Welcome to Harding High School Athletics & Activities

St. Paul, Minnesota

Hall of Stars Inductees - 2006

Joe Renner '40

Joe Renner is a lifelong Eastsider. Born and raised in Dayton’s Bluff, he started athletics early on at Dayton’s Bluff Playground. Joe was a three sport athlete at Harding playing football, hockey, and his favorite sport, baseball. The picture that is on his Hall of Stars plaque is the press photo from his time as quarterback on the 1939 Harding football team.

Joe continued his education at the College of St. Thomas playing football and baseball there. He interrupted his college education during WWII to go into the Navy, training as a pilot and playing baseball at Iowa Pre-Fight School and was eventually stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas playing baseball there as well. While stationed in Corpus Christi, he trained other pilots to fly PYB’s. In 1943 while in the Navy, Joe married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ella Geisenehyner, a girl he had known since grade school. In the 1939 Harding yearbook Joe’s favorite saying is listed as “Mary Ella”. They were married for 60 years, hitting that mark just a few months before Mary Ella passed away in 2003.

After the Navy, he returned to the University St. Thomas using the GI bill and finished up with a degree in Physical Education and Biology and coached hockey at Cretin High School during his Senior year. He taught high school in Morris, Minnesota for one year and played baseball for the Morris town team earning $50 per game. Even after returning to St. Paul, he continued to take the train to Morris to play baseball. Eventually Joe settled on the East Side and continues to live in the house he originally bought in 1950. Upon returning to St. Paul Joe played baseball for St. Paul Park in the Suburban League until he was beamed and had to give up playing.

Joe got a job at Hamm’s brewery and stayed there for 38 years retiring in 1985. Joe coached both American Legion and Junior League baseball at Hazel Park Playground and remained athletically active by bowling in various leagues and golfing.

Robert “Bob” Lundgren '55

Bob was a three-sport athlete, lettering in football, hockey, and baseball his Junior and Senior years. He also earned several other honors and awards. He was selected captain and most valuable of the hockey team his Senior year. During his Junior year, Harding won the City, Twin City, and Region Four Championships. His junior year the team went on to State and won the Consolation Championship.

Bob was very active at Harding, a member of the H-Club, Student Council, Junior Steering Committee, head of Noon Patrol, and King of Sno-Daze. He has great memories of hockey trips to the Iron Range, participating in the 1954 State Hockey Tournament and losing in Regions his senior year for a return trip to the State Hockey Tournament in double overtime. He appreciated his teammates and his coaches- John Rossi and Clyde McDonald.

After graduating he went into the Army- where he also played baseball and hockey. He earned various pilot’s ratings and became a certified flight instructor. He now enjoys the challenge of golf since becoming a retired postal service employee. He is supported by his wife Susan, daughter Stephanie and her husband John as well as many friends and relatives.

John “Skip” O’Connell '56

Skip was a member of the tennis team at Harding and was very active in football and hockey growing up at Bluff playground. He was part of many championship teams growing up at Bluff and enjoyed the coaching of Chet Petri.

Skip has been married to his wonderful wife Mary Ellen for 44 years, they have four children and five grandchildren. He coached many levels of baseball at Parkway and Conway helping many future Harding stars learn the fundamentals and have fun with baseball.

Skip has been very involved in the Harding Alumni Golf Tournament.  He was a member of the committee for a number of years- eventually chairing the committee and helping the tournament grow and grow. He served as chair for over 18 years and helped the tournament raise very important funding for Harding Athletics. Without his efforts and the efforts of the Harding Alumni raising funds through the golf tourney, Harding would have a much greater struggle providing equipment, etc. for the many Harding teams.

Skip has retired from a career at 3M- after 33 years- but is still very active and continues to support Harding. Thanks Skip for your years of service with the Harding Alumni!

Arnie Johnson '58

Arnie was a “four” sport letter winner. He lettered his freshman year in tennis and then switched to baseball his sophomore, junior, and senior years as a catcher- not only lettering- but was the MVP and all conference. He played football- was the fullback lettering three years and was selected to the All Conference team his senior year. He excelled as the goalie in hockey- leading the Knights to the state- finishing runner-up, only to lose to Roseau 1-0. Arnie was the co-captain of the hockey team and was the team MVP and selected to the state all tournament team.

Arnie was very active at Harding- he was an H-Club officer, the Junior Class President, member of the Student Council, and a member of the Student Governing Board. Arnie was a Homecoming candidate finalist and capped off his career at Harding by winning the H-blanket.

After Harding, Arnie served in the Navy for three years, played “old timers hockey” and played for many community softball and baseball teams throughout the years. He also helped coach kid football at Hazel Park Playground for a number of years. Arnie was an avid ice fisherman.

