The Athletic Hall of Fame at Nebraska Wesleyan University will induct six new members as a part of Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 11.
The ceremony will be part of an induction breakfast, which starts at 9 a.m., in the Patio Dining Room of the Roy G. Story Student Center. Tickets are on sale to the public through the Alumni Relations office and available to members of the media at no cost through the Sports Information office.
Since 1970, NWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame has recognized the outstanding contributions of former student-athletes by inducting teams and individuals, as well as other strong supporters of the athletic program. Profiles on the Class of 2008 follow:
Jay Hehnke ’86
Throughout his four years at Nebraska Wesleyan, Jay Hehnke displayed his athletic ability by dominating on both the football and baseball fields for the Plainsmen. The Grand Island, Neb., native earned four letters in each sport was named a team captain his senior year in both sports.
During Hehnke’s time at NWU he quickly became a fixture on the offensive line, earning a starting spot and Honorable Mention All-NIAC honors as a freshman. Over the next three years he established himself as one of the dominant lineman in the NIAC, earning First Team All-NIAC honors in 1983, 84, and 85. With Hehnke on the team, NWU had a record of 23-17 and the Plainsmen were the 1983 Co-NIAC Champions.
Hehnke was also a four-year starter on the Nebraska Wesleyan baseball team, playing first base and pitcher. He ended his career with a .336 batting average, was a four-time selection to the All-NIAC First Team, and a two-time All-Region III selection. With Hehnke on the field, NWU was Co-NIAC Champs in 1983 as well as being outright NIAC Champions in 1984 and 85.
For his career, Hehnke is ranked fifth All-Time in career home runs (28), career runs batted in (115), and career putouts (563) and tenth All-Time in career doubles (28).
Paige Losey ’94
Despite spending only three seasons on the Nebraska Wesleyan softball team as a pitcher, Paige Losey still managed to rewrite the record book. Losey, a native of Tucson, Ariz., was a three-year letterwinner and starter on the mound for NWU from 1991-93.
While playing for Coach Doug Ahlberg, Losey led Nebraska Wesleyan to 1992 and 1993 NAIA District 11 Runner-up finishes. Due to her constant success on the mound for the Nebraska Wesleyan, Losey was named All-NIAC First Team in 1992 and 1993 and All-NAIA District 11 First Team during the 1992 and 1993 seasons. She was an All-District 11 Second-Team selection as a freshman. In her final year with the team, Losey was named a NAIA Scholar Athlete.
After her last season, Losey owned seven school records and appeared on the NWU All-Time charts 27 times. Even now, 15 years after she last stepped on the mound for NWU, Losey appears in the All-Time Charts an astonishing 23 times. Her top marks include being ranked second in career strikeouts (264) and third in career innings pitched (371 2/3), career complete games (44), and career earned run average (2.97).
John Ross ’85
John Ross, a Kearney, Neb., native, established himself as one of the best and most versatile distance runners in Nebraska Wesleyan history. Running anywhere from a leg of the 4x800 meter relay to the 10,000 meter run, Ross has decorated not only the All-Time charts but the record board as well.
During his final year, Ross helped the men to both the indoor and outdoor NIAC Championships, beginning a run of winning 21 of the next 23 outdoor conference track and field championships. Ross cemented himself as an All-Time great by his NIAC Conference Championships performances. He won seven NIAC Championships and was named All-NIAC 11 times, including being a three-time conference champion in the indoor two mile run.
On the national level, Ross earned two All-American awards. He was a 1984 NAIA All-American in the indoor distance medley relay and a 1985 NCAA All-American in the outdoor 5,000 meter run.
Ross grabbed his first school record during his freshman indoor season by running a leg on the 4x800 meter relay that ran 7:44.2. Two years later, the then junior would grab another school record by running a leg of the outdoor distance medley relay as the team finished with a time of 9:52.0. To date, Ross holds 12 All-Time Top Ten performances in distances ranging from the 800 meters to 10,000 meters.
John Strain ’76
During John Strain’s time at Nebraska Wesleyan, the 6’6 center was not only the tallest Plainsman but also one of the most prolific scorers and rebounders in the conference.
After transferring to NWU from Pershing College, the Lincoln, Neb., native played in all 26 games as a sophomore, averaging 16.4 points 9.1 rebounds per game. Strain improved upon those numbers as a junior, putting up 16.7 points per game and pulling down an average of 9.9 rebounds. During his final season, he averaged a career high 17.0 points and 9.5 rebounds. He ended his Nebraska Wesleyan career as the sixth best scorer in school history with 1,203 points (16.7 ppg) and eighth best rebounder with 681 rebounds (9.5 rpg). To date he is the 19th ranked scorer in history and has the tenth most rebounds. Upon finishing his collegiate playing career, Strain spent a season as an assistant coach and scout for Nebraska Wesleyan during the 1974-75 season.
During Strain’s tenure as a player, Nebraska Wesleyan did not experience a losing season, going 41-33 during that time. Strain also received recognition as he was named to several All-State College teams throughout his career and earned All-NIAC First Team all three seasons that he played.
Michael Behrens ’94, Mark Behrens ‘95
Spirit of the Plainsman Award
Brothers Michael and Mark Behrens are Nebraska Wesleyan’s Spirit of the Plainsman Award recipients for 2008.
Throughout the 1990’s very few people have had the kind of impact that Michael and Mark Behrens had on Nebraska Wesleyan Athletics. Even upon graduating from NWU, these brothers continued their unprecedented support of NWU sports.
While the duo was students throughout the early 90’s, they could be found working any athletic event that was happening on campus. Whether it was setting up, managing, or finding student help for events, the Behrens brothers showed their passion and commitment for Plainsmen athletics.
“They showed a total commitment to sports and Nebraska Wesleyan, they were good kids and could have been on staff,” Director of the Weary Center Nancy Hansen says. “In my 36 years working with NWU Athletics, Mike and Mark are at the top.”
Graduation did little to slow down this pair and their commitment to the university. For over 10 years the brothers kept the official scorebook at all NWU home volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball games. The duo could always be seen at the scorer’s table if there was a home event in Snyder Arena.