Fifty-one individuals and four teams will be inducted into the Vandal Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night at the Student Union Ballroom. The group represents half of the charter members. The second ceremony is in the fall of 2008.
It’s safe to say Vandal Athletics has been a significant part of Wayne Anderson’s life. He played football and baseball for the Vandals; was the head coach in baseball and basketball; an assistant coach in football, and was an assistant athletic director. He was chosen the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year for baseball in 1965-66. His lifelong dedication to Vandal Athletics is
Dee Andros coached at Idaho for three years and compiled an 11-16-1 record for the Vandal football team from 1962-64. Andros made significant contributions to college football during his life as a player, coach and athletic director. Andros played football at Oklahoma under the legendary Bud Wilkerson before starting his head coaching career at Idaho in 1962. After Idaho, he coached at Oregon State for 10 years, where he was known for his 1967 “Giant Killers” season when the Beavers took down No. 2 Purdue, tied the new No. 2 UCLA the following week, then beat No. 1 USC the next week en route to a 7-2-1 record. After coaching, Andros served as OSU’s athletic director for 10 years for which he was honored in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame. Additionally, Andros served with the Marines in World War II and helped storm Iwo Jima and witnessed the famous flag-raising moment.
Nancy Bechtholdt Koch
Nancy Bechtholdt Koch was synonymous with Vandal swimming during her four competitive seasons, which led to four letters, four appearances at the national championship meet, and a team MVP award. Despite the passage of time, Bechtholdt Koch’s efforts remain among the top performances by University of Idaho swimmers.
Idaho attracted skiers from all over the world and Eirik Berggren is one who left an indelible mark. He was chosen to the 1957 Northwest All-Star team and was a two-time All-American selection.
Denise Brose Sparkman
Denise Brose Sparkman helped make women’s basketball a premier sport at Idaho in the early 1980’s. She earned four letters from 1979-83 and led the Vandals to three straight AIAW national tournament appearances and three straight Region IX titles, as well as a No. 12 final ranking in 1981-82. She also earned 1982 AIAW All-American honors. By the time she graduated in 1983, she held every offensive school record – a total of 19. She still holds four of those records today.
Frank Bruder was a distance machine for the Vandal track team. He won three straight conference titles in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from 1995-97 and one more in the 5,000-meter in 1995. He was a three-time NCAA qualifier in the steeplechase and a two-time All-American. In 1997, he turned in an NCAA runner-up finish and established an Idaho school record and Big West Conference all-time record of 8:31.93. Bruder was a key cog on the men’s track and field squad that earned three straight outdoor conference titles from 1995-97 and also a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor title in 1997 against WAC, Pac 10 and Big West teams.
Herb Carlson was one of the greatest boxers in Idaho history. He was the first Idaho athlete to earn the La Rowe Trophy, given to the nation’s top boxer. Carlson was the first – and only boxer ever – to win four straight Pacific Coast Conference titles. From 1947-50, Carlson wasn’t just a conference force, he was a national force with NCAA titles in 1947, 1948 and 1950. With Carlson around, the team never finished worse than fourth at the NCAA Championships and it tied for the team title twice. The team also won a pair of PCC titles – in 1949 and 1950 – with Carlson leading the way. Carlson started his career on a 22-fight win streak and left school with a 41-3-1 career record.
Tawanda Chiwira was a speedster on the track from 1996-2000. He won six individual conference titles and helped earn five more relay titles during that time. Chiwira is Idaho’s all-time top outdoor scorer. He still holds five Idaho school records and one Big Sky Conference meet record and is a seven-time NCAA qualifier with two All-America honors to his name. He was a 1996 and 2000 Olympic and 1996 World Championship finalist and currently holds three national records for his native Zimbabwe.
In 25 years of service to the University of Idaho, Kathy Clark is remembered as the woman who built the foundation for women’s athletics at the University of Idaho. Clark served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator for the Idaho athletic department and also helped start the Vandal volleyball team. She was its first head coach and guided the team to a 22-6 record in its inaugural season. The Vandals finished third in the NCWSA.
Bob Curtis will long be remembered as the “Voice of the Vandals.” Curtis was a mainstay in the Idaho press box for 59 years as the announcer for Vandal athletic events. He called an amazing 540 consecutive football games – a record couldn’t be broken despite a mid-season hip replacement surgery. Along the way, he also broadcast thousands of basketball games that reached the Vandal faithful from border-to-border. Curtis was recognized more than 30 times as the state’s top broadcaster.
