The Minnesota State High School League announced the 2019 Hall of Fame Class.
Former Eagan High School girls’ hockey standout Natalie Darwitz and St. Paul Academy soccer sensation Tony Sanneh, both of whom rose to international stardom, along with longtime League administrator Dave Stead, are among 11 individuals and the Grand Meadow girls basketball dynasty that will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School League’s Hall of Fame.
The others selected for induction are: Minneapolis North basketball standout Khalid El-Amin; the Grand Meadow basketball program, which from 1929-39 won 94 consecutive games; Dave Harris, a former Alexandria coach, educator, media representative and the longtime Region 8AA Secretary; Cliff Janke, a longtime Fairmont Speech and Debate coach and leader; Faith Johnson Patterson, who led Minneapolis North and DeLaSalle to three consecutive championships each in girls basketball; Bill Kronschnabel, a longtime hockey official, rules clinician and state tournament administrator; Byron Olson, an activities administrator, wrestling official and state tournament manager; Gary Smith of Minneapolis, who is the first athletic trainer to be inducted, and Bill Webb, an Edina teaching icon, who spent nearly 30 years as a music educator and leader in the development of music education.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel. The event is open to the public. For event tickets, contact the League office at 763-560-2262 or visit the League’s website --- www.mshsl.org --- and click on the 2019 Hall of Fame Invitation link on the home page.
The League’s Hall of Fame, sponsored by Wells Fargo, started in 1991. The 2019 class is the 23rd group to be inducted. The inductees were chosen through a multi-level selection process. With this class, there now are 231 individuals in the hall and one group.
Here is a look at the 2019 inductees of the Minnesota State High School League’s Hall of Fame:
Natalie Darwitz, Athlete
From her seventh-grade season at Eagan High School through her sophomore year, the scoring sensation compiled 487 points in 102 games before departing for the U.S. National Team. She and 2017 inductee Krissy Wendell own or share more than a dozen scoring records in the NFHS record book. As a 15-year-old, she began her international career with Team USA and won silver medals in the 2002 and 2012 Olympic Games, and a bronze medal in the 2006 Olympics. At the University of Minnesota, she was a three-time All-American and ranks third in all-time in scoring. Last year, she was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Darwitz also coached Lakeville South to the state tournament, and currently, is the women’s hockey coach at Hamline University, a squad that finished third in Division III last season.
Khalid El-Amin, Athlete
In three state tournament appearances with Minneapolis North, the charismatic playmaker was virtually unstoppable in leading the Polars to three championships. El-Amin, a water boy as a junior high student, became a varsity starter as a 14-year-old freshman, and led North to two championships in the Sweet Sixteen format and the first big-school crown in the four-class format. He is particularly remembered for his rainbow three-pointer at the horn that gave North a 67-65 victory over St. Thomas Academy in the 1996 quarterfinals. He finished with 41 points, including 27 on nine three-pointers. After being selected Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball following his senior season, he went on to be selected the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year. After helping lead UConn to a national title in 1999, he later entered the NBA Draft and was selected by the Chicago Bulls.
Grand Meadow girls basketball team, Athletes
In an era of 6-on-6 in girls’ basketball, the Meadowlarks compiled a 94-game winning streak from 1929-39. In that format, three players were on the offensive end of the court and three on the defensive end. Players were not allowed to cross midcourt. Grand Meadow was dominant in posting lopsided victories. During the first season of the winning streak, the Meadowlarks outscored the opposition 591-153 during their 14-game schedule. There are four players from that dynasty that are still alive: Beulah Ankeny, Mae Gross, Hazel Peterson Blanchard and June Wright Kramer.
Dave Harris, Administrator
Harris, a 1961 graduate of Montevideo High School, has worn many hats during his more than four decades of service to the League. He was a longtime boys and girls golf coach in the Alexandria School District, leading the Cardinals to numerous successful seasons. He was selected the state girls coach of the year in 2001 and 2008, respectively, and was a three-time section coach of the year. From 1966-76, he was a sports reporter for the Alexandria newspaper and then added radio play-by-play duties in 1968 with KXRA. That career spanned nearly 50 years. Harris was the inaugural recipient of the League’s Outstanding Media Service Award in 2015. From 1978 through his retirement in 2018, he was the Region 8AA secretary.
Cliff Janke, Fine Arts
Janke, a 1973 graduate of Lead (SD) High School, has demonstrated excellence throughout his career of more than three decades as a coach and professional leader in the areas of Speech and Theater. For 29 years, he served as either co-head coach or head coach of the Speech Team at Fairmont High School. He coached 14 Class A champions, including a four-time gold medalist. Janke has been actively involved and has had an impact on every professional organization in Minnesota related to speech and debate. During his career, he served as the artistic director of more than 100 high school and community theater productions. Janke served as a member of the League’s Board of Directors from 1996-2000 and was the longtime president of the Communication and Theatre Association.
