High School - Big 9 Conference
Middle School - 3 Rivers Conference
The Winona Senior High School Hall of Fame recognizes athletes, coaches, and community members who represent the best of the Winhawk spirit, teamwork, and determination on our Hall of Fame wall display.
Inductees are selected through a nomination process. Anyone is welcome to fill out a nomination form for who they feel is a deserving former Winona Senior High School athlete, coach or community supporter.
For a nomination form; or information regarding Winona Senior High School's Hall of Fame please choose from the buttons on the left hand side of the page.
Dan Laak, son of Jack and Pat Laak, was born and raised in Winona, along with his older brothers Mike and Steve, and younger brother Bob. He was a good student and a good diver, qualifying for the State Meet as a junior under the guidance of Larry Clingman. Dan Murphy, another great diving coach, followed Clingman and introduced Laak to some new diving techniques and expanded his repertoire.
After graduating from Winona High, Laak enrolled at UW–LaCrosse and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Administration. While at LaCrosse, Laak’s diving career took off. He set three diving records and was a five-time All-American (1979-1982). Head Coach Barry Schockmel describes Dan as a great teammate – quiet and focused with an even keel disposition and a positive mental attitude. Laak was Schockmel’s first All-American and was inducted into the UW-LaCrosse Wall of Fame in 2003.
After graduating from LaCrosse, Laak served as Head Diving Coach at the University of Tennessee for two seasons before taking over the diving program at the University of Georgia where he coached for 31 years. While at Georgia, Laak helped coach the Bulldog Swimming and Diving team to twelve SEC Championships, seven NCAA Championships, was named SEC Diving Coach of the Year four times as well as the NCAA Division I National Diving Coach of the Year three times. Under Laak’s tutelage, two of his divers, Chris Colwill and Minnesota native, Laura Ryan collected five NCAA Diving Championships. Laak is a three-time Olympic coach, twice for Team USA in 2008 (Colwill) and 2012 (Colwill), and in 2016 served as coach for Team Brazil (Cesar Castro).
Laak served as Chairman of the NCAA Diving Rules Committee from 1997-2000 and was on the NCAA Championships Committee from 2013-2017. Laak was inducted into the State of Georgia Aquatics Hall of Fame in 2017.
Trip Hedrick, former Winona High and Iowa State Swim Coach, described Laak as one of the most respected diving coaches in the country, with a calm demeanor and sense of fairness, honesty, and personal integrity that separates him from the field. Although Trip only coached Laak for one year, he remembers him as having strong leadership skills, even as a high school student.
When Georgia head swim coach, Jack Baurle, was asked about Laak, he said the word that comes to mind is “loyalty”. In addition to coaching Dan served as our meet coordinator and took on many organizational and management duties in the Bulldog program. He was a tremendous diving coach as well as being completely immersed and constantly looking for ways to make the entire program better. Dan was ‘all about’ the team and has put an indelible stamp on the Georgia Bulldog program.
Laak has recently accepted the position as High Performance Director for USA Diving, one of the most prestigious jobs in the country in diving. Laak said he loved every minute of his coaching career at Georgia and wasn’t looking to leave but could not turn down the opportunity to serve at the USA level.
Laak and his wife, Kim, have two sons, Tyler and Justin.
Marni Benson, daughter of David and Gena Benson, began her swim career as a six-year old in 1994. Her big sister, Brita, was an outstanding competitive swimmer and she wanted to be one too. Marni broke her first swimming record in the 2002 YMCA State Meet in the 100 Yard Freestyle and then went on to take first place in the 200 Free and 100 Yard Breaststroke. From there it was “Off to the Races” under the tutelage of YMCA Swim Coach Jim Pingry. She was an 11-time YMCA State Qualifier with 19 age-group state titles. Marni enthusiastically gave back by serving as a YMCA Swim Coach and was recognized in 2002 as the YMCA Aquatics Department Volunteer of the Year.
Benson continued to dominate at the High School level, making the varsity team as a 7th Grader, breaking many Winona High and Big Nine records throughout her career in both freestyle and breaststroke events. Marni graduated from Winona High with a 4.0 GPA, earning All-Conference Honors as well as Big Nine Academic Achievement Awards five straight years, and was named Big Nine Scholar Athlete her senior year. Benson was a four-time State Qualifier in the breaststroke earning All-State Honors three times. She broke the Winona High record in the breaststroke each of her final four years and set a Big Nine record in the breaststroke in 2004.
Marni continued swimming with the YMCA, qualifying for six events in the National Tournament in 2002. Benson was also an eight-time state tournament qualifier for USA Swimming, placing in the top six eleven times. In 2005, Marni was the Women’s 100 Meter State Champion in the breaststroke.
Marni followed in sister Brita’s footsteps after graduating from Winona High, enrolling at Iowa State University where she continued her swimming dominance. Benson lettered in Swimming all four years at ISU and was named All Big 12 First Team three times. She set Iowa State University records in the breaststroke three times and was a member of four record breaking relay teams at ISU.
Iowa State University Head Coach Duane Sorenson summarized Marni’s final season by stating, “As one of our captains this season, Marni Benson was a leader both in and out of the pool. She was the first one in the water every day leading the team in our warm-up set and pushing herself on a daily basis to be the best she could be. She capped off her season by finishing second in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Big 12 Championships. Congratulations, Marni, on being our Most Valuable Swimmer.”
Marni and her husband, Colton, reside in Ankeny, Iowa along with their two dogs. Marni is a service center manager for Aspen Waste Systems in Des Moines and Colton is a paralegal with the law firm of Gray and Hodges.
David Heise, “The Heis”, son of Dr. Herbert and Mildred Heise, was born and raised in Winona, Minnesota. David’s love of sports came at a very early age through the inspiration of brother, Bill. Whether playing pick-up ball on the driveway, at the nearby park, or at the YMCA, David was an eager participant and well on his way to becoming a lifelong Winhawk.
Heise was a standout letter winner in basketball and baseball at Winona Senior High and immediately recognized for his skills, tenacity, and leadership. He served as co-captain in basketball and was one of five players selected to the Big Nine All-Conference First Team. In his senior year, his basketball team won the District and Region Titles, finishing fourth in the one-class State Tournament in 1961. David was also an outstanding baseball player, holding the highest batting average on the team in his junior year.
After high school graduation (1961), Heise enrolled at St. Olaf College where he played both basketball and baseball for the Oles, serving as co-captain on both teams. David’s major college basketball highlight came in his Senior Year when his Oles won the MIAC Conference Title. After earning his chemistry and biology degree, David enrolled in Medical School at the University of Minnesota. Feeling a tug to do something with his passion for math, he left medical school to pursue a master’s degree in math at Winona State. This allowed Heise time to play basketball and fast-pitch softball. David played on many city league championship basketball and fast-pitch softball teams, winning some state softball tournaments, at times leading the league in hitting, and always securing the third base position on the team. In his ‘spare’ time, he could be spotted on the golf course, in the gym, or in the racquetball courts at the YMCA.
After completion of his master’s degree, David was hired to teach math at Winona High; a position he held most honorably for 47 years. He taught geometry, advanced algebra, pre-calc. and calculus. He was a well-respected leader and colleague; serving faithfully as the Math Department Chair, Site based Team Leader, Faculty Representative for the District Math Curriculum Committee, and as Co-President of the WEA. Along with his teaching duties, he volunteered for youth coaching clinics and has served on the board at the YMCA. Heise has been a lifelong member of the Y and continues to play racquetball several days a week.
During Heise’s coaching career at Winona High, he served in many leadership positions in baseball, softball, and both boys’ and girls’ basketball. He was Girls’ Head Basketball Coach for thirteen years and held the Head Softball position from its Title 9 infancy until his retirement. He was twice honored as Big Nine Softball Coach of the Year.
At his side throughout this life-long journey have been his devoted wife, Mary, and their daughter, Heather; the apple of his eye. Whether playing, coaching, or just living life, David attributes any and all success to a positive mental attitude and an unwavering faith in God.
Elliott Heath grew up in Winona with parents Bob and Linda and older brother Garrett. As a youngster Elliott was always outside playing soccer or shooting hoops. His father described him as a gamer, always thinking about the strategy of the game and how he could perform his skills a little better. As Garrett started seeing success at the varsity level in Cross-Country and Track, Elliott began showing some outstanding potential.
Elliott participated at the varsity level in Cross-Country as a seventh grader garnering six varsity letters, earning five All-Conference Awards and was voted Winona High’s Most valuable Runner four times. Heath was a three-time Big Nine Conference Champion as well as a three-time Section 1AA Champion in Cross-Country. Elliott qualified for the State Cross-Country Meet four times, finishing 28th, 8th, 1st, and 3rd. In a tremendous regular season effort, Elliott ran a career best 14:58 for 5K at the Faribault Invite. Elliott was selected as a High School All-American in Cross-Country and won the Junior Olympic National Cross-Country Championship in Boulder, Colorado following his senior season.
In Track and Field, Elliott had equally amazing success. He was a four-time All-Conference selection, winning the Big Nine in the 1600 and 3200 in his sophomore through his senior season. Heath was a three-time Section 1AA Champion in the 1600 and a two-time Champion in the 3200. Elliott took a fourth place and two thirds in the 1600 at the State Meet and was a two-time State Champion at 3200 meters, setting an all-time state record in the 3200 (8:42.8) his senior season.
Elliott also played basketball throughout high school as well as trumpet in the band displaying the same effort and attitude as he did in every facet of his life.
After graduating from High School, Elliott decided to join his brother at Stanford University which enabled Garrett and Elliott to run together as teammates one last season. Heath went on have considerable success at Stanford in both Cross-Country and Track garnering All-American Honors eleven times and winning the 3200 at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in 2011. Heath was named to the PAC 10 All-Academic Team a total of nine times in Cross-Country and Track. After graduating from Stanford, Elliott continued to run with his Stanford team-mates while competing under Nike Sponsorship. Heath finished 7th in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 5K and was runner-up in the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was also a member of the USA Cross-Country Team that finished second in the World Championships in Poland.
Elliott continued his studies while competing for Nike earning a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and is currently working for Nike in the area of product design and development.
David Dreas was born and raised in Winona, Minnesota by parents, Tom and Laura. He spent much of his childhood on the Knopp Valley Basketball Courts and at the John Nett Center, playing pickup games with mostly older friends. He excelled at the junior high level and made the varsity basketball team (6th man) as a 10th grader. David was named Big Nine Honorable Mention as a sophomore, made the All-Conference Team in his Junior and Senior seasons, and served as a team captain his Senior Year. David holds the Winona High record for career points (1186), career steals (196), career free-throw percentage (86.2%), as well as the highest free-throw percentage for a season (90.2%).
Rocky Peterson, David’s High School Basketball Coach, stated, “David truly knew how to train in the off-season, working to make every aspect of his game better while adding a new dimension each year. He is the type of point guard every coach is looking for, making every player around him better, as well as being able to score himself. David Dreas is the whole package.”
After graduating from Winona High, Dreas enrolled at St. Cloud State, where he took his game of basketball to the next level. David’s High School basketball career was outstanding, but his college career was phenomenal. Dreas, who played in every game in his four-year career at St. Cloud, was a three-time North Central All-Conference selection and led the Huskies in scoring for three consecutive seasons. Dreas still holds the All-time SCSU record for three pointers with 250 and is second on the Huskie all-time scoring chart with 1802 career points. As a sophomore, Dreas led the entire North Central Conference in scoring. David was a three-time Daktronics All-North Central Region selection and garnered a number of NCAA Division II All-American Honors as well as being selected to play in the Division II All-Star Game. As a senior, David served as a team captain, leading the Huskies to their second straight Regional Playoff berth, and was named to the NCC Academic All-Conference Team. Dreas was named the Noel Olson Honor Athlete Award winner as a Junior and was selected as a North Central Conference Honor Athlete in his Senior Season. In 2007, David Dreas was named St. Cloud State University Male Athlete of the Year.
Kevin Schlagel, St.Cloud State Head Basketball Coach, categorizes Dreas as “A tremendous basketball player, a good student, and a great person.” Schlagel continues, “David had a solid work ethic and was very coachable – a leader by example. His parents instilled core values that have stayed with him throughout his life.”
David was a member of a number of volunteer organizations while at St. Cloud, including Kids against Hunger and Husky Hot Shots, and participated in a reading program where St. Cloud State Athletes read to elementary students in the St. Cloud area.
David graduated from St. Cloud State with a major in marketing and is a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. After graduation, David was employed with Wells Fargo and Edward Jones in the investment field before opening his Arizona Training Lab, a personal fitness center which he owns and operates in Phoenix.
Brad Brewer, son of Paul and Rita, grew up in Winona with younger brother Todd and sisters Suzanne and Michele. At the age of twelve Brad attended a Golf Clinic put on by Pat Shortridge and decided to give golf a try. Brewer made the varsity golf team at Winona High as a freshman and was the Big Nine Conference Runner-up as a junior. He was named All-Conference in both his junior and senior season, and voted Team MVP as well as Team Captain for the golfing Winhawks. Brad was also selected to play in the Minnesota Golf Association Championships in both 1977 and 1978. Looking back, Brad felt the highlight of his high school career was being fortunate enough to be able to play golf with an awesome group of guys under the direction of Denny Johnson, not only a great coach and person, but a fellow artist. Brewer is also grateful for the advice and support he received from Pat Shortridge, golf pro at the Country Club, during his high school years and beyond.
Upon graduation, Brewer enrolled at Flagler College in Florida where he was voted Team Captain and Team MVP in both his Junior and Senior Seasons, finishing in the Top Ten in the Florida Intercollegiate Golf Championships both years. Brad was a twelve-time medalist during his tenure at Flagler and was inducted into the Flagler Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. Brad thoroughly enjoyed his college golfing career for many reasons. The opportunity to play golf all year long with and against quality golfers made it very special.
Brad’s high school career was impressive and his college career was outstanding, but his professional career has been nothing short of spectacular. He was a seven-time medalist on the pro tour, setting two course records in the process. He has had eleven top ten finishes in the Australian-Asian PGA Tour which afforded him the opportunity to play with some of the top golfers in the world, including Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, and good buddy Ian Baker-Finch.
