Welcome to the Hall of Fame: Park High School ushers in ninth class
P ark High School will usher in its ninth class of Park High School athletic Hall of Fame inductees at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Mississippi Dunes Golf Course in Cottage Grove.
Kara (Bloomquist) Drekonja, Vernon Hall, Kristen Schmidt, Daniel Storlien, Henry Tressel and the 1998 girls track team will be the ninth group of former athletes, coaches and/or community members to be honored for their contributions to Park athletics.
Nominees needed to garner at least seven of the nine possible votes to be inducted. In order to earn the honor, alumni had to show athletic excellence while representing Park High School. Or, for coaches and community members, inductees had to show above and beyond commitment to community youth and their dedication and support of Park athletics.The creation of the Hall of Fame, which is located outside the gymnasium at Park, was an idea that circulated for several years before the help of sponsorships and several booster clubs allowed its inception in 2005.Since then, there have been eight classes. This year’s inductees will join current Park Hall of Fame members including: Donny Gramenz, Jeff Nelson, Darcie (Dietz) Young, Perry Fink, John Mausolf, Trisha (Tinucci) Rinzel, Monica Koyama, Kerry Ligtenberg, Jim Riesselman, Jennifer Bauer, Larry Costigan, Bill Kroschel, Granville “Granny” Smith, Shannon Scibilia Skally, George Chavez, Roger Pribnow, Laura Peters, Dean Houdek, Sam Jacobson and Janine Nelson.For ticket information or other details, contact Park High School Activities Director Phil Kuemmel at (651) 768-3758.
Class of 1945
Vernon Hall excelled at football, basketball, baseball and track at St. Paul Park High School. Hall was written up several times for his athletic ability in the St. Paul Dispatch. He loved serving on the decorating committee for prom and other school events. Hall, who worked at 3M for 40 years as a machinist, was a World War II veteran and passed away in 2004. Hall is survived by his wife of 58 years, Shirley, his children Terry, Sandi, Lori and Mark Hall. His daughter Cari passed away in 2002.
Kara (Bloomquist) Drekonja
Class of 1992
Kara (Bloomquist) Drekonja was a cross country and track standout at Park, and also participated in Nordic skiing. She qualified for the state meet in the 800-meter run her senior year. Drekonja was an All-American runner at Gustavus Adolphus College and held numerous school records there. She was inducted into the Gustavus Adolphus College Hall of Fame in October, 2012 for track and field and cross country. Drekonja is currently employed by the Minneapolis VA Medical Center as a Research Nurse Coordinator. She married to Dimitri Drekonja and has two young sons, Andreas, 5, and Steffan, 6 months.
Class of 1989
Dan Storlien is one of the best soccer players to ever come out of Park. He was captain of the 1988 state runner-up team and went on to play at St. Mary’s University and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He is currently a social studies teacher and the head boys soccer coach at Bloomington Jefferson High School and is one of the top coaches for the Minnesota Thunder Academy. He has been named Minnesota State Coaches Association Coach of the Year five times and in 2004 was named Midwest Regional Coach of the Year. He has taken his team to the state tournament seven of the past 12 years. He is also the only coach in Minnesota soccer history to coach both women’s and men’s professional teams. He has coached over 150 athletes that have played Division I or II college soccer.
1988 Girls Track Team
State championship winners
On the 25th anniversary of their state championship, the Park 1988 girls track team will be the first team inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 1988 state title was Park’s first ever as a school. Coached by Bob Meyer, 10 individuals represented Park in the state track and field meet, and took home first place honors, led by Sue Chopski and Anne Arlich.
Kristen (Schmidt) Soukup
Class of 2002
While at Park, Kristen (Schmidt) Soukup earned All-Conference honors in volleyball, basketball and softball. Most well-known for her exploits on the diamond, Soukup was a four-time all-state pitcher and led her team to the state tournament all four years, including a second-place finish in 2002 when she named the Metro Player of the Year. In 2002 she was also the St. Paul Pioneer Press spring female Athlete of the Year and the Star Tribune’s 2002 Metro Player of the Year. At Concordia University in St. Paul, she was the 2003 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Rookie of the Year and two-time pitcher of the year, led Concordia on deep runs in the NCAA tournament three years as starting pitcher and became only the seventh player in NCAA history with 1,000 career (1007) strikeouts. She had a school record 22 strikeouts against Southwest Minnesota State, which is tied second most strikeouts in a game in NCAA history (23 is record at D II level. She was the co-female Athlete of the Year and Academic All American in 2005-2006. She is married to Oliver Soukup and currently resides in Portales, New Mexico.
Henry Tressel Coach
Hank Tressel coached a variety of sports for over 50 years in District 833, including football, basketball, hockey, boys and girls golf and softball. Tressel, who also started the alpine and Nordic ski programs in the district, led the Park boys golf team to three state tournaments. In 2008 he helped direct the Park boys golf team to the school’s only state championship in a boys sport. In the community, Tressel has been a Supervisor of Ravenna Township (a community of 2,400), Chairman of the Dakota County Township Officers Association and County Planning and Watershed Boards and continues to work part time at Afton Alps. Tressel is married to his wife Carol and they have three children: Peter, Sarah and Ann.