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Saint Mary's to induct three new members into athletics Hall of Fame

January 13, 2020 7:08am

Storm Lake St. Mary’s High School will be inducting three new members into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the 2020 Homecoming Games vs. Manson Northwest-Webster High School on Friday, January 24. The induction ceremony will be between the varsity girls’ and boys’ games.

Two athletes and one coach will be honored at the ceremony – Libby Kestel, SMHS Class of ‘81, Ben McCollum, SMHS Class of ‘99 and longtime coach John F. Murray (deceased) who taught and coached from 1954 through 1967.

The public is welcome to attend the games and ceremony.


John F. Murray ‘54 to ‘67

Murray coached and taught at St. Mary’s from 1954 through 1967 and was the longest-serving basketball coach to date. He amassed the most victories as a basketball coach all-time. He is the only St. Mary’s coach to win three consecutive State Sectionals (‘56, ‘57, and ‘58).

His teams were Sioux City Diocese Champions in ‘55, and runners-up in ‘57 and ‘64. His 1956 team came within one shot of making it to the State Tournament. He is one of only two basketball coaches to win 20 or more games in a season.

Coach Murray learned many of the fundamentals of the sports he coached while a player at Bancroft St. John’s High School. The Johnies were the first private school to win the State Championship for fall baseball in 1943. Coach Murray played third base for the Johnies, alongside his brother, Tommy Murray (deceased), who pitched a four-hitter in that championship game and later died as a hero in World War II. Libby Kestel ‘81


Kestel was a four-year letter winner in softball, basketball, track and golf from 1978 through 1981.

She was a two-time all-state softball player when there was only one class in Iowa. As a freshman, she was the starting catcher during a brilliant 16-3 season. She continued as catcher in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, as St. Mary’s compiled a cumulative record of 79-25. As a junior, she was a fifth team all-class all-state selection. As a senior, she was the second best catcher in the entire state.

Kestel was also a member of the state champion sprint medley relay team in 1981 in a time of 1:51.35, which still stands as a school record. In that same year, she was also a member of the 4 x 100 relay team that still holds the school record (51.03). The sprint medley relay team was a 2018 inductee to the SM Hall of Fame. She also set the conference record for the softball throw at 214' 5".

Kestel’s achievements as a college softball player are legendary. She was a four-year standout at Buena Vista College (now Buena Vista University), having started every year. She was a four-year all-conference selection. As a junior, she led the Beavers to the NCAA Division III National Title with a .400 average and 23 RBI’s. As a junior and a senior, she was 1st team All-American.

Kestel is the only known St. Mary’s alumni to be inducted into their college’s athletic Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1996.


McCollum lettered in basketball all four years at St. Mary’s, was an important part of the baseball and track programs, and ran cross country through a shared program with Alta.

As a senior, he led the team to a 17-4 record, with three of the four losses to eventual state champion, Newell-Fonda. He was named second-team all-state when he scored 517 points, averaging 24.6 per game, along with 113 assists. He is the 6th all-time scorer (1,181), and 2nd all-time assist leader (345).

In track, he was the school record holder in the 400 meters and competed in the state track meet. In baseball, he was second team all-district with a .443 batting average.

Ben’s accomplishments after St. Mary’s are certainly significant. He started playing college basketball with North Iowa Area Community College for two years, and he then played with Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.

Ben eventually became the head coach at NWMS in 2009. His 2017 and 2019 squads won the Division II National Championship. Seven of his last eight teams have won the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) regular season conference titles, and four have prevailed as conference tournament champions. His career coaching record is 241-75.

He has been named the 2019 John McLendon National Coach of the Year, which recognizes the best coach in all divisions of college basketball. In that year, he was also recognized as Coach of the Year by the NABC, Basketball Times, and the Kansas City Sports Awards. In 2017, he was also recognized as Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the D-II Bulletin. He is also five-time coach of the year in the MIAA conference.