Brewer’s professional highlight has been the opportunity to work for a man who took Brad under his wing serving as his employer, mentor, confidant, and friend – the late, great Arnold Palmer. Brad currently resides in Orlando, Florida where he runs his Brad Brewer Golf Academy. Brad has four children – daughters Kenna, Carli, and Tori, and son Bradley, Jr. as well as four grandchildren – Ella Claire, Xavier, Trey, and Damien.
Stacey Malewicki, daughter of Dody and Lee Huwald, grew up in Winona with brother Lance and sisters Angela and Holly. She was constantly outside playing basketball, baseball and football with Lance and some of the neighborhood kids. Her father, Lee, remembers her as being a competitive little squirt.
That competitive streak stayed with her right through her High School years. Stacey was a three-sport athlete, garnering a total of ten letters – three in volleyball, three in basketball, and four in track and field. In the words of volleyball coach Hayley Martin, “Stacey Malewicki was one of the most talented athletes to walk the halls of Winona Senior High. An All-Conference athlete in volleyball and basketball, Stacey was not only gifted, but possessed a strong work ethic and determined, competitive nature. She was an integral part of Winona High’s first Big Nine Championship in volleyball.” Martin summed up by stating, “Malo was not a fan of losing.”
Dave Heise remembers Stacey as a quiet, conscientious student athlete, one who lead by example. Stacey showed prowess in basketball at an early age, scoring 41 points in a junior high game as a 7th grader. She also holds the Senior High record for field goals in a basketball game with 17. That record is at 29 years and running. Stacey was the first Winona High Basketball player, male or female, to score 1000 points in a career and was selected to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Game.
In Track and Field, Stacey participated in the sprints, relays, as well as the high jump and long jump. At the time of her graduation, she had the third best all-time high jump and fourth best all-time long jump in Winona High History. Lynne Gronert states “Stacey was an athlete. She would have been successful at any sport she tried.”
After graduation, Stacey attended Winona State University for one year, participating in basketball, before transferring to St. Mary’s University and earning a degree in Accounting. After graduating from St. Mary’s, she went on to earn an MBA degree with an emphasis in Finance from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Stacey spent four years working at Watkins and four more at Peerless Chain before taking a position in the Finance and Administration department at Winona State in 2000 as a Budget Analyst. For the past ten years Stacey has served as the Winona State University Budget Director.
Stacey Matthees currently resides in Winona with her husband Tim, son Dakota, daughter Phoenix, and dog Benji. Tim has been employed by Schwab Construction for the past 21 years and currently serves as a job site superintendent. Stacy and Tim spend most of their free time attending their children’s athletic events.
Sarah Biggerstaff grew up in Winona with her parents, Mike and Julie, who encouraged her to try new things, including sports. She had her first experience with competitive sports playing basketball with the Winona Pacers. That group of Pacers became lifelong friends as well as the core of Winona High Volleyball, Basketball, and Softball Teams a few years later.
Sarah was a four-year varsity performer in Volleyball, a Big Nine All-Conference Selection, and served as team captain. Sarah currently holds the Winona Volleyball record for the most ace kills in a season with 400. That record is at 16 years and running. Coach Hayley Martin describes Sarah as an amazing student athlete with a smiling face and a bubbly personality. Martin goes on to say, “Biggs was self-motivated, focused, and fearless at the net with energy and enthusiasm that was infectious. She was a reflection of her parents, Mike and Julie, who provided constant and much appreciated support for the entire program. “
Sarah was also a three-year starter in Basketball, helping her team to a Big Nine Runner-up finish her junior season and a Big Nine Conference Championship her Senior Year. Coach Tim Gleason characterized Sarah as the ultimate team player, always willing to do whatever was necessary to make her team better. Sarah still holds the team record for the highest career shooting percentage (58.5%) and has the second highest season shooting percentage (60.4%) in team history. Sarah also played Softball through her Sophomore year and participated in Track and Field as a junior and a senior.
Sarah attended South Dakota State University, participating in Volleyball, and was part of the team that finished as NCAA Division II Runners-up her freshman year. A four-year starter, Sarah is third all-time at South Dakota State in block assists with 346. In addition to the athletic experience, Sarah was part of a select group of players who helped with the recruiting process and also served as a spokesman for SDSU Volleyball in some local radio ads and interviews.
After her Senior Year at SDSU, Sarah did an internship coaching USA Volleyball at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. She also worked in the Insurance Business with American Family and then took a job in the metro area with Campbell-Mithun, an advertising agency, and currently is employed by Carmichael-Lynch as a Senior Marketing Director. Sarah currently resides in Minnetonka with husband A.J.Scherbring, who also works in the advertising business, and their sons, Owen and Alex.
A standout athlete at Winona Senior High School, Morrie Miller participated in football, basketball, and track and field, graduating in 1962. Miller’s gracious sportsmanship was matched only by his tenacity on the field and his fierce competitive spirit. Teammates still remember Morrie pushing them during practice to run more and more sprints, shouting, “Keep Going, Keep Going!” until he was the last one standing. Defensive football statistics were not normally recorded at the high school level in those days, but newspaper articles often reported that Morrie Miller ranged from sideline to sideline, making tackle after tackle all game long, many of them in the opponent’s backfield. Miller was once penalized by an official for being “too aggressive”. Morrie spent much of his time blocking for the great Bob Grausnick on offense but still managed to gain 483 yards on just 69 carries for a season average of 7 yards per carry. He was also a tenacious defensive player in basketball, often collecting more fouls than points. Opposing basketball coaches reminded the officials on a regular basis that basketball was a non-contact sport when Morrie was in the game. Miller fouled out quite frequently, prompting his parents to joke that they needed to get to the game early if they wanted to see Morrie play. Miller was a proud member of the 1961 Winona High basketball team that played in the MN State Tournament.
Morrie was not only a phenomenal athlete who went on to play football at the University of Minnesota, but also a true scholar who earned his Doctorate in Education. Morrie doggedly pursued his passions in life and would be proud of how fervently the community has come together to help Winona’s youth.
A truly gifted athlete and scholar, Morrie Miller’s true passion in life centered around his family, especially his wife, Cindy, and his beloved children, Sarah and Jacob. He would be grateful and proud of the job Cindy did of raising their daughter, Sarah, a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology with teaching stints at Georgetown and Harvard, now working at the National Institute of Health; and son, Jacob, an accountant in Duluth. Family always came first for Morrie, and when his mother, Esther, needed him to come home and help with the family business, Morrie gave up the academic life and returned home without a second thought.
Sadly, the only obstacle that Morrie could not overcome was a rare form of cancer that took him from us far too soon. An article by Nick Coleman, entitled, “Honoring a Scrapyard Philosopher” described Morrie as a gentle giant who graduated with a Ph.D in Education from The University of Minnesota, then gave up a promising teaching career to help his mother with the family scrapyard in Winona. He was the only professor he knew who looked good in work-boots and could talk about the comic contradictions of life while shredding steel – a scrapyard philosopher whose mind was full of curiosity with a self-deprecating humor.
In 2004, the Morrie Miller Athletic Foundation was formed to carry on his great legacy by providing support to area youth in over twenty different programs. The foundation embraces Morrie’s life philosophy of helping children and leaving the world a better place.
Max Lossen, WSHS Class of 2001, was a three sport athlete at Winona High School, participating in football, wrestling, and track & field. Lossen was a four-year letter winner, two-time all-conference selection and senior captain in football. He was a two-time state place-winner in wrestling, finishing fifth as a junior heavyweight and winning the state championship at heavyweight in 2001. Max weighed in for his state final match at 208 pounds. Lossen was a four-year letter winner in track, qualifying for state in both shot and discus his junior and senior season and placing second and fourth at state in the shot put those two seasons.
There was a point in time where Max Lossen went from an easy going, fun loving kid to a focused athlete with dreams of greatness. Max felt the change happening when, as an eighth grader, he came up to a wrestling practice at the WSHS with his teammates. He watched the big guys, like Mike Thilmany and Jake Ruesgen, go toe to toe in practice and loved every minute; then went to the weight room with Kevin Hoover and saw how much passion and effort were being put forth in a positive environment, and he was hooked. The summer between his sophomore and junior season, Max was a Greco-Roman National Age Group Champion, and the stage was set. He went from “I think I can” to “I know I can” that summer. Lossen credits much of his wrestling success to his coaches. Cliff Casteel helped lay the foundation and build the base and Justin Smith put on the finishing touches.
After graduating from Winona High, Max enrolled at Michigan State University where he earned a degree in construction management and participated in wrestling. Max was a three-year letterman and an All–Big Ten Conference selection as a senior. Lossen served as president of MSU’s Athletes in Action from 2003 through 2006.
Max also wrestled Greco-Roman and Freestyle during the offseason in both high school and college and qualified for the Olympic Trials in Greco-Roman in 2004 and in Freestyle in 2008.
Upon graduation from Michigan State, Max was hired as a professional firefighter in Norfolk, Virginia where he was named Norfolk Firefighter of the Year in 2008. Max also served as assistant wrestling coach at Old Dominion University during that time. He is currently working on his biology degree at Old Dominion with plans to earn a medical degree as a physician.
Max resides in Norfolk with his wife, Cheerie, two year old daughter, Eisley, and three month old son, Thor.
Written by Bill Schmidt, WSHS Hall of Fame Committee member
Steve Briggs, Class of 1989, was a three sport athlete at Winona High, graduating in 1989 with twelve letters; five in cross country, three in Nordic skiing, and four in track and field. In cross country, Briggs was a four-time All-Conference performer as well as a Big Nine and Section One Champion in 1987. He qualified for state individually all four years, placing 33rd, 9th, 5th, and 4th while helping his teams to place 6th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st at state, serving as team captain his senior year. In track and field, Briggs was also a four-time All-Conference selection, a three-time MN State Meet qualifier, placing 8th, 4th, and 3rd in the 1600 and 7th in the 3200. Steve was a Section Champion in the 1600 in 1987 and a Big Nine Champ in the 3200 in 1989. In Nordic skiing, Steve also was a three-year letter winner and skied with his team in the 1988 State Meet helping them to a fourth place state finish.
I had the distinct privilege and sincere pleasure of coaching Steve Briggs at the junior high level in cross country. He was always enthusiastic, energetic, and upbeat as running was an enjoyable activity for Steve. He brought pure joy to practice, even when his workout involved a longer route at a faster pace than anyone else on the team. Coach Jim Flim echoed those sentiments and added one more observation, “Steve Briggs was a great teammate.”
Briggs was introduced to running by Judy Whetstone, his first grade teacher, and found out that he was the fastest runner in his class. He challenged Mrs.Whetstone to a race and won, but he really had to work to beat her. Steve was hooked on running from that day on.
Steve has many fond memories of running in Winona and felt all of his coaches were motivated, uplifting people who made athletics fun as well as rewarding. Steve also owes a lot of thanks to his mother, Susan, and his late father, Bob, who passed away from cancer, for their continual encouragement, love, and support. Briggs will never forget the 1987 MN State Championship season where all seven varsity runners and beyond pushed each other in practice and meets to the point where they were able to accomplish more than they ever thought possible – because they were running for each other. That team set a Minnesota state record for the lowest point total in state history. A personal highlight for Steve was the 4:18 mile he ran in the section meet as a freshman. At that point in time, he knew he had arrived.
After graduation, Briggs enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where he participated in Cross Country and Track. After two years, he transferred to the University of Iowa and finished up his biology major.
After graduating from Iowa, Steve headed for Arizona where he reunited with his high school running mate and long-time friend, Scott Morken, and worked at buying, remodeling, and re-selling houses.
Steve currently resides in Winona with his wife, Jenel, a massage therapist, and sons Carter and Rory. Carter, a freshman, currently participates on the WSHS cross country team. Steve manages a number of Winona properties as well as a crop farm in Iowa and an outdoor recreation and events farm near Winona.
Angie Abbott, Class of 1991, was a three sport athlete at Winona Senior High, participating in cross country, basketball, and track. In cross-country, Angie was a four-time All-Conference selection, a three-time Big Nine Champion and a two-time Section 1AA Champion. She qualified for the MN State Meet four times, placing 12th, 12th, 8th, and 6th individually. Her teams also qualified all four years, finishing 9th, 3rd, 3rd, and were State Team Champions in 1989. She also dominated in track and field, winning the Big Nine in the 1600 her sophomore and junior seasons and was the Big Nine Champion in both the 1600 and 3200 her senior year. She was the Section 1AA Champion in the 1600 as well as a member of the Section Champion 4x800 Relay Team in 1989. Angie qualified for State all four years, placing 11th, 6th, and 5th in the 1600 and 15th in the 3200 and helped her 4 x 800 relay team to an 8th place finish at state. Angie also played point guard in basketball for Coach Dave Heise.
Cross country and track coach Jim Flim described Angie as hard worker in practice and a tremendous competitor in meets as well as an outstanding teammate in every respect. Angie credits much of her success to the influence of her parents, Jim and Lloydine, and sister, Christine, who paved the way as well as coaches Lynne Gronert, John Ruggeberg, and Jim Flim. She described them as wonderful mentors who taught values and life lessons along with training and racing strategies. She also felt fortunate to have great training partners and friends like Amy Dennis and Tracy McNally.
Angie went on to the University of Minnesota where she earned a degree in Health and Wellness and ran cross country and track all four years under Coach Gary Wilson. In cross country, Angie was a three-year starter and earned All-Big Ten Honors as well as All-Regional Honors and was a four-year varsity performer in track and field taking 6th place individually at the Big Ten Conference Meet in the 3000 meter run.
After graduating from the U of MN, Angie enrolled at Columbia University in New York where she earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. She took a job as a physical therapist at Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis and has remained there for the past 18 years. While at Methodist she met and married her husband, Jim Drews, who works for Medtronics. Angie and Jim live in Prior Lake with their two boys, Ethan(14) and Liam(11).
