The new class, which will be inducted during homecoming weekend, includes football player Tom "Shanty" Reidinger, hockey player Steve Cerrato, golfer Jeff Kuehl, track and cross country runner Jason Finch, swimmers Tanya (Nord) Iverson and Eric Winter and soccer player Kari (Blasczyk) Austin.
This group represents the 40th class of men's inductees and the 27th class of women's inductees and brings the number of athletes, coaches and administrators who have been honored to 217.
The Blugold Hall of Fame was established 43 years ago in 1973 to pay tribute, to give deserved recognition and to enhance school tradition by honoring former athletic letterwinners, coaches or administrators who demonstrated distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while on the campus at Eau Claire and have distinguished themselves in their profession or personally since leaving the institution.
There must be a lapse of 15 years from their final season of eligibility before an athlete can be considered for induction.
The class will be inducted Friday, September 30 and then honored by riding in the homecoming parade Saturday morning and introduced at halftime of the football game vs. UW-Stevens Point Saturday afternoon, October 1. The induction banquet will take place in the Dakota Ballroom of the Davies Center on campus with a social hour at 4:30 p.m., banquet at 5:30 p.m. and program at 6:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and the football game at 1 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $25 and can be obtained by contacting the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association at (715) 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Former WEAU TV 13 sports director and current UW-Eau Claire Foundation Senior Major Gifts Officer Rick Foy will present the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees.
Besides outstanding athletic credentials for this year's class, the seven have distinguished themselves professionally, personally and/or in community service since leaving the institution, according to Tim Petermann, Blugold Hall of Fame Executive Director.
Tom "Shanty" Reidinger, at age 88, becomes the oldest Blugold athlete ever inducted. He is the fifth member of the 1948 Blugold championship football team to be inducted, having been preceded by Sam Young, Link Walker, Ade Washburn and Dick Emanuel.
A graduate of Eau Claire Senior High, Reidinger played four years of both football and baseball as a Blugold. In fact, a football shoulder injury probably cost Reidinger a chance at a pro baseball career. A scout representing the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants approached his parents about signing him out of high school but the deal never materialized because Reidinger would not give up playing football which the pro teams required.
Reidinger was an All-Conference second team halfback in 1948. That year, there were only an 11-man first team and 11-man second team selected for the 10-team league. There was no offense or defense since most players performed both ways and Reidinger was also a safety on defense. Reidinger excelled in Hall of Fame coach Ade Olson's single wing offense despite losing one eye as a youngster. In those days, substitution was also limited with only one sub allowed per play, thus being a starter was critical to seeing extended playing time. While few stats are available from the 1948 season, when the Blugolds finished 5-1 in the conference and 6-1 overall, Dave Weiss, who nominated Reidinger said that most of the Blugold offense and scores came via a ground attack and Reidinger and Robert "Pinky" Schaaf, the premier halfbacks, had a direct hand in seven of the team's 15 touchdowns that season.
In the 1949 season finale, which was Reidinger's Blugold swan song, Reidinger was not expected to play because of an injury. But he entered the game in the second half and carried the ball just twice for 76 yards including a 44-yard TD jaunt.
Reidinger was considered a sure tackler and a ball hawk on defense and defense was critical to the Blugolds' conference championship in 1948. The Blugolds shut out three of their seven opponents and only Superior, which handed the Blugolds their only loss (13-0), scored more than seven points against the Blugold defense.
Following his graduation in 1950, and after escorting his father to various places for a year, Reidinger went to work at Nagle Hart where he eventually served as the Regional Sales Manager. After 26 years he continued selling Caterpillar equipment with the Ziegler Company, where he became the Vice President. He also worked for Caterpillar dealer Fabco before he retired in 1996.
Reidinger and his wife Jocelyn, who died in 2005, had three sons: Paul, a lawyer, writer, critic, and publisher who lives in California; Brian, who is a business owner in the Twin Cities; and David, who is currently taking care of his father in Eau Claire.
Steve Cerrato, a defenseman, was UW-Eau Claire's first hockey All-American, earning NAIA first team honors in both 1981 and 1982, just a few short years after hockey became a Blugold varsity sport in 1977-78.
Cerrato played one year for Fred Kolb and three seasons for Wally Akervik. After arriving in Eau Claire from Albert Lea, Minnesota, Cerrato played in 110 games during his career, missing just six games his senior season because of a dislocated shoulder. He accounted for 50 points on four goals and 46 assists from his blue line position. He scored three of his four career goals as a senior when he was named team MVP, All-WSUC, NAIA All-District 14 and NAIA All-American.
