KEARNEY – Five former athletes will be inducted into the University of Nebraska at Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame during Homecoming ceremonies Sept. 19-20.
The 2014 Hall of Fame members are: Kenya Crandell, class of 1996; Cindy Cohn, class of 1997; Beth Swift Dye, class of 2003; Frank Kuchera, class of 2003; and Mike Smith, class of 1998.
The group will be honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union. Tickets are $ 30 per person and can be obtained by contacting Brette Ensz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2014 inductee class will also be recognized at halftime of the Sept. 20 homecoming game versus Missouri Southern State. That contest kicks off at 3 p.m.
Kenya Crandell was a basketball player who finished his career No. 1 in career assists with 525, which is still a school record. When he graduated, he also had scored 1,119 points, among the Top 10 at the time and currently 28th.
His leadership as point guard was instrumental in the success of teams that compiled records of 20-6, 18-9, 19-8 and 24-9. A member of several Loper teams that were playing as an Division II independent, he was an All-RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) selection in 1996.
Crandell, now an assistant coach at Montana State University, earned a master’s degree from UNK in 1999. He previously was an assistant at UNK, Nebraska-Omaha, Southern Utah, Sacramento State and Oregon.
Crandell is a graduate of Omaha Benson High School.
Cindy Cohn was a softball pitcher who was the RMAC’s 1995 Co-Player of the Year. A first-team All-RMAC selection in 1995 and 1996, she still holds school records for games started (96) and complete games (79), while ranking second in shutouts (20), third in wins (75) and innings (668.2), and fifth in strikeouts (376) and ERA (1.38).
A team highlight was the Lopers’ fourth-place NCAA finish in the1996 national tournament. Following her career at UNK, Cohn pitched professionally with the Durham (N.C.) Dragons, where she was MVP of the league’s All-Star game. She also was a coach at Colorado Mesa.
Cohn is a police officer in Grand Junction, Colo. She is a graduate of North Platte High School.
Beth Swift-Dye was a starting guard for three years from 1999 to 2002. She lettered four years in basketball and twice in tennis.
She was RMAC Co-Player of the Year in 2001 and Player of the Year in 2002. She was all-region three times on teams that compiled records of 24-6, 27-3 and 23-7. In 2002, she was second team All-American by the Division II Bulletin and an honorable mention choice by WBCA.
She set the UNK career record for three pointers (247), which still stands, and currently is 11th on the all-time scoring list with 1,414 points. Graduating with eight UNK records, she currently ranks first in career three-point percentage (44.3), is second in free throw percentage (87.7), fifth in assists (327) and seventh in steals (182).
On the tennis courts, she was an All-RMAC selection in 2002. Since graduating, she has been a teacher and coach at Marian High School in Omaha.
Swift-Dye is a graduate of Le Mars (Iowa) Community High School.
Frank Kuchera was a two-time All-American wrestler. He finished fifth in 2002 and became UNK’s second national champion in 2003 when he captured the 174-pound class.
During his four-year career, he posted records of 17-16, 29-14, 30-5 and 37-6. His 37 victories in 2003 were the most in UNK history at the time.
He was a member of two RMAC Champion teams and a NCAA national runner-up team in 2003. That 2003 team also captured the National Duals title. He also was UNK’s second wrestler to be inducted into the NCAA D2 Hall of Fame in 2011.
Off the mat, Kuchera was a three-time member of the Wrestling Coaches Association All-Scholar team. Kuchera is a sales associate for Zimmer Orthopaedics in Kearney.
Kuchera is a graduate of Kearney High School.
Mike Smith was an all-purpose football player from 1995 to 1998.
When he graduated, he established a number of UNK records. He was first in career receiving yards (2,975), career TD receptions (25), career receptions (195) and career kick return yardage (2,255), while finishing second in career punt return yardage (932). His seven kick returns for scores set a new Division II record as well.
Smith was a first-team NCAA All-American as a kick returner in 1997 and a second-team pick in 1996. He was second-team AP Little All-American in 1996 and second-team Daktronics All-American as an all-purpose back. He was first team all-conference twice.
He currently is senior consultant and Grand Island branch manager for B2 Environmental Inc.
Smith is a graduate of Kearney High School.
Writer: Peter Yazvac, UNK Sports Information Director, 308-865-8334