Russell Davis, Jr. was a three-year letter winner in the Vandal football backfield. He shared team offensive MVP honors with quarterback Ken Hobart after the 1981 season after he rushed for 1,117 yards (second-best at Idaho at the time) and scored 12 total touchdowns and helped Idaho lead the nation in both rushing and total offense. In his standout 1981 season, Davis also averaged 119.6 all-purpose yards per game to lead the team. Davis might best be remembered for his school record 345-rushing-yard explosion against Portland State in 1981 that included two runs of 85 yards. His single-game rushing average of 17.3 against Portland State is an NCAA Division 1-AA record and the 345 yards are ninth in NCAA D-1AA history. His career average of 6.34 yards per carry ranks second all-time at Idaho, while his 2,200 career rushing yards ranks sixth.
The move from AIAW to NCAA Division I might have seemed like a daunting task for the Idaho women’s basketball team, but with coach Pat Dobratz at the helm the Vandals took it in stride. They reached the NCAA tournament for the first and only time in school history in just three years. Dobratz’s Vandals took it a step further in 1985-86 by qualifying for the Women’s NIT tournament and beating Fresno State, Notre Dame – the tournament’s top seed, and Northwest Louisiana to claim the title. The Vandals never had a losing record while Dobratz was coach. She finished her tenure at Idaho with a 142-39 record in six years. The Idaho women broke 20 team and 33 of 37 individual school records during her time with the team. Of those original totals, 18 team and 12 individual records still stand today.
Kasey Dunn was one of the best receivers in Idaho history in his three years with the football team. The two-time First Team All-American was the team’s receiving leader from 1989-91 and was the nation’s leader in receiving yards per game and total receiving yards in 1990. He is Idaho’s career leader in receptions (268) and receiving yards (3,847), and he is No. 2 in touchdown catches with 25. Dunn was chosen team offensive MVP in 1990 and the team MVP in 1991. Dunn is ranked sixth in NCAA Division I-AA history in career receptions, 10th in career receiving yards and 16th in career receiving yards per game. He was a two-time All-Big Sky honoree in 1990 and 1991 and was ranked as the conference’s top NFL prospect in 1991.
A member of the nationally dominant Idaho boxing team, Frank Echevarria was a two-time Pacific Coast Conference champion in 1951 and 1952 and a national champion in 1952. Echevarria was a four-time letter winner from 1949-52 – a time period during which he helped the Vandals tie for a national title in 1950 and take fourth-place finishes in 1949 and 1951. He also helped the team win three straight PCC titles from 1949-1951.
Clarence “Hec” Edmundson
One of the first great athletes at Idaho, Edmundson competed in track for the Vandals, where he launched the team onto the national stage when he and two other athletes traveled to the Lewis and Clark Exposition Games against the top schools in the Northwest. Newspapers wrote that Edmundson “impressed with his graceful form and unfaltering determination.” He is responsible for organizing the Idaho cross country team in 1908, which set the foundation for a team that would win nine Pacific Coast Conference titles. Also in 1908, Edmundson traveled to Stanford for the U.S. Olympic trials, where he won the 800 meters and finished second in the 400 meters. Edmundson held the title of top half-miler in the country through 1912. He became the first Idahoan to compete in the Olympics when represented the U.S. at the Olympic Games in London in 1908 and in Stockholm in 1912. After his athletic success, Edmundson came back to Idaho as a coach for both track and basketball. His basketball teams compiled a 20-9 record in two seasons. He then headed to the University of Washington where he is credited with the creation of the fast-break offense style, which he attributed to his track background. It was his basketball teams that led to Idaho’s athletic teams being nicknamed the Vandals.
