History Of The Honor Roll
Why wait until the WIAA State Meet in June to find out who was performing well in Track and Field? That was the thought of Bill Cross, the track coach at Whitefish Bay high school. The year was 1962. During alternating years Whitefish Bay hosted Milwaukee Pius XI and coach Dick Basham's Milwaukee Marquette track squads in April track meets. Coach Cross was impressed by the good performances in those early season meets. He began compiling performances and sending them to the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal newspapers. In addition, Mike Walden sports director at WTMJ in Milwaukee agreed to promote track and field by giving radio and TV time to announce Honor Roll results. When coach Cross was an announcer at the WIAA State Track and Field Meet he would phone in reports of performances to WTMJ.
Coach Cross recorded radio spots during his lunch hour that were aired on WTMJ at 6:15 PM on Wednesdays. Results were also sent to the AP. Although some newspapers refused, enough papers around the state sent their papers via the mail to coach Cross so he could compile a balanced report on Track and Field in Wisconsin. When Mike Walden moved on and took a media job in Los Angeles his replacement, Jim Irvin, gave a lower priority to high school track and field. However coach Cross continued his Honor Roll even though he moved on to jobs in administration in other school districts.
Bill Cross was an Assistant principal at South Milwaukee, principal at Lake Mills, and an assistant principal at Menomonee Falls before becoming principal at Oostburg high school in 1977. Despite administrative duties he continued to compile the Honor Roll with help from his wife Ginny. Ginny noticed the long time that Bill took to retype results [ before the days of spreadsheets with sorting] and volunteered to type the Honor Roll in order to speed the process.
George Garrot, Milwaukee Pius XI track coach from 1956-75, also compiled an Honor Roll. He was compiling honor rolls for private schools in the 1960s. Garrot became the Marquette University track coach in 1976. When Wisconsin Track Online began compiling the Girls Honor roll in 1994 both private and public schools were listed on the same Honor Roll.
When the WIAA began sponsoring girls track and field in 1971 Lois Wolf who was the first girls track coach at Whitefish Bay High School began compiling the Girls Track and Field Honor Roll. She was assisted by West Allis girls track coach Barb Reisner. There was plenty of goods news to report. Lois Wolf coached Liz Berry in 1974. Berry set the National High School record in the mile [5.07.4] in late May of 1974.
For a few years the WIAA sent $25 to Mr. Cross for materials needed to print the Honor Roll. Coaches and media would send 10 SASE so that results could be sent out once a week. After a wrestling controversy arose over the season ranking of wrestlers prior to the WIAA wrestling meet the WIAA stopped its support of ranking in track and field and wrestling. However it should be noted that under WIAA past Track and Field Administrators Karen Kuhn, Marcy Thurwatcher, and Stephanie Hauser and now present Track and Field administrator Kate Peterson Abiad the WIAA has been a great help in supplying information that allows the Honor Roll to be compiled.
Loren Seagrave edited the girls honor roll from 1978 to 1981 while he was an assistant track coach at UW-Madison. Those honor rolls were published through an organization titled the Wisconsin Athletic Congress. In those days computers were not the craze, so Loren compiled the lists on a memory typewriter that used cassette tapes to record the data. In relation to compiling those lists Loren stated, “I was foolish enough to produce lists for, then, the four classes of schools.”
In 1982 and 1983 Bill Cross also compiled the girls honor roll. Prior to 1980 Jack Rauwerdink who was a student at Oostburg high school began helping Mr. Cross with organizing the honor roll. After completing college Jack returned to Oostburg and became the track coach. He compiled the girls honor roll from 1984 through 1993 and the boys honor roll from 1984 until Mark Rongstad began compiling the lists for the boys honor roll in 2002. Also in the late 80's and 1990-94 Dick Basham [Milwaukee Marquette] and Erik Pankow [Milwaukee Lutheran] compiled a boys and girls honor roll for the private schools. Dave Lehmann and Dave Figi compiled both private and public school performances on the Girls Honor Roll beginning in 1994.
