Wall of Fame honors athletic success
ALGONA – Throughout its history, Algona High School has been known for building a rich tradition of athletic success.
Of the hundreds of coaches and student athletes that have walked through the doors of AHS, 26 of them have been recognized over the years with a place on the Algona High School Wall of Fame.
Those individuals were recognized once again during Homecoming, Friday, Sept. 23, as the first 26 to be placed on the new Wall of Fame in the high school commons.
“One of the first things I noticed when I came to Algona High over 20 years ago was the Wall of Fame,” said Brian Connick, a member of the Wall of Fame Committee. “I could see how important history is at Algona High School and how important it is to honor great things from the past and how that inspires our current students.”
When an athlete was honored with a place on the Wall of Fame in past years, they were recognized with a large photograph above their list of accomplishments. With time, those photos began to fade, and AHS staff recognized the need for a more modern way to recognize inductees.
“These 26 were already on the wall,” said Connick. “It’s been a fantastic recognition, but pictures fade and we were looking for a way to avoid that.”
The new Wall of Fame, marked with silver letters, is clearly visible to all students, staff and guests and located on the wall in the main commons area of the school. The photographs were replaced with 26 plaques donated by the Algona Booster Club. The new plaques feature an engraved version of the original Wall of Fame photo alongside a list of the athlete’s high school and collegiate achievements.
For many of the inductees, athletic success runs in the family.
Several siblings or parents and their children have been recognized over the years.
In the Kain Family, siblings Dana Kain, a 1974 AHS graduate; Dawn Kain Bjustrom, a 1978 graduate and Dean Kain, a 1980 graduate, all have their faces on the wall for notable achievements in golf.
“In our family, all five kids were involved in golf,” the Kains’ mother, Carol Hemmen, said. “I started them young. When I was on the course, they’d be there with me putting balls.”
“All of us were very competitive,” Bjustrom said. “The competitiveness with each other led to improvement.”
“We all five golf,” said Dean Kain. “The three of us are very fortunate to be recognized on the Wall of Fame.”
Dana, Dawn and Dean remain avid golfers today. Dana, who lives in Vienna, Austria, working as a software engineer consultant for the United Nations, is captain of the United Nations Golf League. Dawn taught physical education and coached girls golf at Algona High School and Dean, a director of data analytics for Microsoft, still spends as much time on the course as he can in Seattle, Wash.
Father and son duo Bruce and Mark Sundet were each recognized for their accomplishments in cross-country and track and field.
Bruce Sundet, a 1964 AHS graduate, was an 880-yard champion for the North Central Conference and a member of the championship mile relay and medley relay teams. He ran for Luther College where he finished in 15th place at the national championships and was named an NCAA College Division All-American in Cross Country.
“I ran track and was on the 1964 basketball team that went to state,” he said. “I never ran cross country until my junior year of college.”
Sundet ran before there were multiple divisions of college athletics, meaning his 15th place finish made him one of the top 15 collegiate runners at that time.
Upon returning to Algona, Sundet coached cross-country for Algona High School. His son, Mark, ran under his direction and became a school record holder in Cross Country and placed at the state meet.
Mark Sundet, a 1993 graduate, also finished as a state champion in track in the 1600-meter run, 4x400 meter relay, and medley relays, earning all-state honors. Like his father, he ran for Luther College, earning conference championships in cross-country. He was a four-time all IIAC Conference selection and a Division III All-American. He is now an anesthesiologist.
“I think he was better than I was,” said Bruce Sundet, who accepted the honor for his son. “He helped us win the state meet.”
Other family recognitions included Champ, Dave and Paul Martin, and Dale and Donnie Teeter.
The Wall of Fame will become an annual recognition at Algona High School, Connick said.
Moving forward, up to five new individuals may be honored each year. Nominations for the 2017 class of inductees will be accepted beginning Oct. 1 through Feb. 1, 2017.
Nominees may include former student athletes, former and current coaches, administrators, teams and members of the community who have shown loyalty and dedication to Algona High School athletics.
A copy of nomination guidelines and by-laws can be found on the school website at www.algona.k12.ia.us by clicking in Wall of Fame.
“We have every hope we will fill that wall,” said Connick.