One of the most prolific passers in NCAA and Idaho history, John Friesz earned four letters for the Vandal football team. A three-time Big Sky Player of the Year, Friesz also holds NCAA D-1AA records for consecutive 300-yard passing games (10) and total 300-yard passing games in a season (10). Friesz ranks ninth in D-1AA history in career passing yards per game (305.6) and 12th in total passing yards (10,697). Friesz won the 1989 Walter Payton National Player of the Year Award after leading the nation in passing and earning First Team All-America honors for the second consecutive season. Friesz was voted team MVP in 1989. The award has been named after him. He holds Idaho’s career record for passes completed (801), attempted (1,350) and average passing yards per game (305.6). Friesz had six 400-yard passing games in his career and his 98-yard toss to Lee Allen is the longest in school history. Friesz holds the top two single-season passing totals in Idaho history, with 4,041 in 1989 and 3,677 in 1988. Friesz was enshrined in Idaho and NCAA history in 2006 when his No. 17 was retired at Idaho and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A three-year letter winner for the Vandals, Goff played football at Idaho from 1921-24. During Goff’s time at Idaho, the Vandals were a force on the football field. In 1923, they outscored their opponents 164-26 en route to a third-place finish in the Pacific Coast Conference. In 1924, he helped lead the team to a 13-0 shutout of Oregon to give the team its first ever victory over the Ducks. During his time at Idaho, the Vandals dominated border rival Montana by outscoring the Grizzlies by an average of 33.5 points.
Leon Green played end for the Vandals from 1934-36 before defensive statistics were recorded. Green captained the team in 1935 and 1936. In 1935, the Vandals boasted a stout defense, never allowing more than 14 points in a game. Green will be remembered as an explosive defensive player who captained a solid Vandal defensive squad. He was an equally important contributor on the offensive line where he was one of the anchors of a highly successful unit. He later served as Idaho’s director of athletics.
The Vandal men’s swimming team didn’t need to look very far to find Chet Hall, one of the first great swimmers in Idaho history. The Moscow, Idaho, native stormed onto the Vandal swimming scene and earned four letters from 1954-58. He left the school as the Idaho record holder in the 200-yard breaststroke. In 1958, Hall was voted team captain and was also chosen Most Inspirational Swimmer by his teammates.
A “vicious tackler and excellent pass defender,” Randy Hall roamed the Idaho secondary from 1971-73. The 1973 First Team All-Big Sky selection remains first in Idaho history in interception return average after returning his eight career picks 205 total yards for an average of 25.6 yards each. His four interceptions in 1972 led the team. Hall helped the 1971 team hold seven of its 11 opponents at or below 14 points – a figure that includes four games of three or fewer points – en route to a Big Sky title. The Baltimore Colts selected Hall with the fifth pick in the 13th round of the 1974 NFL Draft.
Alan Head was a two-sport athlete for the Vandals in football and baseball from 1970-73. Head helped the Vandal football squad take home the 1971 Big Sky title after going 8-3 overall and 4-1 in Big Sky games. He was more known, though, for his prowess at the plate.
Even with the high-powered Vandal offensive attacks of the 80s and 90s, Jerry Hendren, a receiver at Idaho from 1966-69, remains the top receiver in school history. Hendren led the Vandals in receiving three years straight – from from 1967-69. Along the way, he set records that took 20-30 years for anyone else to come near. In 1968 alone, Hendren set eight school records. Nearly 40 years after his time at Idaho, Hendren still holds school records for single-game receptions (17), career receptions per game (7.67) and career touchdown catches (27). Most impressive are his single-season totals. He holds the top two marks in single season receiving yards, with 1,457 in 1968 and 1,452 in 1969. Third place is nearly 200 yards behind. Hendren also holds the top two single-season receiving touchdown marks, with 14 in 1968 and 12 in 1969. Hendren’s 230 career receptions and 3,435 receiving yards rank second on Idaho’s all-time list. Hendren was a 1969 All-American, as well as a two-time First Team All-Big Sky selection and a two-time team MVP in 1968 and 1969. After his graduation in 1969, Hendren was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl, Coaches All-American Game and the College All-Star game. He was a fourth-round draft pick of Denver Broncos and played one season in the NFL.
Tom Hilbert took Vandal volleyball to a new level from 1989-96, a time during which the team won 70.7 percent of its matches. Under Hilbert, Idaho became a mainstay at the NCAA tournament with appearances every year from 1992 to 1995 and Big Sky titles every year during that span. Athletes under Hilbert earned nine AVCA All-Northwest Region honors, one AVCA and Volleyball Monthly All-America honor, four Big Sky MVP honors, 20 Big Sky All-Conference honors, four Big Sky Freshman of the Year honors and 14 Big Sky All-Tournament Team honors. Hilbert himself was honored as the 1993 and 1994 AVCA Northwest Region Coach of the Year and earned Big Sky Coach of the Year honors four times from 1992-95. His teams hold 10 Idaho records and his athletes hold nine individual school records.
