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2024 Award Recipients

On behalf of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Ripon College is pleased to announcing the following alumni as award recipients for 2024:

Distinguished Alumni Citation

  • George Boothby ’74 of Montvale, NJ – Service to Community, Service to Ripon College
  • Elizabeth Flanigan ’94 of Westford, MA – Service to Community, Career Achievements
  • Todd Keil ’84 of McKinney, TX – Career Achievements, Service to Community
  • Gary Yerkey ’66 of Washington, D.C. – Career Achievements, Service to Community

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

  • Ariana Myers ’14 of Milwaukee, WI – Service to Community
  • Nicole Zeman Stangl ’17 of Wausau, WI – Service to Community, Career Achievements

Athletic Hall of Fame

  • Mark Baladad ’88 of Chicago, IL and Zsolt T. Juhasz ’88 of Wheaton, IL – Tennis
  • David P. Bienfang ’67 of Fort Atkinson, WI – Baseball, Basketball
  • Jennifer Mueller Wachtel ’07 of Sobieski, WI – Softball
  • Cory Zimmerman ’13 of Marsh, WI – Cross Country, Track & Field

These awards will be presented at the 1851 Awards Dinner on Friday, June 21, 2024 beginning at 5:30 p.m. All nominees have been notified and indicated plans to be present to receive their awards.

Kirk P. Wilderspin '99

Kirk P. Wilderspin ’99

As a member of the Red Hawks baseball team, Kirk P. Wilderspin ‘99 garnered All-Midwest Conference honors in 1996, 1997 and 1999 and was named to the NCAA Division III All-Region team in 1999. He remains among the best pitchers in Ripon College history in six categories: appearances (third with 45); innings pitched (second with 251); wins (tied for third with 24); strikeouts (sixth with 177); complete games (fourth with 24); and shutouts (tied for second with four). On the gridiron, Wilderspin led the Red Hawks football team in rushing during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He was named All-Conference twice — first-team in 1996 and second-team in 1997.

Stephanie Rieuwpassa Willms ’13

Stephanie Rieuwpassa Willms ‘13 is arguably the best pitcher in Ripon College softball history. A two-time Midwest Conference Pitcher of the Year and four-time All-Conference selection, her numerous school records include the most career strikeouts with 498, the second-most in MWC history at that time, and three of the top four single-season strikeout totals. At the plate, she held the school record for career doubles with 44 and most innings pitched in a game. A career .358 hitter, which ranks seventh in school history, Willms also ranks third in home runs (15), hits (149), and runs batted in (78), and fourth in runs scored (95). She was a member of the 2011 MWC Championship and NCAA Tournament team, helping the Red Hawks notch their first three NCAA playoff wins in program history. She was also named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region Second Team in 2011.

Adam D. Sellner ’13

Adam D. Sellner ’13 was a track and field standout as a thrower. He is one of just two student-athletes in Ripon’s men’s track and field program history to earn All-American honors more than once. In the hammer throw, Sellner qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships and finished sixth in the nation in 2012 and seventh in 2013. Sellner also was a four-time conference champion in the hammer throw, a two-time conference silver medalist in weight throw, and a three-time Academic All American. Ten years after graduation, Sellner still holds the Midwest conference and school records in the hammer throw.

Michelle M. Matter ’13

Michelle Matter ’13, one of the greatest long-distance runners in Ripon College history, holds three of the top 10 times in school history in cross country. She ran a sub-24-minute time in the 6k seven times — more than anyone else in program history. She was a four-time All-State performer, earning First Team honors three times, including a second-place overall finish at the 2012 Wisconsin Private College Championships. She also earned All-Conference honors three times, finishing sixth, 10th and 11th at the MWC Championships. An Academic All-American in both cross country and track and field during her senior season, Matter qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships twice, once in each sport. In track and field, Matter set numerous school records. As the 2013 conference champion in outdoor steeplechase, Matter was named MWC Performer of the Meet and NCAA Midwest Conference MVP.