Matt Reeck, Class of 1991, was a three sport athlete at Winona High playing football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was an outstanding receiver, leading the team in receptions,receiving yards and receiving touchdowns his senior year.Reeck was the first boys’ basketball player in Winona High history to score 1000 points in his career & currently ranks second behind David Dreas in career scoring. He also had the school record for points in a season until it was broken by Alec Brown, and held the record for three point field goals until it was broken by William Leaf in 2012. Matt still holds the school record for career three point field goals with 172. During the three year period that Matt Reeck played varsity basketball the team went 51- 19 in a tough Big Nine Conference. During his senior season, the Winhawk basketball team set 16 team records, including most wins, most points scored, and most three point shots made. After graduation, Matt enrolled at Gustavus Adolphus College and continued his basketball career with the Gusties, finishing his college career tied for ninth all-time in three point field goals in a season, tied for eighth all-time in career three pointers, and serving as a captain his senior year.
Inducted October 3, 2015
Jay Klagge, Class of 1988, was a four sport letter winner at Winona High, garnering a total of nine varsity letters in cross-country, basketball, baseball, and track. Basketball may have been Jay’s favorite sport, but he was the type of athlete who gave everything he had on a daily basis to the sport he was participating in at the time. Klagge is a proud member of the 1987 MN State Championship Cross-Country Team.
A two-time Big Nine All-Conference basketball selection, Jay led the team in scoring, steals, assists, and three point field goals in his senior season. Klagge was awarded the KWNO Super Sportscasters Scholarship as well as the Wally Hitt Memorial Scholarship that year. A tremendous leader in every aspect, Jay organized the Knopp Valley Summer Basketball League, which soon attracted some of the top athletes from the area. The Knopp Valley Basketball Tournament is still an annual July 4th highlight, some 25+ years running.
As impressive as Jay Klagge’s Winona High School career was, his college accomplishments were even more noteworthy. An outstanding student all through high school, Jay continued his academic excellence at Gustavus Adolphus, graduating Cum Laude while majoring in history and geography. Jay was the “quarterback” of Gustie basketball squads that were co-champions of the MIAC in 1991 and 1992, and won MIAC playoff titles in 1989 and 1992. Klagge finished his career 10th all-time in scoring, seventh in free throws made, and second all-time in assists for Gustavus. Jay was a two-time Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Conference selection in basketball and voted the 1992 MIAC Conference Most Valuable Player. He was also named to the NCAA Division 3 All-American Basketball Team, the only Minnesota player to make the 36 man squad. Klagge was also selected to the Guild of St. Ansgar presented by Gustavus Adolphus College to top senior students on the basis of scholarship, leadership and participation in co-curricular activities. Probably the most impressive stat of all won’t be found on any record board – Jay Klagge STARTED all 109 games – that is every basketball game played – while at Gustavus Adolphus College. Not only does that require athletic ability and maybe a little good luck, but mental and physical toughness and durability that few athletes in this or any era possess.
After graduating from Gustavus with honors and earning his master’s degree in education at St. Mary’s University, Klagge taught social studies while coaching soccer, tennis, and basketball at Winona High. In 1994, Jay accepted a teaching job at Hayfield where he started the cross-country program, along with coaching girls basketball, taking the Hayfield girls basketball team to the MN State Tournament in 2000. Jay was hired by the Thompson Valley School District in Loveland, Colorado in 2001 where he continued coaching basketball and tennis. Klagge currently teaches advanced placement history classes at Thompson Valley. Teaching continues to be one of the joys of his life. Jay and his wife, Jennifer, have three children – Zachary, Anthony, and Marit – and continue to coach youth soccer and basketball. Jay serves as the Thompson Valley head tennis coach in Loveland. Jay is the son of Don and Joan Klagge, and has a sister, Karen Hemker.
Inducted October 3, 2015
Garrett Heath may be the most decorated High School Athlete in the State of Minnesota. He is absolutely the most decorated athlete in Winona High History, with fifteen varsity letters, five each in Cross-Country, Nordic Skiing and Track; and ELEVEN Minnesota High School State Titles. Breaking it down – two in Cross Country, four in Track & Field (1600 twice and 3200 twice) and five in Nordic Skiing, the sport he decided to come out for to stay in shape for CC and Track. Garrett is the only Minnesota athlete to win a State Championship in Cross-Country, Nordic Skiing and Track & Field (3200). He did it TWICE.
After graduating from Winona High, Garrett attended Stanford University where he was an eight-time Division I All-American in Cross-Country and Track and a member of the National Champion distance medley relay team for Stanford. He was an Academic All-American every season he competed, majoring in management science and engineering. He currently holds a master’s degree and is working on his Phd in those same fields.
Garrett currently runs professionally for Brooks and on January 7th, 2007, Heath became the 186th American athlete (one of six Minnesotans) to run a four minute mile. He has since broken that barrier many times, with a personal best time of 3:53.15 for the mile run. Garrett has had the opportunity to compete in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia and finished seventh in the most recent World Championships in the 1500 meter run.
Looking back, Garrett remembers the early days of his running career when he was in third grade and ran a 6:03 mile. Most memorable High School moments include winning the State Cross-Country Meet as a junior when he defeated a strong field for his first ever State Title as well as the State Cross Country Meet his senior year when he and brother Elliott went with the Winona High Cross-Country Team. College highlights include his first NCAA Division I Championship as part of the Indoor Distance Relay team and having the opportunity to run with Elliott at Stanford. Not only did they train together, but had the opportunity to race together as Division I college teammates. That was pretty cool.
The question begs itself – What makes Garrett such a great runner? He obviously has good genes as parents Bob and Linda are both endurance athletes. He is disciplined. Garrett not only trains hard, but he trains smart. When Garrett’s family goes on vacation, they head for the mountains and bring their bikes. Heath has an inner confidence that is buried in a quiet, unassuming, and humble exterior. He doesn’t have the smoothest stride; that distinction goes to brother, Elliott. But he does have the ability to embrace the grind to a level that few athletes can match.
Inducted October 3, 2015
Brita Benson began competitive swimming at the age of eight. She actually took swimming lessons at age four and was reluctant at first, but at the urging of her parents, she gave it a shot and the rest was history. She broke dozens of team and pool records as a youth swimmer, participating in the USS State Swim Meet 10 times and the YMCA State Swim meet 11 times. Brita received numerous awards for outstanding and/or most valuable swimmer of the year as she came through the ranks.
When Brita joined the Winona Senior High swim team as a seventh grader, she was already an accomplished swimmer. She continued to excel, not only by earning six varsity letters, but was the team’s most valuable swimmer all six years she competed. She was a five time Big Nine All-Conference selection as well as a five time State Participant earning All-State Honors in 1999 and 2000. Benson broke five Winona High swimming records during her career while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Benson was a member of the National Honor Society as well as a Big Nine Scholar Athlete in 2000. She earned the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award in 1997, 1998, and 1999.
After graduating from Winona High, Brita enrolled at Iowa State, and picked up where she left off in high school. The level of competition was tougher, and Brita was not able to dominate the same way she did in High School, but she started to really enjoy being part of a successful team. Benson’s relay splits were consistently faster than her individual times. In Brita’s senior season, she received the Cyclone Relay Swimmer Award for her outstanding performance in relays.
Brita is very appreciative of the support she received from her parents, Dave and Gena, as well as all of her coaches as she came through the ranks. She was also grateful for the mentorship provided by Jami Severson and some of the veteran swimmers on the Winona High Swim team when she joined the varsity swim team as a seventh grader. She was somewhat shy and introverted when she started out and has never been comfortable in the limelight, but facing the pressure of competition has made Brita a more confident person in her daily life.
Brita lives with her husband, Mark Hayes, in Nevada, Iowa where she works as the proprietor of her antique jewelry shop, the RusTiqueAge. She also serves as an agronomy assistant at Iowa State University and helps her husband, Mark, manage their family hobby farm, Hayes’ Hen House.
Inducted October 3, 2015
Bob Urness grew up in Winona with a love for sports. He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school and enjoyed all three. In Marv Gunderson’s first year as head football coach in Winona, he felt blessed to have excellent Football co-captains in Bill Squires and Bob Urness. Gundy remembers Bob not only as a good football player, but a tremendous leader.
Bob brought his solid skills and great attitude to Winona State and played as an offensive guard for two seasons before a series of concussions forced him to give up the game he loved. He spent the next two years at WSU as a student assistant in football while finishing education degrees in Social Studies and Physical Education. Immediately following graduation, Urness was hired to teach Social Studies at Winona Junior High and coach football at Winona Senior High. In his 10 years as an assistant football coach and 17 years at the helm, his Winhawk football teams battled with the best in the tough Big Nine Conference, winning back to back titles in 1987 and 1988. His 1987 squad had a great postseason run, defeating perennial state powers Rosemount, Burnsville, and Stillwater on the way to the Dome where they finished as state runner-up to Moorhead.
Not long after Bob retired as head football coach, the adaptive floor hockey program was taking off in Winona and Bob soon became involved as a volunteer. When the head coaching position opened up, Bob was asked to take the job with the support of Chuck Schollmeier and Jim Yahnke. Urness spent the next three years helping take the Adaptive Floor Hockey team to three straight state tournament appearances, placing first, second, and third at state.
Dave Mertes describes Bob Urness as motivated, organized, and team oriented. Every football player, from the star to the last guy on the end of the bench, was important to Bob Urness – each and every player, manager, statistician, and water boy were valuable components of the team. From football to floor hockey, Bob’s goal was to provide the absolute best experience possible for each and every member of the team.
Bob’s retirement has allowed him to spend more time with his wife Sue and his family of three children and eight grandchildren. Bob has continued to stay involved with the Winona High and Winona State football programs serving as game analyst and color commentator for local radio station KWNO.
Tom Guillou began his swimming career at the Winona YMCA under the direction of Cyndy Reichgelt and Chris Murphy. Brothers Mike, Joe, and Dan also participated in swimming, but Tom was hooked on the sport. Cyndy remembers Tom as “a focused little guy and just a neat kid.” Parents Maureen and Lou encouraged their sons to give everything a try and supported them in all endeavors. After excelling at the youth level with the Y program, as well as USS Swimming, Tom went out for the WSHS team under the tutelage of Trip Hedrick and Maggie Lambert and made an immediate impact.
In his freshman season, Guillou was a key member of the Big Nine Champion 400 Freestyle Relay team and qualified individually for state in the 500 Free by breaking the five minute mark. From there Tom went on to set many team and Big Nine records placing in state in the 500 Free and 200 IM all four years and culminated his senior year by helping his 400 Free Relay team garner sixth place at state, taking second place individually in state in the 500 Free, and winning the state title in the 200 Free. Tom’s most memorable moments came in the tremendous dual meet battles with Rochester Mayo that usually came down to the last event and was most proud that Winona High was able to defeat the mighty Mayo Spartans to capture the Big Nine Conference title all four years he was part of the team.
Guillou also played football all four years under coach Bob Urness, coming back from an injury filled junior season to an All-Conference senior year. As a team captain his senior year, Tom helped lead a successful turnaround from a 2-7 season record the previous year to a 7-2 record. His most memorable event was kicking the winning field goal for a 9-6 victory in his final home game. Tom was an outstanding student, served on the student council and was a member of the National Honor Society.
After graduation, Guillou enrolled at the University of Minnesota and swam for the legendary Dennis Dale. Guillou received the Jerry McCall Award, presented annually to the U of MN swimmer who best exemplifies McCall’s enthusiasm and dedication to the sport. After his freshman year, Guillou transferred to Iowa State and served four years as assistant swim coach under Trip Hedrick while finishing his degree in engineering. Tom credits Coach Hedrick, as well as Dennis Dale, as being huge influences in his swimming as well as his swim coaching career. Coach Trip Hedrick says of Guillou, “Tom was a fierce competitor that nobody could outwork. He always practiced like a champion. Tom appreciated and, at the same time, was humbled by his talent and success. I was honored to be his coach.”
Guillou spent the next 19 years raising his family in Iowa and Minnesota while working for Danfoss Fluid Power. While residing in St. Michael, Minnesota, Tom was given the opportunity to coach swimming and was privileged to be able to coach his own children at the high school level. Taking what he learned from the outstanding coaches that influenced him over the years, Guillou led the St. Michael boys and girls high school programs to top ten finishes in the Minnesota State Meet. He was recognized multiple times as Section Coach of the Year and received numerous nominations for Minnesota State Swimming Coach of the Year. Tom now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he works as an engineering manager for Eaton Corporation. He claims his greatest accomplishment is his 20+ year marriage to his wife Terrie Sue, and helping her raise their six children, Alex, Jake, Eli, Sam, Emilie, and Grace.
Jamie Rattunde was always drawn to sports, especially volleyball, basketball, and softball. She took Winona Senior High by storm, playing at the varsity level in all three sports as a freshman.
Rattunde helped lead her volleyball team to second place finishes in the Big Nine Conference in both her junior and senior seasons. She was at the top of the stat chart in ace kills and service aces, and set an all-time school record with 509 digs in one season. Coach Haley Martin described Jamie as one of the hardest working athletes she had the privilege of coaching in 30 years. Haley continued, “Jamie was not obsessed with personal stats. It was always about the team and her teammates. Jamie lived to outwork anyone and everyone in practice, games, meets, and matches. When Jamie Rattunde stepped on the court, It was Game ON! She did all of this with a sweet smile and a sparkling personality.”
As a softball player, Jamie was equally impressive. Rattunde played catcher her freshman through her junior years and switched to shortstop as a senior. In his 33 years of coaching softball, Coach Dave Heise has never coached a more dominant position player. Heise states, “When Rattunde was in the game, she was the best player on the field from either team. Jamie made two of the most phenomenal defensive plays I’ve witnessed, one as a catcher, the other at shortstop.”
Jamie was also a tremendous basketball player, finishing her high school career sixth all-time in scoring, second in assists, and as the all-time career leader in steals. Jamie attended St. Mary’s University after graduation and decided to concentrate on one sport, basketball, along with her studies. She was a four year starter for the Cardinals and continued her dominance at the college level. Rattunde ranked in the top ten all-time in 18 offensive and defensive categories at St. Mary’s, ranking first all-time in total playing minutes and free throws made as well as second overall in assists and steals, and third all-time in total points scored, defensive rebounds and games started. The way Jamie Rattunde played the game was equally impressive. Jamie Rattunde left skin on every floor of every gymnasium she ever played in. As she dove for a loose ball or attempted a steal you could see her wheels spinning as she would immediately spring back to her feet and beat everyone down the floor just to do it again. Players were reluctant to go for a loose ball in her vicinity as they knew she would be hurling her body in that direction. In Dave Heise’s opinion, Jamie was the most aggressive player in every game of every sport she played. She never walked off the field with a clean uniform.
