The Wadena-Deer Creek schools will be inducting its second class into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 27 as part of the annual homecoming activities in Wadena. The talented Hall of Fame class of 2019 recorded many accomplishments on and off the field at Wadena and Deer Creek. This year’s class includes John Campbell, Pat Sartell, Jen Walter, Jeremy Erickson, Peter Hayes, the 1979 Wadena Indians softball team, the 1979 Wadena Indians baseball team, Virginia “Gina” Stulc, David Kahl and Richard “Dick” Hess.
Campbell graduated from Wadena in 1956 and was a member of the football, basketball and track and field teams. He served in the U.S. Navy and played football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, winning a national title in 1960 and was named Second Team All-American in 1962. He played professionally for the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Colts.
Campbell was a member of six bowl games with the Gophers, including two Rose Bowls during the 1961 and 1962 seasons.
Sartell graduated from Wadena in 1974 and she was a multi-sport athlete. She advanced to the state track and field meet in 1973 and 74. She excelled in basketball, volleyball and as a cheerleader. She would continue her career at Bemidji State University, receiving a scholarship to play basketball and volleyball. She graduated as BSU’s all-time leading scorer and held the best free-throw percentage. She was named to the All-Conference team twice and played on two conference championship winning teams. As a volleyball player, she led the team in kills and aces, while playing on four straight conference championship teams. She was inducted into the BSU Hall of Fame in 2002.
Walter graduated from Wadena in 1981 and was a three-sport athlete. She was a four-year letterwinner in basketball and softball and a one-year letterwinner in cross country. Walter played in three straight District 24 championship games and graduated with 1,136 points, which was the tops in Wadena history when she graduated. On the diamond, Walter was a member of the 1979 state championship team and was named All-State her final two years. She was inducted into the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 ad a player. She went on to play college softball at Golden Valley Lutheran College and Augustana. She has coached multiple sports in Audubon, Perham and Breck School. Walter was hired to coach at St. Scholastica in 1999 and coached the Saints to a 447-233 record with 15 regular season conference titles, 13 conference titles and five Division Championship Tournaments and one NAIA Tournament. In 2016, she took over at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and became the fastest coach to 100 wins, including leading the first UMD team to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2018.
Erickson graduated from Wadena-Deer Creek in 1994 and was a multi-sport athlete, playing football, baseball and hockey. He was a three-year letterwinner on the gridiron as a quarterback, receiver and defensive back, earning All-Conference honors in 1992 and 1994.
On the diamond, he was an All-Conference play for three years and All-State as a senior. He finished with a career batting average of .436 and was 22-2 on the mound. He is currently ranked 10th all-time on the W-DC strikeout list.
On the ice, Erickson led the state in scoring in 1993 and 94. He was the runner-up for the Mr. Hockey Award in 1994. He was the Section Player of the Year, three-years All-Conference, twice All-Section and All-State as a senior. His 108 points in a season ranked 10th all time in the state. His 60 goals in a season were third all-time in state history at graduation and his 218 career points ranks ninth in the year he was inducted.
Hayes is a 2003 graduate of Wadena-Deer Creek and was a dominant wrestler for the Wolverines. He finished his senior year with a 45-0 record and a state championship. He won 123 of his final 127 matches. He owns the top two spots all-time on the career list for takedowns in a season, major decisions in a season and technical falls in a season. At the time of his induction, he holds the career record with wins at 190, wins in a season, team points in a season, match points in a season and tournament championships in a season.
Hayes was an All-Conference running back as a junior for the WDC football team.
1979 Wadena Indians Girls Softball Team
Led by nine seniors, the 1979 softball team knocked off previously undefeated Jordan 8-0 to capture the first-ever Class A state softball title, but the first state team championship in Wadena High School history.
Due to weather, the Indians played an abbreviated schedule and posted an 8-2 record. They scored more than 10 runs in seven of their 10 regular season games, while holding the opposition to 3.3 runs per game.