“The Kamiah Kid” Ken Hobart is the first of a long line of great Vandal passers, but what sets him apart from the rest is his ability to make things happen with both his feet and his arm. Hobart’s 1983 average of 345.5 total yards per game ranks 22nd in NCAA D-1AA history and his 3,800 total yards that season was the best in the nation, while his career total of 11,127 yards of offense ranks 12th. Hobart holds the third-best single-game passing total in Idaho history with 527 yards against Southern Colorado in 1983 and holds the top rushing effort by a quarterback with 155 yards against Simon Fraser in 1981. Hobart left the school with the all-time record for touchdown passes at 79, which now ranks second. For his career, Hobart averaged one touchdown per 15.4 pass attempts. A great athlete on the track as well, Hobart ranks sixth in Idaho track and field history in the decathlon.
A four-year letter winner in both football and basketball, Iverson was a fantastic athlete for the Vandals from 1933-36. He played forward for the basketball team and left end for the football squad. He showed leadership both on the field and off as he served in student government his junior year as the lass president. The school’s athletic speed and strength center is named for Iverson. Iverson is also a member of the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame.
Even though he was at Idaho for only one season, Gus Johnson’s impact on Vandal basketball was huge. Thousands of fans lined up outside Memorial Gym to see Johnson in action in 1963, when he earned All-America honors and averaged 19.0 points and 20.3 rebounds and led the Vandals to a 20-6 overall record. His 466 rebounds is still a Vandal record by a margin of 133. His 20.3 rebounding average in 1963 was second in the NCAA. Johnson holds five school records at Idaho, which includes single-game field goals (16), attempts (34) and rebounds (31), as well as single-season rebounds and rebound average (20.3). Johnson was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the second round of the 1963 NBA draft, which was the beginning of an 11-year NBA career that featured four All-NBA selections, five NBA All-Star Game appearances and recognition as one of the best players in league history. In 1987, his No. 43 jersey became the first jersey retired in Idaho basketball history. In recognition of his achievements, Idaho gives out the Gus Johnson Award each year to the team’s top rebounder or defensive player.
Elmer Jordan was a two-sport athlete at Idaho as a basketball and tennis player for the Vandals from 1939-42. After graduation, he became a football coach at Coeur d’Alene High School. In 1947, he was invited to coach the first Idaho East-West All-Star football game in Boise. Two years later, in 1949, he coached in the National All-Star basketball game in Kentucky. He was the leader of Coeur d’Alene athletics for 23 years as a coach and athletic director – a time during which he guided the basketball team to state titles in 1949 and 1963. Jordan has also been selected to the Idaho Hall of Fame, the Idaho High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, and the Inland Empire and Greater Spokane Sports Association Hall of Fame. In 2001, Coeur d’Alene High School named its basketball court “Elmer Jordan Court” in his honor.
A talented athlete and gifted student, Craig Juntenen co-captained the Vandal football team in 1977 and earned a pair of letters from 1976-77. The team’s offensive MVP during the 1977 season, Juntenen completed 52.7 percent of his passes for 770 yards and three touchdowns. In 1976, Juntenen led the team to a 7-4 record and a second-place finish in the Big Sky. Juntenen’s career 52.1 completion percentage ranks ninth all-time at Idaho.
A formidable boxer at 127 pounds, Frank Kara was an NCAA national champion in 1941 and a Pacific Coast Conference champ in 1940. He helped the boxing team earn its first two NCAA team titles in 1940 and 1941 as well as a 1940 Pacific Coast Conference title. Kara’s 1941 national title was special because his brother Ted Kara, who fought at 120 pounds, also won a title that year. It was the first time in NCAA history that a combination of brothers won NCAA titles in the same tournament.
According to the Moscow Idahonian, Ted Kara was “the most outstanding college fighter ever to toss leather on the West Coast.” There won’t be much argument to that statement. Before coming to Idaho, Kara captained the 1936 U.S. Olympic boxing team. At Idaho, Kara became the first athlete in NCAA history to win three national championships. He took the 1939 crown at 127 pounds then moved down to 120 pounds so his brother Frank could win a title as well. With Kara leading the way, the Idaho boxing team won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1940 and 1941, as well as a 1940 Pacific Coast Conference title. The Kara brothers became the first brother tandem in NCAA history to win national titles in the same tournament in 1941 when Ted took the 120-pound title and Frank won at 127. Kara also earned a letter playing one year of baseball for the Vandals in 1941.
