AREA ATHLETICS: Marshall M Club inducts 2022 class for Athletic Hall of Fame

Photo by Sam Thiel Members of the 2022 Marshall M Club Athletic Hall of Fame class pose with their plaques after being inducted on Saturday at the Marshall Golf Club. Front row (L to R): Beau Bofferding, Macie Michelson, Nichole (Petersen) Porath and the late Donny Wichmann (Speaker John Sterner holding plaque). Back row (L to R): Mike Fenske and Tyler Gimmestad.

MARSHALL — After a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the newest — and largest — class of the Marshall M Club Hall of Fame was officially enshrined on Saturday at the Marshall Golf Club, with Beau Bofferding, Mike Fenske, Tyler Gimmestad, Macie Michelson, Nichole (Petersen) Porath and Donny Wichmann representing the latest inductees.

Bofferding graduated from Marshall High School in 2012, where he was a two-sport athlete in football and track and field and received the Bud Rose Award recognizing the male athlete of the year as a senior. On the football field, Bofferding earned All-Conference honors three times and recorded more than 5,000 yards as a running back and finished with the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in Minnesota high school football history. He also was selected to the All-State team and was a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Football. On the track, he competed in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and broke all of the MHS sprint records. Bofferding became a six-time Section 2AA champion and earned 11 Southwest Conference championships. He would go on to play football at the University of Minnesota Duluth, breaking multiple school records and becoming the first player in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference history to earn All-Conference honors at three positions in one season and later became an All-American.

In his speech, Bofferding said he was surprised when he found out he was getting inducted and was grateful for everybody who played a role in his career at MHS, especially his football coach Terry Bahlmann and track coach Mike Jacobs.

“When Mr. Purrington contacted me back in January about being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I didn’t really believe it at first. I didn’t think it was true but then a couple of days settled in and found out it was actually real and I got pretty excited, so it’s an honor to be here. It’s hard to summarize an athletic career in just a few short sentences but those four years were a pretty pivotal point in my life because you kind of figure out what you want to be, where you want to go and I think I did that,” Bofferding said. “There’s so many people you meet in sports and what sports can bring out in people is a truly incredible thing. All of the people I got to meet in high school and college are lifelong friends and I certainly appreciate all the time and effort they invested in me and I truly believe if I don’t have coach Bahlmann or coach Jacobs as a coach, I’m not up here [today].”

Fenske graduated from MHS in 1976, where he competed in football, basketball and baseball. On the gridiron, Fenske set the school record in receptions and also got the school record for home runs and RBIs in baseball his senior year and led Marshall to a state runner-up finish. On the court, Fenske averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in 1976. Fenske went on to play football at Southwest Minnesota State University as well as several years with the Marshall A’s amateur baseball team. He would teach at Marshall for 37 years and coach multiple sports, including football, boys and girls basketball, golf, track and field and soccer.

In his speech, Fenske said he’s had a lot of memories with all of the sports he either played in or coached.

“Sports and competition have been a big part of my life, my family’s life; my grandpa played football and baseball at Bemidji, my dad played football and baseball at Bemidji and then he went on to play football at Gustavus Adolphus College and he was also the head football coach here at Marshall from the late 60s to the early 70s, so we’ve been involved in sports,” Fenske said. “I really enjoyed playing all three sports throughout my high school career and had a lot of memories and was fortunate enough to carry that over to coaching all of those various sports. Sports have been a lot of fun for me and now I get to watch my sons Andy and Alex’s teams play so that’s always good.”

Gimmestad graduated from MHS in 2009, where he was a two-sport athlete in football and basketball and received the Bud Rose Award during his senior year. On the court, he was a member of four consecutive conference championship teams and earned All-Conference honors twice. He reached the 1,000-point mark and his Marshall teams went 42-6 during conference play in his varsity career. On the football field, Gimmestad was a two-time All-Conference selection and earned All-State honors in 2008. His teams went 31-7 during his career and was named the Southwest Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year twice. Gimmestad went on to play football at North Dakota State University, where he was part of three straight Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championship teams from 2011-13 and was named Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week twice and earned All-Conference honors.

In his speech, Gimmestad said the coaching of Bahlmann and Tom Critchley Jr. helped turn around the programs and it was some solid advice from Bahlmann that helped Gimmestad get through his career at NDSU.

“I was in eighth grade when coach Bahlmann and coach Critchley came and really changed the programs. We weren’t very competitive in football, but they really turned it around,” Gimmestad said. “When I left Marshall, my experience at NDSU didn’t start off as hot as I thought, everyone comes in thinking they’re going to be pretty good but you get humbled pretty quick. I came in as a defensive lineman and it didn’t work out, so they moved me to offensive line; I remember those times at D-line where coach Bahlmann gave me a card at graduation and it said that you might want to quit and there’s going to be days where it wasn’t going your way, but I stuck it through and a couple of years later I was a three-time National Champion, so I’m glad I stuck it out.”

