Athletic Hall of Fame – 2001 Inductees
Scroll to see all biographies from this induction class.
Coach / Inducted in 2001
One of the most honored coaches in the state, Les Hipple coached boys’ sports at Marion High School for 20 years, from 1945 through 1965, bringing the school 43 state and conference championships. He is one of the few men to be inducted into both the state’s basketball coaches hall of fame and football coaches hall of fame.
The athletic fields at Marion High School are named in his honor.
His Marion football teams won seven conference championships and finished as runner-up four times in 18 years, compiling a record of 105-42-10. There were no post-season playoffs then.
His cross country teams won nine consecutive state championships.
Hipple’s basketball teams won 12 conference championships (including six in a row) in 20 seasons, compiling a record of 309-123. In post-season play, two teams reached the quarter finals of the state tournament, thus finishing among the top eight teams in the state. In all, his teams also reached substate play seven times and won their sectional tournaments 11 times.
His track teams won conference championships five times in 18 years.
Before coming to Marion, Les coached at West Branch, where his football teams went 21-5-1 and his basketball teams won three county and district championships.
After his coaching career ended, Les stayed on to teach mathematics at Marion until his retirement in 1978.
A native of Tipton, he attended Tipton Junior College and the State University of Iowa.
Community Member / Inducted in 2001
Gary Knapp dedicated many decades to improving Marion athletics. In the late 1960s, he was one of the founding members of the Booster Club. He served many years on the Athletic Council
Gary ran the clock at football games for more than 30 years.
He helped construct the football press box, the locker rooms at the field, and the baseball/softball complex. He helped raised funds for weight room equipment, the all-weather track and new lights for the football field.
Gary has also been instrumental in building and guiding the boys’ youth basketball program.
Community Member / Inducted in 2001
Norm Peyton has helped with numerous projects to benefit the sports program at Marion. He was instrumental in installing new lights for the football field and constructing the football field locker rooms. He helped build the original football press box – then helped to remodel it years later. For many years, he filmed football games, both home and away, helped run field events during track meets and assisted the basketball program in a variety of ways.
Athlete / MHS Class of 1956 / Inducted in 2001
Ron Altenberg lettered in football, basketball, and track at Marion High School.
In football, Ron was halfback and punter on two teams that were undefeated in WaMaC Conference play, going 17-1 overall. As a senior, he gained 1,105 yards rushing in nine games, averaging 10.7 yards a carry. The team that year was ranked 11th in the state among 600 football-playing schools of all sizes. Altenberg was named to the Des Moines Register All-State fourth team and received IDPA Honorable Mention recognition as a halfback.
In basketball, Ron was a key player as a junior and senior on teams that won the conference championship each year and went 44-5 overall. As a senior, Ron was named third team All-State by the Des Moines Register and received an honorable mention from the Iowa Daily Press Association. As a junior, he received Honorable Mention recognition from the Register. This was at a time when All-State honorees were chosen from more than 900 schools.
Ron was outstanding and versatile in track. In his senior year, he won the conference championships and set new conference records in four events (the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash, the 180-yard low hurdles, and the long jump). He won the same events in the district meet and went on to win state championships in the hurdles and long jump, finishing second in the 220 and third in the 100. Ron also took first place in the 100-yard dash in the high school division of the Drake Relays as a senior. His time of 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash continues to be recognized as a school record.
Ron briefly attended the University of New Mexico, then transferred to Cornell College, where he excelled in basketball and track. As a senior, he led his team to the final four in the NCAA small college (Division II) tournament, setting several scoring records in the process. That year he was named to the small college All-America team.
In track, he won nine individual Midwest Conference titles in sprints, hurdles, and long jump, leading Cornell to two conference championships. His best time for the 100-yard dash was 9.5 seconds, just two-tenths of a second off the world record. In several major track events, he competed against the best sprinters in the nation.
In 1960, he was named the outstanding athlete in the state by the Des Moines Register. He was inducted into the Cornell College Athletic Hall of fame in its inaugural year.
After college, Ron was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA. He opted instead to play AAU basketball and was signed by the Phillips 66ers, joining a squad of All-Americans on what was one of the country’s dominant national industrial league teams. He played for the 66ers for two years.
Athlete / MHS Class of 1990 / Inducted in 2001
Cary Bender participated in football, basketball, and baseball at Marion.
A running back in football, Cary set many Marion records for rushing and all-purpose yards as he led his teams to a 15-3 record in his junior and senior years. He was named first team Class 3A All-State as a senior and first team All-Conference as a junior and senior. Among his many records were all-purpose yards in a season (1,748), most rushing touchdowns in a season (28), average points per game in a season (20.22), and career average yards per rush (9.22). His uniform number (24) is retired.
In basketball, he earned second team All-Conference honors as a sophomore and junior and second team All-Metro honors as a junior. He did not play basketball as a senior.
Cary attended Coe College, where he set many rushing records and earned All-American honors. In 1994, he received the Gagliardi Trophy and the Melberger Award, both of which honor an outstanding Division III football player. His number (1) was retired.
At the time of his graduation, Cary held NCAA records in career all-purpose yards (7,970), yards gained in one game (417), most points in one game (48), and most points in a career (528).
