UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame Selects Class of 2014
March 12, 2014
Back row, left to right: Lloyd Dowler, Edward McGinty, Arthur Haman, Haskel Leuty, John Kimball, Leslie Witte, Oliver Rollins.
Front row, left to right: Jack Bugas, Willard West, Willard "Dutch" Witte (head coach), Poss Parsons (Denver Post Sports Editor), Leonard Kuiper, Stanley Christensen, Ray Christensen.
Laramie, Wyo. - Three decorated football players, a high-scoring basketball player, a champion skier, a legendary track & field coach, a dedicated administrator, and an historically great men's basketball team comprise the latest class of the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
The dinner and induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame's 22nd class will be held August 29, 2014, at the University of Wyoming Conference Center & Hilton Garden Inn Ballroom in Laramie.
This year's inductees include: the late Dennis Baker (Football, 1975-77), Becky Simning Eriksson (Skiing, 1979-81, 1984-85), LeRoy Gabriel (Administration, 1961-1995), Harry Hall (Basketball, 1966-69), the late Duane Schopp (Track & Field Coach, 1984-97), Mark Smolinski (Football, 1958-60), Jack Weil (Football, 1980-83), and the 1933-34 Men's Basketball Team.
The Hall of Fame is asking for help from the public in finding family members of the 1933-34 men's basketball team. We are searching for relatives of players Jack Bugas (originally from Rock Springs), Ray Christensen, Stanley Christensen, Arthur Haman (originally from Aurora, Ill.), Taft Harris, John Kimball (originally from Lincoln, Neb.), Leonard Kuiper, Haskell Leuty (originally from Denison, Tex.), Eddie McGinty (originally from Wheatland), Oliver Rollins, and Willard "Buzz" West (originally of Kansas City, Mo.). We have already located family members of Coach Willard "Dutch" Witte, his brother Les Witte, who played on the team, and Lloyd Dowler. If you have any information on any of the players listed above, please contact Kathy Hearne at the UW Athletic Department at 766-2292 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A total of 135 individuals and 14 teams have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1993. Its plaque display is located in the concourse of the Arena-Auditorium.
The Hall of Fame Committee met in February to make its final selections for this year's class. The inductees must fit into one of five categories: student-athlete, coach, team, athletics staff members or special achievement. The special achievement category includes individuals who have contributed to the ideal of sports at the University. Each nominee must receive at least 75 percent of the committee's vote to be eligible for induction. Nominations are encouraged and are due in to the committee by Sept. 1st in order to be considered for the following year's class. For more information, check out the UW Athletics Hall of Fame website at www.wyohof.com.
Members of the committee are: Mike Schutte (Chairman), Tom Burman, Gary Crum, Stig Hallingbye (Vice Chairman), Jim House, Dave Madia, Julie Manning, Margie McDonald, Kevin McKinney, Brian Morgen, Jared Newland, and Bruce Pivic.
Following is the Class of 2014:
Hometown: Grand Island, Neb.
One of the finest linemen ever to play at Wyoming, Baker anchored the offensive line for the Cowboys from 1975-1977. He earned Associated Press (AP) All America honors in 1977 despite missing several games due to an injury. He was only the third Wyoming Cowboy ever to be chosen to the AP All American Team. A three-time all-Western Athletic Conference selection, Baker excelled in both run-blocking and pass-blocking. In Baker's junior season of 1976, the Cowboys went 8-4 and played in the Fiesta Bowl. In 1977, he led the way for running back Myron Hardeman's 1,165 rushing yards. A native of Grand Island, Neb., Baker was recruited by the University of Nebraska but chose to play for Wyoming.
Becky Simning Eriksson
Hometown: Oroville, Calif.
Years: 1979-81, 1984-85
A five-time All-America skier, Eriksson excelled at the slalom and giant slalom events. She was the AIAW National Champion in the giant slalom in 1980 and earned All America honors. In 1980-81, she won the AIAW National Championship in both the slalom and the giant slalom, earning All America honors in both events. Named Ski Racing Magazine's College Skier of the Year, she also won the AIAW Broderick Award for exceptional female college athletes. At the U. S. National Alpine Championships, she placed 2nd in slalom and 4th in giant slalom. In 1982-83, Eriksson competed as a member of the U.S. National Alpine Ski Team. Competing in World Cup and Europa Cup events, she placed 6th overall in the Europa Cup. She placed third in the giant slalom and 4th overall at the U. S. National Championships while competing again for the U. S. National Alpine Ski Team in 1983-84. She returned to UW in 1984-85 and placed third in the slalom and third in the giant slalom for Wyoming's 1985 NCAA National Champion ski team, again winning All America honors in both events. A native of Bend, Ore., Eriksson was presented with the Admiral Land Award in 1985 as Wyoming's outstanding student-athlete. She went on to compete on the professional ski racing tour.