Michelson graduated from MHS in 2007, where she was a three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track and field and earned the Kaiser Award recognizing the female athlete of the year in 2007. In volleyball, Michelson was a part of conference championship and state tournament teams from 2003-06, including winning a state championship in 2004 and a runner-up finish in 2005 and was named to the All-State tournament team in 2005. In basketball, she was a member of three conference championship teams from 2005-07 that featured a win streak of 35 games, a state runner-up finish in 2006 and four straight 20-win seasons. She earned All-Conference honors four times and All-State honors twice and was named a Ms. Basketball Finalist in 2007. Michelson went on to play basketball at South Dakota State University, where they won a pair of Summit League conference championships and went to the NCAA Tournament three times.

During her speech, Michelson showed appreciation to her parents and was grateful for the sacrifices they made growing up.

“You have both taught me about the game of life, knowing the difference between right and wrong and to be confident in who I am. You both have been with me every step of the way through the good times and the bad and you’ve always been there to encourage me, console me and motivate me when needed. We didn’t have much growing up, but both of you made sacrifices and supported me along the way. Whether that was doing things on my own, such as shooting hoops outside until nightfall, dribbling the ball down a gravel driveway with blinders on, hearing the ball bounce in the basement when it got too cold outside or having to replace an upright freezer because I used it as a backboard. Or attending camps, participating in JO’s and AAU, you were both there every step of the way.”

Michelson also was thankful for her coaches at MHS, and said they had a huge impact on her during her career.

“I’d like to also thank my high school coaches. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an impact you’ve made on my life. Not only did you make me a better athlete, but you also made me a better person,” Michelson said. “You taught me loyalty, discipline and the true meaning of character. You taught me how it was more about how you played the game, working hard and earning something rather than relying on your talents.”

(Petersen) Porath graduated from MHS in 2001, where she competed in cross country and track and field. In cross country, Porath earned All-Conference honors five times, becoming the first female athlete to do so. She competed in the state meet five times, earning All-State honors twice. In track and field, she set school records in the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters and the 4×800-meter relay. Porath would go on to compete in cross country and track and field at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she became the first woman to earn All-Conference honors four times in cross country. She was also a three-time conference champion in track and earned All-Conference honors 12 times and qualified for the NCAA championships four times combined in the two sports.

After graduating from GAC, Porath qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, placing 69th with a time of 2:44:12. A year later, she won the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Marathon with a world record and was the first woman to record a time under 3:00 indoors. She was also one of 18 American women invited to compete in the professional division at the New York City Marathon.

In her speech, Porath said the sport of track ignited her drive for pursuing and later shattering school records at both the high school and collegiate level and she continued that drive towards the Olympic trials and marathons.

“The sport rewarded which then fueled my predisposition for goal-setting and my love of hard work. The record board in track was right for my goal-setting personality; first it was the 4×800, then that 800 meter needed to be taken down, then the 1600 seemed doable and then on to the 3200 meter. After I wiped the Marshall record board clean, I set my sights on Gustavus’ and again one by one I took them down. After each record fell I set my eyes on the next one and loved reaching that next big goal and as time went on, I grew to love the work that went into reaching that goal. There’s a reason the marathon was my best distance and the Olympic trials qualifying standard was the most fun goal for me to chase, it was such a huge goal that required and rewarded consistent hard work. I still to this day love training and working really hard to reach something, be it in running or at life.”

Wichmann graduated from MHS in 1984, where he competed in wrestling. He was a three-time state tournament qualifier, earning a third-place finish at 119 pounds his senior year. Wichmann then went on to Augsburg University, where he won 137 matches and three Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) individual championships. He also earned Most Valuable Wrestler honors in the MIAC tournament in 1987 and 1989 and All-American honors with a fourth-place finish at 150 pounds in the 1989 NCAA Division III National Championships.

After graduating from Augsburg, Wichmann was an assistant wrestling coach at Augsburg for 19 seasons from 1989-2007, where they won 10 NCAA Division III national championships, had seven runner-up finishes, a third-and-fourth-place finish and had a record of 248-30 in dual meets.

Wichmann then was diagnosed with gliobostoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2015 before his fight came to an end on July 16, 2019. Speaking in his honor was John Sterner, who grew up and competed with Wichmann. In his speech, Sterner said Wichmann meant so much to him and treated him like family and made sure he was a part of everything.

“Donny was so much to me. It’s such a true honor to be here [tonight] and to talk about Donny. He was an important part to me but he was an important part to other people. He was my neighbor, he was my friend, he was my teammate, we were Cub Scouts together, we were Webelos together. He included me during our time as a youth and I can’t speak to the importance of that as much as I probably should. At the time I was one of maybe four or five students of color in the Marshall school district, so to be included was a big deal, a lot of people didn’t include me at that time and Donny always made sure I was included,” Sterner said. “When I’d bring my teams up to Augsburg he was always there to greet me and tell me how wonderful it was to see us and just to be there. In 2019, Marshall under coach [Justin] Bouwman qualified for the state tournament in wrestling and Donny and I got to sit next to each other at the state tournament and it was towards the end and it was just a lot of fun because he kept sitting there and turning and looking at me and saying, ‘You know, you and I we really wanted to be here. We should have been here, but we weren’t. But John, your son’s on this team, so we are here. It was a great memory.’ I’m blessed to have had Donny in my life, I’m blessed to have had all of his family in my life. I considered them family and that’s probably the most important thing I can say about Donny; Donny always made me feel as if I was his brother, that I was his family. I’m so blessed to have had Donny, we are so blessed as a community to have had Donny and he never forgot Marshall.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today