MSU-Northern Alumni Association
Cowan Hall 307
Northern Montana College has a tradition of excellence in the classroom and on the playing field -- a tradition that goes back to the very beginning of the school and that has continued throughout our 65 year history. February 19 the Northern Montana College Alumni Association recognized students and coaches who built that tradition by inducting eight outstanding individuals into the Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame.
Honorees in this inaugural group included retired coach R.W. "Sandy" Sandven, football star Bob Lanning, four members of the 1960's era swim team: Bill ever, Chad Chadwick, Max Erickson and Marcia Keller Carillo; and basketball standouts John Kuhr and Dr. Richard Ruetten.
Coach R.W. "Sandy" Sandven coached basketball, baseball, golf and tennis at NMC and was Athletic Director from 1937 to 1948. At that time, the College was a two-year school and his teams shared the gym facilities at Havre High School. He guided the Northern Lights to the College's first state basketball championship in 1938 and his baseball and golf teams also won conference championships. Coach Sandven was not able attend the awards presentation, but he wrote to say: "NMC was my first college teaching job and it was a memorable learning experience in a perfect setting of excellent faculty, great administration and the finest and best possible student body. I am indeed honored to be inducted as a coach into your Athletic Hall of Fame. This pleasure is added to the whole Montana experience which was and still is a wonderful and cherished part of my life. You have made an 88-year-old man very happy." His good friend Don Vaupel accepted the award on his behalf.
Bob Lanning is one of only two NMC football players selected for the professional ranks and in 1968 was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won nine letters at Big Sandy High School in football, track and basketball, played on a state champion hoop team and was named all-state forward. He lettered four years in football at NMC and made the All-Conference team three times. He also lettered in basketball. Bob began his coaching and teaching career at Big Sandy and was named head basketball coach at Havre High School in 1979, leading the Blue Ponies to three divisional titles, a third place and two fourth place state finishes, and this year -- days after the award presentation -- the schools first state championship in over 50 years. A three-time Coach of the Year nominee in boy's basketball and girl's track, Lanning has served the Montana Coach's Association as Vice President and President. Bob and the Ponies were in Butte the evening of the award presentation working on their divisional title. Rusty Danreuther, an alumnus of Bob's basketball program, accepted the award for Bob.
While a member of the NMC swim team, Bill Sever was nationally recognized for setting new records in swimming in addition to setting pool, college and AAU records. Sever won the 200 individual medley and 200 freestyle competition at the National NAIA meet and was named first team All-American in 1966. He set records in the 500-yard free-style and the 200-yard breaststroke. An all-around athlete, he was also a member of the NMC football team. Sever returned to his home town and went to work for the City of Butte and later joined the Butte Police Department, a profession he has pursued for over 20 years.
Chad Chadwick also set new records at every level in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events. He placed sixth in the 100-yard and tenth in the 200 yard freestyle events at the NAIA national competition in the Spring of 1966. Chad received the Little Sullivan award as the outstanding male athlete in Montana in 1966. After graduating from NMC in 1970, Chadwick co-owned a mountaineer school in Red Lodge, Montana. He still climbs rock and ice and competed in triathlons until his 40th birthday. He lives in his hometown of Billings, and specializes in oil refinery maintenance.
Max Erickson came to NMC from Great Falls with an impressive record and during his three years with the NMC swim team set a variety of records in breast stroke competition. Max competed in NAIA national events in 1967 and placed seventh in the 200-yard breast stroke and tenth in the 100-yard backstroke. He competed in the NAIA nationals in Buffalo, New York, and again in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Erickson went on to coach both high school and age group swimming and led both girls and boys high school swim teams to state championships. He currently holds the title of Vice President with a local investment firm.
An outstanding age-group swimmer who began AAU competition at age 14, Marcia Keller Carillo was the first woman to compete in varsity sports at NMC and was the first and only woman on the NMC swim team in 1964. She was chosen for a special award by the AAU swim committee as the outstanding senior girls swimmer in Montana and was selected to be a member of the Montana All-Star team competing in three successive international meets. She held eight state records in freestyle and individual medley events. She competed successfully, was awarded a varsity letter and made a member of the "M" Club in 1965. A letter of support for Marcia's nomination called her "one of the true pioneers in women's athletics."
From 1950 to 1952 the Northern Lights were led by center John Kuhr, a Havre High School graduate. Freshman class president and an Honor student, Kuhr was the leading scorer with 546 points in 33 games for a 16.5 per game average. The Lights finished second in the conference with a 23-10 record and placed fourth at the Regional Junior College Tournament at Ogden Utah. The leading tourney scorer, Kuhr was named MVP and received a basketball scholarship to the University of Utah, where he lettered two years. In a letter of support for John's nomination, his former NMC coach Ole Larson stated: "this talented team had a love affair with basketball which was out of the ordinary. John and others would come to our house on Saturday morning, Sunday afternoon and during holidays to practice. Their enthusiasm carried over into games and was the real reason for a successful winning season." John earned his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan and is presently an attorney in Havre, well known for his voluntary service in the public sector.
Dr. Richard Ruetten was the leading player for the Northern Lights basketball team during the 1948-49 season with 347 points, 114 field goals, and 119 free throws averaging 18.3 points per game as the Light's post man. Although an outstanding athlete at NMC, he is probably better known throughout the country as an eminent historian. After leaving NMC, Richard went on to earn a Ph.D. in history and taught at San Diego State University for 30 years before retiring as professor emeritus in 199 1. He received a prestigious Truman Research Associate appointment which led to Quest and Response: Minority Rights and the Truman Administration (1973), a Pulitzer nominated book he co-authored with Donald R. McCoy. University of Montana history professor Robert Lindsay wrote to say "Dick arrived at the University of Oregon to begin his graduate education with what many of his fellow graduate students and some faculty members viewed as weak academic credentials. Part of his undergraduate work included courses taken at an unknown junior college... NMC. They soon changed their minds. By the time Dick received his Ph.D. he was recognized by students and faculty as being one of the future stars in his profession."