Hometown: Osceola, Neb.
"Gabe" was a fixture in the Athletics Department for thirty-nine years as a student-athlete, a student manager, Stadium Supervisor, Facilities Supervisor, and Facilities and Events Coordinator. He came to UW as a football player but suffered a career-ending injury his freshman year. After that, he became a football manager while finishing his degree. Following graduation in 1961, he became Stadium Supervisor and served eleven years in that position before being promoted to Facilities Supervisor in 1972. In 1987 he was named Facilities and Events Coordinator, responsible for event management and all the UW Athletics Facilities. His attention to detail and expertise made him an invaluable member of teams that helped plan the expansion of UW's facilities, including the Little League complex, Cowboy Field, the track stadium, additions to War Memorial Stadium, Jacoby Golf Course, the Arena-Auditorium, the Fieldhouse North Addition, the Uni-Wyo Sports Complex, and the practice fields. Former UW Head Football Coach Bill Lewis said of him: "The pride that LeRoy took in every team, in every athletic facility, and in every Wyoming Cowboy Athletic contest is unsurpassed. LeRoy positively touched the lives of every athlete, every coach, and every athletic administrator on a daily basis throughout his thirty-nine years. "
Hometown: Harvey, Ill.
A three-time All-Western Athletic Conference honoree, Harry Hall scored 1,596 points in 83 games as a three-year starter for the Cowboys. Hall's scoring average of 19.2 points per game ties him with Leon Clark for fourth-best all-time at Wyoming. A native of Harvey, Ill., he was a two-time first-team all-WAC selection in 1968 and 1969 at his natural position of guard and earned second-team all-WAC honors while playing an undersized forward in 1967. He was the first player in the WAC to earn all-conference honors at two positions. Only 6'2", but with a knack for rebounding, Hall collected 550 boards in his UW career averaging 6.6 per game. He still ranks 9th on UW's all-time list for points scored, 10th in field goals made (582), and 7th in free throws made (471). He led the Cowboys in scoring in 1966-67 and 1967-68. Coached by Bill Strannigan, Hall's teams played in the post-season each of his three years and won two WAC championships. In 1967, Wyoming played UCLA with Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in the first round of the NCAA tournament and Hall scored 19 points in the loss. The Cowboys then played UTEP in the consolation round and Hall scored 21 points in a two-point defeat. In 1968 and 1969, Wyoming participated in the NIT tournament, losing both times in the first round.
Hometown: Normal, Ill.
Sport: Track & Field Coach
Schopp served as head coach for the University of Wyoming Track & Field and Cross Country teams from 1984-1997. A five-time Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, his teams won two WAC championships. He also was named the High Country Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1988. He coached numerous All Americans and one national champion (Ryan Butler) at UW. He led the Cross Country program to WAC titles in 1985, 1986, and 1987, with an NCAA appearance in 1986. Schopp was instrumental in fundraising for and installation of Wyoming's indoor and outdoor track facilities. He served as the District VII Regional Representative for Division I Track & Field, as well as serving on numerous committees. Schopp started the Wyoming High School "Meet of Champions". Thanks to his vision, Wyoming was one of the first three states in the country to sanction high school indoor track and field. Following his coaching career, Schopp became the Athletic Director at Cheyenne Central High School and served in that capacity for several years.
Hometown: Roger City, Mich.
Known as a "battering ram" fullback, Smolinski played on three straight Skyline Conference Championship teams and played in the 1958 Sun bowl. Those Cowboy teams went 25-6. Named first-team all-conference following his senior season, Smolinski was a versatile two-way player. Named team captain in 1960, he played linebacker on Wyoming's top-ranked defense, while leading the team in receptions on offense. For his career, Smolinski rushed 223 times for 890 yards and five touchdowns (an average of four yards per carry). He also posted 13 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown, four kickoff returns for 59 yards (an average of 14.8 yards per return), and one interception return for 13 yards. He went on to produce a long professional career with the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets, and played in one of the most famous Super Bowls of all time, the Jets' upset of Baltimore in Super Bowl III.
Hometown: Denver, Colo.
