A Night of Inspiration in Kenyon
Saturday night several individuals and two teams were inducted into the Kenyon-Wanamingo Athletic Hall of Fame. It was the fourth year for the event and each year I've been inspired by the presenters as well as the award recipients. Many of the inductees I had the pleasure of calling some of their games either solo or with the legendary Mike Morrissey.
In the case of Rob Warneke and his presenter Brian Danielson I did not see their high school contests but did see many of their football games at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Danielson called Warneke, "The guy with the talent" during his presentation. Warneke was a two-year MIAC 1st Team All-Conference outside linebacker at St. Olaf and also a school record holder in the Javelin where he earned All-Conference honors. The 1986 Wanamingo High School graduate was the St. Olaf Defensive Player of the Year in 1989, Team MVP in 1990 and a Co-Captain in 1990.
He was a four year starter in football at St. Olaf. Warneke played baseball in high school and picked up the Javelin his junior year in college. He placed 11th in the NCAA National Tournament in 1990. He was MIAC Champion in 1989 and was Runner-up in 1990.
After college he went into teaching and coaching, mostly at Byron and Pine Island High Schools. Warneke is presently on the Pine Island School Board. He has been married for 26 years to Stacy (Schroeder) Warneke for 26 years and they have four children. Two are at home. Will is a junior and Same an 8th grader at Pine Island. Ben graduated from UW-Lacrosse and majored in Physical Education with an emphasis in Adaptive PE and Eliza is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in nursing.
Warneke has been a teacher at Byron High School since 1993 and received a national award for Most Innovative Math Department in 2011. He coached football for 15 years at Byron and 8 years at Pine Island. Basketball at Byron, boys for 3 years and girls for 9 years. Track for 5 years at Byron.
Rob was a huge admirer of Jeff Evert. Former Superintendent of the Kenyon-Wanamingo schools who passed away just a couple months before his scheduled retirement. He was a longtime teacher in Wanamingo before going into administration and Rob indicated had a tremendous influence on his life.
Warneke noted how blessed he felt by the coaches on the St. Olaf football team too. Describing them as "men of integrity" who believed you played the game to win but you could be a winner all the time when you played the game right. Head Coach Tom Porter, his linebacker coach Tim Larsen, Defensive Coordinator Jim Dimick and secondary coach Dave Hauck.
Kasi (Quam) Bilitz graduated in 2001 and was involved in volleyball, basketball and softball at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School. A 5-time letterwinner in hoops and was a member of the 2001 team that placed third at state the same year the boys won the state title. Four years All-Conference and All-Area player in basketball and was a finalist for Ms. Minnesota Basketball her senior year.
When Kasi graduated she was the scoring record holder with 1,951 points. Mara Quam broke the record just a couple seasons ago. Kasi played Division One college ball at Binghamton University in New York. She presently lives in Medford with husband David and their eight children ranging in age from 18 months to 13 years. She home-schools her kids, is actively involved at her church and loves working with youth as a volunteer in the Medford Basketball Association.
Kasi thanked her parents, the communities of Kenyon and Wanamingo and all the people who supported her during her high school career. She said most children probably don't realize all the help they receive when they are receiving it and it was an honor to be able to thank everyone during her induction into the Kenyon-Wanamingo Athletic Hall of Fame.
Grant Hoven graduated from Wanamingo High School in 1967 and played four years of football, three years basketball and 5 years baseball. His senior year he set a Wasioja Conference record for points scored in a season with 984. This is long before the three point shot.
Hoven said football was his favorite sport even though his baseball team won the Wasioja Conference in 1967 and he was a pitcher on that team.
He attended Dunwoody Institute and enrolled in the electrical program, graduating in 1978. Then started his own electrical business which he operated until 1999 when he joined a union and worked in Rochester. Grant and his wife Cathay married in 1972 and have two sons. Both are currently retired and live in St. Paul after 42 years in rural Wanamingo.
Nathan Lexvold wrestled on the varsity from 2002 through 2008 and his coach Matt Ryan said during his presentation the young man was one of the guys who helped turn the wrestling program into the state power it has become in recent years.
Lexvold finished with a high school record of 186-47 and had over 100 pins in his career. He wrestled at state four years where he finished third as a freshman, second as a sophomore and State Champion with a undefeated senior season. He was twice Academic All-State. He shared an honor with his brothers that will more than likely never be beaten and is unlikely to be matched. The only time in Minnesota history where four brothers made it to State in the same year.
After graduation he went to Augsburg where he lettered three years and wrestled four years. Three years his teams were National Runner-up and won a National title in 2009.
