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The old Sunmart Foods building north of the Fargodome is now the temporary weight-lifting facility for North Dakota State now that the Bison Sports Arena is undergoing a major renovation. (Dave Wallis / The Forum)

Former Sunmart now nourishing Bison muscles

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Fargo, ND - North Dakota State’s temporary weight training facility used to be a grocery store and the evidence is still there. For instance, when the football players warm up before a workout, they gather under the “Dairy” sign on the wall.

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The temporary wrestling practice room is located near the “Produce” section, which probably can be taken another way: It’s time to produce on the mat. The former checkout aisle lights greet people as they walk in the door in what once was a Sunmart Foods store on 19th Avenue North.

Some of the athletes refer to it as “Kra-mart,” but director of athletic performance Jim Kramer said that nickname isn’t going to stick. They probably should best adhere to his advice.

The facility became necessary because of the renovation to the Bison Sports Arena, which is expected to keep the weight training, athletic training and wrestling programs in their makeshift digs until the fall of 2016. Kramer said other than the hassle of moving all the equipment, it will suffice just fine.

In fact, it’s probably better for weight training than the BSA in the respect there is more usable space, and the administration a floor below won’t have to deal with the constant pounding of weights dropping on the floor that they put up with for years at the BSA.

About the only possible concern would be complaints from next door CVS pharmacy but Kramer said, so far, that hasn’t been an issue.

“The biggest concern before we got in here was just the timeline,” he said.

The football players, for example, are in the middle of summer training. They used the facility at Minnesota State Moorhead for a short period of time and all-in-all missed only one day. And, in that day, they helped move and set up equipment at the old Sunmart.

NDSU elicited the services of the company that made a lot of the equipment to help move, but Kramer said, “If it wasn’t for our athletes, we couldn’t have done this. That’s why I think you saw them take some pride in this. They were starting to post pictures and stuff like that.”

That was no surprise to head football coach Chris Klieman, who said that “is the Bison way. That’s what guys do is pitch in to help. It didn’t matter where we were going to go, our kids always seem to adjust.”

The most important factor aside from size, Klieman said, is location. Once practice gets rolling in the fall, it’s common for players to be in a meeting in the Fargodome and then have to be at a weight training session in 15 minutes.

That wouldn’t be possible with a bussing system at a building away from campus.

“For us to be right across the street, that will help us not miss a beat in fall camp,” Klieman said.

When completed, the new training facility inside the Sanford Health Athletic Complex will mostly be in an area currently occupied by the swimming and diving pool as well as an addition to the west. But for now, working out under a “Bakery/Deli” sign will suffice for Bison athletes.

“As a strength coach, I’ve always been more concerned with that the athletes are doing in here then how they’re dressed or the aesthetics of the building,” Kramer said. “But I also know some of our coaches have said they have no problem bringing a recruit over here to see this. We’re looking forward to going into our new facility but this sure isn’t bad.”

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Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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