The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) has announced their 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees. Included in the group of eight honorees is Don Niskanen, a native of Sebeka.
The complete class of 2012 includes: Niskanen, Bemidji State University; Ronald McClure, University of Minnesota Duluth; Fred Dahnke Minnesota State University Moorhead; Eric Kline, Northern State University; Bonnie Henrickson, St. Cloud State University; Sam Leggett, Southwest Minnesota State University; Brady Borner, Wayne State College and David Meisner, Winona State University.
The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, July 11th at the Best Western Kelly Inn/St. Cloud at the NSIC’s 13th annual Summer Kickoff event.
Founded in 1986, the Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC - the former men’s conference) Hall of Fame was established to recognize and honor those who made significant contributions to the conference, to create favorable publicity and public relations for the league and to help preserve the history of the NIC, its member institutions, student-athletes, and other significant individuals affiliated with the league. For the first two inductions (1986 and 1990) each selection hailed from the NIC. In 1992-93, the Northern Sun Conference (NSC - the former women’s conference) and the NIC merged creating the current Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). After annual inductions since 2000, today’s NSIC Hall of Fame now boasts 157 members and one team.
The 23-member Class of 2000 was the first to include standout female student-athletes in the former NSC. The 2000 inductees entered the Hall at the inaugural NSIC Summer Kickoff Event in Becker, Minn. The distinguished class of 2001 was enshrined in Willmar, Minn., as the conference moved the annual Summer Kickoff Event. This year’s NSIC Hall of Fame includes eight prominent inductees that are being recognized at the 13th annual NSIC Summer Kickoff Event, at its home for the past eight years, in St. Cloud, Minn.
Each NSIC school (who has been a member for at least ten years or more) is asked to submit one candidate per institution for induction into the Hall. Each of the selectees are derived from individuals who have been affiliated with the NSIC, NIC, NSC and their member institutions.
In order to be eligible for the NSIC Hall of Fame, candidates must have made their contributions in the following areas: 1) former student-athletes, 2) administrator/coach, 3) official/supervisor/coordinator, 4) contributor/supporter, and 5) team. Other worthy candidates that do not fall into the above categories are also considered. The conference provides two plaques, one of which will go to the inductee and one to the institution represented. A history of each inductee will be kept in the league office and each institution will prominently display the plaques of their respective NSIC Hall of Fame inductees.
Donald Niskanen, Bemidji State University
Don Niskanen retired as head men’s golf coach at Bemidji State University in 2010 after 17 successful seasons. A four-time NSIC Coach of the Year, Niskanen led the Beavers to seven conference runner-up titles and four NSIC Championships during his career. Niskanen coached five NSIC Individual Champions and 35 all-conference players. His teams qualified for district, regional and national competition on several occasions, including a 2010 regional meet where Niskanen ended his coaching career. In addition to his role on the course, Niskanen worked tirelessly to develop the program from the ground up. Most notably, his fundraising efforts have blossomed into several scholarships, including two that have since been endowed. A veteran of the United States Army and native of Sebeka, Minn., Niskanen served two years in the Korean Conflict before enrolling at Bemidji State where he graduated in 1959 and earned his master’s degree in 1979. Niskanen earned a letter in golf after his senior year, just two years after being introduced to the game. Don and his wife Janet have four children (Brenda, Eric, Monica and Stacey).