Jamie graduated from St. Mary’s University with an Electronic Publishing Degree and earned a Master’s Degree from Winona State in Educational Leadership and Sports Management while serving as Assistant Basketball Coach at St. Mary’s. She married Jack Nelson, a St. Mary’s basketball player, and currently resides in Minot, North Dakota with her husband who is an Assistant Basketball Coach at Minot State University. Jamie serves as an Administrative Assistant in Athletics as well as the Senior Women’s Advisor in the Minot State Athletic Department.
A native of Newton, Kansas, Clay "Trip" Hedrick never swam competitively until he attended Bemidji State University, where he swam all four years. There he was a team captain, holding varsity records in the 50 free, 100 free, 100 butterfly, 400 medley relay, and the 400 and 800 free relays. Trip was named All-NIC and earned NAIA All-American recognition nine times in three years from 1975 through 1977, and was the BSU Athlete of the Year in 1977. Trip was inducted into the Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and the NSIC Hall of Fame in 2010. Trip will be forever indebted to Lee Albrecht, his swimming coach at Bemidji, who opened the door to competitive swimming for Trip and motivated him to pursue a coaching career as a swim coach.
Upon graduation, Trip became a Health and Physical Education instructor at Winona Senior High School, a post he held from 1977 until 1987. Hedrick took a year "off" to finish his master's degree at the University of Texas, serving as a graduate assistant in the swim program, helping guide the Longhorns to a Division I National Championship. Hedrick sites Eddie Reese, the University of Texas and Olympic Swimming Coach, as a great coaching mentor. He came back to Winona Senior High for one more season, finishing his high school coaching career with eight Big Nine Conference Championships, including six in a row, as well as two Section One Championships. His 1987 team finished fourth at the State Meet. Coach Hedrick also coached two individual state champions, John Fox in 1979 and Tom Guillou in 1987.
From Winona High, Trip moved to Ames, Iowa, where he served as Head Men’s Swimming Coach at Iowa State University for 12 years. His 85 dual meet victories are second most in ISU history. His team won the Big Eight Title in 1995 and he earned Big 8 Coach of the Year honors in 1995 and Big 12 Coach of the Year Honors in 1998. In 12 years at ISU, Hedrick coached 32 All-Americans and 27 Academic All-Americans.
Possibly the most amazing part of Trip Hedrick's swimming career is virtually unknown. In addition to a stellar college swimming career, Trip's competitive swimming accomplishments continued in the Master's swimming arena. Hedrick is a "25 TIME" U.S. Masters National Champion. In addition Trip has won five Individual World Titles (all five are World Age Group Records) and was a member of five World Record Setting Relay Teams.
Trip currently serves resides in Ames with his wife L'Louise where he serves as the Coaching Education Director at Championship Productions, a producer of sports instructional videos.
Andy Nett, a 1999 WSHS graduate, was one of those rare athletes who quietly excelled at every sport he tried. As a two time All Big Nine Conference Football player, Andy still holds Winona High career records in pass attempts and completions and ranks second in career passing yards and passing touchdowns. Nett also still ranks in the top two in school history for season passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns. Not only was Nett an outstanding passer, he was a constant threat to run for a first down.
During the winter season, Nett was a four time letter winner in basketball, twice All-Conference and once honorable mention, and played the point guard and shooting guard position equally well. Andy excelled in all aspects of the game, and was known for his ball handling, passing, and shooting ability. Nett could create his own shot when needed, but also had a knack for creating opportunities for his teammates.
Andy played baseball the same way. Everything he did was smooth and effortless. Playing at the shortstop position, he would make difficult plays look easy and was always a threat at the plate. As in football and basketball, Nett was the most humble athlete on the field.
After graduating from Winona High, Andy enrolled at Winona State and began working on his elementary education degree. At WSU, Andy played both football and basketball on outstanding teams. Andy got his first opportunity to play varsity quarterback during his freshmen year when the starter went down with a mid-season injury. Andy stepped in and calmly led the Warriors to a conference championship. During the next three seasons, Andy shared quarterbacking duties and led the Warriors to two more conference championships. At the time of his graduation, Andy was 6th all-time in career touchdown passes and 7th all-time in career passing yards. In addition his on-the-field success, Andy also received the Winona State University GPA Award.
After graduation, Andy took a teaching position at Jefferson Elementary. Although Andy enjoyed teaching, he felt compelled to pursue another sport in which he excelled. Andy was a seven time Minnesota State Handball Association Champion and a two time United States Handball Association Junior National Champion. In 2012, Andy and his doubles partner were USHA Open Doubles National Champions and traveled to Ireland winning the 2012 Open Doubles World Championship. Andy is currently ranked #6 in the World Pro Handball Rankings.
Andy continues to be one of the most humble athletes to ever walk the halls of Winona Senior High School. He is grateful for every one of his coaches from elementary age through college and beyond. His involvement in athletics has provided tremendous experiences and allowed him to meet some terrific people.
Growing up in Winona's east end, sports were a huge part of Jay Yahnke's life. As a youngster, he would pitch against the wall of the Athletic Club until the bricks came loose. He was constantly playing football, basketball or baseball with his friends dreaming of the day he would be a varsity athlete. That dream came true and then some.
As a football player, Yahnke, a 1989 WSHS graduate, was a three time Big Nine All-Conference selection and helped his team to the 1987 Prep Bowl. The following year, he was named to the WCCO Prep Parade Football Team of the Year and in 1989 was honored as an all-state football player.
Jay was a two-time Big Nine All-Conference baseball player, a two-time baseball MVP for Winona High, and was named to the Minnesota Lions All-Star Baseball Team as one of the top 25 High School baseball players in Minnesota. In 1987, Yahnke led the team in hitting with a .442 batting average and also led the team on the mound with 50 innings pitched and 55 strikeouts including 13 in one game. He also led the team in ERA the following two years at 1.89 and 2.36, respectively.
After graduating from Winona High, Yahnke went to Montana State on a full scholarship to play football, but after a year transferred to Mankato State University. Jay started at defensive end for MSU from 1992-1994, helping his team to a conference championship in 1993, and playing on the 1991 Division II national championship team. An outstanding student, Jay was named to the NIC All-Academic Team and was honored with the Maverick Achievement Award given to the top student athlete of all sports at Mankato State.
Jay felt privileged to play under wonderful coaches in the Winona system. It is still an honor for him to call men like Bob Urness, Jerry Raddatz and Rod Schwarz "Coach". The work ethic and perseverance he developed while playing for these gentlemen enabled Yahnke to complete his Doctorate in Dentistry and has given him the self-confidence to achieve things he may never have attempted otherwise. Jay's closest friends remain those east end youngsters he grew up with playing ball and the athletes with whom he went to battle with at Winona High and Mankato State.
Jay and his wife, Stacey Johanson Yahnke, currently live in Hokah, MN with their Golden Retriever, Dusty. Dr. Jay has a dental practice in LaCrosse while Dr. Stacey has a dental office in Caledonia.
Darin Shepardson, a 1985 WSHS graduate, was born with a good motor and a big heart. His athletic accomplishments are numerous. In cross-country, Darin was a four time letter winner, a three time All-Conference performer, a three time state entrant, and a member of the 1982 state championship cross-country team. Shepardson was also a two-time individual Big Nine Conference Champion.
In track, Darin was a Big Nine champion in the 800 meter and 3200 meter run and placed sixth at the state meet in both the 1600 and 3200 meter races. Shepardson also set school records in both the 1600 and 3200. In addition, he was a member of the two-time conference champion distance-medley relay team and also on the Section One champion sprint-medley relay team that placed fifth at state.
After graduation, Shepardson enrolled at Mankato State, but after one year transferred to UW-LaCrosse, perennial Division III track and field powerhouse. At LaCrosse, he was a three-time All-American track athlete, a three-time conference champion in the 1500 in track, and an NCAA Division III national runner-up in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Darin was an eight time all-conference performer and a nine time national qualifier in cross-country and track setting school records in the 800 and 1500 meter runs.
Darin graduated from UW-LaCrosse with bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Public Administration and earned a master's degree in Professional Development and Education. Shepardson was hired to teach social studies and coach cross-country and track at Onalaska High School. In his twenty years at Onalaska, Darin's Cross-Country teams captured five Mississippi Valley Conference titles and three WIAA Section Championships. Five of his teams qualified for state competition with a state runner-up finish in 2008. Shepardson was honored as the Mississsippi Valley Conference Cross-Country Coach of the Year five times and was a two-time Section Coach of the Year.
In track and field, Darin's teams have garnered two Mississippi Valley Conference titles, four WIAA Regional Championships and two WIAA Sectional Championships. Shepardson has coached 95 state qualifiers in track with 53 earning all-state honors, and 13 WIAA state individual champions. In 2009, Onalaska's Jamie Hill set the all-time Wisconsin record in the 800 meter run.
Coaches Jim Flim and John Ruggeberg noted that a key to Darin's success was his willingness to go to the wall in practice as well as meets. They also pointed out that Darin continues to give 100% in every area of his life. In addition to teaching and coaching, Darin spent seven years as director of the Dakota Area Community School and five years as mayor of Dakota. Shepardson is the real deal - the whole package.
Darin lives in Dakota, MN with his wife, Linda, a physical therapist with Winona Health, and daughters Katie, Emily, and Clair. Darin Shepardson continues to live life with a good motor and a big heart.
Roger Leonhardt participated in sports year around while at Winona Senior High School, accumulating ten letters in the sports of football (3), basketball (3), and baseball (4). In football, Roger played halfback and defense for the Winhawks, and was named to All-Big Nine Conference and All-State Football Teams. Leonhardt also helped lead the Winona High Basketball Team to the State Tournament his senior year(1961). Roger's favorite sport was baseball. His position of choice was catcher, but he was also called on to pitch and play the outfield. During the summer, he played American Legion baseball and later played with the Winona Chiefs semipro team and with the Pepin(Wisconsin) Town Team.
After a stellar high school baseball career, Roger attended Winona State University and went out for baseball. During his sophomore year he had an outstanding season going when a scout for the Washington Senators showed up to the game. Roger went 5 for 5 with a grand slam in the first game and 4 for 5 with another home run in the second game. He caught the first game and was playing outfield in the second game when the Washington Senator scout asked him (through the outfield fence) if he would be interested in signing a professional baseball contract. Roger signed the contract after the game and headed for the Senators Class A affiliate in the Appalachian League. Roger played in the Washington Senator's minor league system for two years before being drafted into military service. Leonhardt served the next four years in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Corpsman. He spent one year with the marines in Vietnam rescuing injured and dying soldiers. Roger's experiences in the war taught him courage, compassion and patriotism.
Leonhardt's strength, speed, and athleticism allowed him to sprint out into the killing fields to search out and save fallen soldiers. Roger believes his prowess as a halfback may have saved many lives, including his own. After serving in the Navy, Roger sold surgical supplies for 37 years. He is still referred to as "Doc" when he meets with former comrades in VA hospitals throughout Wisconsin.
Leonhardt is currently retired and drives a shuttle for a Toyota Dealership in Madison, and resides in DeForest, Wisconsin with Beverly, his wife of 25 years, Roger and Beverly frequently stop in Ashland, Wisconsin to visit their daughter, Ellie-Jo, and to play a little catch with Linden, their seven week old grandson.
Paul Klinger, a 1989 graduate of Winona Senior High School, was regarded as one of the top baseball prospects to come out of Winona, but it was on the football field where he left his mark. As a member of the 1987 and 1988 Winhawk Football Teams, Paul helped propel his team to the 1988 Prep Bowl, where he scored the Winhawks lone touchdown against State Champion Moorhead. His successful football career is evidenced by the career and season records he still holds today. Klinger stands at #1 all time in career rushing yards (2,184), points scored (186), and rushing touchdowns (25). He also holds single season marks in interceptions(9), rushing touchdowns (16), points scored (118), and rushing yards in a season (1,240). Paul was a Big Nine all-conference selection as a junior and a senior and was All-State Honorable Mention that senior year. Paul sites Winona High baseball coach Jerry Raddatz and football coaches Bob Urness and Marv Gunderson as significant influences in his athletic career and still remembers the night he rushed for 253 yards against Mankato East as a personal highlight of his football memories.
After graduation, Paul attended South Dakota State on a full scholarship amassing 2,121 rushing yards in his college career and led the North Central Conference in scoring with 14 touchdowns and was selected to the NCC All-Conference Team his senior year. Currently Paul and his wife, Heather, along with their son, Chayce, reside in Rochester, MN where he is a territory manager for Becton Dickenson selling medical devices.
Kirk Thompson broke into the Winona Senior High Golf scene at the tender age of thirteen, garnering six varsity letters in Golf, participating in the State Golf Meet four times, and selected All Big Nine those same four years. As a senior, Kirk finished 7th at State with a season average of 74. Among Thompson's many noteworthy High School accomplishments, the one that personally stands out is gutting out Region 1AA Medalist Honors while battling the flu.
Kirk Thompson was far from finished. At Winona State, Kirk was a Northern Sun All-Conference performer all four years, winning the NIC championship in 1990 and earning NAIA and NCAA Div.II All-American Honors in 1994. Thompson qualified for the National Tournament all four years he competed. In 1990 Kirk was named the Winona Daily News Sportsperson of the Year.
Kirk credits his father, Wally, for much of his success in golf, providing numerous opportunities for Kirk to compete in golf at a very young age. He also is very appreciative of his Winona Senior High Golf Coach, Dennis Johnson, who was not only an outstanding teacher of the sport, but a calming influence and a great role model in a sport where being simultaneously relaxed and focused is absolutely critical.
Since graduating from WSU, Kirk Thompson has spent the past sixteen years teaching math and coaching basketball and golf at Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School. He made a name for himself as an athlete in golf, but it has been basketball where he has made his mark as a coach. Thompson has guided his PEM basketball squads to eight Three Rivers Conference Championships and five state tournament appearances placing third in the state in 2009 and 2010. Kirk has recently been hired to teach mathematics and coach basketball at Rochester John Marshall High School.
