Three former U.S. Olympians headline the Minnesota State High School League’s 2015 Hall of Fame class. But before Neal Broten, Briana Scurry and Carrie Tollefson achieved success at the national and international levels, they left their marks in Minnesota State High School League athletic programs.
Broten was a prep hockey standout at Roseau High School before playing with Team USA in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Scurry was a soccer goalkeeper for Anoka High School before leading Team USA to gold medals in the Olympics and the World Cup. Tollefson was a four-time cross country state champion representing Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley. She was on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team as a middle distance runner, and two years later, won the U.S. National Cross Country Championship.
The others slated for induction during the League’s 100-year anniversary celebration are: Bird Island-Lake Lillian three-sport standout Barry Wohler, Minnesota soccer icon and St. Paul Academy and Summit School coaching legend Buzz Lagos, Rosemount speech and debate coach Cortney Sylvester, St. Cloud Cathedral baseball coach Bob Karn, Rocori boys basketball coach Bob Brink, longtime St. Paul City Conference activities administrator Gerry Keenan, Willmar tennis coach and League contributor Hal Miller, 50-year officiating veteran Darrel “Bozo” Wincek of Crystal, and former one act play director and speech and debate coach, Michael Tillmann of Owatonna.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony for this outstanding group is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel (formerly Crowne Plaza). The event is open to the public. For event tickets, contact the League office at 763-560-2262 or visit the League’s website --- www.mshsl.org --- and click on the 2015 Hall of Fame Invitation link on the home page.
The League’s Hall of Fame, sponsored by Wells Fargo, started in 1991. The 2015 class is the 21st group to be inducted. The inductees were chosen through a multi-level selection process that included League member schools and a panel of prep sports reporters and broadcasters. With this class, there now are 208 individuals in the hall.
Here is a look at the 2015 inductees of the Minnesota State High School League’s Hall of Fame:
BOB BRINK, BASKETBALL COACH
A native of Plankton, SD, Bob Brink spent 51 years as a high school boys basketball coach, 42 of them at Rocori High School in Cold Spring. He retired in 2012 with a 936-327 record. His victories rank No. 2 all-time in Minnesota behind Chisholm’s Bob McDonald, who finished his career with 1,012. Brink led the Spartans to 14 state tournament appearances, including a Class AA championship in 1988 and a runner-up finish in Class AAA in 1999. During his tenure, his teams won 22 conference championships, 14 section titles, and he was selected Coach of the Year nine times. Brink’s entrance into the League’s Hall of Fame is the third hall that bears his name.
NEAL BROTEN, ATHLETE
Neal Broten helped power Roseau to two consecutive berths in the boys’ hockey state tournament in 1977 and ’78. Those teams were a combined 46-0 prior to the state tournament. In 1977, the Rams lost in the consolation final, and in the next season, took third. Broten still holds the single-game state tournament record of assists in a period with four. At the University of Minnesota, he scored 21 goals had 50 assists and led the Gophers to the 1979 NCAA hockey championship. He won the gold medal with the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and then was the inaugural Hobey Baker Award winner in 1981. Broten played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League. He is a member of the U.S. Hockey and the Roseau Athletic halls of fame, and he is the only player to have won the Hobey Baker Award, an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup.
BOB KARN, BASEBALL COACH
Bob Karn is an icon at St. Cloud Cathedral High School and in Minnesota high school baseball. His amazing record of 736 wins is more than any high school baseball coach in the state. In the spring of 2015, Karn completed his 45th season as head baseball coach and led the Crusaders to an undefeated season and a ninth state championship. St. Cloud Cathedral is on a 50-game winning streak in winning back-to-back Class A titles. Karn is in two halls of fame, and in July, he was selected the National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches’ Association. A graduate of St. Cloud Cathedral, Karn has taught English and Literature at his alma mater for the past 46 years.