A senior captain, Cerrato led the Blugolds to their first post-season competitions in 1981 and 1982. The Blugolds beat River Falls for the NAIA District 14 championship in 1981 and participated in the 1982 NAIA Final Four along with Augsburg College, Bemidji State and UW-Superior.
The young Blugold program joined the highly competitive Northern Collegiate Hockey Association at the beginning of the 1980-81 season. Besides the UW schools from the WSUC, the league included St. Cloud State, Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato, all of whom now operate Division I programs.
Since his graduation from UWEC in 1982 with a marketing degree, Cerrato has been employed by ARA Services (1982-86), Unilever (1986-05), Burt's Bees (2005-11) and Seventh Generation (2011 to present). During his time with Unilever, he was promoted several times from a sales rep in Minneapolis to a Sales Director in Milwaukee, then into Sales Planning in New York City and then to Team Lead back in Minneapolis. He received the company's President's Award for outstanding performance as he helped set a new standard of excellence for the company and industry.
With Burt's Bees, he was awarded the outstanding Team leader while he was managing the Target Corp. account. He was also instrumental in the sale of Burt's Bees to the Clorox Company in 2008.
In his time with Seventh Generation, a Burlington, Vermont-based company that is a producer and distributor of environmentally safe household products, Cerrato was named Outstanding Sales Director in both 2012 and 2013. He is currently the Mass Channel Director.
Cerrato has remained involved in hockey, serving as a youth hockey head coach for the Eastview Youth Association from 1998-2011. He chaired the player development for the association from 2002-05. He has served as the vice president of the Blue Line Club at Eastview High School since 2011.
Cerrato and his wife Maureen are parents of four children: Jenna (26), Nick (22), Mitchell (20) and Alex (19).
Jeff Kuehl becomes only the second men's golfer to be inducted into the Blugold Hall of Fame, preceded by Steve Mattiacci, who was a Blugold teammate. Kuehl was one of 10 golfers selected to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Centennial team in 2012. Five of those were Blugolds with Kuehl as the senior member of that group.
Kuehl was a two-time conference medalist and three-time team MVP for Hall of Fame head coach Frank Wrigglesworth and posted the best average among all Blugold players for each of his four seasons from 1978 through 1982. As a sophomore, Kuehl claimed WSUC medalist honors in leading the Blugolds to a conference championship, one of eight garnered by the Blugolds during the years from 1966-67 to 1992-93 when men's golf was sponsored as a conference championship sport. The Blugolds also won the NAIA District 14 title in 1979-80 which qualified the team for the NAIA Nationals, at that time only the second Blugold team to ever qualify for nationals. The Blugolds finished 20th as a team and Kuehl placed 32nd individually, carding a 68 on the second day for the low score of that round and the second best round of the entire championship. Twice Kuehl was named to the All-District 14 first team and once to the second team.
In the 1980-81 conference meet, Kuehl tied for second individually, then rebounded to win medalist honors again in 1981-82 when he fired rounds of 72 and 71 to win by two strokes over teammate Scott Terwilliger. He qualified for nationals that year during the fall competition but could not compete in the spring championship because he had graduated in December as a business administration-marketing major.
Kuehl obtained his PGA Class A Golf Professional Certification in 1988 after spending the previous five years as a PGA Assistant to Jim Julsrud at the Eau Claire Golf & Country Club. He then spent time as the PGA Head Golf Professional at the Hudson (WI) Country Club (1990-92) and PGA Teaching Professional at the Town & Country Club in St. Paul, MN (1993-95).
At that time, he changed his career path and attended Brown Technical Institute in Minneapolis from which he received a Network Administrator Certificate. With that background, he went on to complete his Microsoft certification as a Systems Engineer and has worked at American Express in Minneapolis (1997-02), Plus Relocation Services in Minneapolis (2004-12) and Marco Technologies LLC (2013 to present). He is currently a technology support engineer for Marco which is headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota with offices in eight Midwestern states. In Wisconsin, there are six offices in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison and Wausau. He telecommutes from the Green Bay office.
Kuehl was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and golf and was selected the senior athlete of the year at Gillett High School in northeastern Wisconsin. Besides his accolades as a Blugold golfer, Kuehl has qualified for numerous Minnesota State Open Championships, placing in the top 10, and marks three of his valued golf accomplishments as winning the 1980 Wisconsin State Father-Son championship with his father Armin, the 1986 Wisconsin State PGA Pro-Assistants championship with Jim Julsrud and qualifying as medalist for the 2006 US Mid-Amateur championship in Flagstaff, AZ.
Kuehl continues to participate in competitive golf and enjoys his causal rounds with sister Pam and brother-in-law Bob Van Dyke of Green Bay. Kuehl is engaged to be married to Eva Holina of Sumy, Ukraine whom he met via a mutual friend. The couple is planning a fall, 2017 wedding.
