Bart Mehlert – Wrestling: Bart resides in La Porte City, IA, with his wife (Lisa) and two children (Ava and Coy). Bart was a three-time conference champion in high school, placing three times at state tournament and collecting a State Championship title in his senior year. He had a high school career record of 132-20. Bart enrolled at Ellsworth Community College in 2000 and compiled a career record of 66-9, winning two Regional Championships. He won the NJCAA National Title at 142 pounds in 2001,and placed fourth in 2002 while serving as the Panthers’ team captain. Bart was also named Most Valuable Wrestler for ECC in 2001 and 2002.Bart then transferred to Wartburg College, where he was a two-time Iowa Conference Champion. He placed third in the NCAA Tournament his junior year and crowned his senior year with a National Championship at 142 pounds. Bart finished Wartburg with a record of 69-4, bringing his collegiate career record to 135-13. He was named the Wartburg College Outstanding Wrestler and has been inducted into the Wartburg Hall of Fame. Bart is currently coaching at Union High School while being employed as a project estimator with Personified.
Tirrell Rennie – Football: Tirrell Rennie was a two-time All-America pick at Ellsworth Community College in 2008 and 2009. He passed for 2,863 yards and 23 TDs, while rushing for 1,025 yards and 10 TDs as a sophomore. Tirrell broke the school record for total offense in one game with 557 total yards (460 passing and 97 rushing), and accounted for 73 touchdowns and over 7,300 yards of total offense while setting 13 school records in two years. He also led the nation two years for in a row in total offense. Tirrell’s ECC records included: Single Season TD Passing – 27; Career TD Passing – 47; Career Passing Yards – 5,321; Career Rushing Yards – 2,036; Single Season Total Offense – 3,888 yards, and Career Total Offense – 7,357. Bowl game records include Longest Rushing Play – 73 yards, and Most TD Passes in a Game – 3. After ECC, Tirrell transferred to the University of Northern Iowa, where he started all 12 games at quarterback for the Panthers and became the first quarterback in UNI history to rack up more than 1,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He was runner-up for Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, MVFC Newcomer of the Year, and earned second team All-MVFC honors.
1987 National Championship Football Team: Arguably one of the most talented teams in school history, the 1987 Panthers dominated every opponent under Coach Lloyd Sisco, ECC’s all-time winningest coach. Offensively, quarterback Mike Virden routinely connected with wide receivers Steve Lester and James Bradley, and running back Ulysses Bentley set an Ellsworth career rushing record that lasted more than 20 years. Linebackers Greg Taylor and Melvin Coleman, defensive backs James Vernon and Jason Juhl, and defensive linemen Robbie Harris and Jeff Herter were part of a defense that set school records for fewest rushing yards allowed (673) and fewest first downs allowed per game (7.9). Special teams were spectacular with punt and kick returner Bradley, and kicker Dan Miller was one of the nation’s leaders for extra points. Bradley was a 1987 All-American as a punter, and in 1988 was named All-American at wide receiver, making him the only Ellsworth player to be All-American at two positions. In the RC Cola Bowl, Ellsworth bested third-rated William Rainey Harper 41-9. Two weeks later, the Panthers learned they had won the National Championship.
1976 National Championship Football Team: The right combination of talent, timing and good fortune helped the 1976 Panthers achieve one of the most memorable seasons in school history. Led by first-year Coach Vern Thomsen, the team went undefeated during the nine-game regular season and was awarded the NJCAA National Championship. After the regular season finale, a 61-13 home win over Marshalltown Community College, there was no doubt in ECC coaches’ and players’ minds that the next step would be the Junior Rose Bowl. Facing Bakersfield College, winner of the California playoffs, the game was televised on Iowa Public Television. Even though the Junior Rose Bowl didn’t end the way the Panthers had hoped (it was a 29-14 Bakersfield victory), the national exposure helped Ellsworth build upon an already well-known reputation as a national powerhouse in junior college football. The NJCAA national title was still theirs, and offensive guard Reggie Hall was named All-American, as was defensive lineman Darrell Hobbs. Quarterback Walter Grant earned honorable mention All-American.
Gary Rabe has been on the E-Club for the last 20 years and is the current E-Club president. Gary is instrumental in raising money for the E-Club with his work with the Wild Game Feed, 4th of July Golf Tournament and also the gym banners. Money that the E-Club raises goes toward scholarships for athletics. He donates a lot of time planning, implementing and running events for the E-Club. He has also been a generous donor through out his years with Ellsworth Community College and is a life long supporter of Ellsworth Athletics. He is originally from Iowa Falls.
Lisa Huinker Rude attended high school in Decorah, IA. She was a two-time All Region honoree at ECC in 2004 and 2005. She then transferred to Luther College, where she was All-Conference two years and All-American one year. She also broke the Luther home run record.
Dennis Saltzman attended Ellsworth in 1964-1965 where he played baseball and football and was a member of the Ellsworth baseball team that played in the JUCO World Series. He went on to a long career in the insurance field as a Safety Engineer and an equally long careers as a High School official, refereeing football, basketball, baseball and softball. His favorite Ellsworth professors were Bill Schmidt, Chuck Hinson and Marty Dittmer. Today Dennis enjoys playing golf, has run in the Pike’s Peak Marathon and along with his wife of 48 years Claudia, has three children: Dee, Kelly and Ryan.
Jerry Senters came to Ellsworth in 1983 as Director of Housing and Assistant Football Coach. He served eight years as the defensive coordinator during an era of very successful teams. He continued as Director of Housing until his passing on Sept. 7, 1998. Jerry was born in Pikeville, KY. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and his master’s from Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University. Prior to coming to Ellsworth, he taught and coached in the WACO and North Linn School Districts and at Coe College. Jerry often displayed a rather serious appearance when fulfilling his responsibilities as Director of Housing and Assistant Coach. Behind the scenes, however, he spent many hours quietly helping people through exercise to overcome or enhance their physical attributes. Jerry was a very intense, focused person who was sometimes misunderstood, but who cared deeply about people. He is sorely missed. In his memory, the Ellsworth College Board of Trustees initiated an endowed scholarship.
