By Jeff Wald

It’s March, which means it’s tournament time for many Division III sports programs.

It’s been quite the winter season in the MIAC, with several teams making NCAA Tournament runs after either winning the league playoff title or receiving an at-large bid. Here’s a look back at some of those runs.

St. Thomas Women’s Hoops Title Run Falls Just Short

The St. Thomas women’s basketball team had an unprecedented run for a Division III national championship come up just short this year. The Tommies entered the MIAC Playoffs as the No. 1 seed after a 25-0 regular season. They beat St. Benedict and Gustavus Adolphus to take the league playoff championship.

That run continued as St. Thomas beat UW-Superior, University of Chicago, Marymount (Va.) and Whitman to advance to the Division III Final Four. But that’s where the dream ended, as the Tommies lost a close-fought contest to Tufts, 60-57, in a national semifinal. Tufts then lost to Amherst in the national title game.

Bethel Men’s Hoops Suffers Early NCAA Exit

The Bethel men’s basketball team beat St. John’s to lock up the MIAC’s automatic bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for the Royals, their stay didn’t last long. They gave UW-River Falls, a top-10 team all season, everything it could handle. The two squads went to double overtime, but the Falcons edged the Royals 94-92. It was Bethel’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991.

St. Thomas Men’s Hoops Falls On Buzzer-Beater

The St. Thomas men’s basketball team was one of the last teams selected to this year’s NCAA Tournament for its 12th straight national appearance. Their reward was a date with Augustana, a team they beat last year on their way to the national championship. The Tommies had an eight-point lead on Augustana this year in the opening round with 40 seconds left, but Augustana made a furious rally to come back and got a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 77-74 victory. The Tommies ended the year with a 19-9 record. Augustana made a run to the national championship game, where it lost to Babson.

Augsburg Men’s Hockey Falls In NCAA Quarterfinals

The Augsburg men’s hockey team got the MIAC’s lone bid for this year’s NCAA Tournament after beating St. Thomas in the league title game. The Auggies earned a first-round bye and faced St. Norbert, last year’s national runner-up, the in quarterfinals. The two teams went to overtime, where St. Norbert got the game-winning goal with 6:06 left. Corbin Chapman had a big game for Augsburg in the loss with two goals and an assist. Trevor Stewart scored the other goal for Augsburg, which out-shot St. Norbert 34-26 for the game. Nick Schmit finished with 22 saves in net for the Auggies.

Gustavus Women’s Hockey Reaches NCAA Semis

The Gustavus women’s hockey team beat St. Thomas 3-2 in overtime to earn the MIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Both teams got into the 12-team field. St. Thomas lost in the opening round to eventual national champion Plattsburgh State, 4-2. Gustavus beat UW-River Falls in its opening game, 3-2. The Gusties faced Adrian in a national semifinal and suffered a tough 3-2 loss in overtime. In that game, Laura Johnson scored a power-play goal and Marina Chapman added another power-play goal. Amanda DeNeila also made a career-high 52 saves in net, including 17 in overtime before the game-winning goal.

Gustavus faced Norwich in the third-place game and ended its season with a 3-1 victory. Erica Power scored twice and Diana Drayer added the other goal. The Gusties finished the season 19-7-2, and won the MIAC regular season title with a 13-2-3 mark.

It was an exciting winter season in MIAC athletics, and more is on the way this spring.