by Marlys Kruger
ELK MOUND — About a year ago, Elk Mound High School principal (and former athletic director as of June 30) Paul Weber was contemplating some new fund raising ideas for the school’s Booster Club. Knowing there have been some great athletes, teams and coaches throughout the many years the school has been in existence, he came up with the idea of starting an Athletic Hall of Fame and having a ceremony each year that would coincide with the annual Alumni basketball and volleyball tournament.
The club determined that each sport in existence for more than five years could submit a member for the inaugural induction then the current coach of each sport was asked to do some research and submit a name. The Alumni/Hall of Fame committee which did the planning of the tournaments and the banquet that took place April 11 included Weber along with Lani Rhude, Shelly Cedarblade, Mark Cedarblade, Dawn Borofka, Amy Zurbuchen, Janet Weber and Mike Schisik. A video of each inductee was put together and narrated by senior Elly Friberg and presented during the banquet at Whitetail Golf Course. (The individual videos can be seen on the school’s website).
The first group of inductees included eight individuals, a long time coach and the only team to win a state championship in Elk Mound history. I talked to a few of them at the banquet including the elder statesman of the group, David Brice about his athletic endeavors during the 1950s.
Brice was chosen to represent the athletes from the pre-1970s era by Weber and Schiszik. He was from a family of four boys who all played sports for Elk Mound but he seems to have been the most decorated of the boys. He lettered as a freshman in four sports including basketball, baseball, track and volleyball. (Yes, there was boys’ volleyball at the high school level back in those days). He was a member of Dunn-St. Croix Conference winning teams in all four sports and all four sports teams went to state at least one year of his playing days.
“Our basketball team won 10 straight D-SC titles back then and they made us move to the Cloverbelt Conference for a year because we were too good,” he said. “And in 1957, our baseball team lost 3-2 to Eau Claire who won the state title. That was pretty impressive because we had only about 100 kids in our high school compared to what Eau Claire had. We went to state in volleyball one year but you only had to win your conference to move on to state. As an individual, I went to state in track in the 440 yard dash, the discus throw and shot put and the broad jump,” he added.
Brice earned 16 varsity letters for the school and was All Conference eight times in three different sports. When he graduated, he held the school record in the 100 and 440 yard dash and the discus. He went on to play a few sports in seminary school and is now a retired pastor, and he returns to the Elk Mound area for class reunions and all school reunions.
“I was very surprised when they chose me to represent the “old timers”, he said with a laugh. “We had a lot of good athletes back then and we didn’t even have a track or a baseball field to practice on. And of course they didn’t film any of the games so finding information on me and pictures was a little difficult. But I am very honored to be remembered and recognized for my accomplishments,” he added.
1981 graduate Bruce Myers was the male chosen to represent the late 1970s-early ‘80s. Myers, who passed away in May of 2013, earned nine varsity letters in three different sports including football, basketball and baseball beginning in his sophomore year. He won seven All Conference awards in those three years and was a First Team All Northwest defensive back in football his senior year and was Second Team All Northwest in basketball that same year. In his hoops career, Myers averaged 18 points a game as a sophomore, 23 as a junior and 20 his senior year and finished with a career total of 1,163 points. The Mounders won their first outright D-SC championship his senior year for the first time since 1956 with a 14-2 record and Myers scored 28 points in the final conference game against Boyceville to clinch the title. He had a game high 29 points in the sub-regional game against Altoona but the Mounders lost 64-62, and he was selected to play in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All Star Game later that summer.
Myers was instrumental in the Mounders success on the baseball field as well as they won the D-SC championship with a 10-0 record his senior year. He blasted three doubles in a 13-0 rout over Colfax in a regional game and the Mounders went on to beat Chetek, Prescott and Shell Lake before losing in the sectional semi-finals to Rib Lake. He was the quarterback and kicker for the football team and his team finished second in the conference with a 7-1 record, losing only to Prescott his senior year. (For those of you loyal readers out there, you may remember from my football history stories on Elk Mound and Colfax, only the conference champions went on to playoffs back then). In a game against Spring Valley, the Mounders shut down the Cardinals highly potent offense, winning 14-0 as Myers picked off a pass and ran it in for a 55 yard touchdown, then passed to Kevin Malnory for a 25 yard score. Myers received offers from several colleges for all three sports but chose to play football for UW-Stout after graduation.
The female athlete of the ’80s for Elk Mound may have been the overall best as Colleen Heimstead lettered 16 times in four sports. Competing from 1984-88, Heimstead excelled in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and was All Conference four years in basketball and softball, three years in volleyball and once in track. She is first on the Mounders all time scoring list on the basketball court with 2,002 points, reaching that plateau when she scored 16 points in a state tournament semi-final loss to eventual champion Fall Creek her senior season. She is also the all time leader in rebounds with 1,004. She led the conference in scoring and rebounds that year and was named Third Team All State for her accomplishments. As a junior, she was second in conference scoring and first in rebounding. She recorded a double-double with 31 points and 11 rebounds in the regional championship loss to Prentice who advanced to the state tournament.
