A dominant distance runner and a faculty member known for his caring, outside-of-the-box style were among those inducted into the Detroit Lakes Athletic Foundation's Hall of Honor during a ceremony held at the Historic Holmes Theatre in September.
On Sept. 11, Hanna (Grinaker) Cooley, Class of 2006, and former teacher Jeff Mohr were honored for their accomplishments representing Detroit Lakes High School as an athlete and a coach. Cooley still holds three school track records in the 800 meter, 1,600 meter and 3,200 meter races and Mohr coached the Lakers track and field teams to six Mid-State Conference championships in the 1980s.
Bill Kvebak, Lakers cross country coach, introduced Cooley and tried to put her amazing accomplishments into perspective, since most people wouldn't know how to gauge the success of a legendary cross country runner.
"Every race that we've ever run, we're running against more than one team," said Kvebak, during Cooley's introduction. "She's running against, sometimes, a hundred or more kids, if you look at her record versus individuals in her junior year, her record would be 921-1."
She also excelled at the longer distances in track, he said, finishing 2nd in the 3,200-meter race at the state track meet in 2004. Adding, the girl that defeated her needed to set a state record to do so and went on to win a national title in college; she was the only person who could defeat Hanna in high school, he said.
"She moves on to run at the national Footlocker cross country race, a national meet," he said. "She placed seventh in the nation. As an athlete, that is amazing."
As Cooley began delivering her induction speech, she expressed thanks to the foundation for the honor and loved the "gritty" photo they used for her hanging mural.
"I really love that picture of me on the wall, actually" Cooley said.
She said a previous speaker at the event lamented that a true Laker shows grit and her stern-faced racing photo reminded her of what "grit" looked like. She also thanked her mom.
"First of all, my mom … she would do anything for me to make me be the best that I can be," said Cooley.
She went on to describe her traditional pre-race meal of pork chops and sweet potatoes, which her mother cooked for her before every race.
"I am a dietician, and I can not tell you anything about that meal that would make you run fast," she said "But she did that. Every single race, even when I had three races in week."
After graduation, Cooley attended the University of Wisconsin and continued to compete in cross country. During her collegiate career, she was named 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, selected to two, first team All-Big Ten teams in 2006 and 2007, and named to two U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American teams in 2006 and 2007, according to her program biography.
She received a master's degree in exercise science from North Dakota State University and then, in 2016, began competing in triathlons. Cooley finished 13th in the amateur female division at the 2019 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Jeff Mohr taught in Detroit Lakes Public Schools for 17 years. During his tenure, he was the Lakers head coach for track and field and cross-country, and also served as an assistant coach on the football and hockey teams. He led his track and field teams to six Mid-State Conference championships during the 1980s, which culminated in the first state championship at the True Team State Meet in 1987. His track and field teams accumulated a 879-204 record overall during his nine-year coaching career, according to his program biography.
Todd Jorgenson, former Lakers track and field star and Hall of Honor inductee in 2008, introduced his former coach.
"They say, 'it takes a village,' and I really believe that to be true," said Jorgenson. "Your parents, your teachers, your friends, your siblings, and, if you are lucky, you get to throw a good coach in there, too. Everyone should have the good fortune of playing for, and competing under, a great coach. We did, and ours was Coach Mohr."
As Mohr began his induction speech, he thanked the parents for the opportunity to corrupt their kids.
"I think Robin Williams said one time that you are only given a small spark of madness and you mustn't lose it," said Mohr. "It was difficult to be the coach of two sports that nobody likes, but I think if I had a show of hands out here of how many of you like running, I don't think anybody would raise their hand, including Hanna."
Mohr also described the perfect track team needs only three members.
"The first kid you need on your team is the best athlete in the school because if you get the best athlete in school to come out for the track team, you're going to have a good track team" he said. "The second kid you need on your team is another great athlete who is probably the most well-liked kid in school because if you can get that person to come out, all the other guys are going to follow him and you'll have a lot of kids out and when you have a home track meet, the bleachers will be filled with all the lovely young ladies and you'll never have to worry about ticket sales."
The third member, he said, was someone who's parents are connected in the community, like a dentist, so he could get a discount on crowns and fillings. The room erupted with laughter.
Mohr also described construction of the Ford Shelby GT350. He said, during the discussion with executives on what they were going to call this new car, Carroll Shelby said that it was the product that makes the name, not the other way around.
"What you had here tonight were products, if you will, of independent school district number 22 in the city of Detroit Lakes," said Mohr. "They are people who, not only made a name for themselves, but they've helped put Detroit Lakes on the map because Detroit Lakes, in and of itself, can't do that, only its people, only its products, can do that."
He has run 24 marathons over the course of his life and has been race director for the local Dick Beardsley half-marathon and 5K.
His 1987 Lakers track and field team was inducted into the Hall of Honor in 2014.
Other 2021 Hall of Honor awardees honored during the banquet were: