November 28, 2012


Kathryn “Kak” Swanson ’51 (Rochester, Minn.) was recently featured in the Rochester Post-Bulletin for her pioneering efforts in girls sports. “Coach Kak” entered teaching and coaching shortly after graduating from Winona State and started girls’ sports program in Columbia Heights and Rochester. Her swim teams at Mayo High School won 50 of 51 regular season dual meets from 1974 through 1980. She was also an outstanding volleyball coach. She retired from full-time teaching and coaching in 1980 but continued to make her mark in Rochester:  she and her husband co-founded the Ronald McDonald House there and they shared the Mayor’s Medal of Honor in 2009.


Don Klagge ’60/’64 (Winona) was honored with Kerwin Engelhart Award for his outstanding service to Winona Senior High School and Region 1AA. Don was the Winhawks’ athletic director from 1978-2000. During his time there, he added nine varsity sports and increased student participation.


Lorne Grosso ’74 (Rochester, Minn.) has received the 2012 Kerwin Engelhart Award. The longtime Rochester Mayo High School hockey coach has more than 600 career wins, the most by a Minnesota high school hockey coach.

Katie (Buck) Baab ’77 (Winona) writes that she finished her degree at Winona State at age 47 and then landed her dream job:  teaching English as a second language to IBM employees and high school students. She also raised her four children to successful lives and careers,


Cindy (Owen) Sloan ’82 (Heron Lake, Minn.) has been named softball coach at Austin High School. She was most recently volleyball and softball coach at Southwest Star Concept High School. In addition, Cindy has more than 30 years of teaching experience and will teach special education at Austin.

John Blondell ’83 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) recently directed Henry VI, Part 3 for the Bitola (Macedonia) National Theatre, which played at Shakespeare’s Globe London. Produced in anticipation of the recently completed Summer Games, the festival was part of London’s Cultural Olympiad, and featured all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed in 37 different languages. John is director of theatre and professor of theatre arts at Westmont College.

William Pischke ’84 proudly displays the Winona State Warrior and school colors along with the U.S. flag at his home in Renwick, Iowa. Pischke had the flag custom-made this past summer so he could display his school pride to his north central Iowa community. Pischke graduated with a degree in criminal justice and currently works for the Iowa Department of Human Services. He and his wife, Cindy, have two sons, Jeremy ’00 and Jason.

William Ihrke ’87 (Plainview, Minn.), head football coach for Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School, was picked to coach the Minnesota All-Star Football Game. He began his high school coaching career while still a student at WSU, coaching wrestling at Houston High School after the Warriors’ football season ended. In 15 years at P-E-M, Bill has compiled a 125-37 record with four section titles and one state championship in 2002.

Dan Schumacher ’89 (Channahon, Ill.) has been named athletic director at Chicago State University. He moves to the NCAA Division I Cougars’ head athletics position after spending the past six years at Lewis University in Joliet. Dan was an All-America football player at Winona State and worked for the Warriors’ Athletic Department from 2002 through 2006.


Brian Paulson ’94 (Winona) is the new men’s golf coach at Winona State. The former Warriors’ standout is also assistant pro at The Bridges Golf Course in Winona. The three-time All-America was medalist at both the NAIA and NCAA District Championships in 1993 and 1994.

Alyssa Stephenson ’95 has been named the 2013 recipient of the Rising Star Award by the American Podiatric Medicine Association. It awards members for astounding accomplishments in scientific, professional, or civic endeavors who have been in practice for no more than ten years. She will receive the award next March in Washington, D.C. Alyssa has been active with the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners Test Development Committee, ABPS Exam Committee, has lead efforts to have hospitals in her area recognize full-scope of practice for podiatrists, and is currently president of the Wisconsin Society for Podiatric Medicine.

Tim Bronk ’97 (Laurel, Mont.), who earned his master’s in educational leadership at WSU, is superintendent of the Laurel Schools.

Ranae Case-Evenson ’97 (Cass Lake, Minn.) is the new principal of Wilson Elementary School in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Since 2009, the former elementary and English and social studies teacher had been principal at Eisenhower Elementary School.

Anna Derocher ’98 (Rockford, Ill.) has been named managing editor of the Rockford Register Star. The WSU mass communications graduate and former editor of the Winonan has been with the newspaper since 2000 as a reporter, project manager, and assistant managing editor.


Chad Dull ’00 (Coon Valley, Wis.), dean of Instructional Services at Western Technical College, was invited by the U.S. Department of Education to attend its college completion symposium and think-tank session. Chad represented the viewpoint of basic education at the community and technical college level.

Ryan Kenaga ’01 (Winona) is a web programmer for Vision Design Group. He holds a bachelor’s in computer science from WSU and was recipient of the Chicanowski/Logelin scholarship and the Computer Science Alumni Scholarship.

Ann MacDonald ’01 (Winona) has been named Winona State’s new interim director of Alumni Relations. Ann has been at WSU since 1997 and most recently served as director of Educational Improvement and Leadership and worked in Outreach and Continuing Education. She has more than 30 years of experience in leadership and partnership development, making her a good fit for connecting with the university’s 50,000 alumni worldwide.

Nick Benz ’03 (Onalaska, Wis.) is the new community development officer for State Bank Financial. Nick joined State Bank four years ago as community bank officer. He earned business administration and marketing degrees at WSU.

Jennifer (Flowers) Jepson ’03 (Lewiston, Minn.) has re-joined the Warriors Athletic Department as associate director of athletics.

Angela Johnson ’03 (Freeport, Ill.) joined Family Healthcare Center in Pecatonica as its adult nurse practitioner. She earned a master’s in nursing at the University of Cincinnati after graduating from WSU.

On November 11, 1997 Tasha Schuh’s ’03 life changed forever when she accidentally stepped through a trap door during a high school theater rehearsal. While the 16-foot fall left her a quadriplegic, Tasha went on to graduate from high school and earn a degree in communication studies from Winona State in 2003. This summer, Tasha returned to the spotlight when she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The reigning Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin competed with eight other contestants for the title. She earned a second bachelor’s in theology at Maranatha College in 2007 and has worked as a motivational speaker for the past seven years. It’s been a big year for Tasha:  she’s just finished a book, My Last Step Backwards, and she’s recently engaged with a wedding planned for next August. Find out more at:

Jenny (Johnson) ’04 and Jamie Carrier ’04 (Rushford, Minn.) welcomed their second child, Clayton Curtis, on June 8. Both Jenny and Jamie played basketball at WSU. They also have a daughter, Makenzie, who is aged 5.

Craig Dietz ’04 (Fairmont, Minn.) married Catherine Switras on September 1. Craig works as a process control manager at United Health Group while Catherine attends National American University.

Donovan Germain ’04 (Austin, Minn.) is making good on his music career. After earning his degree in vocal music education, he has been successful performing in musicals and with his vocal band, Up ‘Til 2. The group has won numerous awards and performs for Celebrity Cruise Lines. Donovan has also found time to write and perform original music for voice and guitar.

Jeffrey O’Donnell ’04 (Rushford, Minn.) married Chelsea Kopperud on June 30. Jeffrey is self-employed in Rushford while Chelsea works at Fastenal.

Ryan Eversman ’05 and Narjis Batool ’08 (Rochester, Minn.) tied the knot on July 3. Narjis works as a registered nurse in the neuro-ICU for Mayo Clinic. Ryan is an assistant principal at Willow Creek Middle School.

Travis Boddy ’06 and Cassie Longueville ’07 (Winona) married on October 13. Cassie works at Winona Health while Travis works at Fastenal.

Adam Blaschko ’07 and Alyssa Schultz ’08 (LeCenter, Minn.) married on August 25.

Mandi (Stutzka) Johnson ’07 (Princeton, Minn.) and husband, Gordie, welcomed their first child, son Brantley James, on June 26.

Cassandra (Tomfohrde) Benter ’08 (Winona) married Ryan Benter on September 29. Cassandra earned her bachelor’s in social work and is employed at Hiawatha Homes in Rochester.

Nicole (Lyon) Schultz ’08 (Winona) married Scott Schultz on August 4.

Travis Whipple ’08 (Winona) has returned to his alma mater as assistant director of athletics.

Katy (Anderson) Bos ’09 (Rochester, Minn.) was married on July 14.

Don Erdall ’09 (Bloomington, Minn.) pitched this summer with the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League. He also works in financial services in the Twin Cities and coaches baseball and hockey.

Jake Runestad ’09 (Minneapolis, Minn.) has been awarded a commission from the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Music Educators Association to compose for the 2014 All-State Women’s Choir.

Sarah Simonsen ’09 (Lakeville, Minn.) married Preston Fenske on September 15. Sarah works at Travelers Insurance Co. Preston works at Menard’s.

Christine (Reiland) ’10 and Kevin Kallas ’10 (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) married on October 20. Christine is a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Kevin is a financial analyst at IBM, also in Rochester.

Sharon Gage ’11 and Aaron Ruff ’11 (Wausau, Wis.) married on September 29. Sharon works as a family advocate for the Women’s Community. Aaron is public health educator with the Marathon County Health Department. Sharon and Aaron met during the first few weeks of their freshman year at WSU.

Sarah (Pasche) Gudmundson ’11 (Rollingstone, Minn.) married Shane Gudmundson on August 11.

Jennifer Zylstra ’11 (Stewartville, Minn.) married Joshua Datta on October 13. Jennifer works for the Stewartville Public Schools. Joshua is working at Fastenal while completing his degree at WSU.

Danielle Yeadon ’12 (Stewartville, Minn.) married Alexander Strain on August 11. Danielle works as a laboratory assistant at Mayo Clinic; Alexander is a journalist at People’s Press in Owatonna.

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Cassandra Douglas

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