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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • St. James Hall of Fame inductees named

  • The first class of the St. James Sports Hall of Fame has been announced by the committee appointed earlier this year to review candidates and selected the first 10 members of the Hall of Fame.
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  • The first class of the St. James Sports Hall of Fame has been announced by the committee appointed earlier this year to review candidates and selected the first 10 members of the Hall of Fame.
    To be considered for the Hall, the athletes career had to have ended at least 15 years ago. Coaches and other individuals could be active in the local sports scene.
    Two former St. James High School coaches are charter members of the Hall. Arnold 'Judge' Veglahn and Paul Krueger are the first coaches selected.
    Both men had long coaching careers at St. James and both men were instrumental in the incredible sports year of 1972. That was the year the basketball team Coached by Veglahn and the wrestling team coached by Krueger won their respective state championships.
    Jeff Nessler, a member of the 1972 basketball team is now a member of the St. James Hall of Fame. Nessler had a great basketball career. In the 1972 State Championship Tournament, Nessler made what is arguably the greatest basketball shot in St. James basketball history.
    We reported on that shot last year on the 40th anniversary of the event, "St. James and Melrose were tied at 55 as time wound down on their Class A state championship game as Saints' guard Jeff Nessler pushed the ball up court.
    "He let fly from half court and the buzzer quickly sounded. It was a full second later before the ball hit the floor, but first passing through the hoop along its way, touching nothing but net. As a result, St. James became the Class A champion.
    "The Saints also won the "overall state title" two nights later, beating Class AA champion Mounds View 60-52."
    It is considered one of the top plays in Minnesota State Basketball Tournament history.
    Two women are original inductees. Sandy Fredrikson Flohrs of the class of 1983 and Emily Anderson Birkholz from the class of 1998 are going into the Hall.
    Saints baseball coach and a member of the selection committee Jon Wilson called Sandy, a talented volleyball player, and said she was the first dominant female athlete St. James had. Emily is the most recent athlete selected for the first class.
    A couple of 'old school' football players are the oldest members selected for the Hall. Gerald Kintzi and Norm Anderson were members of the class of 1954 and team members of the 1953 St. James state championship football team. This was in the days long before there were playoffs. St. James was ranked number one in the state. There was just one poll, it was for all schools.
    Two members of the class of 1961 are also going into the Hall. Steve Strommen is believed to be perhaps the only St. James athlete who lettered in five sports. Al Firchau was the first St. James wrestler to win a state championship.
    Page 2 of 2 - The last member of the first class was not a player or a coach at St. James. Bill Nordgren, the legendary, longtime sports reporter for the Plaindealer is going into the Hall.
    Plaques commentating the inductees will ultimately be on display in the red hall of St. James High.
    The official induction ceremony will be during homecoming weekend when the Saints play New Ulm on Sept. 27. There will be a banquet on Sept. 28 at the VFW. Tickets will be $15, with a social hour at 5 pm and the dinner at 6 pm. All are invited to attend.

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