2017 Homecoming Features Hall of Fame Inductions

Published: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In addition to the traditional bed races, parade, dorm competition and athletic events, two championship teams and the longtime director of the college’s intramural program were inducted into the Benedictine College Athletic Hall of Fame during Homecoming Weekend. The late Thad Nowak Sr., former chair of the Physical Education Department and director of intramurals; the 1967 national champion men’s basketball team, and the 1992 Heart of America Athletic Conference champion football team entered the the Hall on Saturday, October 21, 2017.

  

Thad Nowak in the 1950sThad Nowak Sr., known as ‘The Commissioner’ by his students, was an indispensable leader for St. Benedict’s College, now Benedictine College, chairing the Physical Education Department and becoming the first full-time director of the intramural program. Born in the suburbs of Chicago in 1921, Nowak quickly developed a passion for sports, playing both varsity basketball and football in high school and college. After taking a three-year hiatus while serving in the Navy, Nowak returned home to receive his Bachelor’s in Physical Education from St. Joseph’s College in Rensellaer, Indiana, and then moved on to receive his Master’s in Physical Education from Indiana University.

 

He came to St. Benedict’s in 1950 and headed up the new Physical Education Department. A proponent of exercise for both physical and mental health, he encouraged all students to participate in a sport, either varsity or intramural. He grew the intramural program to more than 20 sports and served as its first full-time director. His reputation at the college and the success of the program became a model for other colleges. After nearly four decades of service to the college, he retired in 1986. He passed away in 1993.

 

The award was accepted by Thad's children, Thad Nowak Jr., Ray Nowak, Carol Gainey and Barbara Wallace.

 

67 Team in ActionGuided by legendary head coach Ralph Nolan, the 1967 men’s basketball team won the school’s second NAIA Basketball Championship on March 18, 1967. Senior co-captains Jack Dugan and Don Schuering led the team. In addition to Schuering, the other starters were Vince DeGreeff, Darryl Jones, Ray Weber and Bill Wewers, with DeGreeff and Jones named All-Americans. The rest of the team consisted of Dugan, Joe Brickner, Greg Glore, Steve Northcraft and Mike Tharp. The team ended the year with a 27-2 record, which included a winning streak of 19 games in a row.

 

As for the championship, the five-day tournament began with victories against Linfield, Southern Arkansas State, St. Mary’s of Texas and Morris Harvey and ended with a thrilling game against third-seeded Oklahoma Baptist Bisons that drew a crowd of over 10,000. In that final game, the Ravens faced the Oklahoma Baptist’s star Al Tucker, who had carried his team to the championship for the third straight year. The Ravens won that game, with both Jones and Wewers scoring over 20 points and DeGreeff adding 12 to clinch the NAIA National Basketball Championship.

 

Teammates Darryl Jones '68 and Mike Tharp '67 accepted the award on behalf of the team.

 

92 Team Celebrates Victory over BakerComing off a solid campaign and a Steamboat Bowl victory in the previous year, the 1992 Raven football squad was loaded with talent and confidence. However, the season brought the team a fresh set of opponents as they entered the new Heart of America Athletic Conference. Senior quarterback and co-captain Chris Tabor led the team to a 9-1 regular season finish, landing them at #10 in the national polls.

 

Running backs Don Brown and Steve Torline powered the no-huddle offense that rolled into the national playoffs, hosting two post-season games at home in Atchison. A smothering defense led by senior linebacker and co-captain Greg Bower help carry the team past Hastings College in the first round, sending them to the national quarterfinals against Baker University. The Ravens took full advantage of the chance to avenge their only regular-season loss and they beat Baker in what was described as the most exciting game in Benedictine’s history. The national semi-final game pitted the Ravens against the University of Findlay, from Ohio. With the Ravens trailing 24-27 with only seconds left, the game and the team’s national championship run ended as a 47-yard field goal try bounced off the upright. Despite the loss, it is still the farthest any Benedictine football team has ever gone in the national playoffs.

 

Team captains Greg Bower '93, Dave Sellinger '94, Chris Tabor '93 and Steve Torline '93 rallied the group once again for their 25th anniversary. Together, all the teammates raised more than $35,000 to establish the 1992 Raven Football Team Fund, the first of its kind created by an alumni team. The new fund will serve as a vital source of revenue for funding scholarships, recruitment, travel and equipment. They presented a check to Head Coach Larry Wilcox at the Hall of Fame Banquet.

 

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.