Kenyon-Wanamingo High Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet is Saturday
The Kenyon-Wanamingo High School Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet is Saturday evening at the K-W High School Auditorium. This is the 5th class to be honored.
The Ceremony is 6:30 p.m. following a Social Hour 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Dinner. Kenyon-Wanamingo Activities Director Randy Hockinson says the goal is to always have people heading out the door by 9:00 p.m.
Seven individuals and three teams are being honored.
- Ray Strandemo was raised on a farm south of Kenyon, the youngest of six children with two older athletic brothers. At Kenyon High School he was a good three sport athlete. Running back in football, scrappy guard in basketball and in baseball, a second baseman who could hit with power. The 1942 basketball team was 25-2. This was Ray's senior season. They were upset by Austin in the Region finals. Ray was named to the Region All-Tournament Team.
After high school he played football at St. Olaf and won the running back position as a freshman. After his father died, he left school to help run the family farm. Ray played baseball with Faribault in the Southern Minny League for a number of years and also won numerous horseshoe championships. Ray enjoyed giving farm kids rides home following sports practices in the final 25 years of his life and caring for Picha Field.
Ray loved following the Vikings and then the Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights on KDHL radio and would tape the games. Those recordings were given to players and coaches.
He passed away in 2004 at the age of 81.
- Roger Hostager was a 1952 graduate of Wanamingo High School and lettered in basketball and baseball. He was co-captain of the 1952 basketball team that went 26-2. The most successful season in the school's history. His high scoring games, plus brilliant defense by teammates, ended with the 1952 team capturing their first Hiawatha Valley League Championship while going 9-1. They went on to win the District Championship.
In the Region 1 Basketball Tournament Roger scored 44 points for a new Region 1 individual scoring record (one less point than the entire Mabel team). J. Krenz, Author of "Gopher State Greatness" writes: "At Rochester, Roger Hostager, perhaps southeastern Minnesota's best player, was on target for 44 points as he led tiny Wanamingo by Mabel 61-45 and into the finals against Austin."
Wanamingo lost a heartbreaker to Austin 59-55. The Packers were very powerful in those days. Roger scored 23 against the Packers. University of Minnesota basketball coach Ozzie Cowles said, "By far the best ballgame I've seen this season, impressed by Hostager's cat-like quickness as well as his accurate shooting." This team was inducted into the K-W High School Hall of Fame in 2016.
Roger went on to play basketball at St. Olaf College and following 1956 graduation, served two years in the U.S. Army. He played basketball on a church rec league team in the 1980's and at the age of 50 started running marathons.
Hostager gave thanks for life-long friendships, amazing fans, and outstanding coaches like Wayne Gilleland and Merle Mayer. Roger worked for the State of Minnesota for 31 years and retired in 1996. He died of cancer in 2007 and his survived by wife, Marcy. 4 children. 12 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
- Lawrence Picha- It was Picha's dedication to the Kenyon High School athletics program from the 1920's through the 1960's that established the high school teams as being competitive in football, basketball, track, golf and baseball. Picha was a long time Kenyon High School Industrial Arts teacher, coach and athletic director. He demanded respect on and off the playing field or court.
A member of the Kenyon High School Class of 1912, Picha was known as a gifted athlete. He attended Stout Institute of Manual Training for Teachers. He then served in the U.S. Army during WWI. Picha taught in other districts before returning to Kenyon in 1922. He coached football, basketball, baseball, track and golf.
His football coaching record was 90 wins, 45 losses, 6 ties. Lawrence Picha was a tall man with a commanding personality and a voice that demanded respect. He was superb coach whose teams were respected by their opponents. The 1927-28 football team set a state record for holding their opposition scoreless. They played Faribault, Owatonna, Rochester, Northfield and Red Wing.
As a basketball coach Lawrence had 180 wins and a Kenyon Leader article written in 1946 stated, "Coach Picha has the enviable record of winning the Sub-District title every year he has coached."
In 1957, he was recognized as the Goodhue County Secondary school Teacher of the year at the Minnesota State Fair. In May of 1958 Picha was recognized at the State of Minnesota Centennial Sports Banquet as one of 1,958 Minnesota outstanding sports figures.
Picha retired in 1965 after 43 years. He passed away two months later. In 1970 the Kenyon community honored Picha, a man of great integrity, by naming the athletic field after him in recognition of his commitment to the students and athletes of Kenyon High School. The new K-W Middle/HIgh School sits on the site of Picha Field.
- Danny Quam graduated from Kenyon High School in 1969 and from Concordia College in 1973 with a BA degree in Math and Business Administration. He started a business career that lasted 43 years in varying capacities that culminated in the sale of his own business in 2016.
