Kretchman Coaching Award
Willis ‘Bill’ Welsh graduated from Northern in 1930. This honor will be given posthumously, as Welsh passed away in 1980. During his coaching tenure, Welsh coached teams at Kimball High School (1930-37); Webster High School (1937-43); Forest City High School (Forest City, Iowa, 1943-45); and Claremont High School (1947-54). Welsh was awarded an honorary membership in to the Sports and Trail Century Club in May 1950 for both football and basketball. He was also named the SoDak Sports Honorary Coach of the Six-Man Football All-Star Team in 1953, after being named the SoDak Sports High School Coach of the Year in 1953-54. Welsh was selected as a presenter at the “All American Coaching Clinic” in Bemidji, Minn., in June 1955. In his time spent in Claremont, Welsh’s six-man football team set a national record of 61 consecutive wins from 1947-1953.
2017 Hall of Fame Inductees
Eric Cuka earned a bachelor of arts degree in international business in 2001 for NSU. While at Northern, Cuka was an offensive lineman for the Wolves football team. As a freshman, he was named the team’s most valuable newcomer. From 1998-2000 he was honored as the team’s offensive big MVP. Cuka was a four-time NSIC First Team selection, three-time NSIC All-Academic Team member, two-time Midwest Regional All-American, two-time NCAA Division II All-American, and a 2000 Football Gazette All-American. In his sophomore campaign, Cuka helped lead the 1999 Wolves to the NSIC Conference Championship. Following graduation, he went on to earn his Master of Business Administration from Saint Cloud State University.
Cuka is a volunteer and donor for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Feed My Starving Children, and the Wounded Warrior Project. He is currently the senior account sales executive of higher education for Maverick, a Division of GP Strategies Corporation. Cuka is married to Mandy (Martin), who graduated from Northern in 2002, and they have one daughter, Mya.
Christi (Lucas) Ersland earned a bachelor of science in elementary education in 2003 and a master’s degree in 2010 from NSU. Ersland was a member of the Wolves volleyball (1999-2002) and track and field teams (2002-04) while at Northern State.
Ersland was a star on the Wolves volleyball team climbing her way up the career record lists. She currently sits sixth in kills and solo blocks, fifth in attack percentage, fourth in total blocks, and second in assisted blocks. She was a three-time NSIC Player of the Week in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Ersland’s accolades for the Wolves include NCAA Division II All-Academic, 2011 Verizon All-American, two-time AVCA All-Region, and three-time NSIC All-Conference first team. Over her four years, Ersland accumulated 1,113 kills, 431 blocks and a .288 attack percentage. As a member of the track team, Ersland was a three-time NCAA Division II All-Academic team member and three-time NSIC All-Conference Honorable Mention selection.
She is a fifth-grade teacher as well as assistant athletic director at Grand View Christian School. Over the years, Ersland has been an assistant volleyball coach at Grand View University, head volleyball coach at Ballard School district where her team made it to the second round of regional play in her second season, and a coach for Club Volleyball at Sports University. Ersland is a member of the Nevada Baptist Church and Professional Educators of Iowa. She also volunteers for many church and school functions. Ersland and her husband, Aaron, have two children and live in Huxley, Iowa.
Lance Luitjens earned a bachelor of science degree in education in elementary education in 1996. While at Northern, Luitjens was a member of the men’s basketball team. The Wolves were the 1993 and 1994 NAIA National Runners-up going 59-11 overall in those two seasons. Luitjens was named an NAIA All-American in 1995 as the Wolves advanced to the national tournament semi-finals. He was also selected to the 1995 and 1996 NSIC All-Conference teams. Luitjens currently sits 11th all-time in career scoring with 1,708 points.
Following graduation Luitjens has been honored as the Region Coach of the Year in 2000 for Girls’ Basketball, State Championship Runner-Up in 2000 as a coach in Vermillion, Rural Principal of the Year Finalist for Colorado in 2009, Principal of the Year Finalist for Colorado in 2010, and the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award in 2011. Luitjens is currently the assistant principal at Sioux Falls Lincoln High School and is married to Renae (Osthus), who graduated from Northern in 1995. They have two children.
Dr. Tim Mulhair earned a bachelor of science degree in business education in 1977, as well as a master of arts in classroom teaching in 1988. He went on to earn his doctorate of education at the University of South Dakota in 1996. While at Northern, Mulhair was a member of the men’s basketball team. Upon his graduation, Mulhair sat seventh in career scoring and fourth in career rebounds. Currently he is 19th in career scoring with 1,420 points, and fifth in career rebounds with 950 boards. Mulhair holds a 40-year-old school record for in single season field goal percentage, shooting 66.2 percent in 1976-77.
Since graduating, Mulhair has gone on to become the SDHS Coaches Association Tennis Coach of the year in 2002; a National High School Tennis Coach of the Year finalist in 2005 and 2011; the SDHSAA Distinguished Service Award honoree in 2007; and has had 461 career tennis coaching wins for Yankton High School. In 2010, Mulhair was inducted into the O’Gorman-Cathedral Hall of Fame for Athletics. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus. Mulhair is principal of Sacred Heart Middle School in Yankton, where he lives with his wife, Lorie. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
The 1991-92 women’s basketball team won the university’s first team national championship in school history with a 73-56 victory over Tarleton State. The Wolves finished with an overall season record of 30-4 and earned numerous season awards. After falling in the first game of the season, the Wolves rattled off 12 straight wins rolling into the heart of their championship season. They won the Northern Sun Conference, notching the first league title since the 1987-88 season as they advanced to the NAIA National Tournament. Senior Denise Ruhland and junior Barb Schmidt were named to the All-Conference team. Schmidt and Julie Jensen led the team averaging 15.4 and 15 points per game, while Jensen led the team averaging 8.3 rebounds per game. The Wolves averaged 83.6 points and 44.6 rebounds per game and shot 46 percent from the floor. Barb Schmidt earned MVP honors for the tournament while head coach Curt Fredrickson was named Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year.