Hall of fame

From left to right, John Kaiser, Wendy Smart, Aaron Smith and Gary Gauffin receive their Booster Hall of Fame awards.

At halftime of the Mustangs home football opener against Esko Friday, Sept. 10, the Mustang Hall of Fame welcomed four new members: John Kaiser (class of 2000), Wendy (Gmahl) Smart (class of 1984), Aaron Smith (class of 1981) and Gary Gauffin (long time coach, teacher and administrator). A ceremony took place at halftime welcoming the hall of fame class of 2021.  

Aaron Smith, who excelled in track and field, cross country and wrestling said, “I was excited to hear of the acceptance into the Mora Hall of Fame and be included with a great group of former athletes and coaches.” 

After high school Aaron attended Hamline University where he wrestled for two years. He transferred to Bemidji State University and ran in cross country and track, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. While raising three children with his wife, Carol, Aaron was involved in coaching softball, baseball, soccer and running marathons. After 20 years working for Target and eight years with Connolly, Inc., he is recently retired and enjoys traveling, outside activities and running ultra-marathons.

Some of Aaron’s notable high school accomplishments: 

  •  Two-time letter winner in track and field

  •  Excelled in the 3200 meter, holding the school record for 25 years

  •  Two-time letter winner in cross country

  •  Two time all conference runner (first all-conference cross-country runner from MHS)

  •  Three-time letter winner in wrestling

  •  First wrestler to win a district championship (junior year)

  •  All conference senior year and honorable mention all-conference 10th and 11th grade years 

Wendy (Gmahl) Smart excelled in volleyball, basketball and softball.  “It is truly an honor to be part of the Mustang Hall of Fame. Sports have always been a big part of my family life.  I attribute my successes to the many great coaches I have had along the way, many of which I worked alongside during my time working for Mora Public Schools. Memories made while being part of a team will last forever, and I often enjoy sharing my great high school memories with my boys.”  

Wendy teaches at Mora Elementary and is married to Kyle Smart. The Smarts live up on Knife Lake and have three boys, Kaden (20), Jonah (16) and Dawson (13)  

Some of Wendy’s notable high school accomplishments: 

  •  All conference volleyball, senior year

  •  Member of the District 18 championship volleyball team

  •  Co-captain, senior year of volleyball 

  •  All conference basketball, senior year; honorable mention all-conference, junior year

  •  WCMP all area first team basketball, senior year; WCMP all area second team, junior year

  •  Led the Rum River Conference in field goal percentage, junior and senior year

  •  Member of the Rum River Conference championship basketball team, senior year

  •  Co-captain basketball, senior year. 

  •  All conference softball, senior year; honorable mention all-conference, junior year

  •  Captain softball, senior year

John Kaiser excelled in football, basketball and baseball. “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an honor, obviously, but has also been very fun in terms of all the memories it brings back of teammates, friends, coaches, practices, games and the incredible experiences. Being a student athlete at Mora was so much fun and having the chance to be included in the Hall of Fame is something I really appreciate and look forward to sharing with my family.” 

 John currently lives in Plymouth, and works for Allianz Life Insurance running a team responsible for negotiating contracts on behalf of the company. He is married to Courtney and has three kids, Jack (6), Natalie (4) and Julia (2).   

Some of John’s notable high school accomplishments: 

  •  Three-year letter winner, football

  •  Two time all conference, football

  •  1,000-yard rusher 

  •  Four-year letter winner, basketball

  •  Three time all conference, basketball

  •  Three time all district, basketball

  •  Three-time letter winner, baseball

  •  Three time all conference, baseball

  •  All Region 12, baseball

Gary Gauffin started teaching in Mora in 1978. He taught and coached until 2000 when he then moved into administration. He was activities director, head of buildings/grounds, head of transportation/health and safety until his retirement in 2016. He worked on completion of the Welia Community Center for the next two years until completion. “I am enjoying retirement. It is a nice change of pace and relaxing. I am very proud of our accomplishments during my tenure as activities director. You don’t get into the profession to get into a Hall of Fame, but it is a very nice honor and I appreciate it.”  

Gary and his wife, Kerry, now live in Billings, Montana. They have three kids that are married with their own children. Kristin lives in California with her family, Jill lives in Oklahoma with her family and Kendra lives in Billings with her family.  

Some of Gary’s notable accomplishments:

  •  Head girls’ basketball coach 1980-1997

  •  Three-time conference champions

  •  Three-time district runner up 

  •  Varsity assistant football coach 1978-1999

  •  Class A state football champions 1996 

  •  Butch Nash award winner 1996 (state award for assistant coaches)

  •  Five-time district activities director of the year

  •  Helped in the creation of the Mustang Hall of Fame

  •  Helped in the creation of the Granite Ridge Conference after the Rum River Conference disbanded 

The Mustang Hall of Fame began in 2010 with its inaugural class. A new class was inducted each year through 2013. Starting in 2015, classes were inducted on an every other year basis.  

The Hall of Fame committee is made up of Leah Berry, Crystal Dryden, Jake Ellingson, Kris Osterdyk and Deb Wright. According to Leah Berry, “We’re looking for more committee members, please email morahof@gmail.com if interested.”

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