Ron Noesen multi-sport star for Lakers

Ron Noesen was a 1951 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, a three-sport star in football, basketball and track. Ron was one of the most feared running backs in Minnesota and a state finalist in the pole vault.


Ron Noesen was a 1951 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, a three-sport star in football, basketball and track. Ron was one of the most feared running backs in Minnesota and a state finalist in the pole vault.

Noesen was a long-time staff member of Fargo Shanley High School, coaching a state champion track team, along with multiple other coaching positions and serving as athletic director. Noesen went into education as a career to coach, citing DL mentors Ted Anderson, Marv Helling and Jake Hoff as heavy influences.

“Jake was a great, great coach, fundamentally,” Noesen said.

He served two years in the Army from 1956-57 after graduating from Minnesota State Teachers College, now Minnesota State University-Moorhead. He was also the only Dragon named to the Fargo Forum all-city, all-star college football team in 1952.

Noesen was chosen to receive the DL Junior Chamber of Commerce Athletic Scholar award his senior season as a Laker, an award shared by other Hall of Honor nominees Wally Walbaum and Dennis Drewes. The award was given after Noesen won the Region 6 pole vault championship and earned a fourth place finish at state with a bamboo pole he acquired from a furniture store. The poles were used to wrap carpet.


Noesen’s stellar senior football season was cut short due to a broken ankle.

“The saddest day of my life was when I broke my leg my senior year because I was on my way and I felt really good about it.”

Noesen managed to earn and be named All-State honorable mention for playing in only four games during his senior campaign.

“Three-and-a-half, really,” he added.

Playing in only half of the Lakers’ games, Noesen was the season’s leading scorer and was second in rushing, averaging over seven yards per carry. He rushed for 380 yards and was 4-6 passing for 90 yards.

His absence in the lineup gave way to another Laker star and inaugural Hall of Honor member Rich Borstad, who later played at the University of Minnesota.

Despite his small stature at five-feet, eight-inches and 165 pounds, Noesen was a tailback who ran over and away from people and was renowned for frequently having his jersey torn off in games and playing with a multitude of different jersey numbers.

Noesen initially went to NDSU to play football, but suffered a groin injury and lost a scholarship. He transferred to Moorhead as a backup to Billy Flynn from Staples. Noesen was thrust into the starting lineup when Flynn broke his ribs on a kickoff.


Noesen hadn’t done much in practice and didn’t know the plays.

On a handoff from quarterback Jerry Cooper, Ron ran 57 yards for a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage.

“More from fright than anything,” he said.

Noesen was named an all-conference running back at MSTC in 1952 and played both ways as a safety on defense.

In 1953, Noesen scored from 80-yards out on a run against Mankato State.

Noesen was inducted into the Dragons Hall of Honor, along with fellow DL Hall of Honor inductee Rick Manke in 1995. Entering the Laker Hall of Honor is a similar and familiar feeling for Ron.

“I appreciate it,” he said. “It’s an honor. I’ve been red and white my whole life. I’ve been black and blue too.”

Pick a subject, Ron has a great story about it, with a funny punchline.


As an example, here is one from Noesen’s admitted worst sport: basketball. Noesen was one of two seniors on the Laker basketball team in 1951.

“We were playing Wadena, he said. “This kid called Merickel -- about 6-foot-two. He stole the ball from me two or three times and here I am five-nine. He scored and made a fool out of me. Then he stole it again and I thought, ‘Well dammit, you’re not scoring this time,’ so I tackled him. They threw me out and I sat down in the basement because the locker room was underneath the floor and I could hear ‘em running around and I got to thinking about this: ‘That was really stupid, Ron, why’d you do that? That was dumb! You’re really going to get in trouble.’

“Well, they came down at halftime and there was nothing going on. Jake Hoff was the coach. Jake was going to be all over me like pigs in a blanket. Nothing said. Come down at the end of the game he didn’t look at me. We get in the bus he doesn’t say a word. Monday at practice he didn’t say anything. So, finally I asked him.

“I said, ‘Jake how come you didn’t chew me out for what I did to that Merickel?’”

He said, “Why should I? They lost their best player; we lost our worst.”

One of Ron’s claims to fame is organizing the first Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament in 1984, which has become an annual event in Fargo for more than 30 years.

“The first one was tough,” Noesen said. “I had never run a golf tournament.”

To get it started, Noesen phoned Maris in Florida.


Maris said, “Get a hold of Moose Skowron, you call him and he’ll bring you some celebrities.”

“Well, he got Yogi Berra, Don Larson, Mickey Mantle…” Noesen explained.

Noesen represents a bygone era in sports and continued to inspire athletes for decades, including officiating games around the region and as an official starter for countless prep and college track meets until his retirement. He continued on a part-time basis after retiring from the NDSU athletic department.

This is the first of six installments for this year's Detroit Lakes Athletic Foundation Hall of Honor. For more information on this year's inductions, visit

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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