Brian Karalunas (Photo: thenovablog.com)
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Swarm today signed two 2011 draft picks: Todd Baxter (Denver University) to a three-year contract and D Brian Karalunas (Villanova University) to a two-year contract. Minnesota selected Baxter in the sixth round (48th overall) and Karalunas with the 29th pick in the fourth round.
Baxter, 22, is a graduate of Eden Prairie H.S. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) where he was a standout lacrosse player for the Eagles. As Eden Prairie's team captain, Baxter was honored as an All-American and All-State selection in high school. He also finished as the school’s all-time points leader.
“It’s going to be a true honor to play for such a great organization like the Minnesota Swarm,” Baxter said. “To be able to play in front of my home state, my family, and my hometown friends is something I’m looking forward to. I grew up watching the Swarm and I went to the games when I was younger. To be a part of the team now is very exciting.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound forward spent one season at Fairfield University (2008) before transferring to Denver University where he went on to finish his collegiate career during the 2009-11 seasons.
In 2011, Baxter helped lead Denver to its first Final Four appearance in school history after recording 49 points (31g, 18a). In his three-year career with the Pioneers, Baxter registered 92 points (59g, 33a) in 48 games and earned ALL-ECAC Second Team honors during his senior season.
“Todd Baxter is another tremendous character player with great leadership skills,” Owner and President John Arlotta said. “He has a tremendous commitment to winning as he demonstrated during the NCAA playoffs when he carried his team to the NCAA Final Four despite playing with a significant injury. In fact, his coach called him the heart and soul of the Denver team that became the first team west of the Mississippi River to make the Final Four. Again, he is exactly the type of player that we want in the Swarm organization, and he is a real credit to the Minnesota lacrosse community.”
Karalunas, 22, was Villanova’s first three-time All-American in Men’s Lacrosse. In 2011, he appeared in all 16 contests as a long-stick midfielder for the Wildcats and recorded 74 ground balls and 70 caused turnovers. He led the NCAA in caused turnovers per game for the second consecutive year, averaging 4.38 takeaways per game.
Karalunas became Villanova’s first USILA First Team All-American and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Winner in 2011. In addition, he was also named to the All-BIG EAST First Team, and was honored as Villanova’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year during his senior year.
The Dewitt, N.Y. native appeared in all 63 games during his four-year career with the Wildcats and tallied 213 ground balls, an NCAA record 153 caused turnovers and two assists.
“Brain Karalunas was one of the most outstanding defensive players in the NCAA last year,” Arlotta said. “He is particularly adept at causing turnovers and grabbing loose balls, and this was a point of emphasis for us in the draft. In addition, he is extremely smart, a tremendous leader, and has great character as is demonstrated by his nomination for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award as well as his candidacy for a Rhodes Scholarship. He is exactly the type of player and person we want in the Swarm organization."