Mike Keller saw the Vandal men’s track and field team through some of the most successful times in the team’s history. Keller earned Big Sky Coach of the Year honors five times and Big West honors once. He led the men’s track & field team to five Big Sky team titles – 1981, 1983, 1984, 1995 and 1996 – and the 1997 MPSF indoor title against Pac 10, Big West and WAC competitors. When the team moved into the Big West, Keller’s team made itself right at home with a convincing win in the outdoor championship. While Keller was head coach, Vandals earned six athlete of the year honors, broke 20 conference records that still stand today, broke 25 Idaho school records that still stand today, earned 16 All-America honors and won 116 conference titles. Keller was inducted into the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year.
An imposing figure on the Idaho line from 1946-49, Carl Kiilsgaard helped lead the Vandal football team to two of its biggest upsets of all time. Just one year after losing to Stanford 45-0, the Vandals got their revenge when they marched into Palo Alto and took a 19-16 win from the 10th-ranked Cardinal in 1947. Kiilsgaard helped the Vandals upset another 10th-ranked team later that season, when the team downed previously unbeaten Utah 13-6. Kiilsgaard was voted team captain in 1949. Following that season in 1950, he was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL.
A three-year letter winner from 1951-53, Flip Kleffner did it all for the Vandal football team. As a fullback, he was the team’s leading rusher, with 330 yards on 68 carries for a solid 4.9 yards per carry. His 13 catches for 146 yards also was the best on the team. Kleffner also showed his clout on special teams as Idaho’s punter with an average of 41.1 yards per kick – and the 82-yard bomb that is the longest recorded punt in Idaho history. Kleffner also lettered one year in baseball as the team captain in 1953.
Sylvester “Sib” Kleffner
Sylvester “Sib” Kleffner earned three letters for the Vandal football team and three more for the baseball team from 1922-26. Kleffner was known as a powerful runner for the Idaho backfield. He helped the team to a third-place finish in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1923 when the Vandals went 5-2-1 and outscored their opponents 164-26.
Ed Knecht was Idaho’s athletic director from 1969-74, as well as the Executive Director of the Vandal Boosters. Knecht was in charge of the athletic department when Idaho built one of the most unique college arenas in the nation, the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, also known as the Kibbie Dome. Ground broke on the project in Knecht’s first year with the school and finished in 1975, the year after he left. During his time at Idaho, the football team took home the 1971 Big Sky title.
Idaho’s first football All-American, Jerry Kramer played for the Vandals from 1955-58. He earned four football letters and a pair of track and field letters. Kramer co-captained the football team and acted as a guard and the team’s kicker. He was named Second Team All-Pacific Coast Conference and Honorable Mention All-America in 1956. In 1957, he earned All-America honors and was drafted in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers, which led to an 11-year NFL career that featured four NFL Championships and victories in Super Bowls I and II. As a thrower for the track and field team, Kramer also left Idaho with the school record in the shot put. Kramer’s No. 64 jersey was retired at Idaho on January 23, 1963.
Sherriden May was a scoring machine for the Vandals from 1991-94 with a school-record 366 career points. That total is the seventh-best in NCAA D-IAA history. May was a three-time First Team All-Big Sky honoree and five-time Big Sky Player of the Week as well as the 1994 Idaho team MVP. May’s 1,370 rushing yards in 1994 was ninth-best in the nation and the second-best total in Idaho school history. He holds the top two single-season rushing touchdown marks, as he scored 21 in 1992 and 20 in 1993. May’s 1,894 all-purpose yards in 1993 is a school record, while his 1,634 in 1994 ranks third at Idaho. He holds three of the top five single-season marks for average all-purpose yards, which includes the school record of 172.2 in 1993. May’s 50 career rushing touchdowns, 689 career attempts and 3,748 career rushing yards all rank second at Idaho, while his career average of 113.6 rushing yards per game is by far the best at Idaho. The 1994 First Team All-American finished his career with 5,320 total yards for an amazing career average of 7.2 yards per play and an average of 8.32 points scored per game, all top marks in Idaho history.