Coach Rauwerdink accepted phone calls and faxes up to 9:00 PM Sunday night. However, by that time, the majority of the results were in. Luckily the coach [ who will remain nameless ] who used to phone results to Bill Cross at 11:00 PM on Sunday night had retired by the time Jack took over the Honor Roll. Jack spent probably close to 3-4 hours on the computer each Saturday and Sunday. Then he would make final adjustments to that week's honor roll, print it up, and fax it out to 6 different newspapers. If everything was working well, he could get done by about 11:00 PM on Sunday night. Then he would bring the Honor Roll to school Monday morning, have it copied, and stuff envelopes during his lunch time. Jack mailed out between 100-150 honor rolls each week. A fax machine, telephone, typewriter, word processor, and Macintosh computer were tools that Coach Rauwerdink used to produce the Honor Roll
Mark Rongstad ran track in high school (he won the WIAA Class B 330 state low hurdles title in 1978 while at Ladysmith HS) and was always very interested in the statistical side of track. As a high school student, Mark anxiously waited each week for the new track honor roll to be published. When Mark's oldest daughter Lindsey began competing in track at Eau Claire North high school he began helping submit results to the honor rolls. When Jack Rauwerdink put out a notice that he was no longer going to publish the boys honor roll Mark decided to jump in as it combined his love of track and the Internet
In 1993 Dave Lehmann talked to Jack Rauwerdink at a track-coaching clinic and offered to help with the Girls Honor Roll. Dave Lehmann, girls track coach at Janesville Parker High School and Parker teacher Dave Figi began compiling the girls honor roll in 1994 . Inspired by former Madison West track coach Don Loker who wrote computer programs in the 1980's that organized data for athletic events both Parker High School staff members wrote programs in Apple Basic that organized and scored gymnastic and track meets. Dave Figi submitted results to the Janesville Gazette that featured a 'local area honor roll.' Also Don Lindstrom, former Wisconsin State Journal sports writer, provided a model of track and field lists when he compiled statistics of high school results in the state meets held in the Midwest.
On a Sunday night in early April of 1994 Lehmann and Figi got a call from the Milwaukee Journal sports department asking for Honor Roll results. The two newcomers to compiling the Honor Roll had no results to report. At that instant Lehmann and Figi realized what they had gotten into. From that event a great appreciation for the efforts of Bill Cross, Loren Seagrave, Lois Wolf, Barb Reisner, and Jack Rauwerdink made its mark with the current compilers of the Wisconsin High School Track and Field Girls Honor Roll. After a one week delay and help from many coaches around the state the Girls Honor Roll was again up and running. In the mid 1990's as the popularity of web sites increased the Honor Roll evolved into an Online download instead of mailed results.
Beginning with the 2011 Honor Roll the Top 50 performances of All-Time Lists were included as part of the Honor Roll website. Mike Krugel whose daughters competed at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East updated the lists which were originally compiled by Mark Rongstad during the 2001 through 2007 seasons. Mike maintained the Top 50 Lists from 2011 through 2016. Beginning in September of 2016 Paul Tilleman the Whitefish Bay pole vault coach has compiled the Top 50 All-Time lists.
In February of 2008, Mark Rongstad's website wisconsintrackandfield and Dave Figi's website wisconsintrackonline joined the Wisconsin Sports Network. The Wisconsin Track Online association was for the 2008 track season only. For the 2009 to the 2021 seasons the Girl's Honor Roll was published on the Wisconsin Track Online website. In the spring of 2014 WSN - "Wis Sports" announced that they would no longer publish Honor Roll results for the boys and girls. Dave Figi and Richard Small compiled and published the Honor Rolls for girls and boys during the 2014 season. For the 2015 to 2021 seasons Wisconsin Track Online published daily and weekly updates to the Girls Honor Roll.
Craig Shepard former Gilman coach and former Awards Chairman and Historian for WISTCA compiled the Boys Honor Roll during the 2015 season. The Boys Honor Roll was hosted by Athletic Net during the 2016 season. Mike Price [D1, D3] from Deerfield and Tom Hoogester [D2] from West Bend compiled the Boys Honor Roll for the 2017 season. Tom Hoogester [D1], Rick Stewart, Holly Stewart, and James Finster [D2], and Paul Tuskowski [D3] compiled the Boys Honor Roll during the 2018 season. Beginning in 2022 Wisconsin Track Online's goal will be to update the Top 50 Athlete of All-Time lists and also have photographs of new Top 50 athletes and State Record holders. This would continue until a new platform can be found to host the Top 50 All-Time Athletes lists. The Mile Split and Athletic Net Rankings would take the place of the Honor Roll lists.
