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Some St. Thomas athletes upset, others OK with MIAC departure

Current freshmen at St. Thomas will be the first class to play in a different conference when the change takes place in 2021

ST PAUL, Minn. — A lot of feelings on campus about St. Thomas University getting the boot from the MIAC conference can be summed up like this: 

"I mean, if you can't beat them, I guess you have to kick them out," said freshman hockey player Nicole Knudson.

The press release from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basically gives that reason, "athletic competitive parity," for why the other schools' presidents forced St. Thomas out.

RELATED: University of St. Thomas removed from MIAC membership

The Tommies have won 56 percent of all MIAC Championships over the last five years.

"There's always going to be someone who is the team to beat, who is going to be the best. So when you take us out, it doesn't seem realistic. There's always going to be someone that's there," said freshman tennis player Jordyn Brown.

"I mean, you would assume people want competition. And that's what we're giving people," Knudson said.

The freshmen athletes' senior season will be St. Thomas' first outside of the MIAC.

"I think the hardest part is just not knowing what's going to happen to us next," said freshman hockey player Anna Solheim.

That, and the potential loss of tradition, like the annual St. John's-St. Thomas football game.

St. John's Athletic Director Bob Alpers said he's very disappointed St. Thomas was kicked out of the conference. He pointed out the decision was made at the presidential level, not among the athletic directors, and he said they'll do whatever they can to preserve the Tommy-Johnny game.

But some student athletes said they think it's time for St. Thomas to move on, especially if it means going Division 2.

RELATED: Are St. Thomas' days in the MIAC numbered?

"The general thing that I've heard is that people don't like going to the second half of games, just because the score will run up against a lot of the smaller teams we play," said senior rowing athlete John Mikkelson.

"I think better competition is good for us," said junior track and field athlete Aidan Ritzenthaler.