FL grad headed to NCAA quarterfinal

His senior year at Forest Lake, the Rangers went 24-6 and earned a bid to the state basketball tournament. His freshman year at St. Thomas? The Tommies won the NCAA Division III national championship.

Now, in his junior year at STU, Zach Riedeman is part of the starting lineup vying for another national championship as the Tommies have already earned a spot in the elite eight.

In a team-based atmosphere like Tommie basketball, the 6’4” forward does his part by averaging 9.1 points. Riedeman also has 31 steals and 59 assists and has played in all 30 games so far.

Riedeman earned and kept a starting position after stepping up to fill the shoes of 6’5” senior Noah Kaiser, who was injured earlier in the year.

Despite the starting role in a successful program, Riedeman remains humble.

“I wouldn’t say I have a specific role,” the business major said. “Everyone kind of plays a similar role here from rebounding to scoring and passing—we just have a lot of depth and talent.”

St. Thomas head basketball coach John Tauer said the transition to a fully team-oriented squad isn’t always an easy one for a star high school athlete like Riedeman, who lettered in football, basketball and baseball at Forest Lake.

“Zach came in as one of the most decorated Forest Lake athletes and had little transition period into his freshman year as part of a national championship team,” Tauer said. “He has such a passion for life and basketball, plays so hard and stays humble. He really came to accept and realize that he’s important to the team, and is a great role model for the younger guys on the team.”

Riedeman’s team mindset became apparent while discussing the St. Thomas season so far and what lies ahead. He mentioned the team goal of playing 33 games this season, which would be achieved if they reach the national championship, and the history of the program’s success in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: The Tommie squad recorded its 28th MIAC championship title this winter, the most in conference history (Hamline University is in second place with.)

St. Thomas is also the fifth winningest program of NCAA Division III schools with 1,527 wins in 103 seasons. The top-ranked Tommies are looking to add another win to their 29-1 record this season when they face No. 8 Williams (Mass.) at 11 a.m. tomorrow, March 22, in Salem, Va.

Riedeman said anything can happen this time of year but the Tommies are ready for some tough competition, just one reason the junior said he wouldn’t alter his decision to attend the St. Paul school if given the chance.

“I definitely wouldn’t change it for the world,” Riedeman said. “Overall, all of my expectations have been met—I’ve made good friends both in class and on the team and I’m close to home so my parents can make almost every game. I’m happy with my decision and wouldn’t do it any differently.”

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