Six Individuals, One Team Inducted into the 13th Hall of Fame Class

Feb. 19, 2005


Two of Wyoming's most successful coaches of all time, the greatest shot-blocker in Cowboy basketball history, two national champions, the most exciting kick returner of all time, and the school's most successful women's volleyball team comprise the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2005.

The latest class, the Hall of Fame's 13th, was announced by committee chairman Ken Cook on Saturday.

Official induction ceremonies and banquet for this year's inductees is scheduled for a Friday evening in September. A date will be announced once the football schedule has been finalized.

The inductees include, track national champion Ryan Butler, highly-successful coaches Phil Dickens in football and Joe Dowler in wrestling, national champion skier Ann Melander, basketball standout Theo Ratliff, electrifying football player Vic Washington, and the 1989 Cowgirl Volleyball Team.

A total of 86 individuals, and five teams have been inducted into the Hall of Fame (located in the Rochelle Athletics Center) since its inception in 1993.

The Hall of Fame Committee met in January to make its final selections for this year's class. It based its selections on five essential categories: the athlete, coach, team, athletics staff and special achievement. The athlete must have lettered, and must have been out of school at least five years. An athletic team is considered a single inductee and special achievement includes individuals who have contributed to the ideal of sports. Each nominee must receive at least 75 percent of the committee's votes to be eligible for induction.

The committee is comprised of the following members: Dave Bonner, Barbara Burke, Ken Cook, chairman, Dave Madia, Kevin McKinney, Mike Schutte, Lisa Skiles Parady, Jack Speight and Dave Walsh.

The 2005 Class:

Ryan Butler

Hometown: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Sport: Track & Field
Years: 1995-96

Ryan Butler

Ryan Butler is considered the best weight man in Wyoming track history, and the only national champion the sport has ever seen. While winning the NCAA Title in the 35-pound weight throw at the 1996 NCAA Indoor Championships, the native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, set a personal best mark of 71' 1.5" to crush the field and win by nearly two-and-a-half feet. At the time, his effort was the fourth best all-time mark by an American-born collegian, and 11 inches off the American collegiate record. Butler also was the WAC indoor champion in the event that year. At various times during his career, he also was Western Athletic Conference runner-up in the hammer, discus and shot put events. He finished his career with three All-American honors, two in the 35-pound weight throw, and one in the hammer throw. He finished fifth at the 1995 NCAA Indoor National Championships in the 35-pound weight throw as a junior, his first NCAA Championships appearance. Butler would finish his Cowboy career with eight All-Conference honors in the 35-pound weight, the hammer, the shot put and the discus throws, a great demonstration of his athletic ability. He also would set UW school records in the 35-pound weight, and the hammer throws. He also would finish as the number two discus thrower and number five shot putter in UW history. He qualified for the 1996 Olympic trials in the hammer throw, but a back injury prevented him from competing.

Phil Dickens

Hometown: Hartsville, Tenn.
Sport: Football Coach
Years: 1953-56

Phil Dickens

He came from Tennessee and moved on to Indiana, but during his four seasons as head coach of the Wyoming football team, Phil Dickens produced the best winning percentage of any Cowboy football coach in school history. Dickens left Wyoming with a record of 29-11-1, one Skyline Conference Championship, and one bowl-game victory. The native of Hartsville, Tennessee, and an all-conference tailback for the Vols, had a tough act to follow when he assumed the head-coaching reins from Bowden Wyatt. Like Wyatt, Dickens learned football under General Robert Neyland at Tennessee. He came to Wyoming from Wofford College (Spartanburg, S.C.) where he was 40-16-7. In his first season of 1953, he led the Cowboys to a 5-4-1 record, and a third-place finish in the Skyline Conference. He was an innovator off the field as well. One of his first actions was instituting study tables for football players, and having the tables monitored by the coaching staff. They were the first mandatory study tables established for UW athletes. In 1954, the Cowboys finished 6-4, but the record didn't indicate the type of season they had. Facing one of its toughest schedules, the Cowboys suffered difficult non-conference losses to Oklahoma State (14-6), Kansas State (21-12) and Arizona (42-40). Dickens' 1955 squad finished third in the Skyline with an 8-3 record, but was the only league school invited to a bowl game, the Sun Bowl, January 2, 1956. The Cowboys beat Texas Tech, 21-14. The 1956 team was his crown jewel. The Cowboys waltzed through the season and produced a 10-0 record, one of three undefeated teams in the nation. While the Cowboys were offered the Sun Bowl, the Pokes opted to wait for a bigger bowl--Gator and Sugar both expressed interested--and declined the offer. As it turned out, they were left out of the picture, undefeated, untied and uninvited. He coached the national rushing champion that year, Jim Crawford, whose 1,104 yards edged Syracuse's Jim Brown. Dickens resigned from Wyoming after that season to accept the head coaching position at Indiana.

Joe Dowler

Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyo.
Sport: Wrestling Coach/Administrator
Years: 1973-87

Joe Dowler

In his 14 seasons as head wrestling coach at Wyoming, Joe Dowler built the Cowboy program into the finest in the region, and re-established it as one of the best in the nation. With Dowler at the helm, the Pokes compiled a 105-62-1 dual record while capturing four straight Mountain Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (MIWA) Championships, and three Western Athletic Conference titles. Dowler coached 35 conference champions, two NCAA placewinners, and two All-Americans at Wyoming. Named WAC Coach of the Year three times (1983, 1985 and 1986), he was a finalist for 1986 NCAA Wrestling Coach of the Year. He also was president of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. The Cheyenne native also helped initiate the Junior World Wrestling Program, and coached the USA Junior Freestyle Wrestling team to the World Championship. The sixth coach in Wyoming wrestling history, Dowler completed his career with a 142-77-2 dual record. His collegiate coaching career began at Wisconsin-Superior in 1970, leading that school to two league championships, and two perfect seasons. Prior to that he established himself as one of the top high school coaches in the Rocky Mountains. In eight years at Cheyenne Central and Boulder, Colo., high schools, his record was 67-19-2. Dowler was named Associate Athletics Director at UW, in 1987. In that position he administered the day-to-day operations of the athletics department, for Athletics Director Paul Roach who also was serving as the head football coach. Dowler held that position until his retirement. Following his retirement, he initiated and coordinated the "W" Club for all UW athletic letterwinners.

