KEARNEY – Three former student-athletes will be inducted into the University of Nebraska at Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies on homecoming weekend Sept. 14-15.
The 2018 Hall of Fame members are football player Matt Bruggeman, class of 1996; men’s track athlete Lance Pfeiffer, class of 2006 and class of 2008; and women’s cross country/track athlete Paula (West) Mayfield, class of 1991.
The group will be honored at the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet Sept. 14 in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and a program at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person ($40 after Sept. 5) and reservations can be made on the UNK Alumni Association website www.unkalumni.org/homecoming
On Sept. 15, the class will be recognized at halftime of the homecoming football game vs Emporia State. That contest kicks off at 2 p.m.
Matt Bruggeman is one of the top defensive linemen in Loper history, earning All-American honors in 1995 from two different outlets. To date, he is one of just nine UNK players to be named to the Sports Information Directors (S.I.D.) All-American team and is one of only three d-linemen to be tabbed an NCAA Division II All-American.
The Wayne High School graduate was UNK’s first Division II football All-American as he was a first-team pick by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette and a second-team S.I.D. selection. During a four-year career he racked up 208 tackles, including 39 for lost yardage. Since tackles became an official statistic at UNK in 1990, Bruggeman’s career tackle total currently ranks 14th among all players and third among interior linemen and defensive ends.
Bruggeman amassed 19 tackles for loss, including nine quarterback sacks in his senior year. Both were school records with the sack mark standing for the next 13 seasons. He also led UNK in tackles that fall with 72 while forcing two fumbles and recovering one.
During Bruggeman’s tenure the Lopers were a Division II independent before joining the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) in 1995. He helped UNK win 24 games, including efforts of eight (1994) and seven (1992) victories, respectively. As a senior, Bruggeman was one of two Lopers named first-team All-RMAC. He also was named to the S.I.D. All-Region team.
Graduating with a Physical Education/Health K-12 degree, Bruggeman was the head wrestling coach at Gretna High School for over 20 years. He led the Dragons to numerous conference and state awards, including the 2017 Class B State Dual Championship. For his efforts, he was a three-time NSWCA (Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association) Coach of the Year.
A longtime teacher in the Gretna school system, Bruggeman currently is an assistant principal at Aspen Creek Middle School in Omaha. He resides in Gretna with his wife, Ronda, and has three children; Braxton Bruggeman, Keegan Towey and Tristan Towey.
Lance Pfeiffer is one of the most decorated throwers in UNK history. Between 2003-07, the Eustis-Farnam High School graduate won two national titles in the shot put, was ta-bed All-American five times, won four individual Rocky Mountain Athletic (RMAC) shot titles and was the first Loper to reach the 60-foot mark.
In 2003 Pfeiffer was named the RMAC Freshman of the Year as he was the indoor champ in the shot while placing seventh in the event at nationals. He then was a 2004 national indoor and qualifier in the shot before redshirting in 2005.
Pfeiffer had a banner junior season as he was the NCAA outdoor national champ in the shot thanks to a career-best toss of 60-6. That was the school record at the time and currently ranks second in Loper lore. A few months earlier, Pfeiffer was national runner-up in the shot at the national indoor meet. He was the RMAC indoor and outdoor champ in the event as well while also being a U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Academic All-American. Finally, Pfeiffer was named the 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Athlete of the Year.
As a senior, Pfeiffer set a then-school record in the indoor shot (61-2.75). He won the national title in the event that March after repeating as RMAC champion. In the spring Pfeiffer was national runner up to conclude his career.
Pfeiffer holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNK in Business Administration. He currently lives in Windsor, Colorado, with his wife, Heidi, and children, Gage and Reid. Since 2008 he has been an Orthopedic Trauma Sales Consultant for DePuySynthes.
PAULA (WEST) MAYFIELD
Paula (West) Mayfield is one of the most accomplished distance runners in school history. She is one of six Loper women to earn at least five track All-American honors in a career, recording each at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) level. She also is one of seven women, either at the NAIA or Division II levels, to earn cross country All-American honors.
Mayfield currently ranks in the UNK all-time top 10 in three indoor and three outdoor track events. Her 35:55.7 is still the Loper 10,000-meter standard while her 10:56.79 is the second fastest two-mile time.
The six-time track All-American placed sixth in the 10,000-meter run at the 1988 NAIA outdoor championships after helping the two-mile relay team come in third at the 1987 indoor meet. The Shelton High School graduate then earned four All-American honors in 1989, placing third in both the two and three mile runs and helping the distance medley relay team finish fourth. Her efforts helped then-Kearney State finish fourth in the indoor team race with 40 points. Finally, she was fourth in the 10,000 in the spring of 1989.
In 1987, Mayfield placed 20th at the national cross country championships. Teammate Donna Spickelmier was 22nd, helping the Lopers place 17th in the team race.
Graduating with a degree in Physical Education and Health, Mayfield currently serves as mortgage & consumer lender for the Bank of Doniphan. She previously spent eight years at First National Bank as a residential lending originator and worked 16 years in Mortgage Originating. Mayfield lives in Grand Island and has three children; Kelsey, Dylan and Taryn Mayfield. She is engaged to Les Stelk.
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