In 1977 he purchased the family farm from his parents and it has been their home ever since. Danny and wife Sharon (Nesseth) have three grown children. Traci (Jason) Rude, Jason (Stacy) Quam and Jaimee (Aaron ) Winchell. They have been blessed with seven grandchildren.
- Jeff Schoenfelder graduated from Kenyon-Wanamingo High School in 1998. During his athletic career he was a two sport athlete. Jeff played basketball and baseball.
In basketball Jeff was an All-Conference selection and voted Chairman of the Boards by his coach and teammates. Jeff was part of the 1998 State Tournament team that placed 4th. Jeff was selected to the All-Tournament Team.
In baseball Jeff was a 4 year varsity player. He was All-Conference for 3 years, All Sub Section for 3 years, was a member of the State Tournament team of 1998. He also played in the State All-Star game in 1998. Jeff still holds numerous K-W school records in baseball.
After high school Jeff played amateur baseball with the Dundas Dukes winning back to back state titles in 1998 and 1999. He threw a no-hitter during his 8 years with the Dukes and finished his baseball career with the Cannon Falls Bears in 2006.
In 2002 Jeff graduated from South Central Technical College in Faribault with a degree in Machine Tool Technology. He now lives in Cannon Falls with wife Emily and their three kids ranging in age from 10 to 14. Jeff enjoys coaching baseball and basketball.
- Bruce Vermilyea was a Kenyon High School graduate in 1971. Minnesota still had one class for sports competition. His junior year he qualified for State Cross Country, State Basketball and State Track. As a senior Bruce qualified for State Track.
Bruce continued his education and athletic career at Division One Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He was the Mid-American Conference Champion in the 880 (1974), qualifed for the National Cross Country Meet (1972), qualified for the National Outdoor Track Meet (1973). Bruce was also a MAC All-Conference athlete, Division One All-American and member of the American record setting 4 by 1 mile relay team (1973).
Bruce received the BGSU Distinguished Service Award, and was BGSU's representative as the Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1975.
After marrying his college sweetheart Trisha in 1975 he furthured his education at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He set up his practice in Richland Center, Wisconsin for 36 years and raised 3 children.
Bruce and Trisha have happily retired to their cabin in La Valle, Wisconsin and say they thorougly enjoy their grandchildren (6 all under the age of 7) and fishing.
- Kyle Wallaker graduated from Wanamingo High School in 1986. He lettered in football in 1984 and decided following a knee injury not to continue with the sport. A decision he says he regrets.
Kyle was a 3 year letter winner in basketball and two years All-Conference. He was named to the Class A Preseason All-State Team during the 1985-86 season. Kyle was the top scorer in Region One in 1986. He is second on the All-Time scoring list for Wanamingo with 1,088 points. He tallied the second highest points in a game with 40.
Kyle went on to play hoops at the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse but contracted a illness and later fractured his leg, sidelining his dream of playing college basketball.
Wallaker was also on the baseball team and was selected All-Conference 1985 and 1986. He was All District in 1986. He graduated from Mankato with a major in Sociology and a minor in Corrections. After working several years in corrections he became a small business owner.
Kyle and his wife Kelly live in rural Goodhue on a hobby farm with kids Luke, 17 and Ava 11. Bruce enjoys running, teaching Sunday School and cheering for his kid's sports teams.
- Teams being honored include: 1950 Kenyon Vikings Football Team was undefeated 8-0. Along the way they beat Farmington 25-12, Lake City 13-6. Won the HVL title by downing Cannon Falls 28-21 in their homecoming game and securing the Brown Jug in the process. It was the largest crowd ever for a game at Memorial Field.
According to Dr. E. Litkenhouse, a nationally known football statistician, the Kenyon High School team ranked 5th among all schools in the state. These rankings were published by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune.
- 1973-74 Wanamingo Bulldog Girls Basketball Team were pioneers for girls sports in Minnesota high school. The team went 6-2 and won the Wasioja Conference Championship. Scores were 61-12 over West Concord, 45-18 over Dover-Eyota, 67-12 over Byron, 40-28 over Dodge Center, 45-31 over Pine Island, 52-6 over Goodhue. The only regular season loss was to Hayfield 43-42.
The season ended when they lost to Rochester Lourdes 47-24. Lourdes had been the defending Independent State Champions the previous season.
- 2007-08 K-W Wrestling Team: Finished their season 27-3. They participated for the first time in The Clash, a nationally recognized wrestling event held in Rochester and had a 4-2 record against nationally ranked teams.
The Knights were 11-0 in the Hiawtha Valley League Conference and won the title for the first time since 1975.
The team won the Section 1A Championship and advanced to the State Wrestling Tournament for the first time in school history. At the State Tournament they placed 5th after losing in the first round to the eventual State Champion. This was prior to seeding the tournament.
Eight individuals from that team earned All-Conference. There were 5 state qualifiers, including a State Champion, 4th Place, 6th place.