Taylor T. Koth ’13

Taylor T. Koth ’13 was named an All-Region selection and First Team All-Conference player in both basketball and baseball. He became the sixth player in Ripon men’s basketball history to earn Midwest Conference Player of the Year honors. He achieved this as a senior in 2013 and was named All-American as a Third Team selection. He ranked seventh in school history for career points (1,514), second in rebounding (721), ninth in free throw percentage (.825), and eighth in points per game (17.6). As a senior, he averaged 24 points per game, the fifth-highest scoring average in Division III, and 9.5 rebounds per game, and was named First Team All-Region. In his three baseball seasons, Koth recorded a batting average of .308, with 21 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 65 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. He played a key role on three NCAA Division III conference championship teams. He was a Central Region Gold Glove winner and a 2013 Jostens Award finalist.

Jacob L. Gahart ’13

Jacob L. Gahart ’13 was an exceptional kicker, holding ten school records upon graduation, including: career field goals (31); second for career scoring (261 points); most field goals in a single season (15 in 2011); second for single-season field goals (9 in 2009); tied for fourth for single-game field goals (2 four times); tied for second for longest field goal (47 yards vs. Monmouth in 2009). On Nov. 5, 20122, vs. Lawrence University he added records for longest field goal (54 yards) and tied for most field goals in a single game (3). He was Academic All-Conference three times, was placed on the Beyond Sports College Network (BSN) All-American First Team in 2011 and was a Fred Mitchell Award finalist in 2011.

Justin W. Niebank '78

Justin W. Niebank ’78

Three-time Grammy Award winner Justin W. Niebank ’78 is one of the top mixers, engineers and producers in country music. His honors include two CMA awards, nine ACM awards and 16 Music Row awards, given for the most top 10 albums in a given year.  In addition to his own three Grammy Awards, he has been involved with more than 20 Grammy Award-winning records as a producer, engineer or mixer. These include a Grammy as producer and engineer of Vince Gill’s “These Days” album, which won the Grammy Award for Country Album of the Year.  He has worked with such artists as Taylor Swift on her “Speak Now”, “Fearless” and “Red” albums;  Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Willie Nelson, Lady A, George Strait and John Mellencamp.

Nancy Wadley Keough ’67

Nancy Wadley Keough ’67 is a retired lawyer who served in the military, as a public defender and in private practice. She was an attorney with the United States Department of Agriculture until 1971. She then accepted a direct commission as a Captain in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She served on active duty for four years including a one-year tour  in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and numerous other military honors. She is an expert Marksman in the military and certified as a Military Judge.After her service, Keough was a public defender with the Monterey County (California) Public Defender’s Office, retiring in 1999. She then returned to private practice in Pacific Grove and taught as an Adjunct Professor at Hartnell College.

James-Mark Ooko-Ombaka ’16

James-Mark Ooko-Ombaka ’16 is an account executive with GameTextures (GT), a remote work art production studio based in Seattle that for more than 10 years has been providing art and technical production services to various indie, AA and AAA studio projects in the video gaming industry. He played a key leadership role in  launching  a number of civic tech innovations across Africa working for the Google and Gates Foundation’s Code for Africa, Africa’s largest civic technology, open data and data journalism initiative. Most recently, he led a project to launch a citizen feedback service in Kenya that allows citizens to share measurable feedback about public services with their public officials, thereby allowing the government to make measurable improvements to public service delivery.

Jerry L. Waukau ’78

Jerry L. Waukau ’78 has been the tribal health administrator at the Menominee Tribal Clinic in Keshena, Wisconsin, for 38 years. He was born and raised on the reservation and is an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. Prior to working in the health center, he was the administrator of the tribe for four years. He is chairman of the Wisconsin Tribal Health Director’s Association and serves on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Pediatric Integrated Care Collaborative, which focuses on implementing trauma-informed integrated care in Native communities. His numerous honors include the Minority Health Leadership Award, Indian Health Services Exemplary Group Performance Award, Bemidji Area Director’s Award, Community-University Partnership Award from UW-Madison and the  Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Prize Award.