Vikings Athletes Honored
The Lawrence University Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame grew by seven during an induction ceremony on Oct. 14, 2011, at the Warch Campus Center.
The inductees were Ross Mueller ’01, Mindy Rueden ’00, Toby Kinsler ’98, Steve Skelcy ’96, Susan Beckwith ’87, Lance Alwin ’71 and Al “Obbie” Novakofski ’40.
A native of Richfield, Wis., Mueller was the first two-time All-American in Lawrence wrestling history. Wrestling at 174 pounds, Mueller became only the second wrestler in school history to eclipse the 100-win plateau. Mueller finished with a record of 105-23 and ranked second in school history in victories when he graduated. Mueller ranks fifth in Lawrence history with an .820 winning percentage and is third with 27 pins.
Wrestling during Lawrence’s time as an independent, Mueller qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2000, Mueller placed third and earned All-America honors for the first time. Mueller defeated Rob Murray of Loras College 9-1 in the third-place match. Mueller came back in 2001 to become an All-American again. He rallied to beat Justin Dix of Cornell College 9-3 in the third-place match. With Mueller and Andy Kazik ’02 both placing third, Lawrence posted its best finish, 10th place, at any NCAA Championship.
As a senior in 2000-01, Mueller posted the best record of his career at 37-4, and that ranks as the fourth-highest season win total in school history. A biology major, Mueller was named a Scholar All-American by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Mueller continued to work with the Lawrence wrestling program and served as an assistant coach from 2001 to 2009.
Mueller works as a spinal implant consultant with Synthes Spine. He and his wife, Lindsay, live in Neenah and have a daughter, Ella.
MINDY RUEDEN ’00
Mindy Rueden starred on both the hardwood and diamond for the Vikings, and led her teams to championships in basketball and softball.
An Appleton native, Rueden earned All-Midwest Conference honors in both sports. Rueden was a three-time all-conference selection in softball and was the 2000 MWC North Division Player of the Year.
The team’s centerfielder and lead-off hitter, Rueden hit .309 with 94 runs scored, 17 doubles, one triple, two homers, 44 runs batted in and 57 stolen bases. She ranked second in Lawrence history in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases when she graduated.
A team captain, Rueden led the Vikings to MWC championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The Vikings played in the NCAA Division III Tournament in both 1998 and 1999 and Lawrence put together a record of 101-37 during Rueden’s four seasons.
Rueden also was a team captain for the basketball squad and was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior in 1999-2000. A versatile performer and all-around player, Rueden was a four-year starter for the Vikings and averaged 6.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists for her career.
Rueden helped the Vikings to a 17-8 record in 1998-99, when Lawrence won the Midwest Conference championship and made its lone appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Rueden earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Lawrence and a master’s degree in counseling at Lakeland College. She works as the executive director of the Brother David Darst Center in Chicago, Ill.
A talented forward from Monona, Wis., Kinsler piled up an amazing 91 goals, 62 assists and 153 points during his career. Playing in the first decade of hockey as a varsity sport at Lawrence, Kinsler was the Vikings’ first prolific scorer and led the team in scoring all four seasons.
Kinsler earned All–Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey Association first-team honors both years he played in the league. The first two seasons of Kinsler’s career Lawrence played as an independent.
Kinsler enjoyed his finest season as a senior when he scored 33 goals and added 23 assists for 56 points in just 21 games. He led Lawrence to a 12-8-1 record for that 1997–98 season, and the 12 wins was the second-highest season total in school history.
Kinsler was named the 1997–98 Most Valuable Player of the GLCHA, which soon thereafter became the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association. Kinsler remains the only player in Lawrence history to be named the league’s MVP.
A four-year team captain, Kinsler also earned first-team All-GLCHA honors for the 1996–97 season. Kinsler was easily the team’s leading scorer again that season with 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points.
Kinsler started his career with a bang, scoring 21 goals and picking up nine assists for 30 points in just 19 games as a freshman in 1994–95. He led Lawrence to a 9-9-1 record that season. Kinsler followed that with 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points in just 22 games as a sophomore in 1995–96.
Kinsler earned bachelor’s degrees in English and secondary education at Lawrence and went on to receive a master’s degree in comparative literature from Middlebury College. He also earned a Murray Fellowship to the University of Oxford.
Kinsler owns the Huntington Learning Center in Monona, Wis., serves as a corporate consultant and is in his first year of law school at Marquette University. Kinsler and his wife, Jennell,
live in Madison. The Kinslers have three children: Jackson, Easton and Hudson.
Skelcy won nine Midwest Conference championships, including four straight in the 1,650-yard freestyle, and led the Vikings to the 1996 team title. During Skelcy’s four seasons, the Vikings became a contender for the conference title, and it was Skelcy who helped deliver the team’s first league crown since 1968.
The native of Saginaw, Mich., won three individual titles at the 1996 MWC Championships and was named Swimmer of the Year as Lawrence took the team title. Skelcy took titles in the 200 freestyle, 1,650 freestyle and 500 freestyle, setting a pool record in the latter. Skelcy also swam on the winning 800 freestyle relay team.