Playing shortstop on the ball diamond, with their home field considered to be a slow pitch field with deep fences, Heimstead sent plenty of shots to the outfield for doubles and triples. More than likely, a lot of those hits would have been over the fence on most high school fields today. The Mounders went to state in her junior and senior years but lost the first game both times. On the track, she competed mostly in the 100 and 200 m races along with the high jump and shot put. She was an attacker in volleyball and led the team several times in spikes/kills and blocks during her four years. And with all this, she managed to finish as the class valedictorian.
When asked about the significance of her accomplishments, Heimstead said:
“As far as still holding the scoring and rebounding record for the school, you never expect records to hold up but it’s fun to see them at the top,” she said via e-mail. “I wasn’t even aware I had scored 2,000 points until after the season was over. I didn’t think much of it until I saw I was among the career points leaders in the state. Now my 2,002 points is barely in the top 20! I just wanted to play as many sports as I could and wanted to do well in all of them. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in four sports for four years,” she added.
Heimstead had plenty of good instruction, especially in basketball and softball as her dad Ted was her coach.
“I knew I would learn the game and be expected to work extremely hard,” she said. “He is very knowledgeable in both sports. We spent many hours in the driveway shooting hoops, and since I grew up playing baseball, he coached my Little League teams. I loved that competition and I was no stranger to getting dirty! My high school teammates were the best and playing with them is one of my fondest memories of those days. We were motivated and committed to being successful. During our senior basketball season, we listened to parts of the movie “Hoosiers” and it got us fired up. But I am most proud of being valedictorian because I was focused to succeed both academically and athletically,” she concluded.
Heimstead began drawing interests from colleges in basketball and although she loved softball equally as much, the interest in her hardcourt abilities made her decide to focus on that sport. She went on to play basketball for Southern Illinois University and is now the Associate Athletic Director for Compliance at North Dakota State University.
Athletes of the ’90s
1991 graduate Tim Weidinger made his name on the track but was also a two year varsity basketball player. He qualified for the state track and field meet six times in three different events in his high school career. As a freshman, he was already high jumping 5-06 and he went on to win the Class C state title his junior year in the event at 6-06 and was third as a senior. He was the state champion in the triple jump as a senior with a leap of 43-04. He holds the school records in both events at 6-07 in the high jump (almost a foot over his head) and 43-05 in the triple jump and was instrumental in the team winning the conference, regional and sectional meets his senior year. On the basketball court he was a two year varsity player and was a Second Team All Conference pick his senior year as the Mounders won the conference with a 16-2 record. He went on to compete in track at Brown University where he set the school outdoor record in the high jump at 6-11. He now lives in San Francisco with his family.
1993 graduate Lisa Townsend may have played varsity basketball a few years in high school but her name was made very well known in the sport of track and field. Townsend left Elk Mound with a phenomenal seven state championships including winning the triple jump as a freshman where she needed only one jump to win. (She did take another jump and upped her distance to 35-03). As a sophomore she claimed the top spot in the high jump and long jump and was second in the triple jump, her junior year saw her take the high jump and triple jump crowns and as a senior, Townsend won the high jump at 5-08 and the triple jump again at 35-11¾. Competing in the era where you could only go to state in three events (now it’s four), she scored all 28 team points her sophomore year to place her team fifth in the standings and her junior season, she again scored all the Mounders’ team points to place them third. If she had been able to compete in the 100 m hurdle event, she more than likely would have placed high enough to give Elk Mound the team championship. As a senior, she won the 100 m hurdles at the conference meet, narrowly beating out Angela Wait of Colfax who went on to win the event at state. Townsend still holds the school records in all three jumping events and the hurdle race, and took her talents on to Madison to compete for the Badgers where she scored points in several Big 10 meets in the high jump and in the heptathlon. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Coaches Track Association Hall of Fame, inducted in 2004.
Townsend, now married with two kids and living in White Bear Lake, MN, commented before the ceremony.
“I don’t get back to the Elk Mound area very often so this was a great opportunity for my family to see my humble beginnings,” she said with a laugh. “I thought I was all done doing interviews about my athletic career but I am very honored to be in this first group of inductees. I didn’t realize back in high school I was doing anything all that important. I just loved competing and I had fun doing it,” she added.
Another 1993 graduate, Jill Prause was a four year varsity volleyball player, starting every game in those years and was named All Conference three of them, and was an All State selection as a senior. She led the Mounders to their first state tournament appearance in 1992 where they placed second with her playing on an injured ankle which was so swollen she could barely get her shoe on. She also lettered four years in track and three years in basketball, making the All Conference team as a junior and senior. Prause went on to play college volleyball for Marycrest International University in Iowa and was a two time All Conference selection as well as an Academic All American. She now lives with her family in West Bend and is back into volleyball, coaching her daughter’s team this past year.
