On the evening of Sept. 11, just one day after Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota was honored to host the Stanley Cup for the second time, the university hosted another event that testified to the high athletic standards it has for itself. All the current student athletes who were able to attend (the volleyball and golf teams were out of town for competition) dressed to the nines and met in the Saint Mary’s Gym for an evening honoring not only their accomplishments, but also the accomplishments of three Cardinal alumni who were formally inducted into the Saint Mary’s University Sports Hall of Fame.
After President Brother William and Athletic Director Nikki Fennern welcomed the athletes and some of their families to the event, awards and honors were given out to many Cardinal athletes who succeeded in the areas of athletics, academics, sportsmanship, or all three.
Prominent among winners were senior Martin Gruse (hockey) and junior Ben Buerkle (baseball) who won multiple awards, including All-American status, and 2015 graduate Drew Denning (baseball), who returned to the university to accept his prestigious Golden Glove award.
The evening then proceeded to the Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Alumni Corby Manes ’95, Missie Meemken ’03, and Missy (Westergren) Kuntz ’02, all former Cardinal hockey players, eloquently thanked their friends and families with speeches that had many athletes in the room silently thanking their own friends and family for the belief and dedication it takes to raise and support a student athlete. Manes, Meemken, and Kuntz all expressed the honor they felt at being inducted into such a successful and distinguished group.
The Hall of Fame inductees pose with their official plaques.
Left to right: Missy (Westergren) Kuntz, Corby Manes, Missy Meemken
Photo by Deborah Nahrgang
The culmination of the evening, however, was the awarding of the biggest honors of the night: male and female Scholar Athletes and Outstanding Male and Female Athletes. Cross country and track runner Aaron Haley ’15 took home the male Scholar Athlete award, while teammate Katie Stolz ’15 was awarded the female Scholar athlete award. Two-sport athlete Macki Fadness (senior, volleyball and hockey) was named Outstanding Female Athlete, while Buerkle finished up a strong night for awards by receiving Outstanding Male Athlete.
Regardless of whether or not they won awards, the athletes present, as well as their families and friends, were an important part of a night that testified to the success and prestige of Cardinal athletics.