Hall of Fame class of 2013 officially inducted
SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia University officially inducted four individuals and one team into its athletic hall of fame on Friday night at a ceremony held in the Cattle Conference Room inside the Janzow Campus Center. Continue reading for detailed information on each of the new inductees.
Molly (Engel) Christensen – Class of 2005
Molly (Engel) Christensen, a 2005 graduate, starred in both cross country and track and field as a Bulldog. Her accomplishments in cross country place her among the school’s all-time greats. She earned GPAC Female Runner of the Year honors each year from 2002 to 2004, won the conference meet three times and qualified for the NAIA National Championships all four years. She earned All-America honors three times on the strength of three career top-20 national finishes, including a ninth-place finish at the 2004 championships. In addition, Molly claimed NAIA regional titles in 2003 and 2004. With Molly as the frontrunner, head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squad raced to national runner up finishes (2001, 2002, 2004) three out of four seasons while qualifying for the national championships all four years of her career. The Christensen-led Bulldogs also won GPAC titles in 2002 and 2004.
Molly’s track and field laurels stand out as equally impressive. She totaled 10 All-America honors in distance and relay events and holds four still-standing school records in her career on the track. She shined at the 2005 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships when she was named the GPAC Outstanding Athlete of the Year. She is currently listed atop the school record books in the indoor 4x800 meter relay (9:13.96), the outdoor 4x800 meter relay (9:02.29), the distance medley relay (11:55.22) and the 1,500 meter run (4:33.98). She also ranks in the top 10 on the school’s all-time list in an additional six events. Christensen starred on Bulldog teams that won the 2002 GPAC outdoor title and claimed NAIA indoor national top-10 finishes in 2002 and 2003. Molly was named the 2005 Lincoln Journal Star State College Female Athlete of the Year and in 2013 was inducted into the Columbus Scotus Central Catholic High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Christensen graduated from Concordia with a B.A. in exercise science. She then earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Medical Center in 2009. She served as an admissions counselor at Concordia from 2005-2007 and is currently a registered nurse in labor and delivery at Maple Grove Hospital in Minnesota. Molly and her husband Evan live in Brooklyn Park, Minn., with their daughters, Isabelle and Zoey. Molly’s special memories of her time at Concordia include training and competing with “such a wonderful group of women” and earning three national runner-up team finishes in cross country.
T.J. Kloster – Class of 2002
T.J. Kloster, class of 2002, achieved astounding success on the national stage as a track and field star. Kloster won six individual NAIA national titles in the pole vault – three indoor and three outdoor – between 1998 and 2002. His sixth national title surpassed fellow Concordia Athletics Hall of Famer Gene Brooks for the most among pole vaulters in school history and tied current head coach and Hall of Famer Kregg Einspahr for the school record for most individual national titles. T.J. still holds GPAC Championship meet records for the indoor pole vault (17’ 5”) and the outdoor pole vault (17’ 1”). His all-time personal best clearance of 17’ 6 ¼” at the 2002 NAIA Outdoor National Championships ranks second in program history behind Brooks. Kloster garenered 2001-02 Concordia Male Co-Athlete of the Year honors. His national title at the 2000 NAIA Outdoor National Championships fueled the Bulldogs to a team runner-up finish.
T.J., who prepped at Arlington High School, earned his B.A. in commercial art from Concordia. He has worked at HDR Architecture in Omaha, Neb., since 2006. He and his wife Shelly live in Omaha with their children, Taigan and Brayden.
In response to how Concordia impacted his life, T.J. wrote: “During my time at Concordia I was surrounded by quality individuals and organizations that influenced who I am today. My relationships with coaches, fellow athletes and Concordia staff/professors all helped to develop my character in different ways. I’m proud to be the person I am today thanks to the environment and culture Concordia provides to students.”
Bob Pflieger – Faculty Athletics Representative/Booster Club Member (1956-59, 1963-99)
Bob Pflieger stands out for his 39 years of service to Concordia University, including 35 years as the faculty athletics representative. During his time at Concordia, Bob participated in various boards and committees and chaired NAIA District 14. He played an instrumental role in the initial conversations that led to the league that we know today as the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). In recognition of his contributions to the conference, the GPAC named the conference academic award as the GPAC Pflieger-Olson Scholar-Athlete award, given to those who have achieved at least sophomore academic status and are varsity contributors with GPA’s of 3.3 or greater.
A longtime professor, Bob taught at Concordia from 1956-59 and again from 1963-99. In between teaching stints in Seward, Pflieger taught at Lutheran High School South in Chicago. In addition, he worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the graduate program in chemistry from 1956-72 and has spent time in chemistry research at Emory University, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Florida. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and continues to support Concordia as a member of the athletics’ Booster Club. He served on the Seward Park and Recreation board from 1976-97.