Josh Brang lettered eleven times for Winona Senior High; four times in both Track and Cross-Country, and three in Nordic Skiing. In Cross-Country, he was a two-time Big Nine Champion and a four-time state entrant, earning all-state honors three times and finishing second in the state meet his senior year. In Nordic Skiing, Brang skied in two state meets and led his Winona team to a state title with a state runner-up finish in 1994. He capped off a tremendous athletic career in the spring of his senior year, winning Big Nine and Section 1AA Titles in the 1600 and 3200 meters and was Minnesota's state runner-up in both races.
Following his outstanding high school accomplishments, Josh attended Mankato State for two years before finishing his college career at the University of Minnesota where he lettered both years in Cross-Country and ran for the Gophers in two Big Ten and National Cross-Country Meets.
Coach Jim Flim describes Josh Brang as one of the hardest working young men he has ever been associated with. He led by example on a daily basis and was mentally and physically tough, a big meet performer.
Josh listed Coach Flim, Coach Ruggeberg, and Coach Huggenvik as positive role models and mentors in his high school athletic career and his life. He remembers a time in his freshman year when he was THE worst skiier on the Nordic Ski Team. That season Josh was severely injured in practice when he skied off the course and flew down a steep bank. He had to be taken out by snowmobile on a spine board. Coach Flim was with him in the hospital and told him he had the potential to be an outstanding runner and skiier as he had a great motor, but he would have to start taking better care of his body and stop diving into rocks and trees. At that point Josh realized that he wanted to take the next step. When his body healed up he committed himself to being the best he could be. Josh Brang went on to become one of the most durable and consistent athletes in Winona High history.
John Fox was a special athlete in many ways. He not only was physically gifted, but had a strong work ethic and a tremendous desire to be the best. This drive was apparent at an early age as he started his swimming career at the age of six, competing with the YMCA Swim Team in the winter and swimming AAU in the summer. As a senior in high school, John placed second in state in the 200 IM and was the Minnesota State Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke, setting a state record by being the first prep swimmer in Minnesota to go under 60 seconds in this event. A 1978 newspaper article by Metro Sports writer Jim Earley predicted a longstanding Minnesota State swimming record might be in jeopardy for the coming year. Mr. Earley stated, “Winona's John Fox may be the first swimmer who can be favored to break the one minute mark in the 100 yard breaststroke. His state runner-up time of 1:01.6 made him the fastest junior ever and the first to go under 1:02. If he does it, he will immortalize himself in Minnesota swimming history.” This type of article may have put undue pressure on most athletes, but John Fox thrived on pressure. It only served as an incentive for John to push himself even harder to reach this unattainable goal. John was the Minnesota State High School Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke, stopping the clock at :59.6
Trip Hedrick, John's high school coach, spoke about some of the qualities that made John so successful in the swimming pool, “With John, losing was not an option...period. He loved competition and he loved winning. John was not afraid of hard work and was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish his goals. He enjoyed practice and liked to have fun, but when it came to competition, he went to another level.” Trip continues, “John Fox could not be intimidated. The bigger the challenge, the better he performed. He had ice-water in his veins.”
After breaking the record and graduating from high school, John was a three year letter winner at Kansas University, one of the top swimming programs in the nation, enjoying a successful college career. After graduating from KU, John went to work for General Dynamics in Dallas, Texas along with one of his close high school friends, Chris Renk. He and Chris then started their own business, Total Turbine Services, which supported the airline industry. TTS partnered for many years with Air New Zealand, which fostered many close friendships for John and earned him great respect from the airline industry.
Unfortunately, John passed away in 2006. He is survived by his children, Morgan (21) and Darby(19); his mother, Jon; three sisters - Aaron, Kelly, and Dana; and two brothers – Jim and Steve. John's father, Gaylord, recently died after suffering with complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
William “Boobie” Hargesheimer participated in basketball and track at Winona Senior High School, graduating in 1924. He was a basketball captain his senior year and helped take his team to the state basketball tournament. In track, Bill competed in the broad jump, high jump, and “the dashes”. He also served as student council vice-president his senior year. After graduating from high school, Bill played town team baseball and basketball, serving as player-manager for the Winona Roses, a local semi-pro baseball team. He traveled to the state amateur baseball tournament with the Polish National Alliance in 1940. Bill also had the opportunity to play basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters on three occasions. Boobie stated, “It was a real thrill to play on the same court as the Globetrotters; and even though we had a real good team, they still beat us every time.”
Bill Hargesheimer was a good athlete, but that is not why he is being inducted into the Winona Senior High School Athletic Hall of Fame. It is what Bill gave back to his beloved community and high school that makes Bill Hargesheimer such a remarkable man. After playing three years of basketball at Winona High and one at Winona State, Bill continued serving the game he loved, refereeing thousands of basketball games at every level. Bill was not only regarded as a fair official, but was known for his trademark whistle with a black and orange cord. Hargesheimer served as a youth coach and supervisor for the Winona Park and Recreation Department, helping Mike Bambenek, Winona's first Park-Rec. Director, start the first City Basketball Program. He later served as Regional Supervisor of Recreation which included seven counties. Bill said his goal had always been the same – to develop good kids and teach them sportsmanship.
Jim Galewski remembers Bill as his baseball coach when Jim was nine years old, “For more than half a century, Bill Hargesheimer worked with the youth of Winona, teaching them how to play basketball, baseball, and a lot more. Bill led by example, on and off the field. He may have been “old school”, but he taught with enthusiasm, encouragement and love. Bill had great respect for the sports he taught and great pride in his young athletes as they grew up and participated at the high school level and beyond. Bill never took credit or even hinted that he may have had any influence in the success of his young athletes as they matured; but he did. He lived through those athletes and was so very proud of every one of them. Many men remember Bill's influence on their lives as well as their son's and even their grandson's lives.”
Retiring from Watkins after 27 years, Bill spent countless hours volunteering in every possible capacity to help out in the Winona Senior High Athletic Department. He also became Winona Senior High's most loyal fan, constantly encouraging, congratulating, and cheering on Winona High athletes. He lead the cheers at many pep fests and waved good luck to many buses as they headed out for Big Nine, Region, Section, and State Tournament Competition. If any human being ever bled black and orange, it was Bill “Boobie” Hargesheimer.
Bill and his wife, Beverly, have both passed on and are survived by three children: William Jr., who was a teacher and basketball coach at Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin; daughter Ann, who teaches in Sparta, Wisconsin; and son, Father Thomas Hargesheimer who serves St. Stan’s Church in Winona, MN.
Brad Hitt not only participated in three sports, he excelled at three sports. Brad garnered nine high school letters; three in football, three in basketball, and three in baseball. He also served as captain of all three sports his senior year. Brad was the ultimate scholar-athlete, finishing #8 in his graduating class in 1979. He was not only an outstanding student in the classroom, but also in the athletic arena. Brad was a talented natural athlete, but his mental approach to the sport he was playing made him a great player.
Bob Urness comments: “Brad Hitt had all the qualities you look for in a team leader. He not only had a thorough knowledge of the game, but a keen insight into strategy, especially from an offensive perspective. It was beneficial having Brad next to me on the sideline while the defense was on the field. It gave us the opportunity to analyze what was working (and what wasn't) so that when he took the field he had a complete handle on what needed to be done to move the football. As a quarterback, Brad was a take charge guy. He was the boss in the huddle, highly respected and trusted by his teammates. The team was always number one in Brad's eyes. Brad cared about his teammates and was concerned about their attitude, effort, performance, and behavior both on and off the field.”Bob finishes, “I am thrilled that Brad Hitt is going into the Winona High Athletic Hall of Fame. He is so very deserving. My heartiest congratulations”.
Jerry Raddatz echoes many of the same sentiments, adding, “Brad Hitt was probably the most fundamentally sound three-sport athlete that Winona High has ever seen. He had the rare ability to observe one inning of a baseball game and be able to diagnose the opposing team's strengths and weaknesses. He would watch the opposing pitcher in baseball and be able to predict with uncanny accuracy what pitch was coming and where it would be. After facing him in the Minnesota State Baseball Tournament, several opposing coaches commented that he wasn't overpowering, didn't have great stuff, but seemed to know how to pitch to each hitter's weakness and get them out.” Jerry continues, “It's no mystery where this analytical ability came from. It was inherited. Wally Hitt, Brad's father, was one of the finest football coaches in Minnesota history, still holding many coaching records at Dodge Center, MN. It is easy to understand how Brad Hitt became the outstanding athlete that he was, not only having the desire to be the best, but having an outstanding coach every day of his life before he ever entered high school.”
After graduating from Winona High, Brad attended the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, receiving the Presidential Scholarship. While at Oshkosh, Brad held eight passing records, was a two time Honorable Mention All-Conference quarterback, and served as football team captain in 1982.
Jon Lunde was a three sport athlete at Winona Senior High School who not only participated, but dominated in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, Jon was all-conference and MVP his senior year leading the Winhawk offense with 52 points and 616 rushing yards on only 70 carries, for 8.8 yards per carry average. He led the special teams as a punter with 38 punts for an average of 39.6 yards per punt, as well as a return man, returning 14 punts at 19.9 yards per return and 18 kickoffs at 26.6 yards per return. Lunde was a team captain and All Conference in both basketball and baseball, leading the Winhawk Baseball Team to a Big Nine conference championship in his junior season and a runner-up finish his senior year. Jon was also named Team MVP and Team Gold Glove Winner that same season. Jerry Raddatz believes Jon may have been the finest pure athlete that Winona High has ever seen and the most athletic baseball player he coached in all his years at Winona High School.
Jerry recalls, “Jon Lunde could run with the best, throw with the best, and make defensive plays that would leave opponents shaking their heads and tipping their caps. His great speed allowed him to get to balls that most players would just wave at. Opposing Big Nine coaches called him the best base runner they had seen in many years.” Jerry could not recall him ever being thrown out on the base paths. Jerry believes that if they had a Big Nine Baseball Player of the Year, as they do now, Jon Lunde would have been a unanimous selection. These skills attracted the attention of many major league scouts.
Jon was drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees, only playing one year at the minor league level before injuries ended his baseball career.
Jon currently works for the City of Savage and lives with Jill, his wife of 34 years. He has a son, Jason; a daughter, Jami; and two grandsons, Jack and Brody.
Marv Gunderson's biology teaching and coaching career at Winona Senior High School spanned four decades. “Gundy,” as his players called him, taught science and served as head varsity football coach in Winona from 1964-1971.
The ever-successful Gunderson began his stellar gridiron career at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota as a three-year starter on the offensive line. In two of those three seasons, he was named MIAC All-Conference.
From 1950-1952 Gunderson and his linemates became a powerful offensive force that led the conference in total offense and points scored. The Gusties earned three consecutive conference championships while not surrendering one loss to their MIAC opponents. Later, the stalwart Gunderson was selected
to the Gustavus Athletic Hall of Fame.
After his military service Gundy coached successful football programs at Kensington, Harmony, and St. James, Minnesota. His 1960 Harmony squad not only finished the season with an undefeated record, they amazingly were never scored upon! From 1960 through 1963 Gundy's teams at Harmony and
St. James compiled 43 consecutive wins. Soon after, in his seven seasons at the helm of the Winona varsity, Coach Gunderson experienced only one sub-500 season. In the mid-1980s, after a short retirement from coaching, Gundy returned as an assistant defensive line coach for the Winhawks. It was in 1987 and 1988 specifically that he helped build a talented and memorable Winona team that won two Big Nine Conference crowns and earned a runner-up finish in the 1987 MSHSL Prep Bowl. In all of his years of coaching leadership at Winona Senior High School, Gundy's highly respected teams exemplified his sportsmanship and competitive spirit. In 1996 he was selected to the Minnesota State Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Today, Coach Gunderson and his wife Bergetta continue to reside in Winona, stay active, and enjoy time with their four grandchildren.
When Keri Kreuzer competed as a three-sport athlete at Winona Senior High School, she not only excelled, she dominated. The 2000 Winhawk graduate shattered school, conference, and section records in unprecedented fashion. In basketball, the five year varsity performer and two year captain scored over 1000 career points. Kreuzer also set school records in scoring, career offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and free throws made. She still ranks second all-time in both scoring (1011) and rebounding. In her career the quick and talented Kreuzer led her 2000 squad to the Big Nine Conference title while compiling one
ACHM and three All-Conference honors. In volleyball, as a three year varsity player and two year captain, Kreuzer set a school record for kills in a season while earning two Big Nine All-Conference selections. It was in WSHS track and field, however, where Kreuzer made her greatest mark. In a five year varsity career, the elite leaper and runner compiled five conference and five section championships in the triple jump, one conference crown in the high jump, 4x800 and 4x400 relays each, and single section titles in the high jump and long jump. No doubt, Kreuzer guided the Winhawk harriers to two Big Nine Conference championships. Even more impressive, the high-flying Kruezer won two MSHSL state championships in the triple jump ('98 and '99), two runner-up finishes ('96 and '97), and one third place honor ('00).
These accomplishments resulted in Kreuzer being named as the Winona Daily News Sportsperson of the Year (1999) and the WSHS AAA award winner in 2000. Still not to be outdone, Kreuzer went on to compete as a two sport athlete in the NSIC, first with Division II Minnesota State Moorhead at later at home with the Winona State Warrior volleyball and track and field programs. In a stellar college career, Kreuzer broke nine school track and field records and was a member of the NSIC Conference volleyball championship team in 2000. Individual accomplishments include eleven All-NSIC conference honors as well a conference championship and Division II All-American honor in the triple jump. Kreuzer then capped her collegiate career by twice qualifying for berths in the NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championships.
When girls' high school athletics began in the early 1970s as a result of the Title IX Equal Opportunity law, Cathy Solem coached nearly every new female program at Winona Senior High School including giirls tennis, gymnastics, girls B-squad basketball and girls synchronized swimming.
In her 32 years of teaching physical education classes and coaching at WSHS, the actively involved Solem found success in every program under her direction. Her overall career totals include 31 winning seasons, 11 Girls Big 9 conference championships, and two Boys' Big 9 crowns. During her tenure as head coach, she oversaw 52 girls Individual Big 9 Champions. In Section 1AA competition, Solie, as her players and colleagues called her, tallied an amazing 30 Section Final Four appearances and four Section Runner-up honors. Solem led her athletes to eight MSHSL Section 1AA Championships and State Tourney appearances. She also qualified 23 Individuals for MSHSL state competition:15 girls and six boys in tennis and two in girls gymnastics.