One of the finest punters ever to play at Wyoming, Weil began his career as a walk-on in 1980 and finished his career as Wyoming's first consensus All America in 1983. During his senior year (1983), he led the country in punting with an average of 45.6 yards per punt. For his career, he punted 231 times for 9,840 yards, an average of 42.6 yards per kick. A four-year letterman, Weil averaged 44 yards per punt in 1980, 41.4 yards per punt in 1981, and 40.6 yards per punt in 1982. He was seventh in the nation in punting in 1980, and led the conference in punting in 1980 and 1983. He was named First Team All-Western Athletic Conference in 1983. In the UW record books, Weil ranks fourth all-time in career punting average and owns two of the top-10 best punting seasons at UW (1980 and 1983). He also has the second and third best punting single games all-time (Sept. 17, 1983, vs. Air Force: six punts for 336 yards; and Nov. 1, 1980, vs. Colorado State: seven punts for 389 yards, respectively). After his collegiate career, Weil played professionally for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins.
1933-34 Men's Basketball Team
The 1933-34 men's basketball team compiled an overall record of 26-4, including a 24-game winning streak, and featured five All-American starters: Art Haman (Aurora, Ill.), John Kimball (Lincoln, Neb.), Haskell Leuty (Denison, Tex.), Ed McGinty (Wheatland, Wyo.), and Les Witte (Lincoln, Neb.). Wyoming won five straight games and reached the finals at the AAU National Tournament before losing to the Diamond X Oilers of Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were named "National Champions" by the Helms Athletic Foundation, an organization based in Los Angeles, Calif., which for many years put together a panel of experts to rank college sports teams and determine All-America selections at the end of the season. There was no NCAA Tournament at that time. Undefeated in conference play, the Cowboys won the Rocky Mountain Conference championship and were the first Wyoming team to reach 20 victories. Coached by Willard "Dutch" Witte, the team also included Jack Bugas (Rock Springs), Ray Christensen, Stanley Christensen, Lloyd Dowler (Casper, Wyo.), Taft Harris, Leonard Kuiper, Oliver Rollins, and Willard "Buzz" West (Kansas City, Mo.). Les Witte, the younger brother of the head coach, led the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game. The team averaged 37.6 points per game, while allowing only 25.4. Their only losses were to non-collegiate teams, AAU entries Denver Piggly-Wiggly (three times, including two exhibition games for charity) and the Diamond X Oilers.
Previous inductees by class:
Class of 1993: Dick Ballinger, (wrestling, 1958-60); Fennis Dembo (men's basketball, 1985-88); Mike Dirks (football, 1965-67); Jerry Hill (football, 1958-60); Glenn J. "Red" Jacoby (athletic director, 1946-73); Jay Novacek (football and track, 1982-84); Kenny Sailors (men's basketball, 1941-46); Everett Shelton (men's basketball coach, 1939-59); Johnny Winterholler (football, baseball, and basketball, 1936-39); 1943 National Champion Basketball Team.
Class of 1994: Paul Carlin (track, 1951-53); George "Duke" Humphrey (president, 1945-64); Everett Lantz (wrestling coach, 1937-65); Flynn Robinson (men's basketball, 1963-65); Mary Shea (volleyball, 1980-83); Bill Strannigan (men's basketball, 1941-42); Ken Sturman (football, 1937-39); Eddie Talboom (football, 1948-50) Bowden Wyatt (football coach, 1947-52); 1950 Gator Bowl football team.
Class of 1995: Jack Aggers (trainer, 1958-84)); Jim Crawford (football, 1954-56); John Corbett (administration, 1915-39); Bob Devaney (football coach, 1957-61); John Kosich (football, baseball, 1946-49); Dewey McConnell (football, 1949-51); Pat Miller-Davis (track and field, 1980-82).
Class of 1996: Larry Birleffi (broadcaster, 1947-86); Charles W. "Tub" Bradley (basketball, 1979-81); Glenn R. "Bud" Daniel (baseball coach, 1951-61, 1963-71); Michele Hoppes Daum (basketball, 1984-87); Jim Kiick (football, 1965-67); Mark Miller (swimming, 1985-88); Milward L. Simpson (football, basketball and baseball, 1917-21).
Class of 1997: Joe Alexander (rodeo, 1968-69); Keith Bloom (basketball, football, baseball, 1947-50); Stig Hallingbye (skiing, 1974-77); Ronda K. Munger (volleyball, 1984-87); Joseph Nzau (track and field, 1977-82); 1967 Sugar Bowl Football Team.
Class of 1998: Curt Gowdy (broadcaster, basketball, tennis, 1940-42); Eric Leckner (basketball, 1985-88); Bob Jingling (baseball, 1952-55); Kathleen Van Heule Romsa (track and field, 1983-85); Joe Mastrogiovanni (football, baseball, 1953-55).
Class of 1999: Darcy Cudaback-White (volleyball, 1986-89); Paul Roach (football coach, 1987-90); Paul Toscano (football, 1965-67); John Pilch (basketball, 1947-49); Galand Thaxton (football, 1984-87); Tony Windis (basketball, 1957-59).