Nathan currently farms with his parents and younger brother Mitchel at Bombay Dairy and is Head Coach of the K-W Junior Varsity.
He said something during his acceptance speech that will forever stick with me and I'm sure many in attendance Saturday night. "Life is too short to be negative."
Lisa (Angelstad) Schaefer graduated from Kenyon High School in 1987 where she participated in volleyball, basketball and track. Upon graduation she held the school scoring record with a career total of 1,138 points (before the three point basket).
Lisa led her team in scoring, assists and steals for three years and started varsity for four years. She was a three time Wasioja All-Conference selection and her teams won the conference title in 1984, 1986 and 1987. They were District 4 Champions in 1987 and Region 1 Runner-up in 1987.
In volleyball she was a three year starter and letter winner under legendary coach Diane Nikkunen . Lisa was a two-time All-Conference selection and her teams were District Champions three times. The Kenyon Vikings were Region 1 Runner-up in 1985 and Champions in 1986. They placed 4th at the State Tournament in 1986.
Lisa was a three year letter winner in track and set a school record in the 3200 Meter Run with a time of 12:57. She was a Conference Champion in the 400 Meter Dash in 1984 and qualified for Regions in that event and on the 1500 Meter Relay team.
Lisa played college basketball at Mankato State in 1988, St. Catherine College in 1989 and then decided to focus full-time on academics. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas in 1991 and has been in the financial services industry for 25 years. She is currently the Vice President of Wealth Management for Dougherty and Company LLC in Minneapolis.
Lisa took the time in her acceptance speech to thank the late Ray Strandemo for taping all of her games aired on KDHL Radio during her high school career and the bus drivers that took her to her games. She credited Coach Nikkunen with teaching her mental toughness with her "pioneer training techniques." She also thanked basketball coach Steve Alger and track coach Jerry Berg.
I had the pleasure of visiting with her Dad, Al many times at his business the Kenyon Motor Mart before he left us too soon at the age of 62 in 1999. Al always said, "Gordy you should have seen my daughter play basketball. She was a very tenacious player and a good defender as well as offensive player."
Hans Sviggum played football, basketball and baseball and ran track at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School. He was the point guard on the 1998 team that went to the State Tournament and finished fourth. The four year basketball letter winner was All-Conference in 1998-99 and the 1999 team was the Hiawatha Valley League Champions.
In football Hans played quarterback and was All-HVL his junior and senior years. He holds the career and season touchdown record at Kenyon-Wanamingo.
In baseball Hans lettered four years and was All-Conference two years and he ran track in 1999 where he and Dustin Quam, Bret Loudy and Kyle Nerison set the school record in the 4 by 400 relay team.
Upon graduation Hans played at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and was a four year letter winner. Three of those years Gustavus participated in the NCAA Division 3 Tournament. Sviggum was Captain of the 2003 team that was National Runner-up. Hans attended Mayo Medical School and is currently an Anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic. He and wife Rachel live in Rochester with their five children.
Hans was hilarious in talking about his athletic accomplishments recalling his first game as a varsity quarterback where he threw four touchdown passes and two of them were interceptions by the opposing team.
His father Steve was his presenter and said what made his son achieve all he did in sports was, "A huge heart."
Mikkel Haugen was unable to speak at last year's K-W Hall of Fame Banquet due to a medical issue and was happy to be able to speak this year. He thanked his brother Anders for speaking on his behalf last year and also thanked his coaches and teammates for their support during his high school years. Mikkel graduated in 2005 and still holds several football records at K-W. Individual Season and Career Points 82/144. Individual Season and Career Touchdowns 13/24. Individual Season and Career Yards 1,544/2,389. Season Kick-off Return Yards 788 (2004).
Mikkel then played football for three seasons at St. Thomas University where he was forced to quit after suffering three concussions and then coached for a season. He earned MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2006 and was recognized as one of 22 collegiate players across the country (in all NCAA Divisions) chosen as members of the 2008 All State AFCA Good Works Team. The honor allowed him to go to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl to receive the award and do service work.
Haugen is currently part of St. Peter Family Dental in St. Peter, Minnesota where he and wife Gabbi are raising their two sons.
Jerry Wieme was the Head Coach of the 2001 Class 2A State Champion K-W boys basketball team. He will be inducted this month into the Minnesota State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. In his 21 years as a Head Basketball Coach Wieme had seven 20 win seasons. His teams won four Wasioja and two HVL Conference titles. Three Sub-section second place finishes, five District/Sub-section Championships, two Section titles.
The Knights placed 4th at State in 1998 and won the title in 2001.