GERRY KEENAN, ADMINISTRATOR
A lifelong St. Paul resident and employee of the St. Paul City School District, Gerry Keenan is in his sixth decade of service. A 1955 graduate of St. Paul Wilson High School, Keenan still serves as activities director at St. Paul Harding, a post he has held since 1996. He is the chair of the district’s athletic administrative council. Under his leadership, he is credited with saving middle school athletics in St. Paul in the midst of a budget crunch. Keenan also serves as a member of the League’s Athletic Directors’ Advisory and Officials’ Advisory committees and he has held leadership roles on Region committees and in other athletic associations. A longtime boys basketball coach at Mechanic Arts, Keenan began his teaching career there in 1960. He has been at Harding since 1975. His many awards and recognitions include the State Award of Merit from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and induction in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
MANUEL “BUZZ” LAGOS, SOCCER COACH
Regarded as Minnesota’s top soccer ambassador, Buzz Lagos has coached and educated thousands in helping to pioneer the game of soccer in Minnesota. A longtime mathematics teacher at St. Paul Academy, Lagos amassed a 256-55-35 record while guiding the Spartans’ boys’ soccer team to eight state tournaments and four championships in 1986, ’87, ’91, and ‘94. St. Paul Academy also was runners-up four times and some of the players—Tony Sanneh and Lagos’ son Manny, became first-division pro players. In the late 1980’s, Lagos co-founded and coached the Minnesota Thunder, a grassroots amateur soccer team that took the nation by storm in defeating top professional teams. With the Thunder, he compiled a 320-145-42 record, including a national title in 1999. With numerous state and national coaching awards, Lagos still teaches math and coaches soccer at Higher Ground Academy in St. Paul.
HAL MILLER, COACH, CONTRIBUTOR
Hal Miller began his education career in 1970, teaching elementary physical education in the Willmar school district. After a sabbatical to teach at Springfield College, he returned to Willmar in 1976 and remained until his retirement in 2004. His first coaching assignment in 1978 was an assistant coach on the varsity baseball team where he spent six seasons. He then became the head coach for the girls’ tennis program. He coached the team for 28 seasons and compiled a 377-154 record, which included eight Central Lakes Conference titles and eight state tournament appearances. In 1988 he coached the boys’ tennis team to a 174-119 record in 17 seasons claiming one conference title and trips to the state tournament by several individual players. Miller also was an assistant coach for Willmar’s girls and boys basketball teams. He helped lead each team to three state tournaments. For the past 29 years, Miller has served as the tournament manager for the girls’ and boys’ state tennis tournaments, and in June, the League presented him with the National Federation of High Schools Outstanding Service Award. A member of the Cardinal Pride Hall of Pride, Miller also manages the Section 2AA tennis tournaments and has served on the Tennis Advisory Committee and was the President of the Tennis Coaches Association for two terms.
BRIANA SCURRY, ATHLETE
Celebrated as Minnesota’s greatest female soccer player, the multi-talented Briana Scurry led Anoka High School to the state girls’ soccer championship in 1989. In the shootout, she made a save and then scored the clinching goal. Her superb goalkeeping earned her All-American honors and Minnesota’s High School Female Athlete of the Year award. In addition to soccer, Scurry ran track and played softball and basketball at Anoka. After a standout college career at the University of Massachusetts where she led her team to the semi-finals of the NCCA women’s soccer championship and was named the Collegiate Goalkeeper of the Year, Scurry went on to play for the U.S. women’s national soccer team in the Olympics and the World Cup. Her prowess helped the women’s team win the 1999 World Cup and capture Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004. Scurry is considered by many to be one of the world’s best-ever female soccer goalkeepers. She played in 173 international games, the most for any female soccer player in the world.