Class 2000: Jim Brandenburg (basketball coach, 1978-87); Amy Burnett (basketball, 1992-95); Bill Ewing (baseball, 1974-76); Lee Kizzire (football, 1934-36); Larry Nels (football, 1967-69); Curtis and Marian Rochelle (special achievement).
Class of 2001: Nick Bebout (football, 1970-72); Joe Capua (basketball, 1954-56); Ken Cook (special achievement); Mickey Dunn (track and field, 1949-51); Bill Garnett (basketball, 1979-82); Jean Jackson (administration), 1956 Football Team.
Class of 2002: Greg Brock (baseball, 1976-79); Mitch Donahue (football, 1987-90); Christine Fairless (basketball, 1986-89); Margie McDonald (basketball coach, 1975-83); George "Moe" Radovich (basketball, 1950-52); Reginald Slater (basketball, 1989-92).
Class of 2003: Ken Fantetti (football, 1975-78); Norma Hughes Scifres (swimming, 1990-92, 1994); Willard A. "Dutch" Witte (basketball and football coach, 1930-39); John Wodny (cross country/track, 1986-90); Ryan Yarborough (football, 1990-93); Bill Young (Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletics Director, 1960-81); 1959-60 Wrestling Team.
Class of 2004: Reese Andy (wrestling, 1994-96); Leon Clark (basketball, 1963-66); Marcus Harris (football, 1993-96); Bill Levine (football, 1961, 1963-64); Jimmi Jo Martin Ripsam (rodeo, 1988-90); Pat Rabold (football, 1984, 1986-88); Andy Welsh (diving, 1981-85).
Class of 2005: Ryan Butler (track and field, 1995-96); Phil Dickens (football coach, 1953-56); Joe Dowler (wrestling coach, administrator, 1973-87); Ann Melander (skiing, 1984-85); Theo Ratliff (basketball, 1992-95); Vic Washington (football, 1965-67); 1989 Cowgirl Volleyball Team.
Class of 2006: Ryan Christopherson (football, 1991-94); Jerry DePoyster (football, 1965-67); Stan Dodds (basketball, 1968-70); Robert S. "Bob" Hammond (sportswriter); Milo Komenich (basketball, 1940-43); Stacey Ward Straley (skiing, 1979-84); 1956 Cowboy Baseball Team.
Class of 2007: Brenda Graham Gray (track & field, 1980-84); Elsie Jo Bonger (football secretary, 1962-78); Jerry Jester (football, 1953-55); Dave McCleave (golf, 1989-92); Dick Sherman (basketball, 1963-66); Randy Welniak (football, 1985-88); 1968 National Champion Ski Team.
Class of 2008: Thomas "Rupe" Garrison (track, 1987-91); Walker "Sonny" Jones, Jr. (football, 1948-49); Geir I. Kvernmo (skiing and track, 1977-80); Brian J. Lee (football, 1994-97); Dave Myers (wrestling, 1989-92); Steve Scifres (football, 1994-97); 1978-79 Women's Basketball Team.
Class of 2009: Jesseca Cross (basketball and track, 1994-97); Sean Fleming (football, 1988-92); Quincy Hayden Howe (track, 1999-2002); Gene Huey (football, 1966-68); Mike Jackson (basketball, 1980-83); Al and Pete Simpson (special achievement); 1961 Rodeo Team.
Class of 2010: Staale Engen (track, skiing, 1971-74); Jerry Frude, (wrestling, 1959-60, 1962); Steinar Hybertsen (skiing, 1973-75); Bob Jacobs (football, 1968-70); Chuck Lamson (football, 1960-61); Karen Sanford Gall (track, 1979-82); 1966 Football Team.
Class of 2011: Mike English (women's volleyball coach, 1986-90 and 1992-93), Wesley Maiyo (track, 1974-75), Robert L. Mason (wrestling, 1949-51), Shauna Smith (track, 2003-05), Scott Usher (swimming, 2002-05), Jim Walden (football, 1958-59), and the 1986-87 "Sweet 16" Men's Basketball Team.
Class of 2012: Dick Campbell (football, 1948-50); Len Kuczewski (football, 1957-59); Jordan Lintz (golf, 1997-2000); Selmer Pederson (football 1949-51); Ray Sanchez (wrestling, 1967-68); Chris Lull Terjeson (volleyball, 1985-89); and the 1985 National Champion Ski Team.
Class of 2013: Carrie Bacon (women's basketball, 1999-2003); Josh Davis (men's basketball, 1999-2002); Jason Gervais (track and field, 1999-2001); Jim House (football, 1966-68); Mike LaHood (football, 1965-67; deceased); Kevin McKinney (Administrator/Special Achievement); and the 1959 Football Team.