Jerry graduated from Winona State University in 1971 and then spent two years in the U.S. Army. He taught three years in Faribault before arriving in Kenyon in 1977. In his 34 years at Kenyon and Kenyon-Wanamingo he coached many sports at different levels. He was Athletic Director the final 7 years of his career at K-W.
Wieme thanked his children and wife for sharing his passion for the sport of basketball and specifically his wife Cathy for allowing him to be away a lot so he could do what he loved. Son Josh is the Athletic Director and Head Coach for girls basketball at Goodhue. Son Jake is Head Coach of the K-W football team and will be the Head Coach for girls basketball this season.
Daughter Megan Powell joined her brothers in presenting their father at the Saturday banquet at K-W High School.
Josh was an Assistant with his dad when they won the state title and Jerry described it as, "About as good as it gets."
Wieme is the winningest boys basketball coach in Kenyon-Wanamingo history with a record of 305-183. That's a 62% winning percentage.
Honored teams included the 1969-70 Kenyon Viking Basketball Team and 2007 K-W Baseball Team.
The 1969-70 team was HVL champs for the third straight year and beat Zumbrota-Mazeppa for the "Alfie the Goat" trophy.
The team was coached by the legendary Ron Hested who went on to have some incredible teams at Fairmont. He came back to be a presenter for the team and shared how much he enjoyed coaching them. His assistants were Ralph Hagberg and Pete Christenson.
Members of the first Kenyon team to go to the State Basketball Tournament were Harvey Bergh, Steve Bjelland, Greg Cantan, Terry Forsberg, Ross Hiner, Mark Huseth, Tom Johnson, Chuck Kjos, Phil Maring, Brad Nesseth, Steve Norman, Rick Olson, Mark Peters, Wendy Ring, Mark Rodde, Jim Sviggum, Bruce Vermilyea, Steve Weisbecker and Elliott Whitney.
Remember in those days there was only one class so big schools and small schools were all lumped together and you had to win several games to even get to State. Two classes would begin the next season in Minnesota and currently there are four classes.
Kenyon was one of just seven small schools to advance to state out of Region One since the region tournament started in 1913.
In the Region Championship game the Vikings went up against the top ranked team in the state out of Red Wing. The Wingers had a 22 game winning streak. Kenyon won the game 59-57. They lost at the State Tournament but Coach Hested said, "It didn't diminish their season of accomplishments."
The cheerleaders for that team were also honored. They were judged the best cheer squad at the State Tournament and received the 1970 St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch Trophy.
Jim Sviggum presented the team and noted team member Shari (Nesseth) Quam always tells him they brought home a trophy and not the boys basketball team.
Other members of the squad were Jan Fleming, Mary Finseth, Suzi (Broin) Pederson, Cindy (Estrem) Trapp, Carmen (Albright) Nesseth.
The 2007 Kenyon-Wanamingo Baseball Team was the first K-W baseball team to make it to the State Tournament. The team was 18-7 and placed second in the HVL Blue Division. Pitching was the key. Led by lefty Noah Grove who was named to the All-State Team. I affectionately call him "China" Grove.
In addition to Grove, Adam Langer (a Doctor in Ohio), Andrew Anfinson and Wade Yunker were All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-Conference members from the team were Justin Laue, Caleb Langar and Nate Steenblock.
The Knights lost to Pipestone 8-7 in their first game and Park Rapids 11-0 in the Consolation Bracket at State. Other members of the team were Shane Dahlgren, Tyler Eggert, Chris Gilbertson, Dan Lewis, Ryan Overby, Brandon Pedersen, Jared Peterson, Rocky Rapp, Adam Schaefer, Eric Swiggum.
Head Coach Randy Hockinson was the presenter along with his assistant Paul Senjem. The pitching coach was Mark Strandemo.
Hockinson said he "Thoroughly enjoyed coaching the boys."
Cheryl (Bird) Lee could not attend but was also inducted into the K-W Athletic Hall of Fame.
The program biography notes she graduated from Wanamingo High School in 1990 and lettered in volleyball for three years and was team MVP her senior season. She lettered 5 years in basketball and was voted MVP twice.
Cheryl was Wasioja All-Conference three times in basketball and held 19 of the 35 school records for girls basketball at Wanamingo when she graduated. She had a career point total of 1,406. Her single game records include: Most Points (34), Most Field Goals (14), Most Free Throws (14), Best Field Goal Percentage (92.9), Most Rebounds (21), and most blocked shots (11).
Cheryl currently lives in Stillwater with husband Kurt and their two sons. She is a pharmacist in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.