As noted above- Arnie left his mark on Harding not only as a great athlete, but very involved and very popular.

Dan McGrane '79

Dan was a two-sport athlete at Harding, participating in football and baseball. In football he was the quarterback for the undefeated Sophomore team. During his Junior year he was starting defensive back and back-up quarterback on a very good Harding team. His Senior year he was the starting quarterback and captain- setting single season school records for completions. He set a single-season school record and City Conference record for passing yardage and touchdowns. Dan was selected All-Conference his senior year.

Dan was a three year letter winner on the Harding baseball team. He was the starting shortstop all three years and during his Junior year he was selected team MVP and All-Conference. During his senior season he was selected MVP, All-Conference, and All -State at shortstop. Dan was nominated for the Lions Athlete of the Year Award and received the Danny Thompson Mr. Baseball Award- awarded to the high school player of the year for the state of Minnesota.

He received a baseball scholarship to the University of Minnesota after finishing a great career at Harding. Dan was very active during his Harding days as a member of the Student Council and the National Honor Society. He has been very active in the community- doing some coaching and supporting his three children- Lauren, Ryan, and Brandon.

Lori (Eckman) Sahr '79

Lori was a member of the Harding tennis teams her Junior and Senior years and compiled some very impressive wins. She was a doubles player her Junior year and competed as the No 2 single player her Senior year.

She made the varsity basketball team her Sophomore year and her basketball career was under way. Harding girls’ basketball teams in her years were very successful- losing to Central in the Region Championship game by one point her Senior year. Central went on to win the leading scorers and Lori led the Conference in free throws.

Lori was a very good “student” athlete during her days at Harding and was very active in school life. She has a family and resides in the Lake Elmo area and she and her family are very outdoor orientated. Lori stated that the “opportunity to play high school sports is something very special- it helps a person develop physically, emotionally, and mentally- it is an experience of a lifetime.

Carla (Belisle) Buesseler '88

Carla’s first experience with sports at Harding began with Mr. Amundson in Freshman gym class. He pulled her aside and encouraged her to try out for volleyball. She ended up playing for the ninth grade and junior varsity teams. Basketball was her passion- she tried out for the team and got an early start as a ninth grader. Her father was a runner and she would accompany him on long runs and this led to the start of her track career as she made the track team as a Freshman.

After two years of volleyball, she switched sports and began a running career with the cross country team her Junior and Senior years and developed a deep love for long distance running. She captained the track and cross country teams her Senior year. One of her big joys was competing in the State Basketball Tournament.

After graduation, Lori attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and graduated with a double major in Elementary Education and Sociology. She earned a Master’s Degree in Information Media in 2004. Lori is a media specialist in a Forest Lake elementary school. She helped coach an elementary track team last year. She is married and has three daughters- two of which are twins.

Laura (Wentz) Comer '92

Laura (Wentz) Comer graduated from Harding High School with the class of 1992. She was a two-sport athlete at Harding competing in tennis and softball. She lettered in tennis all four years and earned All-Conference honors. During the 1990 season- she and teammate Shannon Loeblein-Beck participated in the State Doubles Tournament.

Laura was a pitcher- starting on the mound her Sophomore year through her Senior year. She received All-Regional honors for her pitching accomplishments. During the summers she played for the St. Paul Rookies, her team participated in the National Fast pitch Tournament.

After Harding, Laura went on to pitch for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. During her college summers she helped coach the Harding Area girls’ teams. In 1996 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She is employed by St. Paul Travelers Insurance Co. in the IT field. Laura is married to Matt and they live in Maplewood.

Earl Maendler 1960-2002

Earl Maendler “earned” his picture on the “Hall of Stars”. If one only counted the phone calls encouraging kids to play, picking kids up on the way to practice and games, putting band aids on cuts and bruised egos, trying to find “coaches” for the various neighborhood teams, etc., etc.

If you look at the pictures on the wall- you will find many former athletes that Earl helped get their start. He provided numerous opportunities for kids in the Harding area to begin their careers and have the opportunity to begin developing both physically and athletically. He not only helped the Harding area, but encouraged recreation centers around the city to create teams and give young kids the opportunity to participate.

Earl coached football at Bluff, Conway, and Battle Creek recreational centers. He coached basketball at the same centers- plus created the Harding area basketball team and coached it for a number of years. All of these centers fed into Harding High School and gave Harding a number of experienced and talented athletes.

Earl is married to Georgeann, a Harding graduate and has three children that attended Harding and were outstanding student athletes here. The Harding community thanks Earl for his many years of “great” work!