Five former Lawrence University athletes and one coach were inducted into the Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 16. Dave Novickis, Al Zupek ’44, Pat Kenney ’68, Doug Gilbert ’72, Kristi Jahn ’92 and Scott Sprtel ’97 were honored at the Blue and White Dinner at the Warch Campus Center and then introduced at Lawrence’s 17-13 win over Knox College at the Fall Festival football game the following afternoon.
Al Zupek ’44
Al Zupek was one of Lawrence’s gridiron stars of the early 1940s and helped make the Vikings the dominant football team of the era.
A native of Racine, Wis., Zupek was a two-time first-team All-Midwest Conference running back in 1941 and 1942 (allconference teams were not selected from 1943-45). A star in coach Bernie Heselton’s single-wing attack, Zupek led the Vikings to a 12-4-1 record during his three seasons (freshmen weren’t eligible back then). Lawrence posted a perfect 6-0 mark in 1942 and won the Midwest Conference championship. That team, considered one of the best in Lawrence history, allowed only 13 points all season and posted four consecutive shutouts to finish the campaign.
As was typical for the time, Zupek played on both sides of the ball. A halfback and fullback on offense, Zupek was a powerful runner, tremendous lead blocker and an efficient passer. He also was a standout in the defensive backfield. Zupek set the school game record when he ran for four touchdowns versus Knox College in 1942. That mark, which has been tied by fellow Hall of Famers Dave Mulford ’59 in 1957 and Brad Olson ’96 in 1995, still stands today. After his days at Lawrence and the end of World War II, Zupek saw action in the National Football League, playing for the Green Bay Packers in 1946.
Zupek also played three years of basketball and was thrower for the track and field team for three years. A reserve on the basketball team, Zupek helped the Vikings win the 1943 Midwest Conference championship. Zupek threw the javelin, discus and shot for the track team and helped the Vikings win the 1943 conference championship.
Zupek, who earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University, was a successful businessman and founded Bonewitz Laboratories and Supply. Zupek and his wife, Appleton native Janet Jones ’45, had three children and lived in Burlington, Iowa. Janet Zupek died in 1972 and Al Zupek passed away in 1980.
Pat Kenney ’68
Pat Kenney is one of the finest tennis players ever to take the court for Lawrence.
A Menasha, Wis., native, Kenney put together an impressive personal record and helped Lawrence win a Midwest Conference team championship. Kenney is one of only four players in Lawrence history to win a No. 1 singles title at the Midwest Conference Championships, taking the top singles crown in 1968. Kenney capped a perfect 14-0 season in 1968 by beating Carleton College’s Kit Young 6-2, 6-2, in the No. 1 singles title match at the MWC Championships. The Vikings won the 1968 MWC team title and were invited to play in the NCAA Championships.
Kenney was the career victories leader when he graduated, and his 36 singles wins still ranks him eighth on the school list. Kenney’s 36-4 career record translates to a .900 winning percentage and still stands as the mark to beat today. Kenney’s 14-0 record in 1968 continues to be the school record for season winning percentage at 1.000.
As a sophomore in 1966, Kenney posted an 11-1 record in singles, with his only loss coming in the No. 1 singles title match at the MWC Championships. Kenney went 11-3 at No. 1 singles in 1967 and also placed second at the MWC Championships that season. Also an impressive doubles player, Kenney teamed with Bob Bletzinger ’67 and Dave Holzworth ’69 during his career. Kenney placed second three times at No. 1 doubles at the MWC Championships.
Kenney, who also played basketball for the Vikings as a freshman and a sophomore, won the top singles title in the first two years of the Lawrence Invitational (1967 and 1968). Kenney and his wife, Beverly, live in Lakewood, Wash., where he works as the budget and finance director for Pierce County
Doug Gilbert ’72
Doug Gilbert was a dominant pole vaulter at Lawrence and starred in all three sports seasons for the Vikings. A defensive back on the football team, Gilbert spent his winters wrestling for the Vikings.
A native of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Gilbert was the Midwest Conference champion in the pole vault in 1972 and set the school and conference record at 14 feet, 6.5 inches. Gilbert’s school record still stands today and is the third-oldest track and field record on the Lawrence books. Gilbert, the team captain, was virtually unbeatable in his specialty during his senior season and won the prestigious Beloit College Relays title during the spring of 1972.
Gilbert also placed in the pole vault at the MWC Championships during his sophomore and junior seasons (second in 1970 and fourth in 1971) and picked up the event crown at nearly every meet during those two years.
Gilbert quickly transitioned from being a Lawrence track star to being a Lawrence track coach. He served on the Lawrence coaching staff for two decades, working as an assistant coach from 1973 to 1991 and serving as the head women’s coach in 1992 and 1993. During his two decades coaching with the Vikings, Lawrence won 38 men’s and 33 women’s individual or relay titles at the MWC Championships.
Gilbert spent the majority of his wrestling career at 150 pounds and also saw action at 142. Gilbert helped the Vikings win the team championship at the Lawrence Invitational in 1970 and record a second-place finish in 1971. The team captain for the 1972 season, Gilbert saw his wrestling career cut short with a dislocated elbow at the start of the campaign.
Gilbert was a reserve early in his football career and then emerged as a starter in the defensive backfield. After playing the 1969 season, Gilbert missed the 1970 season due to surgery. He started in the secondary as a senior in 1971 and then returned to play his final season of eligibility in 1972. Gilbert’s final season was cut short after he suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through the campaign. Gilbert is semi-retired and most recently was employed by Outlook Group as vice-president of business development and integration. Gilbert and his wife, Becky, live in Appleton and have two adult daughters.