Ronald McClure, University of Minnesota Duluth
Ronald McClure is the only University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog to ever attain NCAA Division II All-American wrestling honors on more than one occasion. He amassed a whopping 27-1 record in 1993-94 with his lone defeat coming in the 142-pound title match at the NCAA II Championships. He set a school record with a .964 winning percentage that season. McClure became just the eighth individual to capture four Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championships, winning at 134 pounds in 1991 and 142 pounds in 1992, 1993 & 1994. He went 108-17 during his collegiate career, including 40 pins. He won his final 27 dual meet matches and qualified for three NCAA II national events and one NAIA Championship. McClure was chosen the Bulldogs’ Most Valuable Wrestler for an unprecedented third time as a senior and served as a team tri-captain for two seasons. He and fellow 2008 UMD Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Chris Marinucci were co-winners of the Bulldogs’ Outstanding Senior Male Athlete Award in 1993-94. McClure, a native of Golden Valley, Minn., was inducted into the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Fred Dahnke, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Fred Dahnke graduated from Moorhead State University in 1971 with a degree in Health & Physical Education. He was a member of the school record setting men’s 4X880 yard relay team. He was a member of the 1970 NIC Indoor Championship Team and earned the Moorhead State Red Baton Award, given to the outstanding team member who contributed the most and did the most for the team. Dahnke began teaching at West Fargo Public Schools in 1972, a post he retained until 2005. He was named an assistant coach at Moorhead State in 1976 and took the head cross country coaching reigns in 1981. As head cross-country and assistant track coach Dahnke piloted his teams to nine NSIC cross-country championships in nine seasons. He also led his teams to eight NAIA District 13 titles and three top ten finishes at the NAIA National Meet. Dahnke was named NAIA District 13 Coach of the Year six times, NSIC Coach of the Year five times and in 1991 was NAIA Region IV Coach of the Year. He developed three national champions, twenty-five All-Americans and 142 all-conference performers. Dahnke was inducted into the MSU Moorhead Hall of Fame in 1999. Since 2007, Dahnke has been the mayor of Barnesville, Minn.
Eric Kline, Northern State University
Eric Kline left his hometown of Aberdeen, S.D. to play basketball at Augustana College, but after his freshman year he transferred back home to play his final three years for Bob Olson at Northern State University. Kline excelled at NSU as the Wolves reeled off consecutive records of 34-2, 25-9 and 29-5 and finished as runner-up in the NAIA National Tournament in both 1993 and 1994 and finished in the top four in 1995. Kline was chosen as the NSIC Player of the Year all three seasons at NSU, a feat that only one other player has accomplished in their career. Kline was also the Midwest Region MVP, a NAIA Academic All-American, a NAIA II First Team All-American and the NAIA II Player of the Year. He averaged 26.3 points per game during his career at NSU and hit 456 of 1,089 3-point field goals, a clip of nearly 42 percent. Kline scored 2,660 career points, a South Dakota collegiate record. Despite playing in only 36 NSIC contest in his career, Kline still ranks 12th all-time in the NSIC in points scored with 975. His 27.7 points per conference game ranks him at the top of NSIC All-Time scorers list by average. He also holds the NSIC record for three pointers made (11) and three pointers attempted (21). Kline earned a B.S. in elementary education in 1995, his M.S. in elementary administration in 1999 from Northern State, and will earn his Education Specialist degree this summer from the University of Sioux Falls. Kline is currently the principal of C.C. Lee Elementary School in his hometown. He and his wife Kami have three children (Adam, Hope and Lydia).
Sam Leggett, Southwest Minnesota State University
Sam Leggett is remembered as one of the greatest basketball players in Southwest Minnesota State history. A transfer from the College of Albemarle (N.C.), he came to SMSU in 1974 and twice led the team in scoring, including a school-record 700 points during the 1975-76 season when he was named the NIC Player of the Year. His 1,244 career points in just two seasons stood as the school record until 1986. Sam recorded 23 double-doubles in his career, which places him second in the SMSU record book. Leggett still holds SMSU career records for scoring average (25.9) and rebounding average (10.4), while ranking third in free throw pct. (.841), fifth in field goals made (516) and seventh in scoring (1,244). He also holds the school’s single-season record for points scored (700, 1975-76), scoring average (25.9, 1975-76) and field goals made (290, 1975-76), while sharing a record with 21 rebounds against Northern State in 1976. During his senior season, he led SMSU to a second place finish in the NIC, the highest finish at the time in program history. SMSU had been a combined 4-69 in the three years prior to Leggett’s arrival, before posting 12-9 and 14-13 records in his two seasons. He led both squads in scoring and rebounding, averaging 25.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a junior and 25.9 and 11.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He led the NIC in scoring in 1974-75 and led the league in both scoring and rebounding in 1975-76. Leggett was a two-time first team all-conference honoree and was a two-time honorable mention NAIA All-America. Leggett retired from Washington High School (N.C) in 2008 after working with exceptional children and coaching basketball and golf. He is married to his wife Elizabeth and has two children Athledia and Sam Jr. Since retiring, Leggett has been active with his local church; he enjoys golfing and is learning to play the guitar.