Another 1993 graduate, Jake Morris left the school with virtually all the football rushing records (too numerous to mention) along with plenty of records in the sprints on the track. Morris rushed for 5,420 yards and 89 touchdowns in his high school career and as a senior scored 296 points with 49 touchdowns, twice scoring seven touchdowns in a game. He was named Player of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal as a senior and is currently fourth in the state in rushing yards for a season and fourth in total points in a season. On the track, Morris won the 100 m dash at the state meet as a junior in 11.1 after setting a Division 3 record in the preliminaries at 11.04, and was second in the 200 m dash. He finished fifth in the 100 his sophomore year at state. He took his athletic abilities to play football at Division 2 North Dakota State University where he continued to set rushing records, and afterwards, tried out for several teams in the NFL.
“I always considered myself a football player who just ran track to keep in shape,” Morris said about his high school days. “It’s hard to believe it has been over 20 years since I competed for Elk Mound. I was so fortunate to be around a group of guys who played hard and helped me set all those records. And my coaches were also a big part of my success.”
Cheyenne Janke of the class of 1995 was a basketball and baseball player for the Mounders. Although he was a two time All Conference player on the hardcourt, Janke will probably be most remembered for throwing strikes and slamming base hits on the ball diamond. He was All Conference three seasons and All State his senior year and was a huge reason the Mounders won the state championship that year, the first team title in Elk Mound history. The team also went to state both his sophomore and junior years. As a senior, he threw 33 scoreless innings and struck out 14 batters in a regional win over Fall Creek. He whiffed 13 in the sectional final against Cameron to send the team to state. In the state semi-final game, Janke blasted a home run to tie the game at 1-1 while throwing a one hitter as the Mounders went on to win 5-1 over Sevastopol, and in the championship game he was walked four times by the Spencer pitching staff in their 5-0 win. Janke probably holds plenty of school records in strikeouts and wins but exact records cannot be found. He played for a couple of junior colleges after high school, then moved on to Nicholls State University in Louisiana where he was a Conference Pitcher of the year. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and spent five seasons in their minor league system before retiring from the sport.
“I don’t really remember if I set any records or not for the school, “ Janke said. “I just went out and played hard in all my games whether it was basketball or baseball. We had such good players in our class and the classes before us which led to success for all of our sports teams. This is really a special time for all of us to get together and reminisce about our championship days,” he added. Janke now lives in Florida.
As the only coach inducted this year, the choice was probably a no-brainer for the committee when you have someone like Dan Pedersen on your list. This was the third Hall of Fame induction for Pedersen after being selected for both the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame. Pedersen started his career with the Mounders in 1973 and led the football team to 14 conference titles and went to the playoffs 22 times, reaching the state championship three times in his 39 years. His overall record is 261-128. In 25 years leading the basketball team, the Mounders won 10 conference championships and went to the state finals twice, bringing home a silver ball both times. His record in that sport is 365-186. In an interview back in my 2013 writeup on Elk Mound football history. Peder-
sen gave credit for his success to his great coaching staff, many of whom were with him from the start of his career. He is now retired and living in the Tainter Lake area and doing a lot of traveling with his wife Jane.
The 1995 baseball team is the first team to be inducted and as mentioned before, is responsible for bringing the only team championship back to Elk Mound. After making it to state in 1993 and 1994, the team was determined to get back and end the season with a state title. They ended up tying Prescott for the Large D-SC Conference title, then moved through the regionals with wins over Colfax 4-1 as Janke tossed a three hitter and Steve Kopp banged a two run home run. They had to go eight innings to beat Fall Creek 3-2 with Kopp driving in the first run on a base hit and the winning run on a double, then pounded Thorp 9-2. Brad O’Connell pitched a two hitter for the win while Kopp had a trio of hits and Kris Kaanta was 2 for 3. In the sectional semi-final game, coach Scot Miller sent O’Connell to the mound and he responded by throwing a three hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 4-2 win over Flambeau. All four runs by the Mounders came from the long ball as Zeb Zielie, Kaanta, Janke and Kopp all connected for round trippers. In the sectional final win, again by a 4-2 score over the 18-2 Cameron team, Janke had a no hitter going until the seventh inning to earn the win. Team members included: O’Connell, Kaanta, Janke, Kopp, Jeremy Lee, Tony Kaanta, Josh Stelter, Terry Svihovec, Zielie, Brandon Mueller, Cory Gums, Jason Nelson, John Standard, Ryan Swanson, Shayn McMartin and Gabe Hayden. Miller was the head coach and Eric Hanson and Pat Rhude were his assistants while team managers were Sam Werner and Matt Hoeft.
Kopp spoke on behalf of the team before the Hall of Fame ceremony:
“We knew we had a chance to get back to state because we had only lost a few players from the year before,” he said. “We had such good athletes in our school during my high school years in every sport and we wanted to win a state championship after finishing second in so many sports. Our starting lineup was stacked from top to bottom and our bench players were also very good. I think playing at state the two previous years helped us because we weren’t nervous, we just went out and played our best. It was a great feeling to win and this banquet is really a nice way to get together and talk about those days which were really fun,” he added.
Weber and his committee plan on having a Hall of Fame ceremony each year which will coincide with the alumni tournament, but the upcoming classes will be smaller than this group.
“We felt this was a great way to honor our past athletes and it gave us “newcomers” to the school district a chance to meet them and talk about their accomplishments,” he concluded.