The Booster Club Athletic Hall of Fame at Nebraska Wesleyan University inducted eight new members as a part of Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Sept. 28. The ceremony was part of an induction breakfast held in the Roy G. Story Student Center.
David Clouse, ’83
David Clouse, of Friend, Neb., was a standout golfer during his two seasons at Nebraska Wesleyan.
As a senior, Clouse shot a tournament record 66 en route to winning the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and then followed that up with an 11th place finish at the NAIA National Tournament. After the season, he was named NAIA All-America and All-America Scholar-Athlete.
Clouse was a two-year captain of the All-Conference team and finished in the top 10 individually at eight of the nine tournaments in which he competed as a senior, racking up a stroke average of 75.1. As a junior, he finished fourth out of 130 entrants at the Drake Relays Golf Festival and was had the best final score of any NCAA Division III golfer.
Clouse went on to become the State Amateur Champion in 1992 and 1999 and is a four-time Nebraska Player of the Year.
Mick McConkey, ’83
Mick McConkey, of Blue Hill, Neb., was a standout defensive back for the Nebraska Wesleyan football team.
As a senior, McConkey was honored as a first-team NAIA and NCAA Division III All-American and received Associated Press Little All-American Honorable Mention recognition. The awards continued as he was named as the defensive captain of the Omaha World-Herald All-State team and was picked as the team’s most valuable player. He was also an NAIA All-America Scholar-Athlete.
McConkey’s most impressive single-game performance of his career came during his senior year against Bethany College when he set the school record for most interceptions in a game with four. He also contributed eight tackles in the game and was honored as the NAIA’s National Defensive Player of the Week.
The interception records McConkey set still stand today. His 18 career interceptions rank him in a three-way tie for first place, and his 12 picks in 1982 make him the school’s single-season all-time leader.
Mike Renken, ’73
Mike Renken, of Geneva, Neb., participated in basketball and track and field as a student-athlete at Nebraska Wesleyan.
In basketball, Renken remains one of the most prolific rebounders in team history. He led the team in rebounds as a sophomore, junior and senior and is at or near the top on every NWU rebounding chart.
During his senior campaign, he set a single-game team record with 33 rebounds against Concordia College. Renken also set the top marks for most rebounds in a season (463) and for single-season rebounding average (19.3 per game). His 1,118 career rebounds rank second on the school’s all-time charts.
He averaged 10.4 points per game in 72 varsity games, including all 24 contests as a senior, when he helped lead the team to an overall record of 14-10 and a third-place conference finish under Head Coach Irv Peterson.
Kim Oden, ’93
Kim Oden, a native of Grand Island, Neb., earned 30 All-American honors and set 12 school records as a track and field athlete at Nebraska Wesleyan, where she participated in the high jump, triple jump, long jump, heptathlon, javelin and hurdles.
Oden also compiled 10 national titles winning the outdoor high jump four times, the heptathlon three times and the indoor high jump three times. The seven individual national titles that she won at the Outdoor Championships ties her for first place in NCAA Division III history for the most in a career.
As a senior, Honda honored Oden as the NCAA Division III Athlete of the Year and Most Outstanding Track & Field Athlete in the nation. To date, she is the only Nebraska Wesleyan student-athlete to ever be recognized by the prestigious Honda Awards Program. Prior to 2002, Oden was the only Nebraska Wesleyan woman to win an individual event at the Drake Relays having won the heptathlon as a junior and senior.
During her junior year, she battled a kidney infection, but she was still able to set four new school records and claim the Lincoln Journal Star State College Female Athlete of the Year award, which she also won in 1989.
Oden still holds 10 top marks on the school’s all-time charts. She is the record-holder in the high jump (indoor and outdoor), long jump (indoor and outdoor), triple jump (indoor and outdoor), 60 hurdles, 100 hurdles, heptathlon and javelin.
Darren Stohlmann, ’93
Darren Stohlmann, a native of Weeping Water, Neb., participated in football and track and field while he attended Nebraska Wesleyan.
During his senior football season, Stohlmann, who played tight end, became the first and only player in team history to be named as a Kodak All-American, making the first team. He was also invited to play in the 1992 Kelly Tire Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and was honored as a first-team NAIA Division II All-American and as a second-team Associated Press Little All-American.
As a junior, Stohlmann was named Lincoln Journal Star State College Male Athlete of the Year and was a first-team AP All-American. He also received recognition as a first-team Champion NCAA Division III All-American and as a first-team NAIA Division II All-American.
Stohlmann’s name graces many of NWU’s all-time football charts. He ranks first with 2,240 receiving yards and 25 touchdown catches during his career. His 72 receptions in 1991 also broke the single-season school record, a mark that still stands today.
