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AUSTIN EDITION - Five athletes will answer Austin's call

Hall of fame induction ceremony Friday at halftime of game

To anyone who knows Brad Lukes, it should come as no surprise that he was humbled to be elected to the Austin High Hall of Fame.

The former standout football and baseball player for the Packers graduated in 1985. He was all-conference both sports, but football is where he was a real standout.

Lukes will be one of five former Packers enshrined on Friday during halftime of the Austin boys basketball game. The others in the class of 2004-05 are Joe Longueville (1982 AHS grad), Steve Barber (1987), Willie Friedrich (1948) and Norm Schieck (1942).

"It's a nice honor," Lukes said. "There's been a lot of very good athletes go through Austin so it's nice to be part of that."

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Toni (Wolfe) Lukes, Brad's wife, said he is deserving of the honor, but is taking it all in stride.

"Brad doesn't like a whole lot of attention," she said. "He's humble and quiet, a real nice guy."

"I'm not one for the spotlight," Lukes admitted.

Brad and Toni, who was a standout pitcher for the Packers in softball, were high school sweethearts and now have three children, Tana (age 15), Kaycee (13) and Bret (9). All three children, like their parents, are involved in sports and also enjoy music. Tana is a sophomore who is a reserve for the Austin varsity girls basketball team. Brad coaches Bret in youth basketball.

Lethal spin move

During his high school career, Lukes played big on the football field despite standing just 5-foot-7.

"That was never a thought," he said of his size.

Instead he used his speed, elusiveness and balance to become one of Austin's all-time best running backs. Lukes twice rushed for more than 200 yards in a game for the Packers. His mark of 232 yards against Rochester John Marshall was an Austin record at the time.

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Lukes was at his best in the open field. He would occasionally use a lethal spin move that often left defenders lunging at air.

"I didn't ever really practice it," Lukes said. "But I remember old players like (former Vikings running back) Chuck Foreman using it so I just kind of picked it up."

Suffers knee injury

Lukes' senior season was cut short because of a knee injury. He was still named all-conference for the second straight season. He rebounded to earn all-conference honors as a shortstop in baseball in the spring of 1985.

But the knee injury took its toll later on. Lukes played one season at St. Cloud State but had to give up football because of another knee injury.

"It just didn't bounce back into shape," he said.

Lukes said he was also fortunate to play with some talented players back in high school. His junior year the Packers tied for the Big Nine title with Owatonna. Then the Packers captured the league title outright in 1984 under coach Don Fox. Austin has not won a Big Nine football title since.

"I didn't realize they hadn't won it since," Lukes said. "It was (fun) because there have been a lot of real good Austin football teams."

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Lukes, who runs a farm just outside of Austin, occasionally golfs now and enjoys running into some of his old football coaches like Fox, Bill Lloyd and Dick Lees, from time to time. That's what he misses most about the game.

"It's just all the people involved," Lukes said. "The players, the coaches. The coaches were great."

Lukes will get to enjoy the past a bit more this weekend as he humbly celebrates his individual award.

"It will be fun," he said. "There will probably be a lot of people I haven't seen for awhile."

Guy N. Limbeck is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. His column runs every Thursday. He can be reached at glimbeck@postbulletin.com

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