Sam Merriman terrorized opponents’ offenses from 1979 to 1982 as a linebacker for the Vandal football team. For four years, Merriman tackled anything that moved as he compiled a school-record 519 career tackles. The second-best total is 59 tackles back. Merriman earned Idaho Defensive MVP honors in 1981 and 1982 and earned First Team All-Big Sky honors in 1982. Merriman owns the third- and fifth-best single-season tackle totals in Idaho history with 145 in 1981 and 138 in 1979. The Seattle Seahawks made Merriman a seventh-round draft pick in 1983 to start his five-year NFL career.
Don Monson made a tremendous mark on Vandal basketball – first as a player then a coach. Monson lettered four times for the Vandal basketball squad from 1952-55, but it was his coaching that left the greatest mark. The 1981-82 Kodak Division I Coach of the Year took Idaho to previously unseen heights with the team’s first NCAA tournament in 1980-81. He took the Vandals a step further in reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1981-82. The 1981-82 team, which also is being inducted into the Vandal Athletics Hall of Fame, started the season 16-0, garnered a No. 6 national ranking, finished the regular season 26-2, and took down Lute Olson’s Iowa squad in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It advanced to the team’s first and only Sweet Sixteen appearance. Monson led the team to back-to-back Big Sky titles in 1980-81 and 1981-82, for which he was honored as Big Sky Coach of the Year each time. He compiled a career record of 100-41 in five years at Idaho. Monson’s teams produced three Big Sky MVPs, one Big Sky Top Newcomer, 10 Big Sky All-Conference honorees, and six Big Sky All-Tournament team honorees, which includes two tournament MVPs.
No Idaho women’s basketball player has had a more successful a career than Alli Nieman. From the moment she stepped on the court, Nieman was a star for the Vandals. She earned 1996-97 First Team All-Big West and Big West Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Nieman didn’t let up for the next three years and finished her career with 2,140 total points, 202 better than second place. Her 517 free throws made is 62 more than second place, while her 1,005 career rebounds is 46 better than second place. She is the only player in Idaho history to score 1,000 points and pull in 1,000 rebounds. During her career, Nieman earned four First Team All-Big West honors, two Big West All-Tournament Team honors and six Big West Player of the Week honors. She was a two-time District VIII First Team All-American, a 1998-99 Honorable Mention Kodak/WBCA All-American and a 1999-00 GTE District VIII Academic All-American. Overall, Nieman ranks in the top 10 at Idaho in 11 career categories, six single-season categories, four single-game categories and five home-court categories, with multiple entries on many lists.
One of the nation’s top defensive backs in 1958, Jim Norton played football for the Vandals from 1957-59. Norton’s nine interceptions in 1958 were the most in the nation and his 217 interception return yards during that time were a school record that lasted nearly 50 years. Norton’s contribution wasn’t only on the defensive side of the ball as he led the team in receiving in 1958 and 1959 as a tight end. Norton also handled the return duties for the Vandals. One of Norton’s best highlights is his 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against Utah State in 1958, which remained a school record until 1997.
From 1990-93, Doug Nussmeier led the Idaho offense, throwing for more yards (10,824) than any other quarterback in Vandal history. Nussmeier earned 1993 First Team All-American and Walter Payton 1-AA National Player of the Year honors after throwing for 2,960 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns and accumulating a school and Big Sky record 175.2 passing efficiency rating. During his career, Nussmeier made eight entries into the NCAA record book, which includes the I-AA single season record for highest percentage of touchdown passes, when 10.9 percent (33 of 304) of his passes in 1993 went for scores. Nussmeier earned 1992 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year honors after leading the Vandals to a 9-3 overall record and a Big Sky title. Nussmeier is ranked either first or second in 10 Idaho career categories and three single-season categories. He has nine school records.
In Idaho track and field’s tradition of great throwers, one stands firmly above the rest. Joachim Olsen earned eight All-America honors at Idaho from 1999-02, which includes the 2000 NCAA shot put title. In six career NCAA shot put competitions, Olsen never finished worse than third. He also added a pair of sixth-place finishes in the discus. Olsen also won six Big West outdoor titles in his career. He established school records in both indoor and outdoor shot put and discus that nobody has come close to yet. His outdoor best shot put of 70-9¼ in 2002 is a Big West all-time record. On the world stage, Olsen is one of the top performers in the shot put. He was a 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist and a 2004 and 2006 World Championship bronze medalist in the event. He holds three national records for his native country of Denmark in the shot put and discus. He has finished in the top 10 in the world in the shot put every year since 2004 and was the top-ranked shot putter in the world in 2004.