TANYA (NORD) IVERSON
A five-time individual conference champ and five-time first team NAIA All-American in individual events, Tanya (Nord) Iverson was a two-time team co-MVP, two-time team Hardest Worker recipient and a team Most Improved winner as a member of four conference championship teams and four teams that placed second, third, fourth and fifth in the nationals. She is one of 16 Blugolds who were named to the WIAC's All-Centennial swimming and diving team in 2012.
Iverson won five freestyle gold medals in the WWIAC: two at 200 yards, two at 500 yards and one at 1650 yards. In addition, she earned titles as a member of four relay teams. She contributed 186 points to the four straight WWIAC titles and 132 points in national competition. Her best finishes in the NAIA meet were a third in the 1650 freestyle (1991) and sixths in the 500 freestyle (1991), 200 freestyle (1992) and 1650 freestyle (1992). At the 1992 NAIA Nationals, she tied the school record in the 100 freestyle, swimming the leadoff leg of the 400 freestyle relay which set a new school record.
After her eligibility was completed, the Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota native and Simley High School prep standout helped Hall of Fame coach Tom Prior as a student coach while she finished her elementary education degree with a coaching minor.
Her professional career has involved contributions to the sport in which she excelled as a competitor. While serving as a substitute teacher in the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls school districts from 1994-96, she was the Chi-Hi girls and boys head swim coach. From 1996-99, she served as the Aquatics Director of the Eau Claire YMCA while serving as a head age group swim coach. She continued to compete as a member of the YMCA Masters Swim Club.
Iverson returned to the Gopher state in 1999 and served as a middle school physical education swim instructor in the Anoka-Hennepin School District while also serving as the Anoka High School boys head swim coach from 1999-02.
Currently a substitute teacher in the Inver Grove Heights school district, she has been active as an event coordinator for various activities at the elementary and middle schools where her children attended. She also became involved in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and as a Sunday School instructor and Vacation Bible School instructor. She now serves as head coach of the Simley High School girls swimming and diving team.
Throughout her career, she has served as a swimming and diving official. She was a swimming official for the WIAA while in Wisconsin (1992-97) and has been a swim official for the MSHSL since 2003. In 2015, she had the honor of serving as starter for the Class AA Minnesota State High School Girls State Meet.
She and husband Jon Iverson, a demand planner for Baxter Healthcare in St. Paul, have two children: Kjerstin, age 13, and Colin, age 11.
Eric Winter is one of 14 Blugolds who were named to the WIAC All-Centennial swimming and diving team in 2012. He earned that spot by winning 12 conference gold medals between 1992 and 1995 and achieving 15 All-American designations.
Demonstrating great versatility as a swimmer, Winter won three consecutive conference titles in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly and claimed an additional crown in the 200 breaststroke as a junior. Bolstering his resume, he swam on five winning relay teams as the Blugolds amassed four consecutive conference team championships during his career.
At the national level, the St. Cloud Tech prep standout was a member of the last two Blugold swim teams to compete in the NAIA and the first two to compete in the NCAA. Winter earned first team All-American honors twice in individual events and four times with relay teams. He was a second team All-American (9th through 16th place) five times in individual events and four times in relays. His best national finish was a seventh in the 100 butterfly in 1993.
For his career, Winter contributed 256.5 points in conference competition and 84.5 points in national competition. His Blugold teams were always top 10 finishers at nationals.
Winter received his undergraduate degree from UWEC in December, 1995 with a marketing major and MIS minor. He graduated with an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in 2012.
His professional career started with marketing and sales roles in the Twin Cities in 1995 and in 2006, he began a 10-year career as a Senior Commodity Manager overseeing strategy for electrical component design and supply for Seagate, the global leader in data storage solutions.
Although his degree and professional career focus has been on the business sector, Winter has stayed close to athletics. After settling with his family in Savage, Minnesota, he has spent countless hours coaching boys and girls at various youth levels in the sports of hockey, lacrosse, baseball, soccer and basketball. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance, Winter has remained active in athletics since graduation, participating in triathlons (top 12 in 2016 Minneapolis Triathlon age group), cross-fit races, golf, mountain biking and cross-country skate-skiing (top 12 in 2016 Minneapolis Loppet race age group). And 14 years ago, Winter took up hockey and has continued to play competitively year-round.
Winter's volunteer endeavors had him serve as a member of the Prior Lake Fire Department from 2004-10 providing expertise in fire attack, pump/truck operation, vehicle accident extraction, fire safety education and overall first responder responsibilities. He also chaired the Prior Lake/
Savage Hockey Association's facilities committee with success in building a Zamboni shed so that the association could maintain outdoor ice through the season.
