KEARNEY — Four former student-athletes and a coach will be inducted into the University of Nebraska at Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies on Homecoming weekend Oct. 4-5.
The new Hall of Fame members are baseball player Neal Arnold, Class of 1997; track athlete Lesley (Crutcher) Hulett, Class of 2006; wrestler Tervel Dlagnev, Class of 2008; football player Roger Suelter Class of 1985; and women’s track and cross country coach Mary Iten.
The Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet begins at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 4, in the Ponderosa Room with a social hour. A dinner follows at 6:30 p.m. with the class being inducted into the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame. To purchase a ticket for the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet, visit unkalumni.org/homecoming. Tickets are $35 per person ($40 starting Sept. 27).
On Oct. 5, the class will be recognized at halftime of the homecoming football game vs. Northeastern State that kicks off at 2 p.m.
Arnold is one of the top pitchers in Loper baseball history, setting the career strikeout record with 248 between 1994-1997. He achieved that record pitching in the offensive minded Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Mile High Intercollegiate Baseball League.
Among UNK’s all-time leaders in pitching appearances (53), pitching starts (34), complete games (15) and wins (15), Arnold was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 28th round of the 1997 Major League Baseball draft. He is one of 11 players with UNK ties to be chosen in the MLB draft.
As a sophomore the right hander had 75 strikeouts and seven complete games to become the first Loper to earn first-team All-RMAC honors. Two years later he set a school-record with 93 strikeouts to be tabbed second-team All-RMAC. A three-time Academic All-RMAC qualifier, Arnold also was tabbed second-team Academic All-District that spring, one of only 10 Lopers to receive that honor.
Over his career, the Kearney native helped UNK win 86 games and reach the league tournament three times. Arnold works for Coca-Cola and lives in Kearney with his wife, Kristie, and their children, Brodie, Reanna and Lena.
Lesley (Crutcher) Hulett
Hulett is one of the most decorated women’s track athletes in school history, earning four NCAA Division II All-American honors and a national title in a UNK career that spanned from 2004-06.
The Elkhorn native still holds the outdoor school record in the high jump at 5-10 3/4. She is tied for fourth on the indoor high jump (5-7 3/4) list and ranks in the UNK top 10 in the indoor (37-2 1/2) and outdoor (37-6 1/4) triple jump.
A three-time RMAC individual champ in the high jump, Hulett placed fourth, eighth, fifth and first in four NCAA Championship appearances. She capped off her collegiate career, which began at the University of Kansas, with All-American efforts in the high jump at the 2006 NCAA indoor and outdoor meets. Her last leap in a Loper uniform was 5-9 3/4 which allowed her to win the 2006 outdoor national title.
Hulett is one of six Loper women to win an individual track national title. Her efforts helped UNK finish runner-up as a team at the RMAC Championships three times during the indoor season and twice in the spring.
She is an Administrative Assistant Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La., where she resides with her husband, Tug, and their children, Hudson and Cash.
Dlagnev is one of the best stories in UNK history, going from a walkon to an Olympic medal winner. Born in Bulgaria and picking up wrestling in high school, Dlagnev was a two-time national champion and one of the most dominant wrestlers in NCAA Division II history.
One of six Lopers to be a four-time All-American, the heavyweight set school records for wins in a career (167) and season (49). The inaugural Division II Wrestler of the Year, Dlagnev picked up the award after going 49-0 in 2008. He didn’t allow a single offensive point that season, helping UNK win its’ first-ever team national championship.
The two-time RMAC Wrestler of the Year secured the team trophy by winning his final collegiate match. That also marked his 71st consecutive win and allowed him to repeat as national champ.
A four-time RMAC/Wrest Region Champion and a four-time Academic All-American, Dlagnev went on to be one of America’s top heavyweight wrestlers after graduation. Based out of the Ohio Regional Training Center, he made eight national teams and twice earned the bronze medal at the World Wrestling Championships. Dlagnev represented the U.S. at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, earning a bronze medal in 2012 and coming in fifth four years later. He is UNK’s only Olympic medal winner.
Dlagnev, a member of the Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame, currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Kirsten, and their children Isaiah and Titus. He is an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
Roger Suelter is one of the top running backs in school history, being one of two Lopers to have multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a career. The Albion native was a two-time NAIA honorable mention All-American who helped Kearney State win 22 games and two Central States Intercollegiate Conference titles between 1981-1984.
A reserve running back in 1981, Suelter moved over to defense as a sophomore. He then switched back to offense as a junior and promptly ran for 1,020 yards. That helped him earn all-conference, all-district and All-American honors. In a 44-34 home win over rival Nebraska-Omaha, Suelter ran 92 yards for a score, one of the longest runs from scrimmage in school history.
He was a repeat winner for all of those awards in 1984 as he ran for 1,132 yards. Suelter averaged 6.7 yards per carry, 113 yards per game and scored 12 times that fall, helping KSC win an outright CSIC title.
Suelter’s career rushing total of 2,446 yards ranked third highest in Loper history at the time of his graduation. One of 10 UNK players to reach 2,000 yards in a career, he averaged 91 yards per game.
He currently runs Roger Suelter Personal Training on Omaha. He and his wife, Anne, have two children, Kate and Meghan.
Mary Iten led the Loper women’s track program from 1977-1996, the cross country team from 1980-1994 and also served as interim women’s golf Acoach when that program began in the late 1990’s.
An instructor in UNK’s Kinesiology and Sports Sciences Department for 37 years, Iten was one of the trailblazers in Loper women’s athletics. Under her leadership, Kearney State and then UNK women’s track and cross country became a power on the regional and national scene at the NCAA, NAIA and AIAW levels.
Iten saw 12 of her track teams win conference championships with the 1986 and 1987 squads finishing fourth and third, respectively, at the NAIA Indoor Championships. Those Loper teams are regarded as two of the finest in school history. Subsequently Iten was named District Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1987 and tabbed as the 1987 Regional Coach of the Year. In cross country the Lopers had three straight top-10 finishes at the NAIA National Championships from 1980-1982.
Among the 68 All-Americans Iten coached were national champions Donna Spickelmier, Beth Stuart and Jill Stenwall. Many of Iten’s student-athletes still dot the Loper top 10 lists.
Holding a B.S. degree from Winona (Minn.) State and a Master’s of Science from the University of Kansas, Iten was a member of the NAIA Track & Field Games Committee during her coaching tenure and served as an assistant coach at the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival.
A member of the Winona State Athletic Hall of Fame, Iten received the 2014 UNK Academy for Teacher Education Excellence Award and was chosen as the 2013 Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Association for Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance. She is currently retired and splits her time between Nebraska and Florida.