Kristi Jahn ’92
Kristi Jahn starred both in the pool and on the diamond for the Vikings. A native of Oconomowoc, Wis., Jahn was a Midwest Conference champion in swimming and an all-conference outfielder/shortstop for the softball team.
Jahn was a three-time conference champion in the pool and was named the team’s Most Valuable Swimmer three times. She won the 50-yard freestyle at the 1990 MWC Championships and took first in the 50 and 100 freestyle in 1991. Jahn broke the school record on her way to winning the 50 freestyle at 1991 MWC Championships with a time of 25.24 seconds. Jahn also set the school record in the 200 individual medley at the 1989 MWC Championships with a time of 2:26.20.
She would go on to place in four individual events and three relays at the 1989 conference meet. In addition to her three conference titles, she would place in seven other individual events and 14 relays in the MWC Championships during her career.
Jahn, a two-time team captain, also won five individual titles at the Wisconsin Private College Championships, taking the 50 freestyle in 1990, 1991 and 1992. She set the meet record of 26.33 seconds at the 1990 Private College Championships. Jahn, who helped Lawrence to the 1990 Private College team title, also won the 100 freestyle in 1990 and 1991.
Jahn was a four-year starter for the softball team and a career .295 hitter. A first-team All-MWC selection in 1992, Jahn started for two seasons at shortstop and two seasons in center field. In her senior season, Jahn earned all-conference honors after hitting .444 in league play and batting a career-high .415 on the season. Jahn is an emergency room physician and works at several hospitals in Park City, Utah, where she lives with her husband, Mark Sauer.
Scott Sprtel ’97
Scott Sprtel was a dominant distance runner during his time at Lawrence, winning Midwest Conference championships and setting school records along the way. A native of Whitefish Bay, Wis., Sprtel was a four-time conference champion in track and winner of numerous cross country events during his career. Sprtel continues to hold a pair of Lawrence track records, the indoor marks in the 3,000 meters (8:53.58) and the 5,000 (15:11.24).
Sprtel won his first MWC title when he took the crown in the 3,000 at the conference’s 1996 indoor championships. He then won the 10,000 at the 1996 MWC outdoor championships. Sprtel capped his track career by winning the 5,000 and 10,000 at the 1997 MWC outdoor championships. Sprtel was a champion at numerous track meets during his career, including winning three titles in everything from the 1,500 to the 10,000 at the Private College Championships.
A two-time all-conference honoree in cross country, Sprtel finished as high as second at the MWC Championships. A team captain in cross country, Sprtel took the runner-up spot in 1994 and also finished fifth in 1996. Sprtel won his first of eight cross country meet titles when he won the St. Norbert College Invitational as a freshman in 1993. He would go on to win the St. Norbert Invitational all four years of his career.
In addition to his victory at the St. Norbert meet in 1994, Sprtel also won the Lawrence Invitational that fall. He won the St. Norbert meet title again in 1995 and grabbed seconds at the Carthage College Invitational, the Private College Championships, and the Lawrence Invitational but wasn’t able to compete at the MWC Championships. He dominated many of the meets in which he competed in during his senior season of 1996. Sprtel won the St. Norbert Invitational, UW-Sheboygan Invitational, Carthage Invitational, Private College Championships and Lawrence Invitational that season.
Sprtel was the chief resident in internal medicine at Gundersen Lutheran Memorial Hospital in La Crosse, Wis. In September of 2003, while training for the Boston Marathon, he was struck and killed by a car.
Head wrestling coach Dave Novickis, who was inducted into the Division III Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009, guided the team for 16 seasons (1993-2009) and was the architect of Lawrence’s rise to national prominence in the 1990s.
Novickis coached three Midwest Conference champions and 27 conference place-winners from 1994 until the league discontinued the sport in 1997. The Vikings also established themselves on the national stage during this time. Lawrence started a string in 1994 of nine consecutive seasons with at least one national qualifier.
Of Lawrence’s 31 national qualifiers, 19 came during Novickis’ 16 seasons. Leading that contingent of national qualifiers was 2002 national champion and two-time All-American Andy Kazik ’02, two-time All-American Ross Mueller ’01, and four-time national qualifier and Lawrence’s first All-American, Mike Hoskins ’98.
The Vikings also achieved their first national ranking during the 1998-99 season, and Lawrence would be ranked as high as ninth during the 2000-01 season. Lawrence also posted its highest finish at the NCAA Championships, 10th place, in 2001.
Novickis oversaw Lawrence’s move to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for the 2002-03 season. Even with the move to the WIAC, Lawrence maintained its close ties to the state’sother private colleges and won the Private College Championships six times. Lawrence took the team title at the inaugural Northern Wrestling Association Tournament in 2007.
Novickis, who began his coaching career in 1978, has received numerous individual awards. He was the Division III District 9 Coach of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2000. He was the 1998 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year and also won the Northern Wrestling Association Coach of the Year award in 2007.
The Vikings also have flexed their muscle in the classroom during Novickis’ tenure. Lawrence has had 19 Scholar All-Americans during the past 16 years, and the Vikings had at least one wrestler chosen for 14 consecutive years.
Novickis is the district manager for McJunkin Corporation. He and his wife, Dawn, live in Appleton and have two adult daughters.