He and his wife Andrea, who is the Senior Director of Women's and Children's Strategy at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park and a fellow UWEC graduate, have two children: Wade, 15, and Nina, 11.
Jason Finch rates as one of the best distance runners in school history with seven conference championships and five All-American finishes in cross country and track.
As a cross country runner, Finch won the WIAC championship in 1998 after finishing 49th as a freshman, 16th as a sophomore and fourth as a junior. He capped his senior season by placing third in the NCAA regional and then sixth in the NCAA nationals to earn All-American honors, the first Blugold to do so in cross country. His sixth place finish was the best in school history until Josh Thorson placed third and second the past two seasons.
In track, the Hudson High School graduate dominated the conference indoor and outdoor distances in 1998 and 1999, winning three golds each year. He won the 5K twice indoors and twice outdoors in addition to grabbing an indoor 3K crown and an outdoor 10K title. His indoor 3K time of 8:23.81 was a school record from 1999 until 2014. He earned four All-American finishes at the NCAA nationals, including a second in the 1999 NCAA outdoor 10K and a third in the 1998 NCAA indoor 5K.
Finch graduated from UWEC with a history major in 1999. Between 1999 and 2003, he was an assistant store manager or store manager of Footlocker stores in Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota. From 2003-06, he was assistant general merchandise manager at Shopko in River Falls. Since 2006, he has worked for U.S. Bank in St. Paul and currently serves as an account associate. He has been recognized with six awards by the three employers.
In addition to working full-time, Finch has continued to compete for regional USATF running teams Wisconsin Runner and Run n Fun. He won the Portland (OR) Marathon in 2009 and had a top 30 finish at the 2011 USA National Half-Marathon Championships.
Finch and his wife Nicki, an ER nurse and fellow UWEC graduate who was a member of the 1997 Blugold national runner-up women's cross country team, have one daughter, Tatum, who is four.
KARI (BLASCZYK) AUSTIN
Kari (Blasczyk) Austin rates as one of the most decorated Blugold athletes ever as a member of veteran coach Sean Yengo's soccer team. She is the second soccer player to be inducted into the Blugold Hall of Fame, preceded only by Tammy Brandt.
She is one of six Blugolds who were selected to the 24-player WIAC All-Centennial soccer team in 2012. She is one of six Blugold soccer players to earn NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) All-American recognition as a third team member in 2000. She is one of only two Blugold soccer players to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American honors as a third team at-large pick in 2000. She was UWEC's nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year in 2001, the same year she was a Blugold Super Six recipient.
A four-year starter and three-time All-Conference first team pick, Austin set the school single season goals and points records as a senior in 2000. Her totals of 20 goals and 47 points still rank second on the single season list. She still ranks fourth in career goals and points with 44 goals and 112 points. She was a three-time team offensive player of the year as voted by her teammates and the team scoring leader her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
In the 25-year history of Blugold soccer, Austin played on the fifth and sixth winningest teams in 1998 (16-5-1) and 2000 (15-5). During her career, the Blugolds fashioned a 23-8-1 conference record and a 54-25-3 overall mark.
Austin graduated summa cum laude in December, 2002 from UWEC with a 3.83 GPA in nursing. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing Education from Bellin College.
Before ending up back in her hometown where she was a three-sport athlete and the Most Outstanding Senior Athlete at Appleton East in 1997, Austin's first job was at Saint Michael's Hospital in Milwaukee as an Emergency Department (ED) Registered Nurse (RN). She has since worked as an RN at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital-AMG Surgery Center in Appleton, served as the Trauma and Injury Prevention Nurse at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, and worked as an adjunct faculty instructor at UW-Oshkosh.
Since 2009, Austin has been a nursing instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. She continues to work as an RN in the ED at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton where she has been employed for 12 years.
Austin continues her love for the sport of soccer, playing in multiple leagues throughout the year. She now enjoys the sport of running and has completed two full marathons and numerous half marathons.
She and her husband Tim, a process leader/project manager for a 401(k) Administrator (Plan Administrators Inc.) and a fellow UWEC graduate, have three children: Cooper, who will be five in September, and twins Leo and Hadley, who are 2 ½.
(current conference for men's and women's sports, combined in 1996)
WSUC = Wisconsin State University Conference (former men's only conference)
WWIAC = Wisconsin Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (former women's only conference)
NAIA = National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (former national organization to which UWEC belonged through the 1992-93 seasons)
NCAA = National Collegiate Athletic Association (current national organization which UWEC joined provisionally in 1986-87)
WIAA = Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association
MSHSL = Minnesota State High School League
USATF = USA Track & Field