Skelcy, who set school records in the 500 freestyle, 1,000 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle during his career, won a pair of league titles at the 1995 MWC Championships. Skelcy swam to victory in both the 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle to help Lawrence to a third-place finish.
Skelcy also won a pair of titles at the MWC Championships as a freshman in 1993. He swam to victory in both the 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle as Lawrence took third place and he won the 1,650 freestyle at the 1994 MWC Championships.
Skelcy also was a key figure for the Vikings at the Wisconsin Private College Championships. He helped Lawrence to team titles in both 1994 and 1996 and was a five-time champion at the Private College meet.
Skelcy earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lawrence and is a science teacher at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Mich., where he resides. Skelcy, who has a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University, also coaches the boys’ and girls’ swimming teams at Arthur Hill.
A native of Bethesda, Md., Beckwith was a three-time All-Midwest Conference selection and set numerous school records. Beckwith started with a fledgling program in just its second year of existence and carved out a career record of 31-29. Beckwith ended her career as the school’s leader in victories (31), earned run average (3.36), strikeouts (233), complete games (51), shutouts (5), one-hitters (5) and innings pitched (365.0).
A team captain and the team’s Most Valuable Player all four years of her career, Beckwith also was chosen for the All-Wisconsin Independent College-Women’s Athletic Conference team in 1987. Beckwith led the Vikings to the WIC-WAC Tournament title that season.
Beckwith enjoyed a great season in 1987 when she finished with a 15-5 record and a 2.90 earned run average on her way to earning All-MWC honors. She set school season records for wins (15), strikeouts (76) and shutouts (3) that season. She also set the school record with 13 strikeouts in a game against Marian College. Beckwith also tossed a pair of one-hitters that season. Led by Beckwith’s stellar pitching, Lawrence posted the first winning record in school history with a 15-5 mark.
Beckwith was chosen for the All-MWC squad in 1985 and compiled an overall record of 7-10 with a 4.68 earned run average. Beckwith also earned All-MWC accolades in 1986 after posting a 7-6 record with a 3.26 earned run average.
Beckwith majored in biology at Lawrence and went on to earn her doctorate in biology from Purdue University. She is currently a science consultant and lives in North Potomac, Md. Beckwith and her husband, Peter Darpa, have four children: Monica, Chris, Carl and Alyssa.
Because freshmen were not eligible during this time, the Fort Atkinson, Wis., native joined the varsity for the 1968 season at linebacker. All he did was lead the team in tackles and earn first-team All-Midwest Conference honors.
Asked by coach Ron Roberts to switch to offense, Alwin moved to running back for the 1969 season. Alwin ran for 957 yards and averaged 106.3 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry. Alwin earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year. Alwin enjoyed an even better season as a senior in 1970 when he ran for 1,204 yards. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry and 133.8 yards per game and again earned first-team all-conference honors.
A team captain, Alwin finished with 2,161 yards for his career and averaged a stellar 120 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. Alwin was Lawrence’s season and career rushing leader and also held the records for season rushing attempts, yards per carry and yards per game.
Alwin threw the shot and discus for the track team and piled up numerous victories in both events in meets during the 1969 and 1970 seasons. A team captain, Alwin won the shot put (47 feet, 5 inches) and discus (138-8¾) at the 1969 Midwest Conference Championships and won the shot put (47-9½) and took second in discus in 1970.
Alwin missed the 1971 track season when he signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers. Alwin attended a rookie camp in late spring and then worked alongside Packers legends like Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke during training camp before
A psychology major at Lawrence, Alwin has a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. He also has a Specialist degree and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from UW–Madison.
Alwin is retired after a life dedicated to service to children in a variety of different capacities, most recently as a school district administrator. Alwin married Nancy Harter-Alwin when he was a senior at Lawrence. The Alwins live in Baraboo, Wis., and have three children, Zak, Sunshine and Skye, and 12 grandchildren.
A native of nearby Menasha, Novakofski was a star running back and defensive back for the Vikings. The Midwest Conference began selecting all-conference teams in 1937, and Novakofski was a first-team selection on each of the first two squads chosen by the league. He was the first multiple all-conference honoree for Lawrence.
Playing the key position of left halfback in the single wing, Novakofski was a threat both running and throwing the football.
A team captain for the 1938 squad in Heselton’s inaugural season, Novakofski led the Vikings to the conference championship. Novakofski scored the winning touchdown on a 49-yard run in a 14-13 victory at Ripon College in 1938. He also had a 72-yard touchdown run that propelled Lawrence to a 19-8 victory over Monmouth College that season. Novakofski opened that season with three touchdowns in a 39-0 victory over Northwestern College.
Novakofski also played three seasons of basketball for the Vikings.
After his time at Lawrence, Novakofski played professional football. He played for the Kenosha Coopers and the Milwaukee Chiefs of the American Professional Football League. Novakofski was an all-league selection and led the league in scoring. Novakofski also spent time on the roster of the Green Bay Packers.
Novakofski, who earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Superior, was an educator until his retirement in 1971. He taught history at Woodruff High School and physical education at Lakeland Union High School and also coached football, wrestling and track and field.
Novakofski and his wife, Dorothea, had three children, Lynn, Todd and Jan. Novakofski died in April 1986.