Two Harbors Athletic Hall of Fame: Class of 2011Meet the newest members of the Two Harbors High School Athletic Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are John Vinje (Class of 1966), Dave Battaglia and Dan Battaglia (1971), Stephanie Himango (1988), and Heidi (Goedel) Puchner (1988). On this page are biographies of each inductee.
John Vinje, Class of 1966
John was an outstanding high school athlete who earned 11 varsity letters as an Agate. This included four letters in football, four in basketball, two in baseball and one in track.
In his junior year, he was an All-Big Ten Basketball Conference honorable mention, and, as a senior, was named to the conference’s first team offense, All-Big Ten Basketball second five, and All-Tri-State Basketball second team.
He was also named a Duluth Hoop Club “Outstanding Player” his senior season and was named the most valuable player on the 1965-66 Agates basketball team.
John attended St. Cloud State University and lettered four years in football.
In 1971, he received a degree in physical, health, and driver education at St. Cloud. He earned a masters in education at St. Mary’s University in 1998.
John had a very successful 34-year career in teaching and coaching, starting at McGregor High School in 1971. He was head basketball and track coach for the Mercs for four years. During that time his basketball team won two Polar League titles.
In 1975-76, John taught and coached in Northfield.
From 1976 to his retirement in 2004, he was a teacher and coach in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.
From 1976 to 1984, he was head boys basketball coach with a record of 148 wins and 98 losses. His teams won four conference titles, one district title and one district runner-up title.
His head coaching duties also included six years with the track team and 13 years as the boys golf coach.
He also served as an assistant basketball coach at St. John’s University for six years.
John was well respected by his teaching and coaching peers. In 2002, he received a Teacher of Excellence Award. He was President of the Minnesota Golf Coaches Association in 2001 and was inducted into the association’s hall of fame in 2009.
John and his wife, Kay, have four children and reside in St. Cloud. They spend winters in Mesa, Ariz.
Dan Battaglia, Class of 1971
Dan was a three-sport star and outstanding student while at Two Harbors High School. He earned letters in football, basketball, and baseball while being a member of the National Honor Society.
As a member of the Agates football team, Dan earned All-Conference honors in 1970 and was part of the 1970 Seaway Conference championship team that defeated Polar League champ Esko in the postseason. There were no statewide playoffs back then.
The 1970-71 season was a big year for the Agates basketball team as it qualified for the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament for only the second time in school history. Dan was a starter on the 21-3 Agates that won the District 26 and Region 7 championships in route to the state berth. The team lost in the first round of state to eventual champion Melrose but rebounded to win the consolation crown.
Along the way Dan was recognized as a member of the Taconite Tourney and District 26 All-Tournament teams.
In the spring Dan turned to baseball, a sport in which he earned four varsity letters.
After high school Dan enrolled at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he played two years of basketball and three years of football, earning letters in 1973, 1974, and 1975. The 1973 Bulldogs were MIAC champions. Dan earned a degree in education in 1976 and a masters in 1981 at UMD.
This past school year Dan completed his 34th year in education as a teacher and coach at East Central High School near Sandstone. Dan has coached football all of his 34 years there with 13 as head coach, compiling an 84-41 record which includes two conference championships and a 2009 appearance in the state tournament. Dan has guided East Central to seven section final appearances.
He has also been assistant boys basketball coach (22 years), head boys basketball coach (five years), assistant girls basketball coach (four years) and head girls basketball coach (two years).
Dan and his wife, Laurie, reside in Askov, where they have raised four children.
Dave Battaglia, Class of 1971
Dave was an outstanding student and multi-sport athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and baseball in his years at Two Harbors High School.
In football he played a key role in a 1970 Seaway Conference championship and playoff win over Polar League champ Esko. As a result, Dave was recognized on the Seaway All-Conference team.
In basketball he was named All-District 26 and a WCCO Player of the Week. He helped to guide the Agates to a 21-3 record and a berth in the 1971 Minnesota State Basketball Tournament, the second appearance in school history.
As a baseball player Dave was a three-year starter and team captain in 1971.
