AHS will induct seven into athletic hall of fame

Austin High School will induct seven new members to its athletic hall of fame at halftime of the Packer boys basketball game against Owatonna this Friday.

Hall of Fame activities continue on Saturday at 9 a.m. The inductees will meet the public on the KAUS radio show broadcast live from the B & J Bar & Grill. The media and the public are invited to attend. Free coffee, juice and donuts will be available.

Hall of Fame Weekend concludes with the luncheon at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, 306 2nd St. NW. The public are invited to attend. The luncheon begins at 12:30 p.m. The Saturday luncheon is free to members of the media.

Donald Bunge, Class of 1942

Donald participated in football, wrestling and track. He earned three football letters playing center and left tackle. As a wrestler, Donald lost only one match over his career as a heavyweight. He won the region wrestling tournament and won the State Consolation tournament in 1942.

In track, Donald was a three-year letterman, where he threw the shot put and discus. In 1941 he won the State Championship in the shot. He repeated as State Champion in the shot in 1942 and was State runner-up in the discus.

Donald, who played at an unusual height of 6 foot, 8-inches, played tackle for the University of Minnesota but had to quit school after two years to help on the family farm. He later played pro football for the Wilmington Clippers, a Washington Redskins farm team. He eventually graduated from Faith Baptist College and became a Baptist minister. He retired as Regional Director for AWANA Clubs International.

Donald has passed away and his daughter Paula McMahon will accept his induction.

Dale Hamilton, Class of 1951

Dale played football for three years under legendary coach Red Hastings. Dale, a team captain, earned All-Conference honors and was named Austin’s outstanding lineman his junior and senior years. The Packers were undefeated both years and declared mythical state champions Dale’s senior year. That team averaged 35 points while holding opponents to only 18 points for the entire season. Dale lost was part of just one loss in his football career and that came when he was a sophomore.

“We won so much,” he said. “People refer to those times as the dominant years.”

Dale, who was 6-2 and 200 pounds and played on the offensive and defensive line, has seen high school football change over the years.

“I was as big as any guy back then,” he said. “It’s changed a lot.”

Dale played basketball for another of Austin’s legendary coaches, Ove Berven. He was a two-year starter, a leading scorer and team captain. He was named All-Conference his junior and senior years. The Packers won the Big 9, district and regional tournaments and advanced to the State his senior year.

Dale, who lives in Faribault and plans on coming for the ceremony, still follows Packer sports on regular basis and he’s pleased to be headed to the Hall of Fame.

“It’s certainly an honor and I played with some pretty good players,” he said.

After high school, Dale fought in the Korean War.

Rick Loeding, Class of 1971

Rick is recognized as one of AHS’ finest wrestlers. He wrestled at the 95 pound weight class and ended his three-year career with a 57-9 record.

“I’m very happy about being inducted,” Loeding said. “My brother David was inducted as a gymnast so it’s a pleasure for me to be in there with him.”

As a sophomore, Rick was 15-7. He won the district and region tournaments and qualified for state but did not place. He went 23-2 his junior year, won the District 2 title and finished third in the regional tournament, a placement that kept him out of state. Sidelined for a month during his senior year with a broken bone in his hand, Rick overcame the injury and got back to state. Although his season was limited to only 19 matches, Rick won every one of them. He won the District 2 and Region tournaments and won the state tournament.

“It was important for me to get back in the lineup, but I hadn’t set the state tournament as a goal,” Rick said. “I was anxious to get back and I had a couple of good days at state.”

Rick earned a wrestling scholarship to Jamestown College in North Dakota but a car accident ended his career. He lives in Austin and works for Anderson Memorials.

Terry Reding, Class of 1972

Terry’s outstanding swimming career went beyond the fact that he was the team’s leading scorer over four seasons. He set AHS records in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley. He was a five-time Big 9 Champion and an eight-time medalist in these events as well.

Terry’s dad was an solid athlete before him, but he never swam. So one day he took Terry and his sister to Austin swimming coach Bud Higgins and had them try it out.

“My dad was good with any sport involving a ball or running,” Terry said.

Swimming required a lot of training for Terry, but he credited Higgins with helping him along.