Ann Melander

Hometown: Taby, Sweden
Sport: Skiing
Years: 1984-85

Ann Melander

The most highly recruited Cowgirl skier of all time, Ann Melander became a two-time national champion during her time at Wyoming. She came to Wyoming as the Swedish national champion in both the slalom and giant slalom, as well as the U.S. National Slalom champion. She finished ninth in the giant slalom event at the 1980 Olympics. She was an eight-time Swedish national champion, and produced four top-10 World Cup finishes. She brought that success to the Cowgirl team. As a freshman she earned All-America honors in 1985 by winning both the slalom and giant slalom at the 1985 NCAA Championships, leading Wyoming to the national title. She was the only individual to win a title for the team during the championships. Melander won the giant slalom with a two-run time of 1:48.74. On the final day of competition and with Wyoming trailing Vermont, Melander led a Cowgirl one-two-three sweep in the slalom to seal the national championship. Her time was 1:23.23. With that effort Melander became the only Cowgirl ever to win two titles at the same NCAA Championship. Wyoming unseated two-time defending national champion Utah for the title by 20 points. Melander finished her career in her native Sweden.

Theo Ratliff

Hometown: Demopolis, Ala.
Sport: Basketball
Years: 1992-95

Theo Ratliff

Wyoming's all-time leading shot blocker, Theo Ratliff became one of the most-decorated big-men in Cowboy history. His total of 425 career blocks was the second best total in NCAA history behind Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning, who finished with 453. During his senior year, he shattered a Cowboy record with 144 blocked shots, which was second in the nation that season. He also averaged nearly 15 points per game as a senior. As a sophomore in 1992-93, he led the nation in blocked shots. His school records include most blocked shots in a game, most in a season, best per-game blocked-shot average, most career blocked shots, and best career blocked-shot average. He also finished in Wyoming's top 15 in both scoring and rebounding. In 1993, he competed for the USA Basketball team in the World Championships. He was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection as a junior and a senior. He also was on the WAC All-Defensive Team for three years. After completing his great Wyoming career, Ratliff was the number one pick of the Detroit Pistons in the 1995 NBA draft. He was the 18th overall pick, and the first WAC player selected that year. He also played with the Atlanta Hawks and the Portland Trailblazers.

Vic Washington

Hometown: Plainfield, N.J.
Sport: Football
Years: 1965-67

Vic Washington

One of the most electrifying two-way players Wyoming football has ever seen, Vic Washington was a great kick returner, defensive back and running back during the glory years of the late 1960's. He finished his career as the school's all-time punt returner. He also owned Wyoming's career single-season (565 yards) and single-game (145 yards vs. Arizona State in 1967) punt return records. Washington led the nation in punt returns in 1966 as a junior with 443 yards on 34 returns. He was second in the nation in that category during his senior season of 1967. He returned three punts during his career for touchdowns, but one of his most memorable efforts was a kick return. He shocked a Provo, Utah, crowd with a 95-yard kickoff return in the '66 championship game against Brigham Young, the fifth longest return in school history. Washington owned the total kick return record for a game (10) and for a career (103), as well as total kick return yardage for a game (178 yards) and for a career (1,404 yards). He was a three-time All-Western Athletic Conference first-team performer. He was one of just two sophomores to make the team in 1966. He led the WAC in punt returns during both his junior and senior years. He also was a running back for the Cowboys, and an outstanding cornerback on defense. As a senior in 1967, he led the team in interceptions. He produced a long career in the National Football League, playing for San Francisco, Houston and Buffalo.

1989 Cowgirl Volleyball Team

The 1989 Wyoming Cowgirl Volleyball Team was one of the most successful in the school's history. Not only did they win Wyoming's only High Country Athletic Conference volleyball title but played their way past Washington and Stanford to earn a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. They finished with a program best 24-7 overall record and an amazing 11-1 conference mark. The team boasted five All-HCAC players; Ginger Bruere, Darcy Cudaback, Dailene Glenn, Chris Lull and Judy Peck, along with the HCAC Player of the Year Chris Lull and the HCAC Coach of the Year, the late Mike English. Three individuals, Cudaback, Lull and Peck were named to the AVCA All-Region Team, while Darcy Cudaback earned AVCA All-America honors, the only player in school history to do so. Several individuals also currently rank among the Top 10 in the Wyoming record book. Cudaback still holds the record for kills in a single season with 595, and ranks second in her career with 1,533. Peck is among the Top 10 in kills and blocks, while Chris Lull still holds the fifth spot in career assists with 2,609. The Cowgirls' success also earned head coach Mike English, who still has the best career coaching record at Wyoming at 124-86 during his seven years, West Region Co-Coach of the Year honors with UCLA's Andy Banachowski.

1989 Team Members

Krista BashawGinger BruereJoanna BrunoErin CantacessiDarcy CudabackStacey CudabackJamie DackDailene GlennMegan HarrellTyree LeuthauserChris LullJudy PeckKim SmithKiersta Utermohlen

Head Coach: Mike EnglishAssistant Coach: Sarah LewisEquipment Manager: Deann JohnsonTrainer: Julie Abbott