XV (January 25, 1981) when he scored the only touchdown for the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Oakland Raiders. It marked the first time a player from a college in Iowa scored a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Krepfle, who is one of the greatest tight ends in Iowa State history, caught 94 passes for 1,378 yards and 15 touchdowns in his Cyclone career (1971-73). His NFL career was just as impressive, recording 152 receptions for 2,425 yards in 97 career starts. Another former Cyclone tight end, Dan Johnson, became the second collegian from Iowa to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Johnson was a member of the Miami Dolphin Super Bowl XIX (January 20, 1985) team. His first quarter two-yard touchdown catch from Dan Marino gave the Dolphins a 10-7 lead. It was the Dolphins’ only touchdown in a 38-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.


Players from a College in Iowa to score a TD in a Super Bowl
Keith Krepfle (Iowa State)            Super Bowl XV (Philadelphia Eagles, 1981)
Dan Johnson (Iowa State)             Super Bowl XIX (Miami Dolphins, 1985)
Tim Dwight (Iowa)                           Super Bowl XXXIII (Atlanta Falcons, 1999)
Kurt Warner (UNI)                           Super Bowl XXXVI (St. Louis Rams, 2002)

Otto Stowe- The Perfect Season

Otto Stowe was a member of one of the most famous teams in NFL history, and he has a Super Bowl ring to prove it. Stowe was a wide receiver on the 1972 Miami Dolphins undefeated (17-0) squad. The Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII (Jan 14, 1973), 14-7, to cap off the NFL’s last perfect season. Stowe caught 13 passes during the 1972 campaign and he proudly displayed his Super Bowl ring when he was enshrined into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. He was the first Cyclone to be on a Super Bowl-winning team, earning rings with the Dolphins in Super Bowl VII and VIII. Stowe led the Big Eight in receptions (59), receiving yards (822) and touchdown catches (6) as a senior in 1970.


Iowa State Hall-of-Famer Otto Stowe was a member of two Super Bowl champion teams with the Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl VII and VIII).

Cyclone Coaching Tree

When the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos met in Super Bowl XLVIII (Feb. 2, 2014), the Iowa State football program gained some national notoriety. The reason being that both head coaches – Pete Carroll (Seattle) and John Fox (Denver) – spent time early in their careers as assistant coaches at Iowa State. Carroll was on Earle Bruce’s final staff in 1978 and Fox was the defensive coordinator on Jim Criner’s 1984 Cyclone staff.


Former Cyclone Player Directs Defense In Super Bowl

Rod Rust is a Webster City, Iowa native who lettered for the Cyclones in 1947-48, starting at center in 1948. Rust went on to an outstanding coaching career, including stints with eight NFL teams. He was the first former Cyclone player to coach in a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX (January 26, 1986) vs. the Chicago Bears. Rust later became the head coach of the Patriots during the 1990 season.


Rod Rust was Iowa State’s starting center in 1948. He was the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Rookie Wins It All

Iowa State All-American Kelechi Osemele became the third Cyclone to play on a Super Bowl-winning team as the starting left guard for the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII (Feb. 3, 2013). The Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31. Osemele joined Stowe (Super Bowl VI, VII; Miami Dolphins) and Karl Nelson (Super Bowl XXI; New York Giants) in the elite club as Super Bowl winners. Osemele was one of two rookies to start for the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.


Iowa State All-American Karl Nelson won a Super Bowl as a starting offensive lineman for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXI.

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