In track and field, Stohlmann was an All-American in the 60 High Hurdles (indoor) and as a member of the 4x100 Relay team (outdoor) in 1989. His individual times put him on the team’s all-time indoor charts in the 60 Intermediate Hurdles (fourth) and the 60 High Hurdles (sixth). He also ranks on the all-time outdoor chart in the 110 High Hurdles (10th).
John Svehla, ’80
John Svehla, a native of York, Neb., was a four-year starter in both football and baseball for Nebraska Wesleyan.
In football, Svehla led NWU in receptions for three straight years and was a member of the 1976 Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference co-champions. His best statistical season came as a sophomore when he hauled in 37 passes for 624 yards and five touchdowns, after which he was named to the All-NIAC, Lincoln Journal Star All-State College and Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska teams. During his career, Svehla established a school record for receiving yards and still ranks seventh on the all-time list with 1,340. His 88 career receptions rank 10th in school history.
Svehla’s achievements overflowed onto the baseball field as well. He played a lead role on two conference championship teams and was a member of teams that won 35 straight conference games. In 1979, Svehla was honored as an All-American and repeated as an All-Conference and All-District team member.
Alonzo Tapp, ’72
Spirit of the Plainsman Award
Alonzo “Lonnie” Tapp enrolled at Nebraska Wesleyan in 1968 as part of the Crossroads program, which was created by the United Methodist Church to help minority students attend college. While at NWU, Tapp earned four letters in football as a running back and two letters in wrestling (167 lbs.).
After earning his bachelor’s degree in education, he returned to Lincoln High School where he coached sophomore football. Tapp also taught at Whittier Junior High, until he decided to attend grad school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While working on his master’s degree in physical education, which he received in 1981, Tapp returned to Nebraska Wesleyan for two seasons as a graduate assistant coach.
He then spent a year at Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, before moving to Tyler, Texas, where he joined the staff at T.K. Gorman High School. In 1982, Tapp was named the school’s Teacher of the Year, and in 1984, he helped guide T.K. Gorman to the Class 3A State Championship while serving as the football team’s defensive coordinator.
Soon after, Tapp was hired at Benson High School in Omaha, and he’s been there ever since. He currently teaches History, African-American History and Ethnic Studies and is in his 18th season as the head football coach. His teams have qualified for the playoffs in seven of the past 10 years. Tapp earned Benson’s Teacher-of-the-Year award in 1986 and was named Metro Conference Coach of the Year in 1994 and 2001.
Until recently, he also served as the head girls’ track and field coach. In this capacity, Tapp has coached several individual state champions, including three consecutive years of winning the 4x100 relay. In 1994, Benson finished third as a team at State, and the following fall, he led the football team to the state championship game. Tapp was selected to serve on the Shrine Bowl coaching staff for the North as an assistant in 1991 and as the head coach in 2002. He also coached an all-star team, which played in Australia (1998).
But despite all of his accomplishments, Tapp says being able to coach his two sons, Michael and Brooks, ranks as one of the highlights. Michael went on to earn three letters in baseball at Nebraska Wesleyan, and Brooks, who played on Benson’s 1994 Class A Runner-up team, earned a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. For the past four years, Brooks has served as an assistant football coach for his father at Omaha Benson.
Dr. John Walker
Spirit of the Plainsman Award
Dr. John Walker joined the Nebraska Wesleyan faculty in 1969, and soon after, he began following the University’s athletic teams. He shared his passion for sports with his son, Mark, and they regularly attended home games together, where Dr. Walker became a fixture over the past 33 years at NWU.
He called athletics at this level “real” and appreciated the fact that students are playing because they love the game, not because they are getting their schooling paid for through scholarships. The fact that outcomes of games are not determined the day schedules are made (as he said can be the case in NCAA Division I) is part of the charm and appeal. He has also enjoyed getting to know the student-athletes through his classes.
Dr. Walker, who says basketball was probably his favorite sport, remembers riding in a van to Michigan with 10 people in 1986 when the NWU men made it to the NCAA Div. III Final Four. He would even join in when faculty and students played “pick-up” games in the evenings or during the lunch hour at Taylor Gym or the Knight Field House.
According to Dr. Walker’s son, Mark, “You could almost see (the new players) wondering, ‘Who’s the old man with the crazy hair?’ That is until the first time he blew by them with his quick first step or left them flat-footed, watching his trademark jump shot swish through the net. Then they started taking him seriously to avoid further embarrassment.”
Mark suspects some of that respect carried over to their academic experience in the form of students paying a bit more attention during philosophy class. This past spring, Dr. Walker retired from teaching in the department of philosophy, but his consistent showing of support for NWU athletics will continue.
“I’ve always thought my father’s aesthetic appreciation of Nebraska Wesleyan athletics, by virtue of his unique perspective as a philosophy professor, multi-sport letterman in high school and athletically active adult, was enriching to the Nebraska Wesleyan community,” Mark said. “He recognizes the beauty of athletics in general and the way that beauty is manifested by Nebraska Wesleyan student-athletes in particular.”