He signed on as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League and later played in the World League of American Football in Europe.
Athlete / MHS Class of 1988 / Inducted in 2001
Kim Hutchins Knapp played basketball and softball for Marion.
In basketball, Kim is among the school’s all-time top scorers in 5-on-5 play with 808 career points. During her senior year, she set a school record with 39 points in a single game. Among her other records were most field goals in a game (19), most steals in a game (9). She is among the all-time leaders in career steals, career rebounds, and career free throws.
In softball, Kim started for Marion as an eighth-grader and grew into one of the most feared hitters in the state. She was named to All-State teams as a sophomore, junior, and senior. In her junior year, she batted .396 with seven home runs for an .839 slugging percentage and 36 runs batted in. In her senior year, she set a new Iowa record with 15 home runs in 30 games, batted .491, drove in 42 runs and notched a staggering slugging percentage of 1.002. Her number (24) was retired.
Kim attended Mount Mercy College, where she helped her team reach the NAIA national tournament and was twice named to the NAIA All-America team. She is a member of Mount Mercy’s Athletic Hall of Fame and the Iowa Girls Softball Hall of Fame.
Athlete / MHS Class of 1952 / Inducted in 2001
Hugh Leffingwell participated in football, basketball, and track.
He was a basketball player of immense talent who set scoring records that continued to stand 60 years after he played. He was named second team All-State by the Iowa Daily Press Association and third team All-State by the Des Moines Register as a junior. As a senior he was named first team All-State by both the IDPA and Register. This was during a time when All-State teams were chosen in a single class from more than 900 teams across the state. Hugh was twice named Register Prep of the week – once each during his junior and senior years. He was also named to the All-State Finals second team as a senior. He is a member of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Basketball Players Hall of Fame, the only Indian so honored through 2013.
As a junior and senior, Hugh led his teams to consecutive WaMaC Conference Championships and an overall record of 47-4. In his senior year, the team reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament, thus ranking among the top eight teams in the state.
Among his scoring records which still stood in 2013 were career points (1,314), most points in a season (both first and second places, 673 as a senior and 608 as a junior), average points per game (both first and second places, 25.9 and 24.3), most field goals in a season 265 and 250), most free throws in a season (143), most field goals in a game (18, tied with Stuart Rodger, who did it in 1909), and most free throws in a game (17; he made every free throw he took). In one game, he went 14-for-14 from the field, which was described as a national record. He also made 24 consecutive free throws over several games, which was said to be a state record at the time.
He was a two-year-starter in football. Playing quarterback his senior year, he led his team to a conference championship.
In track, he performed on two conference championship teams. As a senior he won individual WaMaC titles in the shot put, discus, and football throw, and qualified for the state finals in the football throw.
Hugh attended the University of Iowa, excelling on the freshman team. He would have been a key member of Iowa’s greatest teams, “The Fabulous Five,” which won two Big Ten titles and twice went to the NCAA Final Four, finishing second in 1956. However, he was stricken with leukemia in his sophomore year and died on October 5, 1954.
Athlete / MHS Class of 1983 / Inducted in 2001
Todd Twachtmann participated in football, basketball, baseball, and golf at Marion, earning state-wide recognition in all four sports.
In football, he played on four WaMaC championship teams and four state playoff teams. A running back, he was named first team All-State among all classes as a senior, first team 3A All-State as a junior and senior, first team All-Conference and first team All-Metro in both his junior and senior years. In those two years, Marion’s record was 17-4.
As a junior, Todd set a new school record for rushing yardage (1,192), then broke it as a senior with 1,521, twice gaining 200 or more yards in a game. His 23 touchdowns that year were a new school record, as were his 3,394 career rushing yards. He was chosen for the Shrine Bowl All-Star game and his football jersey (number 42) was retired at Marion. He is a member of the Football Hall of Fame of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
In basketball, he played on two WaMaC championship teams, scoring 1,249 career points, second on the all-time list. Todd was named to the fourth team all-class All-State by the Iowa Newspaper Association and Des Moines Register as a senior, and fourth team all-class All-State by the IDPA as a junior. He was first team All-Conference and All-Metro as a sophomore, junior, and senior, and honorable mention on those two teams as a freshman.
In baseball, Todd was named second team All-State by the Register and twice named honorable mention All-State by the Iowa Daily Press Association and Iowa Newspaper Association. He was named first team All-District his junior and senior years. He played catcher on two WaMaC championship teams. He was a four-year starter and was named first team All-Conference all four years. He set school records for most stolen bases (23), fewest strikeouts (8), and most putouts (254).
Todd earned four varsity letters in golf. As a senior he was district medalist and played on a team that finished third in the state.
In 1983, he was named male athlete of the year by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Todd attended Dartmouth College, where he played on the baseball team. His single-season batting average of .419 is one the school’s all-time best. At Dartmouth he was awarded the Kenneth Archibald Prize for best all-around athlete with regard to high moral worth and high standing in scholarship.
After college he was involved in elite-level men’s fast-pitch softball, playing for the United States team that won the World’s Championship in 1996. He was twice named to the “All-World” team, and is a member of the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.