Two former area athletes who went on to become college football teammates at the University of Minnesota and later became successful high school coaches, along with a former standout prep athlete who went on to a highly successful collegiate basketball career, have been inducted into the West Central Tribune Sports Hall of Fame.
Atwater native Deryl Ramey, Appleton native Stan Skjei and Morris native Becky (Moen) Behrens were all voted into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. They will join the previous 21 inductees since the Hall of Fame began in 1999.
With 24 of the 26 ballots returned, finalists needed at least 96 points to be enshrined. Ramey was the top vote-getter with 131 points, including five first-place votes. Skjei was second with 125 points and had the most first-place votes with six. Moen, who narrowly missed being inducted two years ago, finished with 97.5 points and also had five first-place votes.
The other finalists were Tracy Grussing (60 points, three first-place votes), Norm Sixta (50, 2), Rick Meyer (45.5, 1), Tom Beyer (42, 1), Cindy Haugejorde (34, 1), Jon Lilleberg (22) and Jeff Gallagher (19).
After an outstanding prep career at Atwater, graduating in 1962, Ramey played football for the Gophers as a punter, center and linebacker. He coached high school football at Atwater for four years, Sauk Centre for two years and Willmar for 19 years. Willmar won six conference titles under him. Ramey finished his prep coaching career with a 163-98-4 record. He was also the boys and girls track coach at Willmar for 26 years and served as an assistant girls basketball coach for many years.
Ramey also coached football at UM-Crookston junior college for four years, winning three state championships, including a perfect 9-0 mark in 1973. He also served as the University of North Dakota defensive coordinator for one season.
Ramey was inducted into the Minnesota State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
"I'm privileged," said Ramey when informed of his induction Monday night. "It's really an honor to have my name beside the others. I'm humbled."
Ramey is still a volunteer assistant football coach in Brainerd. He and his wife, Nancy, reside in Baxter, near Brainerd.
Skjei won the Tribune's first Hengstler Award (now Hengstler-Ranweiler Award) in 1961 for Appleton. The four-sport athlete earned 13 letters, including four in football. He was All-State in both football and basketball.
After playing three seasons with the Gophers as a punter and cornerback, Skjei went on to coach high school football at Bloomington Jefferson for 13 seasons. His quarterback at one time was Lane Kiffin, currently the head football coach at USC. His 1994 team reached the Class AAA (then a three-class tournament) state semifinals and he was named the Metro Coach of the Year. Skjei also coached girls basketball for three seasons at Jefferson.
"To be going in with Deryl is very special," said Skjei, by telephone in Fort Myers, Fla., where he and his wife, Judy, live in the winter. "We were best friends in college. I still see him and talk to him a lot. Growing up in west central Minnesota, the people were very special. And being selected for this ... well, it's a great feeling. What a great honor."
Skjei, who also coached one year for a professional football team in Italty, was named to the Minnesota State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005, as well as the Bloomington Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Bloomington Jefferson Hall of Fame in 2002. He and his wife work for Edina Realty and reside in Lakeville.
Behrens won the Hengstler-Ranweiler Award in 1999 and was also the KSAX-TV Female Athlete of the Year, earning 13 letters in basketball, volleyball and track. She was a three-time All-Area selection in basketball and finished her prep career with 1,748 points, the seventh most all-time in the area. She also led Morris to a third-place finish in the state tournament her senior year after scoring 35 points in a semifinal loss to Blake.
In track, Behrens still holds the school record in the high jump and made four state appearances in her career, finishing third in the high jump her senior year.
She was also a standout in volleyball, having been named first team All-Area as a hitter her senior year when she was also named the Most Valuable Player in the West Central South Conference. She finished her career with 738 kills.
"This is definitely an honor," said Behrens by telephone on Monday night. I had some fabulous experiences in high school and college and this really is a special way to remember them."
Behrens excelled at basketball in college with the University of North Dakota. She was named to the all-tournament team after leading UND to an NCAA Division II national runner-up finish her sophomore year. She led the Northern Collegiate Conference twice in scoring, was a two-time Most Valuable Player in the NCC, was the MVP of the NCC tournament three times and was All-American twice. She owns the single-season scoring record at UND with 657 points and is third all-time in scoring with 1,762 points.
She was selected as the North Dakota Woman Athlete of the Year in 2003.
Behrens and her husband, Kyle, have one son and another due in two months. She is currently a physical therapist in Menomonie, Wis.