Bonnie Henrickson, St. Cloud State University
Bonnie Henrickson was a standout on the St. Cloud State women’s basketball team from 1981 to 1985. Three times during her career she was named to the All-Northern Sun Conference (NSC) Team. Henrickson finished her career ranked second on the all-time scoring and rebounding charts with 1,731 career points (she now ranks sixth) and 995 rebounds (she now ranks fourth). She had a career average of 14.2 points per game and 8.1 rebounds. During her career, Henrickson held single game records for most free throw, best free throw percentage and best field goal percentage. She held season records for most free throws, most consecutive free throws and most rebounds. She is the career record holder for most games played at 122. She continues to hold the single game record for best free throw percentage of 100 percent as she made 15 of 15 free throw attempts in a game against Augustana College in 1984. She continues to rank in the top ten at SCSU in eight career categories. The Huskies won three straight Northern Sun Conference titles in 1982, 1983 and 1984 and advanced to national tournaments in each of the four seasons that Henrickson was a team member. The Huskies advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1983, 1984 and 1985. The 1982-93 team still holds the school record for most wins with 31 and the 1983-84 squad holds the mark for fewest losses with three. During her four-year career the Huskies posted a 97-25 record. Henrickson was inducted into the St. Cloud State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. Henrickson began her coaching career as a student assistant for the Huskies. She then earned her master’s degree in physical education in 1988 from Western Illinois University while serving as a graduate assistant coach. She became an assistant coach at Virginia Tech and the University of Iowa before becoming the head coach at Tech from 1997-2004. In 2004 she took over as the head coach at the University of Kansas and turned around a struggling program that has advanced to postseason play for the fifth-straight season in 2011-12.
Brady Borner, Wayne State College
Brady Borner played four seasons for the Wayne State College baseball team from 1998 to 2001. He left as the Wildcats’ all-time leader in wins (30), shutouts (13), strikeouts (359), appearances (53) and innings pitched (317). His 13 shutouts are the second most in NCAA Division II history. He struck out 15 in tossing a no-hitter against the University of Minnesota-Morris during his senior year. He was named the NSIC Pitcher of the Year his junior and senior seasons and to the NCAA Division II All Central Region First Team after his senior year. Borner struck out 17 batters in a game twice in his college career. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Major League Baseball Player Draft in the 31st round in June of 2001. Borner was inducted into the Wayne State Hall of Fame in 2007. Borner and his wife Carrie have two children, Drew (8) and Anna (6) and reside in Omaha, Neb. where he is the owner of Portage Construction Inc.
Dave Meisner, Winona State University
David Meisner left Winona State University men’s basketball in 1967 as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,658 points. The five-foot-eight Meisner, known as “Mouse” to his teammates, still holds the Winona State record for free throws made in a season (227) in (‘66 - ‘67) and free throws made in a game (21 -of- 22). Meisner’s 21 free throws were part of a 47 point performance at Upper Iowa on December 4, 1966. The 47 points still ranks second in Warrior’s basketball history for single game scoring. Meisner averaged 20.2 points per game over his career, including a 29 point performance in his final to break the WSU scoring record in a 98-83 win over Michigan Tech. During his senior season, Meisner scored 627 points, with seven 30 point plus performances. He was named NIC Second Team All-Conference as a sophomore and NIC First Team All-Conference both his junior and senior seasons as well as to the NAIA District 13 First Team and the NAIA Honorable Mention Team. Meisner’s elementary education degree led to teaching stints at Centennial, Mounds View, and North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale School Districts before moving on to an outside sales career. He worked in millwork, window products, pneumatic tools and fasteners products until his retirement in 2007. Meisner has been a Minnesota Gopher Football Chain Crew member for the past 24 years and has also volunteered in the hockey community for the past 30 years, at the board levels, in Minnesota Youth Hockey and USA Hockey. In his other spare time he volunteers at the N. St. Paul-Oakdale-Maplewood Food Shelf and the monthly Food Fare For All event.