Wadena defeated Backus 21-0 and Staples 13-1 in the region tournament before defeating Cyrus 10-9 in extra innings to advance to state. Wadena defeated Hermantown 9-0 in the opening round, before earning a 9-6 win over Delavan in the semifinals. Collen Solseth picked up her 10th victory of the season in the 8-0 win over Jordan in the championship.
Team members: Debbie Grabrian, Dawn Pladson, Terri Poehls, Terri Uselman, Dana Ruschy, Lori Evans, Kim Priebe, Jill Gravelle, Rhonda Pudas, Colleen Solseth, Lynne Piepkorn, Chris Ribble, Bonnie Weller, Junelle Horn, Monica Pavek, Edie Dull, Jen Walter, Charlene Carlson, Ellen Endres, Linda Houle, Dorcas Munsch and Mary Jo Schmith, Head coach Frank Kohoutek, assistant coach Larry Berg and managers Sue Skalisky and Janell Hamre.
1979 Wadena Indians Baseball Team
The Indians posted a 15-0 regular season mark and had a team that featured seven All-Conference players. The Indians rolled in the District 24 Tournament with wins over Pequot Lakes, Deer Creek and Staples. They won the region by defeating Perham and Morris. At the state tournament, Wadena opened with a 4-3 win over Delano, who was the preliminary favorite. Wadena suffered a 6-0 loss to St. James in the semifinals, but defeated LeSueur 3-2 in the third place game to finish with a 22-1 record, which was the state’s best.
Team members: Gary Peters, Paul Schumacher, Jeff Fischer, Dale Geiser, Dave Hunnicutt, Larry Knox, Craig Walter, Bruce Swenson, Brian Becker, Ron Grewe, Tim Pavek, Bill Sartell, Mark Larson, Dan Simmons, Terry Manselle, Ron Tappe, Carey Hever, head coach Lowell Roisum, assistant coach Dennis Kaatz and student manager Tim Edinger.
Virginia “Gina” Stulc
Stulc was a physical education/health teacher, volleyball and cheerleading coach, and advisor for the Girls Recreation Association at Wadena from 1962-1994. During her time at Wadena, girls’ athletics went from the GRA to the MSHSL, and she was a driving force behind the transition and advocate for students, particularly girls.
As an advisor for the GRA, she coached gymnastics, badminton, volleyball, basketball and other sports for the girls. She was the varsity volleyball coach for many years, as well as the cheerleading advisor. She passed away on March 25, 2015 in Wadena at the age of 76.
Kahl began his teaching career for the Deer Creek School District in 1968. He retired in 2007 from W-DC, spending 39 years in education. He served as Athletic Director for 23 years, where he served as head girls basketball coach as well from 1984-1991. His team won the conference title in 1989, and Kahl was named the District 24 Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1989. He coached junior high basketball for 23 years, junior high baseball for 16 years and was the Wolverine assistant girls basketball coach for 16 years. He also coached junior high football for 12 years.
Richard “Dick” Hess
From 1966-1992, to most people in Wadena community, Hess was the Wadena Pioneer Journal newspaper. A gifted writer and skilled communicator, if something important happened in the area, Hess had the inside scoop. In 1966, he began his career at the Pioneer Journal, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. He loved his work. Hess was a tireless advocate for kids and education.
Hess was a one-man sports department. He covered all of Wadena and eventually Wadena-Deer Creek sports. Hess was not only and advocate for athletics, he was a driving force in starting Wadena Rotary’s annual Fine Arts Banquet, a program held each spring that celebrates the accomplishments of Wadena-DC students in the fine arts.
Hess passed away on Aug. 29, 2002. He was 75 years old.
The formal ceremony will take place on Sept. 27 at 3:15 p.m. at the Robertson Theatre. The inductees will be introduced at halftime of the Wadena-Deer Creek and New York Mills football game, which begins at 6 p.m. The Hall of Fame Reception will take place at 8:30 p.m. at the Wadena Elks Club.