Thole: Ponies off and running with victory over Woodbury


Going into last Friday’s season grid opener at Woodbury, I was well aware of the credentials of Nate Ricci, Nick Anderson, Sam Hodnefield, Austin Conery and Cody Floen, but names like Joey Quinn and Danny Laudet were not on my short list.

The two newcomers turned out to be major nuggets for coach Beau LaBore and his Ponies in a well-played 20-18 victory over a solid Woodbury club. The game wasn’t decided until Hodnefield got a finger on the Royals’ 32-yard last-second field goal attempt that fell short to put the locals in the win column.

Gazette photo by Scott Ertle
Stillwater senior Joey Quinn gets behind a Woodbury defensive back to make a running catch for a 63-yard touchdown in Friday’s season-opening victory over the Royals.

Quinn managed to get open on a regular basis as he hauled in two passes for 83 yards, including a 65-yard TD strike from Ricci. Laudet proved to be a nugget by putting the Royals deep in their own end with his punts and kickoffs. Stillwater gained a solid edge in yards every time that kicks were exchanged, despite Woodbury outgaining the locals 396-316.

It was a good opener for the Ponies and they were tested early when Royal Quaran Al-Hameed went 80 yards for a quick touchdown on the first play of the game. Woodbury quarterback Sawyer Moon proved to be as good as advertised while completing 12 of 28 passes for 168 yards, but Ricci was even more effective while connecting on 9 of 17 for 171 yards.

Anderson racked up 95 yards (4.5 avg.) with two touchdowns and looks like he picked up where he left off last year. I like Stillwater’s chances this year.

Tomorrow night the Big Red hosts White Bear Lake, a 13-10 winner over Roseville last week. SAHS leads the series 52-38-3 and will extend that with a 24-10 victory over the Bears.


Junker and Schuh in this year’s HOF class

Jill (Junker) Stimson ’75 and Tanya (Schuh) Modelli ’93 are slated for induction into the SCVAA Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Stillwater’s Grand Ballroom.

Jill (Junker) Stimson, a 1975 Stillwater graduate who excelled in gymnastics and track and field, will be inducted into the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 26.

Junker was an all-around athlete who wasn’t afraid to get scuffed up, as I recall. She was truly a standout in gymnastics and track and field as she racked up six letters and placed in two state hurdles events as a sophomore and teamed with Barb Larson, Vicki Koenig and Patty Gunderson to win the 880 relay.

Two years later, she took first in the 60-yard hurdles in record time at state and was third in the 110 hurdles. Jill was Stillwater’s top point getter in gymnastics and a three-time all-conference selection.

Junker coached track and field at Chisago Lakes for five years and coached her daughter to a state title. Mrs. Stimson also competed in the Aquatennial Triathlon and when asked how she did said: “I finished .”

Schuh was a three-time all-state swimmer for coach Brian Luke, who stated: “Tanya exemplifies the qualities that make an amateur athlete so great.”

Former Ponies state champion and University of Minnesota All-American swimmer Tanya Schuh, shown with husband Ruebens and daughter Maya, is slated to be inducted into the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 26.

Tanya once held five SAHS records and set four conference records in a single meet. As a senior, she was an All-American in the 100 fly and was the sixth fastest in the nation in that event.

Mrs. Modelli went on to enjoy a brilliant career at the U of Minnesota, where she received All-American recognition several times and was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Year. She was a member of the Brazilian National Team in 1995 and 1996, where she continued her record-setting pace.

Walter Kress, Don Campbell, Glenn Harris and Kevin Klancher are also scheduled to make up this year’s induction class, along with the state champion 1975 football team and several state champion synchronized swim teams. The 12th annual hall of fame banquet on Sept. 26, which is sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Athletic Association, begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and program. Tickets are $30 apiece or $240 for a table of eight. Reservations — the deadline is Sept. 19 — can be made via email at [email protected] and checks payable to S.C.V.A.A can also be sent to: Hall of Fame Committee, PO Box 44, Stillwater, MN 55082.


In the huddle

Former Ponies all-conference linebacker Eric Rhodenbaugh ’87 lives in Lander, Wyo., and works in forest and fire management for the Wind River Reservation of BIA. Rhodenbaugh was a standout for the 1986 football team (11-2 TCSC and section champs) where he was captain and a Big Red Hitter with 241 defensive points. He earned game ball awards for victories over Hastings (22-12), Sibley (35-6), White Bear Lake (7-6) and Park (35-7)…. Matt Cummings ’96, who was a member of three state champion teams (1995 soccer, 1996 Nordic skiing and 1996 track and field) is a buyer for Target. The U of M grad has children Evan, 5, and Paige, 3, and still manages time to play soccer…. Two weeks ago the sage Jerry Foley and I drove to Columbia Heights and took in the Hylanders 52-24 grid victory over Humboldt. Foley is a Humboldt hall of fame guy and former Ponies all-conference tailback Dave Mergens ’81 is AD. We ran into several former Columbia Heights players who recalled our historic 16-14 victory over them in 1977 when all-state Gregg Thompson rushed for 125 yards and kicked a 40-yard field goal on a torn ACL to earn the Hertz No. 1 Award. He was rewarded with a trip to New York City hosted by O.J. Simpson. With Thompson and all-conference quarterback Paul Newman out of the lineup, the locals defeated Cambridge before their fall to Washburn in the state finals. The state runner-up Ponies finished their season at 11-1…. Brian Arnfelt is the fourth former Ponies gridder in the program’s modern history to become a captain at a Division I NCAA college. The other SAHS gridders were standouts for the 1995 and 1996 championship teams that compiled a 26-1 record, a group that includes Nate Dwyer (Kansas), Adam Runk (Iowa State) and Paul Diercks (Montana State)…. If you are wondering who the cheerleaders were when we won the 1975 state football title, here you go: Ann (Palmer) de St. Aubin, Teresa Lang, Rene Baribeau, Dee Ann Beck, Tamara Bryant, Jean Demoski, Renee Breau, Betsy Bittman, Lori Seggelke, Melinda Eliason, Linda Gunderson, Linda Keller, Kathy Kutsopias, Susie Moore, Becky Parent, Melody Payne, Patrice Polzini, Julie Radke, Diana Ries, Denise Switala, Colleen Welse and, last but not least, Patty Wolf…. Ooops: Last week I overlooked our standout offensive tackle Dave Roettger on the 1975 state title team. He and all-state Buck Beutel went on to solid careers at Augustana (S.D.)…. Don’t tread on the Big Red Ponies…. Finis


Today’s rumination #582

By working eight hours a day you may eventually be the boss — and work 12 hours a day.

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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: [email protected]