The committee is a who’s who of Sauk Rapids coaches from the past 40-plus years. Imagine what the first Sauk Rapids-Rice Hall of Fame Induction class is like.
“We’ve got a nomination list that is outstanding,” said Doug Moilanen, a hall of fame committee member and retired teacher and coach.
It’s hard to argue.
The eight people who represent the first induction class cover some of the greatest athletic names in high school history, including perhaps the most famous Sauk Rapids alum of them all, Eldon “Rip” Repulski, though Dave Pflepsen and Bob Hegman are up there. All three played professional baseball.
The group will be introduced during halftime of Friday’s homecoming game with St. Cloud Apollo. Kick off is 7 p.m. The group will be honored during halftime.
There is a hall of fame bruncheon as part of induction ceremonies at the first Hall of Fame Golf Open beginning at 10:15 a.m. Saturday at the high school commons.
Tickets are required and cost $15. The golf outing follows at Oak Hill Golf Course in Rice.
The hall of fame began as an idea several years ago and became reality under the guidance of Loren Finlayson, a Sauk Rapids teacher who is head boys and girls track and field coach and an assistant football coach.
“Everybody else around had one,” Finlayson said. “It was time for us to join in on the fun.”
The committee sorted through recommendations, went through all records and agreed upon the first group of inductees.
They include: Margie Ackerman, Bob Hegman, boosters Laura and Clarence Koep, Dana O’Brien, Dave Pflepsen, Repulski and Sue Thelen.
Finlayson said the number of nominations is so enormous they plan to have annual induction ceremonies.
The only other decision made was to not induct any coaches, since it was mostly coaches who helped decide nominees.
There’s a 10-year waiting period to get in.
“Someone had to be in charge and Finny (Finlayson) get the credit for keeping it organized,” Molanen said.
A look at the inductees, with information compiled by former Sauk Rapids coach Fred Joesting:
A 1985 grad, Ackerman was a volleyball, basketball and softball star. She helped lead Sauk Rapids to the state softball tournament and was a member of the Times’ all-area teams.
Upon graduation, she played volleyball on a full athletic scholarship at the University of Mississippi, a member of the SEC. She was a team captain there and selected to the SEC All-Academic team.
She operates who own law firm in Minneapolis and is a competitive curler.
A 1976 graduate, Hegman was a captain and star player in football, basketball and baseball. He participated in the Lions’ All-Star Basketball series and remains on the school’s all-time scoring, assists and free-throw percentage list. He also was an all-stater in baseball.
He then was a four-year starter in basketball and baseball at St. Cloud State, earning all-conference honors. In baseball, he led the Northern Intercollegiate Conference in batting and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1980. He played one game with the Royals and had a long minor league career, eventually becoming a Royals’ scout and director of their minor league system.
He is an advance scout for the Minnesota Twins.
Laura and Clarence Koeps were huge supporters of all things Sauk Rapids and were commonly found at a variety of high school activities. They were considered the program’s No. 1 fans.
They were eager volunteers and considered honorary team captains of the 1985 softball team that went to state.
Clarence Koep graduated from Sauk Rapids and played amateur baseball for Sauk Rapids teams in the 1930s and ’40s. Laura Koep was a St. Cloud Tech graduate. The two were married in 1946.
Clarence Koep drove a school bus in Sauk Rapids for 13 years. Laura Koep worked at Good Sheppard Nursing Home and then was a volunteer there. Both were heavily involved with 4-H as leaders and were long-time members of the Benton County Fair board.
Both died in 2001.
O’Brien was a star in football, basketball and track and field. The 1963 graduate was voted by Foley High School as its most outstanding opponent.
He started three years in football as a runing back and was a 1,000-point scorer in basketball. His single-season record of 383 rebounds his senior year are still the school record. As a junior, he led the Central Gopher Conference in scoring and earned all-district and all-region honors.
In track and field, he set a number of school records, recording a best of 152 feet in the discus and 53 feet in the shot put. Both records stood until 1980 and are still the third best in school history.
Upon graduation, he participated in basketball and track and field at St. Cloud State.
He taught and coached for one year at Upsala before becoming a teacher and coach in the St. Cloud school district for 33 years. Most of the time was spent as head track and field coach at Tech.
A 1956 graduate, Pflepsen lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track.
He’s best known for baseball, having started playing varsity baseball in seventh grade.
He was a captain and all-conference performer in football, basketball and baseball and wound up his basketball career with 1,228 points.
In football, he played quarterback and end. In baseball, he usually played shortstop.
After high school, he was a three-year starter for the University of Minnesota baseball team.
In 1960, he batted .380 and helped the Golden Gophers win a national championship.
He signed a contract with the New York Yankees and made it to Triple-A in the Yankees’ minor league organization.
Eldon ‘Rip’ Repulski
A 1946 graduate who starred in football, basketball and baseball. He helped Sauk Rapids to a district basketball title, was a star in football from his sophomore year on and also excelled in baseball, where he was a town-team star, usually in center field.
In a football game against Sauk Centre, he rushed for three touchdowns, passed for two and kicked an extra point.
After high school, he went to St. Cloud State and played football, basketball and baseball. He was a football placekicker.
He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1947. He spent six years in the minor leagues, where he became known as Rip because he could rip the ball. In 1953, he finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting and was chosen to the 1956 N.L. All-Star team.
He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox before retiring after the 1961 season.
A three-sport star and female sports pioneer at Sauk Rapids, the 1981 graduate was a star in volleyball, basketball and softball.
She earned all-conference honors in all three sports for four straight years. She was named a team captain 11 times and began earning St. Cloud Times all-metro honors as a ninth-grader.
She scored more than 1,000 points in basketball, including a school-record 33 points in a game against Foley, which honored her with its all-opponent award.
After high school, she attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College and earned All-American honors in volleyball, then attended St. Cloud State.
She is a carpenter and resides in Arizona.