It is difficult to imagine how Bill Cross, Lois Wolf, Barb Reisner, Jack Rauwerdink and Loren Seagrave had the time to compile the lists. Present day track coaches, athletes, fans and the media are indebted to these pioneers who gave the time and effort needed to promote a great sport. The objectives today remain the same as the objectives of those who started and maintained the Honor Roll. The Honor Roll gives recognition to those students who work hard to make the athletic component of education a positive experience. And, like Bill Cross, athletes, coaches, fans and the media do not want to wait until the WIAA State Track and Field Meet in June to find out which athletes are performing well.
Bill Cross: Bill Cross passed away on July 1, 2008, at the age of 84. However his legacy in track and field lives on. One of his grandsons is Josh Herrell who was the Head Track and Field Coach at East Troy High School. In 2013 Herrell's East Troy Trojans were the Girls State D2 Champions. Another grandson is former Brookfield Central athlete Joe Thomas who won the 2003 Wisconsin D1 state title in the shot put and discus. Thomas was an All-Pro football player with the Cleveland Browns. Thomas was inducted into the WISTCA Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020..
Lois Wolf: Lois is retired and lives in Whitefish Bay where she still volunteers in the high jump events at Whitefish Bay track meets. Lois coached the girls track and field team at Whitefish Bay from 1972 to 1988 .
Loren Seagrave: Loren was the developer of the Velocity Sports Performance Training System and serves as Chief Performance Officer. Coach Seagrave developed his system while winning four NCAA Track and Field national championships at Louisiana State University. He has worked with over fifty Olympic and World Championship medalists, National and World record holders, and Collegiate All-Americans.
Jack Rauwerdink: Jack who is now retired from teaching taught middle school literature and social studies at Oostburg Middle School. Jack wasthe head coach for girls track and field at Oostburg during the 2019 season. Also in 2020 Jack was the head boys and girls cross-country coach.
Mark Rongstad: Mark was an executive in Hewlett-Packard's computer services business. Mark was also the Global Cloud Industry Sales Leader - Insurance for IBM Corporation. Mark passed away on March 4, 2021.
Mike Krugel: Mike who maintained the Top 50 All-Time lists from 2011 through the 2016 season now lives in Virginia and works as an AVP and Actuary.
Paul Tilleman: Paul still maintains the Top 50 All-Time performance lists. He is the pole vault coach at Whitefish Bay high school. Paul was the 1970 WISA State Meet pole vault champion when he was a student at Green Bay Premontre High School. He retired from his law career at Quarles and Brady in the summer of 2020.
Girls Track And Field Honor Roll Compilers
Dave Figi - Compiler from 1994 to 2021
Retired from teaching [2 years in Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer, 37 years in Janesville] June 11, 2004. Taught mathematics at Marshall Junior High School and Computer Science at Janesville Parker High School. Dave has kept busy by being a member of various teams. He coached sophomore football at Janesville Parker [1982-2011] and was a member of the Operation Classroom team [2005-2008] that presented workshops in mathematics for secondary teachers and assisted in school construction in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He still has ties to Sierra Leone by supporting Kabala Heritage High School and the NarSarah Medical Clinic.
He also coached ninth grade basketball at Janesville Craig from 1987 until 2001. His son John and daughter Alison participated in track at Janesville Craig High School. John was a member of the UW-Whitewater cross country and track teams. Dave Figi published a web site that features an Honor Roll for girls in Track and Field in Wisconsin. His goal was to promote track and field in Wisconsin.
Dave Lehmann - Compiler from 1994 to 2004
Retired in 2012 as a teacher (mathematics) from Janesville Parker High School. Before retiring he was the head coach of varsity volleyball and varsity girls track and field at Parker. Dave's wife, Cathy, who retired from teaching Physical Education at Parker High School at the end of the 2013 school year was the head girls gymnastics coach and an assistant coach in track and field at Parker.