Mary Raese Martin
Mary Raese Martin was one of the key members of the two best women’s basketball teams in Vandal history. A three-time Mountain West Athletic All-Conference honoree, Martin led the Vandal women to the 1984-85 MWAC title, as well as the team’s first and only appearance at the NCAA tournament. In 1985-86, Martin led the team to the Women’s NIT title. That season, Martin earned District VII All-America honors. Martin’s 639 points scored in 1985-86 was a school record that lasted nearly 20 years. Martin is one of the best shooters ever at Idaho with a career 61.2 percent field goal average and the top two single season shooting percentages in Vandal history. While her offense was great, her defense may have been greater. Her career total of 306 blocked shots is 116 more than the second-best total. Her 97 blocks in 1984-85 is a single-season school record, and her 86 in 1983-84 is the second best total. Raese finished her four-year career with five school records and top-five marks in 17 statistical categories.
Mindy Rice Madsen
While most college athletes focus their efforts on a single sport, Mindy Rice Madsen competed in two sports and excelled at both. Madsen earned three letters for the women’s basketball squad from 1994-96 and was chosen a First Team All-Big Sky honoree in 1994-95. Her career .539 field goal percentage and 8.6 rebounding average rank third and her 14.7 scoring average ranks fourth in Idaho history. Madsen was even more impressive for the Vandal volleyball squad from 1991-94, earning AVCA and Volleyball Monthly All-America honors, AVCA First Team All-Region, and Big Sky MVP honors after leading the women to a 31-3 overall record, a 1994 Big Sky title and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Her 619 kills and 5.25 kills per game in 1994 are both second all-time at Idaho.
Idaho’s first and only female NCAA track & field champion, Katja Schreiber dominated not just at the conference level, but also at the national level. After taking fourth at the 2000 NCAA Track & Field Championships in the discus throw, Schreiber stormed back in 2001 and launched the discus a school-record 197 feet, 10 inches to win the event by a 13-foot margin. The two-time All-American’s 10 points at the 2001 NCAA meet helped give Idaho a 16th-place finish – the highest ever for any Idaho track and field team. Schreiber’s school-record throw remains today – 15 feet, 2 inches longer than the second-best throw in school history. Schreiber also is fifth all-time in the shot put with a personal best of 49-3 in the event.
Another great dual-sport athlete at Idaho, Ken Schrom was a two-year letterman in both football and baseball for the Vandals from 1973-76. A 17th-round selection by the California Angels in the 1976 MLB draft, Schrom pitched in the major leagues for seven years and was rewarded with an All-Star Game invitation in 1986 after starting the season with a 10-2 record. Schrom, a Grangeville, Idaho, native, played for Toronto, Minnesota and Cleveland during his MLB career. Even after his playing career, Schrom didn’t give up baseball. He spent 16 years as the top executive in the front office of the El Paso Diablos, a Double-A team for which he played early in his career. He then moved on to the Corpus Christi Hooks, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. In 2005, he earned Texas League Executive of the Year honors when the Hooks finished with the third-highest attendance in Double-A and 17th-best among all minor league clubs in the country in just their inaugural season.
While he may have been small in stature, Gary Simmons certainly didn’t play like it. The Vandal basketball star, whose No. 6 jersey is just the second to be retired at Idaho, was the leader of the team from 1955-58. Twice he earned team MVP honors. As a senior, Simmons led the Pacific Coast Conference in scoring with an average of 20.4 points per game and was recognized as the shortest player in PCC history to do so. He also was honored on four All-America teams, as well as the All-PCC team, following that senior season. One of Simmons’ most memorable games was in the 1958 victory over UCLA, when he scored 37 points and attempted a school-record 20 free throws. He made 15 to help seal the Vandal victory. His record 26 consecutive free throws made still hasn’t been touched after more than 50 years. Simmons ranks in the top 10 in 13 statistical categories at Idaho. A Twin Falls, Idaho, native, Simmons also was chosen Basketball Player of the Century by the Idaho High School Activities Association.
