Fans of Cambridge-Isanti High School athletics are invited to take part in a celebration of the school’s proud history as the Bluejacket Hall of Fame honors two sets of athletes this Sunday, Aug. 22.
Six individuals and one team were selected for induction as part of the Class of 2020, only to see that event postponed by COVID-19. But they will be honored, along with the seven individuals in the Class of 2021, at Cambridge Lutheran Church, starting with a social hour at 5 p.m., a banquet starting at 6 p.m. and an induction ceremony scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Tickets still are available for the event at a cost of $30. They can be purchased online at https://bit.ly/3iPHJVG.
Here is a look at the inductees chosen for 2020.
Hammergren served as a student manager for the football, basketball and baseball teams before graduating in 1974, but was better known for the 35 years he served as a teacher and coach at Cambridge-Isanti. Hammergren, who spent 35 years teaching at the school starting in 1978, served one season as the varsity golf coach and numerous years coaching teams at the seventh- through 10th-grade level in a variety of sports while also directing summer T-ball for 28 years and Legion baseball for 25 years.
Lillemoen was a three-sport athlete best known for her ability as a pitcher on the softball team. As a senior she had a 0.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts and was named all-league as both a senior and a sophomore. Lillemoen also won three letters in volleyball, including all-conference honors as a senior, and three letters in basketball, where she was a team captain as a senior and graduated in 1989.
Jenny (Aronson) Loew
Loew ran for the varsity track team for four years and captured the 2005 Class 2A state title in the long jump with a best leap of 17-10 ¼, winning the event by a half inch. Loew, who just missed advancing to the finals in the 100 at that meet, also lettered in soccer for three years. She continued her track career at Wisconsin-River Falls, earning All-American honors in 2009 and 2010.
Nelson lettered in football and golf at Cambridge-Isanti, but he shined brightest on the wrestling mat. He competed in the state tournament four times and finished in the top three on three different occasions, including winning the state title as a senior in 2009. Nelson then wrestled at the University of Minnesota and was a four-time All-American while winning two NCAA titles and three Big Ten titles as a heavyweight.
O’Neil was a multi-sport athlete who played football, basketball and baseball at Cambridge-Isanti, but it was on the gridiron where he made the biggest mark. O’Neil earned all-state honors in football as a senior in 1996, then played collegiately at North Dakota, where his stout play on defense helped the Fighting Sioux win the NCAA Division II national title in 2001.
Porta is Cambridge-Isanti’s all-time leader in rushing yards (3,742) and all-purpose yards (5,083). As a senior he led the Bluejackets to the 2000 state title and was selected first team all-state. He also earned three letters in track, earning section honors in the 300 hurdles. Porta played football collegiately at Bethel, where he was a three-time All-American and is the MIAC’s career leader in rushing yards in conference games with 4,400.
2000 football team
The 2000 Bluejacket football team won the third state title in school history. They finished with an 11-3 record after dispatching Princeton 21-7 in the section championship, then winning the Class 4A state title with a 24-14 victory over St. Thomas Academy.
And here is a look at the inductees chosen for 2021.
Anderson accepted the position of band instructor at Isanti Middle School in 1979, starting a long career with the school system that included serving as high school marching band and jazz ensemble from 1983 until his retirement from the school in 2008. Anderson is a past president of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and received the Leadership in Educational Excellence award in 2000.
In 1948 Foley was hired to teach as well as coach football and track at Cambridge High School. As head football coach, he posted a 64-22-10 record in 13 seasons as his teams won four conference titles; the 1952 team was undefeated and ranked ninth in the state. Foley eventually served as athletics director at the school and also started, as well as taught, the driver’s ed program at Cambridge for 19 years.
Koczur became a teacher at Cambridge-Isanti in 1974 and coached a variety of teams at different levels. He served as a football assistant from 1974-99 and a basketball assistant from 1975-02. Koczur was an assistant coach for state championship football teams in 1986 and ’87 and was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Minnesota State High School Basketball Coaches Association in 2002.
Matson earned a total of 11 varsity letters in three different sports at Cambridge-Isanti, lettering four times in both basketball and softball while earning three volleyball letters. She was named all-conference six times, including three times in softball (1982-84), twice in basketball (1983-84) and once in volleyball (1984). Mattson played basketball and softball at Augustana College, leading the Vikings to the NCAA Division II softball regional tournament in 1986 and ’88.
In 1987 McDonald was hired as a teacher and head basketball coach at Cambridge-Isanti, and in the years since he has led the Bluejackets to four section titles and six league crowns. McDonald, who was named Section Coach of the Year five times, has claimed nearly 500 wins at C-I, Askov High School and Lyman High School in South Dakota. He also has served as an assistant coach for the track team.
Miller was a two-year starter at quarterback, where he led the Bluejackets to a 24-2 record and a pair of league and section titles. He also earned five letters in golf, where he was an all-league choice as a senior, and played two seasons of basketball, again earning an all-league nod as a senior. Miller also participated in the CIHS Jazz Band and earned the schools’ Academics, Arts and Athletics award.
Smrekar played on the state championship football teams of 1986 and ’87 and earned all-conference honors as a senior while also setting the single-season school record for home runs and RBIs on the baseball diamond as a senior. Smrekar returned to the school as a coach and teacher, spending 21 seasons leading the baseball program to more than 200 victories and a league title in 2008 while also serving as a varsity assistant football coach.