FAIRMONT — When a lanky blond-haired sophomore’s family moved to Fairmont before the start of the 2005-06 school year, no Cardinal coach could have predicted the incredible impact that Jeff Janssen would make for nine consecutive prep sports seasons.
The 6-foot-4 Janssen proved the ultimate tri-athlete while donning the school’s red-and-white jersey in varsity cross country, basketball and track & field.
Janssen combined his work ethic, leadership, dedication and athleticism into a mountain of Minnesota State High School League conference, section and state medals during his outstanding three-year career.
The Fairmont basketball program’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer and single-game scoring record holder (41 points) and 2007 Class A state cross country qualifier made an even bigger impact on the track during the spring.
Janssen medaled three times in the 800-meter run to help power Fairmont to back-to-back Class A state runner-up team showings in 2006 and 2007 before combining with classmate Paul Mallory to guide the Cardinals to the 2008 state track & field championship.
Janssen and Mallory (2008) will join fellow Fairmont High School athletic greats Mike Hested (1986), Aj’a Walters Ross (2001), Blythe Bittman (2002), Sarah Rodgers Clements (2004), Mike Wubbena (2006), Eric Hugoson (2007) and legendary boys and girls tennis coach Loren Dunham in the 2024 Fairmont Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 14.
The 26th official class of inductees will be recognized at the Cardinals’ football game on Friday, Sept. 13, at Mahoney Field in Fairmont before returning to the high school campus the next day.
A social hour will kick off the Sept. 14 event at Fairmont High School before the official program takes place at 4 p.m. at the school’s Performing Arts Center.
The event is open to the public, and there is no admissions charge.
After being integral parts of state-qualifying relay teams, Janssen, Mallory, Hugoson, Bittman, Rodgers Clements and Wubbena will be able to make smooth transitions to each other and Walters Ross, Hested and Dunham in taking their turns on the podium.
Mallory topped the Cardinals’ football team in rushing and scoring during the 2006 and 2007 campaigns before rewriting the record books during the spring of 2008.
The fleet-footed Mallory struck gold in both the high hurdles (14.51 seconds) and 300 hurdles (38.57), ran the anchor leg on the heels of Janssen’s handoff in the first-place 4×400-meter relay foursome and added an eighth-place medal with a triple jump of 42 feet, 9 inches to power Fairmont to the Class A state championship.
Hugoson, who also played key relay roles during Fairmont’s pair of runner-up state track & field showings in 2006 and 2007, also left his mark in the Cardinal basketball and football record books as a three-sport sensation.
Hugson closed out his memorable hardwood court career as the No. 2 scorer in school history with 1,481 points en route to marching the Cardinals deep into the sectional tournament.
The strong-armed Hugoson also quarterbacked Fairmont to back-to-back conference championship on the gridiron, eclipsing the 1,000-yard passing mark during both the 2005 and 2006 campaigns.
When it comes to unforgettable names wearing the red-and-white Cardinal football jersey, no list is complete without Wubbena.
The perennial all-conference, all-section, all-state running back filled the pages of Fairmont’s record books in nearly every offensive category imaginable and still maintains the majority of them nearly two decades later.
The five-time state wrestling qualifier exited the high school canvas with five medals for his outstanding performances and held the program’s mark for career wins until Jaxson Rohman broke that record a couple of seasons ago.
Wubbena split his high school spring sports career between track & field and baseball, excelling both on the tarred surface as a relay member and sprinter and on the diamond.
Like Wubbena, Walters Ross made a big impact within the chalked lines during the spring campaigns, earning All-South Central Conference and Sentinel All-Area softball accolades for three consecutive years.
Walters Ross, who was an original member of Fairmont Area’s first officially Minnesota State High School League-recognized girls hockey team in 1995-96 as a seventh-grade phenom, played an integral role in guiding the Cardinals to the sectional championship game in both 2000 and 2001.
Like Walters Ross, Dunham and Hested also spent numerous days perfecting their sport — tennis — during the chilly Minnesota springs.
Dunham imparted his knowledge of the artful craft of tennis to both genders for decades, coaching numerous conference champions in the process.
Dunham filled the coaching void in the Cardinal girls tennis program during the late 1980s and led Fairmont to the Class AA state tournament in both 1992 and 1994.
Hested, who proved a top-notch opponent on the tennis courts in the spring, played for two legendary prep mentors on the gridiron and the hardwood court.
Ironically, Mike Hested played for his father, Ron Hested, during his stellar basketball career, while earning football accolades under the tutelage of Fairmont legend Thomas Mahoney in the fall.
Mike Hested will join his father and brothers — Tim and Brad — as Fairmont Athletic Hall of Fame members this fall.
Like Janssen and Mallory, Rodgers Clements and Bittman will rejoin forces with each other after guiding Fairmont’s track & field team to numerous True Team and MSHSL state meets.
Bittman, who finished No. 6 in career track & field points at FHS, established the esteemed program’s records in the open 100, 200, 4×100 relay and 4×200.
Bittman also etched her name into the No. 1 spots during the indoor season in the 55-, 60- and 200-meter races, along with the 4×200 relay.
Rodgers Clements, who closed out her outstanding prep track career as the No. 2 all-time leading scorer, proved a two-time state qualifier in the 300 hurdles.
Rodgers Clements, who also proved a part of the school’s No. 1 4×100 baton squad, earned a bronze medal in the 300 hurdles during the 2004 Class A state track competition.