Following graduation, Dave enrolled at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where his athletic career continued. He played basketball for two years, lettering in 1972-73; and football, where he lettered in 1973, 1974, and 1975. He received All-Conference honorable mention in 1973 and 1975 and was part of the 1973 MIAC championship team.
Dave received a degree in 1976 and masters in 1981 from UMD and an administrative degree in 1998 at St. Cloud State.
During his distinguished 34-year career in education, serving the communities of Carlton and Cloquet, Dave has been a classroom teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, and was recently elected to the school board in Cloquet.
Dave has also coached: football in Cloquet and Carlton, boys basketball in Carlton, girls basketball in both communities, and boys and girls track in Carlton. He came out of retirement to assist his son, Steve, who is the boys basketball coach in Cloquet.
Dave and his wife, Nancy, reside in Cloquet, where they have raised three children.
Steph Himango, Class of 1988
Stephanie was an outstanding multi-sport athlete who earned 12 varsity letters – four each in swimming/diving, gymnastics, and track during her Agates athletic career.
She participated in six Minnesota State High School Tournaments: one in track, two in diving, and three in gymnastics. The Agates gymnastics team won three Region 7 championships and placed third, fourth, and third in state competition during her years on the team.
As a sophomore, Stephanie qualified for state in all three sports. In gymnastics she finished in the top four in two events. The next year, her diving season was ended early because of an injury, but she did qualify for state in gymnastics.
Heidi (Goedel) Puchner, Class of 1988
Heidi was an outstanding high school athlete who earned 14 varsity letters – four in swimming, four in track, and six in gymnastics.
She was a three-sport state qualifier, participating in eight state tournaments – one in swimming, three in track, and four in gymnastics.
She was a key member of the Agate gymnastics teams that won three Region 7 championships and placed third, fourth, and third as a team at state from 1986 to 1988.
Heidi was a state medalist in two sports. In the 1986 state gymnastics meet she placed fourth in the floor exercise and fifth in the uneven bars. In the 1987 state track meet, she placed third in the 100-meter hurdles. Heidi was named the gymnastics team’s most valuable player in 1986-87 and was the American Legion Outstanding Athlete her senior year.
Heidi was Lake Superior All-Conference in track in 1985, 1987, and 1988. She was All-Conference in swimming in 1986-87. She was also recognized as a McDonald’s “McPlayer of the Week” in gymnastics in 1985; Duluth News Tribune “Prep Athlete of the Week” in track in 1986; and WDIO-TV “Prep Athlete of the Week” in gymnastics in 1987.
She holds school records in track in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, and the 200-meter dash.
After graduation, Heidi was invited to participate on an all-star track and field team as one of 60 athletes who competed in meets in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Heidi received a track scholarship to North Dakota State University in 1988. She also attended St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
She resides with husband, Christopher, and son, Eli, in St. Louis Park, where she is employed at US Bank as a national recruiter in the wealth management division.
Stephanie was named a “Prep Athlete of the Week” by the Duluth News Tribune with a heading of “Attitude Sparks Two Harbors Gymnast.”
Stephanie’s senior year was highlighted once again with her participation in the state diving and gymnastics competitions. She was elected team captain for the diving, gymnastics, and track teams and, along with her teammates, she received the Outstanding Senior Athlete Award.
Following graduation, Stephanie attended St. Olaf College in Northfield and graduated with a degree in political science and Asian studies. She received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and continued her education at Hong Kong University, earning a masters in philosophy in 1996.
She continued her athletic ways in Hong Kong, earning a black belt in karate and teaching karate classes while working as a journalist.
After six years in Hong Kong, she returned to the United States and was hired by NBC News. She is a producer and has covered Hurricane Katrina, terrorism attacks, elections, segments for NBC’s “Making a Difference” series, and has covered four Olympic Games.
Stephanie lives in Chicago.
The induction of five former Agates into the Two Harbors High School Athletic Hall of Fame begins with a social hour at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Moose Lodge in Two Harbors. A meal and ceremony will follow.
The cost is $20 and reservations should be made by contacting Scott Ross at 834-8201, ext. 8242.