Northwoods League: Former Olympians Tollefson, Rheingans to appear at Tuesday's Willmar Stingers game
WILLMAR -- Former Olympians and Minnesota natives Carrie Tollefson and Brad Rheingans will be the featured guests at the Willmar Stingers' Tuesday game against the Rochester Honkers as part of Olympics Night.
In honor of the 2012 London Olympic Games, the Bee Hive at Bill Taunton Stadium will be home to the Stingers Olympics, complete with opening and closing ceremonies, Olympic events, gold, silver and bronze medals and a host of Olympic-themed music and decorations.
The game Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Tollefson is a distance runner who competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meter run that year. A native of Dawson, Minn., Tollefson won her first Minnesota state cross country high school title as an eighth grader. She won four more, setting a state record for consecutive wins. By the time she left Dawson, Carrie had 13 Minnesota state high school titles in track and cross country to her name.
Tollefson's success continued at the collegiate ranks. At Villanova, she won the 1998 NCAA Cross Country individual title for the Wildcats before becoming the first woman to win titles at both the 3000-meter and 5000-meter runs at the same NCAA Outdoor Championship. In total, Tollefson claimed five NCAA Championships during her time at Villanova. Later in her career, Tollefson claimed national titles in the U.S. Indoor 3000 meter and the U.S. Four-Kilometer Cross Country Championship in 2006. Tollefson now resides in St. Paul and had a daughter, Ruby Anne Peterson, along with her husband Charlie Peterson in April 2010.
Rheingans was an NCAA champion wrestler in 1975 for North Dakota State before taking fourth place in the 220-pound weight class at the 1976 Olympics. Under today's Olympic scoring system, Rheingans would have qualified for the gold-medal match. A native of Appleton, Minn., Rheingans also qualified for the Olympic team in 1980 but did not compete due to the United States boycott. In 1984, he served as an assistant coach at the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles.
Rheingans received NCAA All-American honors in 1975 and was a two-time U.S. Senior Greco-Roman Champion in his career. He entered the professional ranks of wrestling in 1983. Billed as "The Olympians," Rheingans combined with former Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera in 1984 to win the AWA tag-team championship. In addition to coaching amateur wrestlers throughout his career, Rheingans also trained numerous professional wrestlers, including Justin Bradshaw and "Vader" Leon White. Rheingans' school appeared on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" in 2003. He was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004.