Bob earned his B.S. in education from Concordia Teachers College of River Forest, Ill., in 1956. He also holds an M.A. in chemistry from Stanford University (1962). He currently resides in Lincoln, Neb., with his wife Donna. They have an adult daughter, Sandra Lynne Drewel, and son, Thomas Robert Pflieger. One daughter, Wendy Kay Offerman, is deceased.
Wrote Bob of his relationship with Concordia, “I am totally dedicated to Concordia, its athletic programs, athletes and coaches. I try to attend as many games and matches as I can. I value the relationships that I have made with coaches and students over the years. I will always be a Bulldog.”
Kari (Saving) Keithley – Class of 2005
Kari (Saving) Keithley, a 2005 graduate, put together a terrific career on the hardwood that places her in elite company within a program known as one of the best in the NAIA. She currently ranks second in school history in career points (1,773), fifth in steals (250), sixth in assists (391) and 15th in rebounds (629), making her one of only two players in program history to appear in the top 20 in all four categories. The four-time all-GPAC selection powered the Bulldogs to a record of 123-21 in her four years – three under head coach Todd Voss and one under Micah Parker. Concordia reached the NAIA National Tournament all four years with semifinal appearances in 2003 and 2005, a quarterfinal finish in 2004 and a second round advancement in 2002. The 2002-03 team set a school record for wins with a 36-2 mark that included a perfect 16-0 league record and a GPAC regular-season title.
Keithley earned a multitude of individual honors throughout her career, including 2005 second team All-America, NAIA National All-Tournament (2004-05), GPAC Defensive Player of the Year (2004-05) and captain of the NAIA State College Basketball team (2005) as selected by the Omaha World-Herald, in addition to being placed on the all-GPAC squad all four years.
Kari graduated from Concordia with a degree in elementary education with physical education as a concentration. Her employment history includes Immanuel Lutheran School where she has been a third grade teacher, K-8 PE teacher and athletic director. She has also worked at Pikes Peak Christian School as a third grade teacher and girl’s varsity basketball coach. She currently lives in Omaha, Neb., with her husband Josh and their children, Avery, Aiden and Adler.
When prompted to describe how her relationship with Concordia has impacted her life, Kari wrote: “Concordia’s coaches pushed my abilities in ways I had never been pushed before. I became the athlete I was because of the dedication and drive my coaching staff (Micah Parker, Todd Voss, Angela Muller) provided.”
Under the direction of head coach Berniece Jones, Bulldog volleyball soared to great heights in 1981, finishing the campaign with a 35-8 mark. The 35 wins were 19 more than the previous year’s squad posted. Led by stars Susan (Hight) Rogers and Karen (Zobel) Hight, the Bulldogs won the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC) title with a 9-1 league mark. That gave Concordia its first ever volleyball conference championship. The Bulldogs clinched the league title with a 15-9, 15-9, 15-6 win over rival Hastings College on Nov. 2, 1981. Concordia went 7-1 in nonconference play and 19-6 in tournament and regional action.
Concordia advanced to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Region 6, Division III Volleyball Tournament, where they took third place. Jones and company fell to host Macalester College (Minn.) in the opening match of pool play, but then went on to win four-straight until a semifinal loss to St. Catherine College in the semifinals. Concordia completed the season with a 15-8, 15-11 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan in the third-place match, falling just short of reaching the national tournament.
Susan Hight and Karen Zobel (team captain) were named the team’s co-MVP’s following the season. Hight, a native of Orange, Calif., and Zobel, a Seward native, received first team all-NIAC honors while Joyce Dirks (Columbus, Neb.) and Ann Eggold (Milwaukee, Wis.) were placed on the second team. Keven Nienhueser (Alma, Mo.), then a freshman, was named as the team’s most improved player.
Zobel led the team in service aces with 70. Hight had 452 serves with only four errors. As a team, Concordia went error free on 96 percent of its serves. Dirks paced the Bulldogs with 269 kills followed by 240 from Eggold, who topped the team with 179 total blocks. Height and Janet Adkins combined for over 2,500 set assists with 99 percent accuracy.
Head coach: Berniece Jones
Assistant coach: Eunice Goldgrabe
Janet (Adkins) Johnson
Cindy (Balzum) Stoltmann
Tammy (Buggs) O’Laughlin
Joyce (Dirks) Bennett
Rebecca (Held) Fisher
Laura (Hoffman) Trautmann
Susan (Hight) Rogers
Sharon (Kahre) Frydendall
Joan (Miller) Murray
Keven (Nienhueser) Wrege
Pam (Pobursky) Brewer
Joann (Schimmel) Cutler
Bonnie (Stehlik) Wagner
Denise (Wehrman) Hennig
Deborah (Wolforth) Barroso
Denise (Wollenburg) Topp
Karen (Zobel) Hight
11 October 2013
In addition to inducting new members to the athletics hall of fame, Concordia University also honored 2012-13 senior athletes of the year, Katie Rich (left) and Colin Morrissey (right).