As a pioneer gymnastics coach at WSHS in 1974, Solem qualified two athletes to the first State Gymnastics Meet and witnessed the first Winhawk varsity letters awarded to female athletes at the school. No doubt, Solem experienced her greatest success as the WSHS varsity Girls Tennis coach. In 1978 Solie mentored Winhawk Lisa Bublitz to a MSHSL State Singles AA Championship. Bublitz later went on to compete in the USTA Professional Tennis League. The 1978 team also won Runner-up honors in that state
meet. In Solem's years as head coach, she laid claim to several third, fourth, and consolation titles at State. Solem's winning ways also carried over into the Boys Tennis
In 2002, in only her fourth year as Assistant Head Coach, she helped guide the Winhawk boys to their first-ever MSHSL appearance and fourth place finish. She also co-coached Brian Lipinski to four AA state appearances including a second place singles crown. As a tribute to Solem's coaching career in Winona, she was named MSHSL Tennis Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2002.
In 1994 Brett Gorden experienced an unforgettable senior season as a Winona High School varsity athlete. In football, the multi-talented performer could pass,kick, and intercept the ball as well. As the starting quarterback, the quick throwing
Gorden led the Winhawks to a six win, four loss record. He played first string safety on defense with a Big 9 Conference top mark of five interceptions and totaled 73 assisted tackles for the season. Known for his strong leg and accuracy, the versatile Gorden also kicked extra points and field goals on special teams. In basketball, the sharp-shooting Gorden led the team with deadly accuracy from three point range. He set a WSHS school record with eight three point field goals in a 29 point scoring performance and win over Region 1AA rival Lakeville. In golf that spring,the senior captain and number one player carded numerous meet medalist and
invitational honors. In tribute of that stellar '94 season, Gorden earned unanimous All-Big 9 Conference honors in all three sports. He also was selected as the school's MSHL AAA award winner for overall excellence in academics, athletics, and arts.
Later, in a memorable college football career at South Dakota State University,Gorden amassed many of the place kicking records for the NCAA Division II squad. His records included categories of career field goals, career extra points, field goal percentage in a season, consecutive field goals made (11), and the longest field
goal made (52 yds.). Even more impressive, Gorden accomplished these records after following his SDSU predecessor Adam Vinatieri, who later starred in four NFL Super Bowl victories. Gorden was also named as a First Team North Central
All-Conference performer in 1998 and Third Team All-American by The Football Gazette that same year. Gorden concluded his place-kicking career with the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League. Today, Brett Gorden works as a mechanical engineer and resides in Rochester, Minnesota.
Lisa Janikowski, class of 1983, was part of a great collection of female athletes at Winona High in the early 1980’s. In her time at Winona High Janikowski excelled in cross country, basketball, and track. In cross country, Janikowski was twice named to the Big 9 All-Conference team. During her senior year, she followed up her cross country success with an All-Conference performance in basketball, where she was also a team captain. Janikowski enjoyed perhaps her most success during the track season. Janikowski was a consistent winner in the 1600 meter run in her junior and senior seasons, helping the team to runner-up and championship finishes in the Big 9 as well as sub-region and region titles both years. The 1600 meter relay team of Amy Duran, Kristi Gunderson, Frani Loftness, and Janikowski placed 4th at the state meet for two consecutive seasons and still holds the school record with a time of 4:00.8.
After graduating from Winona High, Lisa Janikowski continued her academic and athletic careers at St. Mary’s University where she was a four year letter winner in both cross country and basketball. Janikowski was a two-time team captain of the basketball team in addition to being a two-time All-MIAC selection. Janikowski was a leader of the 1985-86 team that won the conference championship and made an appearance in the NCAA Div. III national tournament. Janikowski is the school record holder for assists in a game (14), season (126), and career (215). She also ranks 5th in career field goals made (419), 6th in steals in a season, and 7th in career scoring (904 points). Janikowski was inducted into the St. Mary’s University Hall of Fame in 2003.
Gordie Paschka got off to a fast start as the Winona High football coach, leading the 1952 squad to a 6-2-1 overall record and a 2nd place finish in the Big 9 Conference. Paschka was able to very quickly turn around a program that had only one victory in the two seasons prior to his arrival. Paschka would go on to compile a career coaching record of 39-27-5 with several highlights along the way. Paschka led the 1953 Winhawk team to an 8-1 record while settling for a 2nd place Big 9 finish, and added another runner-up performance during the 1954 campaign. Paschka was blessed with many great football players along the way, but he had the ability to get the most out of each of his players.
Coach Paschka brought a vast experience and knowledge of the game of football with him. Paschka was an All-Big 10 guard for the University of Minnesota in 1939, 1940, & 1941. Both the 1940 and 1941 squads were Big 10 Champions and National Champions. Paschka helped lead the way for Faribault native Bruce Smith to win the 1941 Heisman Trophy. Paschka was drafted in the 4th round (28th overall selection) of the 1942 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and played two stints in the NFL, first with the Eagles, and then with the New York Giants where he was converted to playing fullback.
Paschka returned to the University of Minnesota and received his Master’s degree in 1948 before beginning his coaching career at International Falls. Paschka came to Winona High in 1952 and led the Winona High football team for eight seasons in addition to working as the head wrestling coach, an assistant baseball coach, a track coach, and a very well respected American History teacher.
Just as Liz Hartwich was coming into her high school years the Title IX legislation was passed, finally affording females an opportunity to compete in extra-curricular activities. Liz Hartwich (Class of 1975) took full advantage of these opportunities.
In 1971 Winona High instituted their first extra-mural girls sports with gymnastics, volleyball, and basketball. The following year, tennis, track, and swimming were added as competitive sports. Liz began to compete to compete at the varsity level during her freshmen year as she swam on the boys swim team and then as a sophomore began to compete in gymnastics, girl’s swimming, and track. She wasted little time establishing herself as Winona High’s first great female athlete in the post-Title IX era.
As a swimmer, Hartwich was a two-time team captain, was the Big 9 champion in the 50 yard freestyle during her junior season, and was a two-time conference champion as part of the 400 yard freestyle team. In track, Liz placed 5th at state in the mile run and continued that success in her junior track season, when she was the Big 9 champion, region champion, and recorded a 3rd place finish at the state meet in the mile run. Liz was also part of gymnastics teams that finished 2nd in the Big 9 during her sophomore season and had an undefeated dual meet record during her senior season. As a senior, Liz lettered in tennis, gymnastics, swimming, and track.
After her time as a Winhawk, Liz Hartwich took her athletic ability to St. Olaf College where she competed in cross country and track. In cross country, Liz was a three-time team captain and three-time team MVP. She still holds the fifth best 5K time in school history with a time of 17:42. In track, Hartwich was recognized as an All-American in the 5,000 meter, has the sixth best mile time in school history (5:04.7) and still holds the school record in the 3 mile with a time of 16:38.
Dick Brown was blessed to be surrounded by talented teammates, but it was Brown who was the offensive centerpiece of the 1953 Winona High football team that tallied an 8-1 record and finished second in the Big 9 Conference. During his senior season, Brown, a 1954 Winona High graduate, set a new Big 9 rushing record with 1,085 yards, while maintaining an amazing average of more than 8 yards per carry. Despite being the focus of the opposing defenses, Brown was able to tally 106 points in Big 9 competition and 118 total points, breaking the previous conference record set by Rochester’s Shorty Cochrane in 1948 and shattering the previous Winona High scoring record of 65 points set by Paul Giel in 1949. Both Brown’s yardage and scoring marks have withstood the test of time, with the yardage mark being surpassed on only a couple of occasions and the scoring mark being equaled by Paul Klinger during the 1988 season.
Football may have been the sport where Dick Brown earned his reputation as a standout athlete, but Brown also lettered for two seasons as a basketball player and excelled on the track and field team. Brown led the track team in scoring for three straight seasons while competing in the shotput, the 100 and 220 yard dashes, and anchoring the 440 and 880 yard relay teams. That 440 yard relay team held a school record for over three decades.
Brown continued his outstanding athletic career at Winona State where he played football for three seasons, being named to the All-Conference squad twice while leading the conference in rushing yardage and scoring both seasons. In 2006, Brown was named to Winona State’s All-Century football team. Brown also found continued success in track and field as he competed in the shot put and the 100 and 220 yard dashes for the Warriors.
After graduating from Winona State, Brown enjoyed a 33 year teaching and coaching career in Janesville, WI.
Butch Nash only spent a short time in Winona, but he had a significant impact in his time at Winona High. Coach Nash took over as the head man of the Winona High football program in 1941, looking to continue the success that had been established by his predecessor, Loy Bowe. Nash wasted no time, leading the team to a 5-3 record and a Big 9 Championship during his first season at the helm. This included a 30-0 victory over the Rochester team to clinch the title. Nash also coached the Winhawk basketball squad that winter before returning to the football field for the 1942 season. Midway through that season, Nash left Winona to join the U.S. Navy and fight in World War II. Coaches Lawrence Santleman and Frank Carpenter led the football team for the next few seasons before Nash returned to Winona High for the 1946 season, where the Winona footballers claimed the runner-up spot in the Big 9.
After leaving Winona High, Nash joined the coaching staff at the University of Minnesota, the same school that he had starred on the football and basketball teams from 1936-1938 and was part of the 1936 Gopher football team that claimed the national championship. The Gopher gridiron team compiled a 21-3 record during Nash’s playing days. Nash enjoyed a long and successful career as a Gopher assistant, coaching with the team from 1947-1980 before rejoining the team under Lou Holtz in 1984. Nash served as a volunteer assistant from 1984-1991.
Today, an annual award that bears the name of Butch Nash is given to the top assistant high school football coach in the state of Minnesota.
Bob Bestul is the epitome of a well-rounded athlete. During his high school years, Bestul, a 1973 graduate, excelled in football, basketball, and track. In addition to his athletic ability, Bob Bestul was a true leader, serving as captain of all three of his varsity sports.
As a football player, Bestul was a two time letter winner and led the 1972 Winhawks in scoring while leading the team to a 6-2 record. Bob was also recognized as the WCCO Player of the Week for his performance against Faribault. After football season, Bestul took his ability and leadership to the basketball court where he was team captain and a two year letter winner on teams that went 12-9 during Bestul’s junior season and 12-8 during his senior year. Bob continued his success in the spring while competing in track and field. Bestul lettered for three seasons, served as a team captain, and won the Big Nine title in the 330 yard intermediate hurdles.
After high school, Bestul continued his athletic career at Winona State where he was a four year letter winner in football while starting at cornerback for three seasons and doing all of the kicking for four seasons. Bob was part of the 1973 conference championship team and was again recognized for his leadership as he was named as a team captain during his senior year. Bestul also excelled in track at Winona State where he was a four year letter winner, was named a team captain, and was part of the school record setting mile relay team. Bob’s collegiate career was capped off by being named the Winona Daily News Sportsperson of the Year in 1976.
Bob Bestul has spent the last three decades teaching and coaching in the Blaine school district.
For three years, Winona High had one of the most dominating big girls in the Big Nine Conference in volleyball and basketball in Heather (Benning) Sauer. The 1988 graduate was a three-year starter in both sports and led the Winhawks to a perfect 8-0 record and the school’s first Big Nine Conference volleyball crown in 1987. A two-time all-conference pick in volleyball, the 6-foot Sauer still holds the WSHS record for most blocks in a season with 115 and is third in school history for ace serves in a season with 70. She had 252 kills in 33 matches her senior year and was named honorable-mention all-state.
Sauer, who also lettered in track as a senior and in softball as a sophomore and junior, accepted a scholarship to the University of Minnesota to play volleyball. She started her final three years and played on the first Gopher team to make the NCAA Tournament in 1989. Sauer, who played for the U of M from 1989-91, finished her collegiate career with 566 kills and 187 blocks.
After her playing days, Sauer served as the ninth-grade volleyball coach at Lewiston-Altura High School for one year and as an assistant coach at Winona State for a year. She is currently married and a full-time mother of three. Sauer lives on her husband’s family farm in Lewiston.
It’s no coincidence that success had a way of following Kristi Gunderson Russell her entire athletic career. The 1982 Winona High graduate earned nine letters (4 in track, 3 in basketball and 2 in cross country), and made the All-Big Nine Conference team in all three sports, including three times in track. Russell averaged 18 points a game her senior year to help the Winhawks to a 16-5 season and a runner-up finish in the Section 1AA tournament. As a junior, she was a member of the 1,600-meter relay team that placed fourth in the state meet.
A year later, she teamed with Lori Bollin, Amy Duran and Frani Loftness to win the Class AA state title in the 800-meter relay in 1:44.60. Russell also ran on the third-place 1,600-meter relay team and competed but did not place in the 200 at state her senior year. After one year at UW-River Falls, Russell transferred to UW-La Crosse where she was a standout in basketball and track. She ranks ninth in career scoring with 1,114 points and 13th in career rebounding with 575. She put up those big numbers in just 2½ years. Although she was just 5-8, Russell still holds the UW-L record with 24 rebounds in a game. In her senior season (1985-96), she scored 495 points (2nd in school history) and pulled down 290 rebounds (3rd in school history), earning her second-team NCAA Division III All-America honors. She was also an All-American in track that year, anchoring the 1,600-meter relay team to a fifth-place finish in the outdoor national meet.
Russell, who lives in Lakeville with her husband and two boys, was the indoor conference champion in the 400-meter dash that season as well.
If it’s been a sport at Winona High since 1970, Bruce Reeck has probably had a hand in coaching it in one way or another. His coaching career started before he became a full-time health and physical education teacher when the school hired him as a ninth-grade boys basketball coach while Reeck was student teaching in 1971. The Red Wing High School and Winona State graduate moved up to the varsity assistant position the next season, and in 1975 he was hired as the boys head basketball coach, a post he held through the 1990-91 season. In that span, the Winhawks won the Big Nine Conference title in 1978 and the Section 1AA crown in 1979, when they went on to take sixth in the state tournament. Reeck picked up 158 wins in his coaching career, including a school-record 19 in his final season.
