Five athletes will be inducted into the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame during the Homecoming Awards banquet on Friday, Oct. 10, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Nebraskan Student Union, according to Michelle Widger, UNK assistant director of Alumni Services.
The five honorees are Ivan Ivanov ’96 of Lincoln; Gene Lawhead ’60 of Denver, Colo.; Brian Nielsen ’93 of Omaha, Jennifer Warner Ramsey ’97 of Sidney; and Roger Wachholtz ’78. Wachholtz, who was originally from Plainview, will be honored posthumously.
Banquet tickets are $25 and are available now through the day of the event by contacting the UNK Alumni Office at 308.865.8474 or emailing email@example.com. The banquet reception begins at 6 p.m.
“We can take reservations up to the day of the event, and we will take walk-ins, but we prefer advance notice,” Widger said. “They can pay at the door if they need to.”
Ivan Ivanov was a six-time All-American for the Lopers from 1994 to 1996 after transferring from Butler Community College. In cross country, the Bulgaria native was sixth as a junior and fourth as a senior at the NCAA Division II National Championships. As a team, UNK finished fourth and eighth those two years. In outdoor track, Ivanov was the 1996 3,000-meter steeplechase national champion as a senior and runner-up in the same event as a junior in 1995. His steeplechase title was the first NCAA championship by a Loper athlete. UNK joined the NCAA in 1991. At the NCAA Indoor meet, Ivanov was fourth in the 5,000-meter run as a junior and seventh as a senior. He set a number of school records including the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000 along with the indoor 3,000 and 5,000. Ivanov is a physical education teacher with the Lincoln Public Schools. He and his wife, Lynette Taubenheim, whom he met while working in the cafeteria at UNK, have three children.
Gene Lawhead earned 11 letters in football, track and basketball during his career from 1956 to 1960. A quarterback in football, the Cozad athlete earned Nebraska College Conference honors twice and was a two-time Little All-American honorable mention. As a senior, he also was the leading punter for Coach Al Zikmund’s team. In the four years Lawhead played, the Lopers lost only three games. After his career at Kearney, Lawhead played three years with the Omaha Mustangs semi-professional team. All four years as a track athlete, Lawhead was the team’s top high jumper, setting the school record. He also competed in pole vault and the shot put. Finally, Lawhead was a three-year letter winner as a guard for the basketball team. Since college, Lawhead has been in sales. Most of his career was in the natural gas industry. He retired from the Chevron Corporation in 2002. He married Patsy Lou Schmidt in 1962, and they had two daughters. She died in 2000.
Jennifer Warner Ramsey was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference women’s basketball Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997, the two years she played for Coach Amy Stephens. During those two years, UNK compiled two of its best seasons amassing a 54-8 record. Warner Ramsey began her collegiate career at Iowa State where she was a two-year starter. Her junior year, UNK played a full schedule of league competition for the first time, went undefeated and swept through the conference tournament on its way to a 26-5 record and a spot in the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. At that regional tournament, the Lopers defeated Missouri-Rolla 83-60 before losing to the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Abilene Christian 71-58. The 5’9″ point guard, who graduated from St. Paul High School, averaged 13.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.9 steals. Her steals and assists were school records. In her senior year, UNK finished its best season ever (28-3), earned a No. 7 national ranking, won the RMAC for the second year and won a NCAA regional game over the University of Northern Colorado 82-76 in overtime. In a second round game, they lost to No. 1 ranked North Dakota State. Warner Ramsey averaged 10 points and four assists. She and her husband Clay live in Sidney with their three children. Jennifer is a teacher and coach.
When Brian Nielsen completed his four-year basketball career in 1993, he was chosen the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star Nebraska College Athlete of the Year. The 6’7″ center from Millard South started every game but one for the Lopers and was second in career scoring and third in career rebounding when he graduated. His 2,066 points trailed only Hall of Famer Loren Killion at the time, and his 926 rebounds were behind Hall of Fame members Paul Collison and Tom Kropp. He was also first in career blocks with 185. Among his other achievements on the court were top five career marks in scoring per game (18.4) and rebounds per game (8.23), field goals made (856) and field goal percentage (.555). He also played on the first UNK team (1990-91) that made the NCAA Division II Tournament. Nielsen, a certified public accountant in Omaha, works for Blackman & Associates.
Roger Wachholtz was a two-time NAIA All-American as a defensive lineman for Coach Claire Boroff. The 6-4, 270-pound Wachholtz earned second team honors as a junior in 1976. That team finished the year 9-1 and was ranked sixth nationally. Wachholtz was a first team selection as a senior in 1977 when the Lopers went 8-2-1 and lost in the second round of the NAIA national playoffs to Southwestern Oklahoma. In addition to his All-American honors, Wachholtz was a first team Nebraska College Conference selection as a junior and senior and first team Central States Intercollegiate Conference selection as a senior. Wachholtz died from exposure during a snow storm in northeastern Nebraska on Dec. 16, 2005.
The five will be honored at the Homecoming Awards banquet on Friday, Oct. 10. Tickets are $25 and are available by contacting the UNK Alumni Office at 308.865.8474 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.