Iowa Central announces 2011 Triton Hall of Fame class

by Josh Sandin
Posted on 9/13/2011


FORT DODGE – Iowa Central Community College announced the 2011 Hall of Fame class this week as 10 alumni were honored in addition to long-time Iowa Central Board of Trustee member Dr. John E. Hodges who is the recipient of the Triton Humanitarian Award.

The inductees will be officially inducted into the Triton Hall of Fame during Iowa Central’s Alumni Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 24. The banquet will be part of the Alumni and Friends Homecoming Weekend and will include a dinner, silent and live auction and a show by mentalist Chris Carter, all leading up to the induction ceremony.

Triton Humanitarian Award

Dr. John E. Hodges
Dr. John E. Hodges was a member of the Iowa Central Board of Trustees for 39 years and he served as the Vice President from 2001 until his retirement in 2008. He served as a guiding figure during that time as Iowa Central grew into one of the top two-year institutions in the country. Being a member of the track program at Drake University, Dr. Hodges was a huge supporter of Iowa Central athletics. Today the Triton volleyball, basketball and wrestling programs compete in the gymnasium that bears his name, the John E. Hodges Fieldhouse.

Dr. Hodges enrolled at Drake University in 1941. After three semesters, his pre-med studies were put on hold as he served with the United States Air Corps in World War II. After the war he graduated from Still College of Osteopathy in 1951 with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree. He started his medical practice in Laurens, Iowa, in 1951 and has been a major influence on the community ever since. He serves on dozens of community boards and is involved in many organizations. He is also very involved with the Laurens United Methodist Church.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Kevin A. Alstott, 1970
Kevin Alstott is the CEO and Owner of C&S Products Company Inc. The 1970 Iowa Central graduate has turned a small, family owned company from a concept into into the most successful manufacturer of wild bird and wildlife feeds. C&S Products is a global leader with approximately 80% of the market share of Wild Bird Suet and feeder products.   For 25 years Alstott has led his company with a clear vision and dedication to quality which mirrors his company’s motto, “Quality People Making Quality Products.”

Kevin has shared his time and treasures with many organizations.  He continues to run his business by doing things the right way and always trying to advance the market and his company through innovation and planning.

Honorable Albert L. Habhab, 1948
The Honorable Albert L. Habhab was with Iowa Central from its earliest beginnings. The 1948 graduate of Fort Dodge Community College was the first person to break ground on the current location of Iowa Central Community College as the Mayor of Fort Dodge.

After service in World War II, he graduated from Fort Dodge Community College and then received a political science degree from the University of Iowa in 1949.  Habhab graduated from the Iowa Law School in 1952. He returned to Fort Dodge to practice law until 1975. During that time he served as Mayor from 1960-1974, the longest service of any Fort Dodge mayor.

After he retired from practicing law, he accepted an appointment to the District Court Judge, a position he held until 1987. In 1987, he was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals. He retired as Chief Judge in 2003.  Habhab has had a very long and successful career in the judicial system.

He has served the community of Fort Dodge as a member of the American Legion, Amvets, Jaycees, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Chairman of Friendship Haven Foundation, and presently the Friendship Haven board to name a few.

Mark J. Smith, 1974
Graduation from Iowa Central Community College was only the beginning for Mark J. Smith. One of three children to a single mother, Smith knew he was going to have to work for his education. Summers of painting houses and scholarships lead Smith to become a graduate from Iowa Central and from the University of with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1976.  

His career started with Delorette, Haskins and Sells and a position as the Director of Income Taxes for Affiliated Bankshares of Colorado, a 29 bank-holding company, where he was in charge of income-tax matters.

In 1983 he formed M.J. Smith and Associates, a wealth management firm. The firm is a monumental success, receiving awards from numerous publications and experts. Raymond James Financial Services named his firm one of the Top Five Most Successful Branch Offices in the United States from 1990-2007.  Mark has also received awards for his professional services as a financial advisor and giving back is Smith’s legacy.  He has established scholarships at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Arapahoe Community College, the University of Iowa as well as Iowa Central.  He was named the 2005 recipient of the Colorado Society of Certified Public Account Everyday Hero Award.  Mark’s hard work and commitment is an inspiration but so is his involvement in community, leaderships, and philanthropy.  Mark has also been involved in the Kempe Foundation (a non-profit advocacy organization for prevention of child abuse and neglect) the Salvation Army, and the Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants.

John C. Johnson, 1981
John C. Johnson loves wrestling… a lot. So much that he has made a life out of it. As a member of Iowa Central’s first team to win a team NJCAA National Championship, Johnson got a taste for championships wrestling and hasn’t looked back. His professional wrestling career began as the head coach at Kirkwood Community College. He amassed a record of 86-13-2 as a head coach and had two teams finish in the top ten a the NJCAA meet.

After his coaching career was over he began to write for numerous wrestling publications where he has become a legend. He was the first media member to cover all five collegiate-level championship meets in one year (2005); this came one year after he was the first person to cover all three NCAA championship meets in one year. He has travelled all over the world to cover and broadcast wrestling. He has also been a vital member of dozens of wresting boards and associations, including the prestigious National Wrestling Hall of Fame voting member. He was named the “State Man of the Year” for Iowa by Wrestling USA Magazine in 2005 and was selected to the NJCAA National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009.