Reeck started an elementary school league in the mid-1970s to help build his program, and in the mid-1980s he began the Knopp Valley League, a high-school age summer basketball league. Before he started coaching varsity basketball, Reeck also coached in the football and baseball programs. Since 1991, he’s also been an assistant coach on two occasions with the girls basketball team and is still a member of the volleyball program’s coaching staff.
Reeck, whose son Matt was the first boys 1,000-point scorer in school history, retired from teaching in 2002 and still lives in Winona with his wife Mary.
From his playing days at Winona High and Winona State University through today, football has played a very big part in Steve Kosidowski’s life. The 1983 WSHS graduate was a two-year starter on the offensive and defensive line for the Winhawks. After earning honorable-mention all-conference honors as a junior, Kosidowski, who stood 6-3 and weighed 250 pounds, was an All-Big Nine Conference performer as a senior in 1982 as a defensive lineman, helping Winona High to a 7-2 record. But he was more than just a dominating defensive lineman. Kosidowski made the WCCO Radio All-State football team as an offensive tackle, and was on the Associated Press All-State team as a punter. He averaged 43.8 yards in 33 punts. Also a two-year letterman in basketball, Kosidowski was chosen to the Minnesota High School All-Star game and was named captain of the Outstate team. He took his talents to Winona State, where he was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Warriors. Kosidowski was an All-NIC performer in both 1985 and ’86, and earned honorable-mention All-American honors as a senior, when he recorded 10 sacks and had 46 solo tackles. He was also the team MVP that year.
While his playing days may have ended in 1986, his interest in football certainly hasn’t. Kosidowski, who is a team leader in the manufacturing division at Fastenal Company, served as a WSHS assistant coach for 10 years, and for the last four years he’s been the league director of the Morrie Miller Youth Football League, which has grown to eight teams and over 200 players.
Tara O’Connor was one of those rare athletes who had the explosive speed of a sprinter and the endurance of a distance runner. When she graduated from Winona High in 1977, she held school records in the 100 yard dash (12.3 seconds), 220 (25.3), and 440 (57.1), as well as a pair of relays. O’Connor also held the school record for the two-mile cross country course (12:30). She placed second in the Minnesota state track meet in 1976 in the 440-yeard dash. A year later, she was crowned state champion in the 220, while adding a third in the 440 and a fourth in the 4x100 yard relay. Along with cross country and track, O’Connor also earned varsity letters in gymnastics.
Her track talent enabled her to become the first WSHS athlete to earn a Division 1 scholarship and she was just the second female athlete to receive an athletic scholarship to the University of Minnesota. O’Connor competed in the 200 and 400 meters and various relays at Minnesota. The highlight of her career was a second-place finish at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in the 400 meters. She still has the ninth fasted time ever run in the 400 at the Uof M. O’Connor recently resumed her athletic competition and is now competing in triathlon at the national level.
Joe Hoialmen may have been small in stature, but on a wresting mat he was a giant. The 1989 Winona High graduate won three Region 1AA titles, placed fifth in the state wrestling tournament as a sophomore at 98 pounds and third as a junior at 112. In his senior season, Hoialmen became the schools first state wrestling champion in 36 years when he captured the 125 pound title to cap a 35-1 season. Hoialmen as lettered three years in cross country and was a member of the 1987 state championship team.
His wrestling skills landed him at NCAA Division III power Augsburg College, where Hoialmen made quite a name for himself. He won three Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference individual titles and went on to become a three-time Division III All-American. He placed fourth in the national meet as a freshman and was sixth as a sophomore. Hoialmen ended his brilliant career by winning the 134-pound national title as a senior. During his four-year college career, Hoialmen helped Augsburg win two national titles and place second the other two years. He accumulated 146 career wins, which ranks No. 5 all-time at Augsburg. Hoialmen, the son of Dennis and Linda Hoialmen, still holds the school record for career takedowns with 437, which is 89 more than any other wrestler in school history.
Her high school career may have been cut short by a car-pedestrian accident, but Frani Knowles certainly showed her athletic talent prior to that on the track. The 1984 Winona High graduate won two state titles (both on 800-meter relays,) while also winning seven Big Nine Conference and seven Region 1AA titles. Knowles was an outstanding sprinter and long jump specialist and was also a key member of relay teams for the Winhawks. As a senior, she placed 12th individually in the Region 1AA cross country meet, helping WSHS to the team title.
But she was unable to participate at state due to a car-pedestrian accident 3 days prior to the meet. That accident left Knowles with two broken bones in her right leg and a compound fracture of her right arm, which also kept her out of the track season her senior year. She went on to run at UW-Eau Claire, where she was a two-time conference champion in the 600 meter run, as well as a pair of relays. Knowles became a NAIA All-American in both the distance medley relay and 600. She was an all-conference performer in cross country as well.
Since her college days, Knowles continues to run, taking part in a number of marathons, including the 100th Boston Marathon.
Playing center on a football team usually doesn’t bring much notoriety. Dave Mertes, however, was an exception. The Winona High graduate was an All-Big Nine Conference performer his senior year in football, where he helped the Winhawks to an 8-1 record in 1953. He also lettered in basketball and baseball.
Mertes went on to become one of the most decorated lineman in the history of Winona State University football, where he played from 1954-57. Three times in his WSU career he was named to the All-Northern Intercollegiate team as a center. In 1956, the honors went even further as he was selected to the Associated Press Little All-American team. A team co-captain his final three years, he helped Winona State to conference championships both his Junior and Senior seasons. In 1957, he received the Glen Galligan Award, which recognized academic and athletic success in the NIC.
Mertes, who taught business at WSHS for 35 years, was inducted into the Winona State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Hall of Fame in 2002. He is also a member of the WSU All-Century football team.
Very few high school athletes have the ability to win state titles in two different sports in the same season. But Lisa Conway wasn’t your typical athlete; she was an extraordinary one. In the fall of her junior season, Conway won the Class AA state singles title in tennis, becoming the first WSHS athlete to accomplish the feat. She led the Winhawks to a second-place finish at state that season. In the spring her attention turned to track, where she captured the 400-meter dash in the Class AA state meet, along with a third-place finish in the 100 and a fourth in the 200. Conway, who also played basketball, came back her senior season and finished third at state in tennis. During her high school tennis career, she won three Big Nine Conference titles at No. 1 singles, two Section 1AA titles, one state championship and finished with an 81-11 record.
Following her senior year of tennis, Conway moved to California to continue playing, and six months later competed professionally on the Pernod Circuit in England. In June of 1981, she attended the prestigious Nick Bolleteri Tennis Academy in Florida, where she trained for 18 months. Later that year she played in the U.S. Open. Her pro career ended in 1982 due to a shoulder injury.
She returned to Winona in 1985 and has been active in tennis by coaching Winona Middle School tennis program and Saint Mary’s University men’s and women’s teams. Conway, who co-owns Michael’s Lighting in Winona with her husband Michael, has three children.
Don Klagge’s life has been dedicated to sports -- first as an athlete at Winona High and Winona State, then as a coach at Adams (Minn.) Public Schools and Beaver Dam (Wis.) High School, and finally as athletic director at Beaver Dam and Winona High.
Before graduating from WSHS in 1956, Klagge lettered three years in basketball and one year in both football and baseball. He helped the Winhawks capture the Region 1 basketball title in 1956 and earn a state-tournament berth. Klagge then enrolled at WSU, where he lettered four years in basketball and was an all-conference selection his final three years. He finished his college career with 1,157 points.
After teaching and coaching boys basketball for three years in Adams, he came back to WSU and served as an assistant coach in basketball for one year. Klagge returned to high school coaching in 1964 at Beaver Dam, where he accumulated a 119-81 record in 10 years. His teams won three conference and two WIAA regional titles. In the fall of 1974, he took over as athletic director at Beaver Dam. Four years later, Klagge was hired as athletic director at WSHS.
In his 21 years at the school, the overall percentage of students participating in the athletic program increased 15 percent. Nine new varsity sports were added, an athletic handbook was developed, and he headed a three-year campaign to construct a state-of –the-art fitness center, which opened in 2000.
Klagge, who retired in 2000, and his wife Joan have two children and five grandchildren.
Mike Whetstone could do it all. He could knock opposing players over as an offensive and defensive lineman for the football team, he was an intimidating presence at 6-5, 220 pounds on the basketball court, and he could also swing a mean bat on the baseball field. Whetstone was a five-time All-Big Nine Conference performer (2 in football, 2 in basketball, 1 in baseball). His junior year, he led the Big Nine in scoring in basketball, and a year later he helped his team to the state tournament.
The 1979 WSHS graduate accepted a football scholarship to play at North Dakota State University, where he was a three-year starter on the offensive line. Whetstone was named to the All-North Central Conference team two years. In 1983, his senior year when NDSU won the NCAA Division II national championship, Whetstone was selected to the Associated Press and Kodak All-America teams as a 6-5, 262-pound guard.
Following his playing days, Whetstone remained at NDSU at a student assistant and volunteer assistant coach. In March of 1988, Whetstone was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on Dec. 14 of that year at the age of 28. NDSU dedicated its 1988 national championship win to Whetstone, who taped an inspirational message prior to his death on the meaning of Bison Pride. That tape was played to the football team before to their championship game. Whetstone was inducted into the NDSU Hall of Fame in 1989.
Hitting a baseball seemed so easy for Jeff Maschka. While some people only dream of hitting .400, the 1990 Winona High graduate made a habit of it. After batting .429 his junior season, Maschka broke eight WSHS batting records his senior year when he hit .519. He still holds school marks for career batting average (.473), season batting average (.519), hits in a season (42), hits in a game (5) and consecutive hits (9). Three other records have since been broken. Maschka was named to the All-Big Nine Conference team and all-state team as an outfielder his senior year, and also took part in the Lions All-Star game.
Maschka, who also lettered two years in football, went on to play at Winona State University, where he was selected to the All-Northern Intercollegiate Conference and All-District 13 teams three years, and the NAIA All-Area team in 1993. He batted a team-high .358 his sophomore year, leading the Warriors to a third-place finish in the NAIA National Tournament. Maschka was an honorable mention All-American third baseman his junior year when he hit a team-high .403. He ended his WSU career with a .342 average.
Maschka played nine summers with the Winona Chiefs amateur team and led them to three Wisconsin Baseball Association state titles and two Wisconsin NBC state crowns. His .568 average in 1995 remains a team record.
Maschka, who is married with two children, lives in Chanhassen, Minn., and is senior program manager for United Health Group.
When Christine Abbott graduated from Winona Senior High in 1987, she certainly had her share of accolades. The outstanding cross country runner, Nordic skier and distance runner in track concluded her career with eight all-state honors in the three sports. She was a member of the 1986 state championship cross country team. Abbott was All-Big Nine Conference four years and all-state three years in cross country. In the winter her attention turned to Nordic skiing, where, in 1985, she was the first WSHS athlete to advance to the state meet. She skied in three state meets, placing ninth in both 1986 and 1987, while leading the girls team to state in both her junior and senior seasons. She concluded a brilliant track career by placing second in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the 1,600 in the state meet. Her track career included three years as an all-state runner and three as an All-Big Nine performer. She was the three-time Big Nine and Region 1AA champion in the 3,200. At state, she placed seventh in the 3,200 as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.
Abbott took her running talent to the University of Minnesota, where she earned seven letters in track and cross country and was a four-time All-Big 10 academic award winner. In 1991, she was honored as a University of Minnesota Athletics Top 5 (a top-five scholar-athlete with the highest GPA).
She is currently a doctor at the Hennepin County Medical Center. She’s married and lives in Prior Lake, Minn.
When Hall of Famer Ed Spencer stepped down as baseball coach at Winona Senior High in 1970, he left some big shoes to fill. Jerry Raddatz just happened to fit into those shoes quite nicely. In his first year at the helm (1971), Raddatz guided the Winhawks to a 13-4 season and the Big Nine Conference championship. It was a sign of things to come.
Two years later in 1973, his team won the Region 1 title and finished as state runner-up to Bemidji. Raddatz’s team also won Big Nine titles in 1974, 1982 and 1983, as well as section titles in 1978 (third at state), 1982 and 1991. His 21-year record at WSHS was 278-168, including four Big Nine Conference titles and four section crowns. Before coming to Winona, Raddatz coached at Wykoff (Minn.) High School, which had never had a winning baseball season. In his third year there, Wykoff went 8-6. Two years later in 1968, Wykoff recorded a school-record 13 wins and reached the semifinals of the District 1 tournament. In all, Raddatz led Wykoff to four straight winning seasons and a 52-37 record.
In his high school career, Raddatz accumulated a 330-204 mark. His 330 wins rank 21st in the history of Minnesota high school baseball. Raddatz was a professional scout with the Cincinnati Reds after resigning at WSHS following the 1991 season.
He is currently in his sixth year of scouting with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He scouts high school and college players in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, along with scouting the professional independent Northern League for talent for the Dodgers.
In the spring of 2014, the WSHS baseball field was renamed and dedicated as Jerry Raddatz Field.
Wilton Berger may be the greatest swimmer Winona High has ever produced, and he has the numbers to back it up. Berger, a 1956 WSHS graduate, competed in the state meet as a freshman in diving, then decided to concentrate on the medley and freestyle events. He won his first state championship as a sophomore in the 150-yard individual medley. A year later, he repeated as state champ in the IM and the Winhawks placed fifth as a team. In his senior season, Berger set a state record by almost two seconds in winning the 150 IM for a third straight year in 1:36.2. He also won the 200-yard freestyle in a state-record time of 2:07.6. The Winhawks took second a state as a team and were the Big Nine Conference runners-up.
When Berger graduated, he held the school and pool records in the 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 120 IM, 150 IM, as well as two relays. He served as the class president both his junior and senior year and also competed in football and track. Coach Lloyd Luke said of Berger his senior year: “He’s probably the best all-around swimmer in the state.”
Berger received a swimming scholarship at the University of Minnesota, where he swam four years. He was the co-captain of the 1960-61 team. Berger also worked as an assistant coach at Minnesota in the 1961-62 season.
Berger still lives in Minneapolis and is the president of Miller Hanson Partners Architects & Planners.