CORTNEY SYLVESTER, FINE ARTS
A 1985 graduate of Barnesville High School, Cortney Sylvester was the first three-time Class A state champion in speech. He was also one of Minnesota’s first four-time state medalists. Sylvester was a two-time participant at the National Forensic League and was a national runner-up. At Concordia (Moorhead), he was a collegiate national champion and a five-time national finalist. He then graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. In addition to his success as a litigating attorney, Sylvester has coached speech and debate at Rosemount High School for the past 23 years. His teams have qualified for the state tournament 22 of those 23 years. They won the state title in 2006 and have qualified for the national tournament 16 times. A longtime member of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association, Sylvester served as president and remains on the board of directors. He holds numerous awards of distinction and is regularly selected by his peers to judge at state tournaments. He currently represents Minnesota on the National Federation of High School Association’s Debate Topic Selection Committee.
MICHAEL TILLMANN, FINE ARTS
Any historical review of the League’s forensic and theater programs would be intolerably incomplete without the detail of contributions made by Michael Tillmann. An iconic figure in speech, debate and one act play, Tillmann has been coaching and directing these activities since 1966 at three Minnesota high schools and one in Wisconsin. He directed several starred performances at the state one act play festival and had numerous state champions in speech and debate. Throughout his career, Tillmann has served as an adjudicator for speech and one act play. He served on the League’s Board of Directors from 1976-78 and represented the fine arts activities on district and region administrative committees. His contributions to the professional organizations that represent fine arts include president of the Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota, secretary of the Speech Association of Minnesota, and fine arts consultant for the League. Recognition of his achievements and contributions include the Ashland Teacher Achievement Award, CTAM’s Outstanding Individual in the Field of Speech, and Owatonna Teacher of the Year.
CARRIE TOLLEFSON, ATHLETE
Born and raised in Dawson, Minnesota, Carrie Tollefson established a running legacy that may never be matched. In high school, she set a national record with five consecutive individual cross country state championships while running in a league of her own. She also won eight state championships in the 1600 and 3200 meter races during the track season. As a collegian at Villanova University, Tollefson won five NCAA championships and was a part of the 1999 national championship cross country team. In 1998, she was selected the NCAA indoor track athlete of the year. She also made history by becoming the first person in NCAA history to win both the 3K and the 5K titles. In her post collegiate career, Tollefson was a three-time national champion and after winning the 1500 meter trials in 2004, she represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics Games in Athens, Greece. Tollefson hosts a weekly online show about running and fitness and is a global running ambassador. She also runs a distance running camp at St. Catherine University.
BARRY WOHLER, ATHLETE
Barry Wohler of Bird Island-Lake Lillian is remembered as one of the most versatile athletes in Minnesota history. He is one of just three Minnesota prep athletes to be invited to all-star games in three different sports. Dave Winfield and Joe Mauer are the others. He quarterbacked state championship football teams in 1979 and ’80. He was also the playmaking guard that led Bird Island-Lake Lillian to back-to-back Class A basketball championships. Wohler had planned to play football for the Gophers, but instead played basketball and baseball at Minnesota. He was a part of the Gophers’ 1982 squad that won the Big Ten title and also helped the Gophers’ baseball team to Big Ten titles in 1982 and ’83. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing from 1983-88, and advancing to Triple AAA Albuquerque. Following his professional baseball career, Wohler coached boys’ basketball at several Minnesota colleges and high schools. He now teaches and coaches at Orono High School. He led the Spartans to the Class AAA boys’ basketball championship in 2011.
DARRELL “BOZO” WINCEK, OFFICIAL
A Minneapolis native, Bozo Wincek was a common figure at Minnesota State High School League events wearing pinstripes on the football field and basketball courts, as well as wearing his umpiring gear on the baseball and softball fields. Wincek officiated high school basketball for 50 years before retiring in 2010. A year later, he retired from officiating football after 45 years. He officiated in 25 state football tournaments, including seven championship games. Wincek also umpired baseball for 42 years and still umps fast-pitch softball. He was one of six officials that met in 1963 to help pioneer officiating education and servicing the League with officials. He helped found Gopher State Officials, an association of more than 400 officials. He has been the assignment secretary for Gopher State Officials for four decades. Wincek is a member of the Minnesota coaches association’s softball and football halls of fame.