Faith Johnson Patterson, Coach
Johnson Patterson is the first girls basketball coach in League history to lead two different schools to three consecutive state championships. In her eight total state crowns, she led Minneapolis North to a trifecta of championships from 2003-05, and then guided DeLaSalle to three in a row from 2011-13. She has the highest state tournament winning percentage (.857, 36-6) of any girls basketball coach. During her high school career at Marshall University High School in Minneapolis, she scored 1,120 career points. She then played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin. Johnson Patterson has a 491-175 record in her 24-year coaching career.
Bill Kronschnabel, Official
The 1967 Cretin High School graduate had a 39-year career as a League hockey official from 1975-2014. He officiated in four consecutive boys hockey state tournaments, including the 1987 and 1989 championship games. Kronschnabel officiated 11 consecutive Section 7AA championship games and eight consecutive Section 7A title games in Hibbing and Duluth. Has held the role of State Coordinator of Hockey Officials since 1986 and has been the Supervisor of State Tournament Officials since 1991. Was instrumental in the pioneering of instant replay in the state tournament. The League is the first state association to implement instant replay for the state tournament hockey games. Served 12 years as a member of the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee. Officiated Division III hockey for 24 years.
Byron Olson, Administrator/Official
The 1970 graduate of Canby High School had an impactful career as an educator, coach, administrator and contest official. After graduating from Minnesota-Morris, he served in Benson, MN from 1975-88 where he was a teacher, wrestling coach, assistant football coach and an athletic director for nine years. He moved on to serve as activities director at Farmington High School, Monticello and Lakeville over the next 11 years. He has been a League wrestling official since 1972 and a member of the NFHS wrestling rules clinician since 1995. Also officiated wrestling at the Division I and III levels, as well as working high school football for 27 years. Since 2000, he has served as the Tournament Manager for Wrestling State Tournament.
Tony Sanneh, Athlete
Sanneh, a crafty playmaker and gifted scorer, was an integral part of powering the St. Paul Academy and Summit School boys soccer program to national recognition in the late 1980s. From the 1986 state tournament through 1989, the Spartans won two championships during the single-class era and finished runner-up. He was a two-time all-state selection. He played collegiately for the Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he became the school’s all-time leading scoring and an All-American in 1993. He played professionally in top-level Major League Soccer and in the German Bundesliga. As a member of the U.S. National Team, he played in 43 international games, and during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, was one of Team USA’s top players. He established The Sanneh Foundation in 2003 to empower youth by supporting and promoting educational attainment through in-school and after-school support.
Gary Smith, Trainer
Smith is the first athletic trainer to be inducted into the League’s Hall of Fame. He has provided service to many member schools and has worked League state tournament events for more than 40 years. Smith is one of the pioneers of the athletic training staff, and early in his tenure, was often covering tournaments as the sole medical staff representative. A longtime leader with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Smith is one of the first trainers to provide service to the League’s hockey state tournaments. For the past 25 years, Smith has served as the head trainer at Osseo High School, and most recently, for Eden Prairie High School. In addition to serving as head athletic trainer for the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team, the Minnesota Kicks and Minnesota Strikers professional soccer teams, Smith was also the head trainer for the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team.
Dave Stead, Administrator
Stead, a native of Monticello, Iowa, was the longest-serving executive director in the 103-year history of the MSHSL. During his tenure with the League that began in 1988, Stead guided the MSHSL in becoming a national leader among state high school associations in enhancing education-based activities. The MSHSL was the first state association to provide opportunities for student-participants in girls hockey, adapted athletics, Robotics and Clay Target. Minnesota was also the first state association to implement instant replay during state tournament games. Stead served on the NFHS Board of Directors, including a one-year term as president. He remains with the League in a Senior Staff role.
Bill Webb, Music
Webb was the band director at Edina High School for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2015. A former member of the League’s Board of Directors, Webb has had a long and esteemed career as a teacher, conductor and musician. In late 2018, he was selected to receive a state award for Minnesota for a National Federation of High School Associations Outstanding Music Educator Award. From 1987-2010, an estimated 4,200 students participated in League Solo and Ensemble contests under Webb’s leadership. In that same time span, 53 of his 54 groups that performance in the Large Band Group Contest received superior ratings. During his tenure at Edina High School, he has led and directed performances across the globe.