Johnson has also been recognized for his work as an educator:  2011 School Administrators of Iowa – NE Iowa District One nominee and finalist for Superintendent of the Year.  2011 SAI – State nominee for Secondary Principal of the Year.  2011 IHSAA Board of Control “News Media Award” for the many contributions made to interscholastic programs in Iowa.  2010 SAI – State finalist for Principal of the Year.  2009 SAI – NE Iowa District One nominee and Principal of the Year.

Al Nuness, 1967
Al Nuness has become very familiar with success, and he has made a career of it.  Al was nominated in two categories for his accomplishments both on and off the court.  Nuness was the first basketball player to be named NJCAA First Team All-American at Iowa Central. He then went to the University of Minnesota where he was First Team All-Big Ten and then was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. After his playing career was over, he became the first African-American head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. After that, it was back to the NBA as he became the Director of Sales and Community Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Today, Al is the Vice President of Jostens Sports Sales.

Off the court, Nuness has had an amazing life of service. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi, Inc Epsilon Rho, the Montior’s Club and OMICRON BOULE, a professional men’s organization dedicated to civic and philanthropic activities. He has also received many awards for his service to the community including the YMCA Community Service Award and the Boy Scouts of America Service Award. He is also a board member for several organizations including the Colin Powell Leadership Center and the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services.

Triton Athletic Award

Paul Weltha, 1987, Football
Paul Weltha came to Iowa Central as a two-sport standout in football and wrestling at Ames high, and continued his success at Iowa Central. He was a First Team All-American left tackle for the Triton football team in 1987. That year, he wrestled his way to a runner-up finish at the heavyweight division at the NJCAA wrestling tournament and All-American honors.  In the 1989 season he again received First Team All-American honors in football, leading the Tritons to a conference title, and won the Heavyweight title at the NJCAA National Wrestling Tournament. He was the recipient of the Algoe Award honoring a top male athlete at Iowa Central.  Paul continued his football career at Western Illinois and was an All-American lineman in 1991.

Paul was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009.  He is a teacher and coach in Bloomington, Illinois.

Troy Gilroy, 2000, Baseball
Troy Gilroy is known for the most dominating season any pitcher at Iowa Central has ever put together. As a sophomore, the hard-throwing righty from Perry, was perfect. He compiled a 14-0 record on the mound, picking up two wins at the NJCAA World Series in 2000 where he led Iowa Central to a runner-up finish and a record 53 wins. Troy still holds the Triton’s single-season win record.  His win total (14), winning percentage (1.00) and innings pitched (104.1) haven’t been threatened since he posted them.

He accepted a scholarship to Grand View where he pitched in 2001. He graduated from William Penn in 2007 with a degree in business management.

Melinda Hippen, 1980, Women’s Basketball and Softball
Melinda Hippen may be considered the most dominant female two-sport athlete in Iowa Central’s rich athletic history. She excelled at both basketball and softball while at Iowa Central. In her two years at Iowa Central she was a four-time All-Region performer and was named Second Team All-America her sophomore years as a basketball player, becoming the first female to receive All-American honors at Iowa Central.

Her two-sport success carried over to her career at the University of Iowa where she was again a standout. She concentrated on basketball her first two seasons at Iowa and did very well. She averaged 13.8 points per game in her Iowa career. With one more year of college left until she graduated, she decided to pick softball back up. After two-years removed from playing college softball, she walked on and beat out two girls for the starting short stop job, hit over .400 and led the team in home runs.

Dennie Friederichs, 1958, Wrestling
Dennie Friederichs laid the ground work that enabled the Iowa Central wrestling program to become the dynasty that it is today. After Hall of Fame wrestling careers at Fort Dodge Senior High and Iowa State.   Friedrich joined Iowa Central as the head coach in 1972.  Friederichs coached the successful wrestling program for the next 24 years. He coached 54 All-Americans and nine NJCAA Individual National Champions. At the National Tournament he won the first of what would be seven team national titles for the wrestling program in 1981. He amassed a career dual record of 240-80-2. In 1981 and 1995 Dennie was named NJCAA Wrestling coach of the year.  In 1993, he was named the wrestling Man of the Year by the NJCAA. Frederichs was inducted into the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1985.

Dennie helped grow the sport of wrestling in the Fort Dodge area with many camps and clinics for children in the area, but also has been active in the community serving on numerous boards.  Dennie is also an Emergency Responder Volunteer for the Red Cross.

Ray Cheetany, 1998, Football
When it comes to kicking at Iowa Central the list begins and ends with Ray Cheetany. The punter/ kicker was a weapon for the Tritons in the 1997-98 football season. He averaged over 40 yards per punt and won three games in overtime with field goals. Head football coach Kevin Twait began his tenure with Cheetany both as a play kicker and a punter.  The Tritons relied heavily on Ray to convert field goals and set up the defense with great field position.  In Cheetany’s two years, Iowa Central won five games by scoring 17 or fewer points. After a bowl victory, Cheetany was named First Team All-America a punter and would have been the All-American kicker too, but players could only be nominated at one position. As a sophomore he was named a team captain and was the “ultimate teammate.”

Cheetany received a full scholarship to UNLV and was named the Runnin’ Rebels Special Team Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000.  Ray is actively involved in the Las Vegas area.

To order tickets or for more information on our Alumni Banquet and Induction Ceremony, please call 515-574-1137.