“Things have evolved since then, but Bud used to have us swim as far as we could during the year and in March we’d taper down. Swimming fast was fun and easy at the end of the year.”

Terry qualified for state his junior year and won the 100 breaststroke. He qualified for state again his senior year but finished second in close race. Terry earned All-American Honorable Mention honors in the 100 breaststroke in 1972. He also won numerous state championships and Mid-West regional breaststroke events and set age-group records in AAU competitions.

Terry who plans on coming to the ceremony, lives in Rochester and is a Product Developer for Marigold Foods.

“I was honored (to be inducted),” Terry said. “Austin has a storied history of good athletes. I thank anyone who played a part in my success and made it possible.”

Jeff Nelson, Class of 1981

While Austin High School didn’t have a volleyball team, Jeff found a way to eventually play Division I volleyball at Ball State University and he went on to coach Division I volleyball.

He started playing in the men’s league at the YMCA as a high schooler and he eventually tried out for Ball State.

“I don’t know how I got to that level, but I did,” Nelson said. “It was an amazing experience.”

In Austin, Jeff’s club volleyball team won the State CoRec A-League Championship and was runner-up in the AA-League, 1979-81.

After graduating, Jeff began his Division I coaching career and is currently in his 25th year. The last five years he has coached the University of New Mexico Lobos. He has led the Lobos to two NCAA tournament appearances and was named MWC Coach of the Year.

Jeff played tennis for four years. After finishing second in the Big 9 Doubles Tournament in 1979, Jeff and his partner won the Big 9 in 1981. The tennis team won the Big 9 Team Championships and and Region 1 tournaments advancing to state in 1980 and 1981. Jeff received the 1981 Nat Goudy award for tennis. He also swam for two years, wrote for the Sentinel and was on the year book staff. He was student manager of the volleyball team.

Jeff played youth basketball and youth hockey at Austin and he thinks student athletes should stay rounded instead of focusing on one sport.

“I think kids should be doing a lot of things,” he said. “It’s great if they focus on my sport, but it’s better for them to become more rounded. Doing a lot of things helped me find my passion that I still have today.”

Jeff plans on coming to the ceremony and he’s looking forward to coming back to Austin.

Jennfier Fox-Morhart, Class of 1993

A three-sport athlete, Jennifer played softball, basketball and volleyball. She won nine letters over her AHS career and numerous All-Conference and All-State honors. In 1993 she was named to the Minnesota All-Star Team and participated in the Iowa-Minnesota Softball Challenge. She also received the Red Hastings Scholarship Award.

Jennifer played softball for the University of Minnesota and lettered all four years. She also earned Academic All-Big 10 honors three years.

“I was motivated by some of my high school teammates who went to play college softball and Al Eckmann helped me out as well,” Jennifer said.

After graduating she went on to earn a Masters of Physical Therapy degree. Jennifer has participated in triathlons and is currently on the medical staff for the US Triathlon Team. She is a physical therapist, facility manager and partner in AthletiCo.

“Growing up playing sports was fundemental for me and a building block for what I’m doing today,” Jennifer said. “It’s an honor and I’m kind of tickled about being in the hall of fame.”

Brad Fischer, Class of 1997

Brad participated in cross country, track and baseball, but his name is synonymous with AHS wrestling success in the 1990s. The five-time letter winner and two-time captain set two AHS wrestling records: most victories (154) and most pins (84).

“I feel like I’m pretty young to be going in, but I’m grateful and honored,” Brad said.

He was All-Conference five times and KAUS and KAAL Athlete of the Week five times. Brad also was named Area Wrestler of the Year in 1993 and 1997. He received several state and national academic awards as well. Brad qualified for state each year that he wrestled. He was state champion at 103 pounds as an eighth grader, only the third eighth grader to win a state wrestling title. He was fifth at ll2 as a freshman, state runner up at 130 his junior year; and repeated as state champion his senior year at 135.

“It was opened with a title and closed with one,” Brad said. “I saw a lot of tough competition and it’s not easy to win a state title.”

Brad continued his wrestling career at Division III Augsburg College. He was a three time MIAC Champion and three-time NCAA All-American. He teaches special education at Fridley High School; coaches cross country at Fridley and wrestling at Augsburg.

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