Andre Tippett was born Dec. 27, 1959, in Birmingham, AL. He was a 6’3”, 240 pound linebacker for Ellsworth in 1978. Andre was drafted into the NFL in the second round in 1982 by the New England Patriots and played for them until 1993. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. He established a team record of 18.5 sacks in 1984. He led the AFC with 16.5 sacks and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year during the 1985 Patriots Super Bowl season. Andre recorded 12.5 sacks in 1987 to lead the AFC. At the time of his retirement he held the team recorded for career sacks, sacks in a season, and opponent fumbles recovered. He participated in five straight pro bowls and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980’s.
Bryan Thomsen received a football scholarship to play from 1988-1990 for the ECC Panthers. He was awarded NJCAA First Team All-American in 1990 and J.C. Gridwire First Team All-American in 1990. He received a full intercollegiate football scholarship from the University of South Carolina in 1990-1993. Bryan went on to become a two-year football letter winner during his time at USC.
Duane Beichley played Football and Baseball at ECC, graduating in 1967. He played on the 1966-67 football team that was ranked #7 by the NJCAA, and on the baseball team that ended up taking third place in the national tournament in Grand Junction, Colorado, which he describes as a "once in a lifetime experience." Duane went on to play baseball at Drake University, graduating in 1970.
Dale Carter attended ECC in 1988 and 1989, playing football both years. He earned Honorable Mention in 1989 for the J.C. Grid Wire Award and, after transferring to the University of Tennessee, was drafted as a cornerback by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992. The Georgia native was NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1992 and went on to play in four Pro Bowls. His career spanned 14 seasons as a Bronco, Saint, Raven, Chief and Viking. After retiring in 2005, Dale founded the Dale Carter Foundation to empower underprivileged youth with educational, athletic, and life skills.
Jacob Emerick graduated from ECC in 2000, having wrestled two years and served as team captain. Jake took second place at the NJCAA National Tournament in 1999 and fourth in 2000. He was named an All American both years. He transferred to Minnesota State University at Mankato and continued to wrestle, placing second in the nation in 2003. Jake returned to Ellsworth after graduating to serve as an Assistant Wrestling Coach from 2004 to 2006.
Donald Henrich took great pride in the Iowa Falls community, where he served loyally in many ways. Don died July 30, 2010, but left his mark on the Iowa Falls community and Ellsworth Community College. He served on the Ellsworth College Board of Trustees, the Ellsworth Foundation Board, and the E-Club Board of Directors. Don was presented with an Honorary Degree from ECC in 2009. The Don Henrich Athletic Building, home to the College's football program, is named in his honor.
Dawn (Hajek) Buckheister played Basketball and Softball for ECC, graduating in 1997. In Dawn's two years at ECC, the women's basketball team had a combined record of 48-10. She was a two-time All Region player and holds the ECC women's basketball record for career and season assists. Dawn transferred to Grand View College, graduating in 1999.
Eddie Hannon played Basketball at ECC under legendary Coach Bud Fischer, graduating in 1980. Eddie holds the ECC men's basketball record for most assists in one season. He transferred to Oklahoma State University, graduating in 1982. Eddie is employed by the Indianapolis Public Schools, where he has coached basketball since 2000.
Dale Howard graduated from the University of Iowa. He coached high school basketball and baseball at Bridgewater-Fontanelle and Creston Junior College, where he took his team to the national tournament. After coaching for Iowa Central Community College, Dale returned to Iowa Falls and opened a successful car dealership. He has been a longtime ECC athletic booster. ECC's Dale Howard Family Activity Center was opened in 2009 thanks to a generous gift from the Howard family.
Byron Rhodes played Basketball and Baseball at ECC, graduating in 1962. He and teammate Bob Sturges, who went on to play in the major leagues, were members of the ECC team that played in the Junior College World Series. Byron transferred to Northwest Missouri State, where he played baseball and graduated in 1964. He coached baseball at Starmont High School, BCLUW and Marshalltown Community College, and has been inducted into the Iowa High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
Rick Kriz played Baseball at ECC, graduating in 1967. An outstanding hitter and center fielder, he led the team to 3rd place in the National Tournament in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1966. After ECC, he attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he was an All-American and two-time All Conference player.
Rod Mather was an outstanding Football player, playing cornerback for ECC in 1974 and 1975. After graduating from ECC, he transferred to the University of Northern Arizona. Rod died in August of 1977 while saving a friend from drowning. Each year, his memory is kept alive as an ECC football player is presented The Rod Mather Award for displaying top leadership qualities and athletic ability.
Lee Wykle played Football and Baseball at ECC, graduating in 1969. He led the football team to two Sterling Bowl victories. After ECC, he transferred to Mankato State.
Brad Zeitner is a 1982 graduate of ECC. While here, he played Football, Basketball and Golf and was named Athlete of the Year for 1981-82. Brad transferred to Middle Tennessee State University, where he played football and golf.
Gloria (Andersen) Zimmerman graduated from ECC in 1978. Her freshman year she made the All-Tournament Team at the national Softball tournament after ECC won the 1977 NJCAA Championship. She also played basketball and finished her second season third in career scoring and fourth in career rebounding. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1973 to 1976, she returned to ECC and again played softball. She transferred to the University of Northern Iowa, where she continued to compete as a softball player.
Lee E. Brewer
Loren “Red” Jennings
Mary Jo LeGrand