Basketball has played a huge part in Al Svenningson’s life. He went from an outstanding talent on the courts at Winona High and Winona State, to a successful head coach at Wayne State University in Nebraska and then to the University of Alaska. Svenningson competed in three sports at WSHS – football, basketball and baseball. But it was on the hardwood court where the 6-foot-21/2 Svenningson really excelled. He was a three-year letter winner in basketball and was recognized as one of the finest players in the Big Nine Conference. He set a single-game scoring record of 35 points against Black River Falls. In the 1952-53 season as a senior, Svenningson was second in the Big Nine in scoring at 19.2 points a game. He led the Winhawks to their first District Three title in seven years that year and averaged 23 points in the four victories.
At Winona State, he was a three-time Northern Intercollegiate Conference scoring champion, averaging between 23.4 and 25.0 points a game, and was all-conference all three years. He currently ranks fifth in career scoring with 1,597 points and second in single-season scoring with 630 points during the 1957-58 season. Svenningson is a member of the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following his years at WSU, Svenningson took his first coaching job at Houston (Minn.) High School, but quickly moved to college at Wayne State, where he coached from 1959-1967. In 1967, he joined the Division I ranks as the head coach at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where he coached until 1985. Svenningson has been a great ambassador for the sport of basketball, having represented the U.S. and the State Department as a visiting coach to many countries around the world as they work to improve their programs.
Chuck Williams never laced up a tennis shoe, never put on football pads or never coached an athletic team at Winona High. But there were few who could describe a game or play like Williams did for nearly 44 years at KWNO Radio. He estimates in his years at KWNO that he gave play-by-play descriptions of between 4000 and 4500 games, including Winona High, Cotter, Winona State and Saint Mary's.
For Williams, every single event was fun. The friendships he developed were warm and are treasured today. After graduation from Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago, Williams came to Winona to attend Saint Mary's College, which he graduated from in 1942. He earned a baseball letter under Max Molock and was the sports editor for the campus newspaper as well. He worked briefly for the Winona Republican Herald after graduation, but had his heart set on radio.
When an opening came about at KWNO, he applied and got the job as a staff announcer and disc jockey. After returning from the service in 1946, he returned to his job at KWNO and headed right to the Minnesota State Catholic High school tournament with Cotter. That was the beginning of 40 years of play-by-play work in Winona. Williams was a fixture in the months of February and March at Rochester's Mayo Civic Auditorium.
Along with his game coverage, Williams also served as KWNO's general manager from 1961-1985. He retired in 1986.
At times in his high school career, it seemed like Joel Staats (Class of 1988) was a man among boys. With his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, he could dominate football games both at middle linebacker and at offensive guard - positions he started at for three straight years. Staats led the Winona High football team to its first berth in the Prep Bowl finals in 1987, where the Winhawks lost 13-7 to Moorhead. But Staats was a real warrior in the game, finishing with a Prep Bowl record 23 tackles. He was named first-team all-state at linebacker by the Minnesota Associated Press, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In track, he could throw the discus and the shot put with the best in the state. Staats finished third in the shot put at state his junior year and second his senior year. He set the Big Nine Conference record in the discus in 1988 with a toss of 189'6". A short time later, he set the Region 1AA discus record with a throw of 188'1". He finished his high school career with 10 varsity letters (4 in track, 3 in basketball, and 3 in football.)
Staats received a football scholarship to the University of Minnesota and stepped in the starting lineup at linebacker as a true freshman. He never left the starting lineup the rest of his career and compiled over 300 tackles, which ranks in the top 10. Not only was Staats a great football player, he was also an outstanding student. He was named the Dean's List all four years at Minnesota.
When it came to respect, few people at Winona High ever earned more than Edwin Spencer. First, it was as an athlete at Winona State, then as a coach and a teacher and later as an associate principal.
Spencer earned 12 letters in athletics at Winona State, where he is a member of the university's Hall of Fame. He's also been inducted into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame. He began coaching in 1941. Prior to coming to WSHS, he coached teams at Danube, Chatfield and Blooming Prairie in Minnesota. Spencer had the thrill of coaching Paul Giel in both football and baseball at Winona High. He coached the football team for five years (1947-1951) and guided the baseball team from 1948 through 1970. His baseball teams won Big Nine Conference championships 1950, 1953, 1961 and 1967, while also claiming eight District 3 titles.
Spencer was also a highly respected basketball official for both high school and college. He was called upon twice to referee Minnesota state tournament games. When it came to helping young athletes, Spencer's favorite saying was: "I've always grown up feeling if I can help someone along the way, there's a certain amount of reward you can't get any other way." Spencer died on Aug. 19, 1991.
With a basketball in her hands, Mary Schultz (Class of 1982) was something special. She dominated basketball games with her 6-foot-2 frame. She led Winona High to one of its finest seasons ever in 1981-82, when they finished 16-5. She averaged 19 points a game and was named to the All-Big-Nine Conference team.
Schultz didn't venture far from home after high school, enrolling at Saint Mary's University, where she became the school's most prolific scorer and rebounder. In her four years at SMU, she broke virtually every individual scoring and rebounding record. She still holds school records for total points (1988), scoring average (20.7), total rebounds (1001), field goal percentage (58.7) and free-throw accuracy (68.37). Schultz was named All-MIAC four straight years and was selected to the Kodak NCAA Division III All-America team her senior year. She was a finalist for Division III Player of the Year in 1986, her senior year. Schultz ranked 11th in the nation in scoring her junior year (21.5 ppg) and third in the nation in field goal percentage (70). In her senior year, she led the Cardinals to the MIAC championship and a third-place finish in the regional tournament. She was inducted into the SMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and has had her No. 40 jersey retired.
Schultz played professional women's basketball for Luxemborg Sporting International in 1986-87. She also toured Europe as a member of an American women's basketball team in 1989.
It didn't matter what sport Loy F. Bowe coached - be it football, basketball or track - they were all successful. He built the Winona High programs into powerhouses in the 1920s and 1930s.
When Maggie Lambert started teaching in the Winona School District in the 1969-70 school year, everything was new to her. She was the new kid on the block and was asked to take on a very important role - to see how much interest there was in girls' sports. A year later, Lambert started the girls swim program at Winona High with five swimmers. She remained the coach of the program for 29 years before retiring in 1999. At the same time, she helped the school start the volleyball, track, gymnastics, tennis and basketball programs.
Lambert was a true pioneer in girl's sports not only in Winona, but the entire state of Minnesota. In the early years of girl's sports, she influenced the movement from play day opportunities to interscholastic sports. She encouraged girls to participate and found and trained coaches for the teams. She always pushed forward despite the obstacles. Lambert has been honored many times for her achievements.
In February of 2001, she won the Marie Berg Award, which goes to someone who teaches physical education and is noted for women's sports leadership in Minnesota. Later that year she was inducted into the Minnesota State Swimming Hall of Fame.
More recently, Lambert was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame. She is on the MSHSL board of directors representing girl's sports.
There were no girls high school golf programs when Marlene Miller graduated from Winona High in 1951. That didn't deter her from making quite a name for herself around the state with her golf talent. She was a three-time (1954, 1955, 1960) Minnesota State Amateur champion and also captured the 1951 Minnesotat Publinx Championship. She also represented the University of Minnesota in the 1954 national tournament.
After moving to Illinois, Miller's game continued to thrive. She was the Chicago District Women's Golf Association champion in 1967, and the Illinois Senior champion in 1987 and 1988. In 1977, Miller became the head girl's golf coach at Lake Forest (Ill.) High School, where her teams qualified for the state finals nine times and won state championships in 1996 and 1998. Her teams have posted a 203-85 record.
She was inducted into the Illinois Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Lake County High School Sports Hall of Fame, which serves all schools in the county, in 2002.
Miller and her husband, Wendell, live in Lake Bluff, Illinois.
If there was ever a dominating athlete in the Big Nine Conference, it was Winona High's Dick Radatz in the early 1940's. A 1943 graduate, he was an all-state halfback in football his senior year, when he ran for 11 touchdowns in the final two games of the year.
In basketball, he was a four-year starter and was the Big Nine's leading scorer in the 1942-43 season, when he averaged 13.8 points a game. During one stretch in the middle of the season, Radatz scored 101 points in three games and set a conference scoring record with a 37 point performance against Mankato. He shot 85 percent from the field in that three-game stretch.
In baseball, he was the No. 3 hitter in the batting order when WSHS won the state tournament his junior year. Radatz was a dominating pitcher his senior year, tossing two two-hitters and one three-hitter.
He was going to attend the University of Minnesota to play football and basketball. That dream, however, never became a reality. Shortly after graduation, Radatz was drafted and was in the Army Air Corp in World War II when he severely injured his knees in a plane crash. He died on March 26, 1996 at age 70.
It didn't matter to Gary Addington what kind of statistics he put up, as long as it helped the team. He received nine letters - three each for football, basketball and baseball - at Winona Senior High School before graduating in 1966.
He quarterbacked the Winhawk football team for two years and was selected to the All-Big Nine Conference team his senior season in 1966.
He was a two-year all-conference performer in basketball and led WSHS to a 16-4 record his senior season, when he was selected to WCCO-Radio's 22 member all-state team, despite not being the team's leading scorer.
In the spring of 1966, Addington was the first baseman on the baseball team that went 14-4 and reached the Region 1 title game.
He went on to earn three letters in both basketball and baseball at Augustana (S.D.) College, then started his teaching and coaching career at Wanamingo High School, where he accumulated a 237-116 record as boys basketball coach and led the team to two state tournaments, including a runner-up finish in 1976.
Since 1987, Addington has been the supervisor of athletes for Rochester Public Schools, where he oversees the athletic programs at Rochester John Marshall, Rochester Mayo, and Rochester Century.
When the sport of wrestling in discussed around Winona, Kermit Selke's name is usually the first one that comes to mind. As a freshman in 1950, Selke became Winona Senior High School's first state champion in the sport by winning the 103-pound weight class.
He went on to win the 120-pound division at state in 1952 and the 127-pound in 1953. Selke is the school's only three-time state wrestling champion and finished his fine high school career with a 54-6-1 record. Four of those losses came in eighth grade, which was his first year of competing in the sport.
Selke wrestled at Winona State for three years before going into the insurance business in Winona. He remained active in the sport by being a referee for high school and college matches for 30 years.
In 1989, Selke was inducted into the Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is also the proud grandfather of T.J. Selke, a two-time state wrestling champion from Columbia, South Columbia. Selke still lives in Winona.
Sarah Renk Thorsett may be the finest female athlete Winona High has ever produced. But what she accomplished after high school may go down as her greatest moments.
A 1988 graduate, she was a three-sport athlete (cross country, basketball, and track), a nine-time Section 1AA Champion in track, a three-time section champion in cross country, and a five-year All-Big Nine Conference runner. She was a two-time state track champion in the 800 meters (1987 & 1988), the state 1600-meter champion in 1988, and a member of the state champion 3200-meter relay team in 1985. She finished third in the state cross country meet as a sophomore and second her junior year in 1986, when WSHS won the state title. She still holds WSHS records in the 800 and 1600.
Following high school, she went on to a brilliant running career at the University of Wisconsin, where whe was a six-time track All-American, including a member of the national championship 4x800-meter relay team in both 1992 and 1993. In 1995, she won a gold medal in the Pan American Games by winning the 1500 meters. She placed third in the USA Track & Field Championships that year and was a semifinalist at the World Championships. She was just two seconds from a spot on the 1996 Olympic team when she placed fifth in the Olympic Trials (the top 3 make the Olympics).
Thorsett now resides in Salem, Ore., with her husband, David, and two sons.
Paul Giel, Class of 1950
Completed in football, basketball, and baseball
Earned All-State honors in football and baseball
Following graduation from Winona Senior High School, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota where he gained All-American honors in football and baseball. During his senior year in 1953 he was named the Associated Press Back of the Year and Player of the Year by the United Press. He was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy by one of the slimmest margins in history. Other honors achieved include Conference Medal winner in 1954 for Academic and Athletic prowess; captain of the 1953 football team, Big Ten Conference MVP in 1952 and 1953, the first player ever to be so honored two years in a row. Two more honors were bestowed on Paul in 1975 when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and when his hometown football field was renamed, “Paul Giel Athletic Field.” He was named to the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, and his football jersey, #10, has been retired by the Athletic Department of the University of Minnesota. He has been chosen on the first team of both the Big Ten and University of Minnesota Teams of the Century. In 1998 he was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Hall of Fame and the National Federation of High School Associations Hall of Fame.
Between 1954 and 1961, Paul played professional baseball as a pitcher for the New York Giants, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Minnesota Twins. His career was interrupted following the 1955 major league season as he fulfilled his two-year military obligation as an Army officer in Germany.
Paul retired from baseball in 1961, and the same year accepted a public relations position with the Minnesota Vikings. In 1963 he became Sports Director of WCCO Radio in the Twin Cities and served in that position for eight years. He accepted the position as Men’s Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota in December of 1971. Paul left the University after 16-1/2 years of dedicated service. In April 1989, Paul joined the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL as Vice President of Corporate Relations. Following a change in ownership of the North Stars in July of 1990, Paul left the organization and accepted a position with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation as Vice President of Public Affairs.
Paul and his wife Nancy, have resided in Minnetonka, Minnesota, since 1965 and have three children- Paul Jr., Gerilyn and Thomas.
Few coaches in the long history of Winona High athletics enjoyed more success than Jim Flim. He built the WSHS boys and girls cross country teams, along with the Nordic ski teams, into state powers. He served as the cross country coach from 1972-2000 and won four state titles (boys in 1982 & 1987; girls in 1986 and 1989). He was instrumental in starting the Nordic ski programs at the school. He was the head coach in Nordic Skiing from 1983-1995 and won state titles in 1988 (girls) and 1994 (boys). He also served as the head boys track coach from 1972-1984. In all, 39 of Flim's teams competed in state meets, with 24 of them finishing in the top five. He coached 29 section championship teams and 30 teams that won Big Nine Conference titles. Five times in his career.
Flim was named a state coach of the year. Flim is already a member of the Minnesota Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame, as well as the Minnesota State Coaches Hall of Fame.
Flim and his wife Maxine still reside in Winona.
Jazz Hawk Choir
Strings in Motion
National Honor Society
MSHSL Music Competitions
MSHSL Art Competitions
HOPF Fitness Center
Concert Choir Competitions
High School - Big 9 Conference
Middle School - 3 Rivers Conference