Chris Tormey had three stints with the Vandal football squad – one as a player, one as an assistant coach and one as head coach. A linebacker for the Vandals from 1973-76, Tormey was an All-Big Sky honoree in 1976 after helping lead the team to a second-place finish in the Big Sky and a 7-4 overall record. As an assistant coach in 1982-83, he coached the defensive line of Idaho’s 9-4 NCAA playoff team of 1982. Tormey will be remembered best for his time as the head coach at Idaho from 1995-99, when he led the Vandals to their first and only bowl game and a huge upset victory over Southern Mississippi. Vandal fans all remember Tormey’s gutsy call to go for two in overtime to beat Boise State and clinch the bowl berth. One year later, Tormey led the Vandals to a 28-17 victory over Washington State to give the Vandals their first victory over the Cougars since 1965. In five years at Idaho, Tormey compiled a 33-23 overall record for a .589 win percentage, fourth-best in Idaho history.
A solid Vandal defender in more sports than one, Marvin Washington was a standout defensive end for the Vandal football team and a solid rebounder for the basketball squad in 1987-88. In 1988, Washington sacked opposing quarterbacks a then-school-record 14.5 times for 83 yards lost. His 1988 total currently ranks third all-time at Idaho. Washington earned First Team All-Big Sky honors and Third Team All-America honors after helping lead the Vandals to a 9-1 regular season record, a Big Sky title and a semifinal appearance at the NCAA D-1AA playoffs. Washington was chosen by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played for 11 seasons with three teams and compiled 40.5 career sacks and one interception.
The 1976 Big Sky Football Player of the Year wasn’t a flashy quarterback or running back, he was a gritty, tough warrior of the trenches. He was Idaho center John Yarno. The 1976 AP First Team All-American was the first interior lineman to earn the Big Sky honor and also the first unanimous winner of the award. He helped lead the Vandals to a 7-4 overall record and a second-place finish in the Big Sky. After the season, he earned Idaho’s Offensive MVP award. The Seattle Seahawks took Yarno with the third pick in the fourth round of the 1977 NFL Draft. He played six NFL seasons and appeared in 74 games for the Seahawks. His No. 56 jersey was retired in 1977.
1940 Boxing Team
Idaho’s 1940 boxing team entered the season with high hopes. After finishing second in the NCAA in 1938 and returning 1939 national champion Ted Kara, the Vandals aimed high and didn’t miss. Kara repeated in 1940 for his second of three career NCAA titles, Laune Erickson won a title at 165 pounds and John Webster took home the 175-pound crown to help Idaho beat out Wisconsin 17-12 and claim its first NCAA Boxing title. Frank and Ted Kara and Erickson also won Pacific Coast Conference titles to lead the Vandals to a PCC team title earlier that season.
1941 Boxing Team
In 1941, the Idaho boxing squad did something that no team had done before them. The Vandals repeated as NCAA boxing champion. In a tight tournament race, Idaho edged Louisiana-Lafayette for the team title by a score of 15-13. This time around, Idaho again had three national title winners as Ted Kara earned his third straight, becoming the first collegian to do so; Frank Kara won his first, making the Kara brothers the first brother tandem in NCAA history to both win championships in the same tournament, and Laune Erickson won his second straight NCAA title. In 1941, the boxing team decided to skip the Pacific Coast Championships and instead fought a dual meet with Wisconsin to prepare for the NCAA Championship Tournament. It worked.
1981-82 Men’s Basketball Team
It has been called the “Greatest season in Vandal basketball history.” The 1981-82 Vandal men’s basketball team went 27-3, repeated as Big Sky champion and advanced to the Sweet 16 at the NCAA Tournament after beating Iowa on a buzzer-beater in overtime. The team started the season 16-0, which includes wins at the Far West Classic at Portland, Ore., over Oregon, Oregon State and Iowa State. The team finished the regular season with an overall record of 25-2 with its only losses by a combined four points. The Vandals won every home game to extend their home winning streak to 35 games. The team won the Big Sky tournament and regular season titles. The 1981-82 team’s 27 wins is a team record, while their .900 win percentage is also the best-ever at Idaho. Head coach Don Monson won Big Sky and Kodak Division I Coach of the Year honors for that season; Phil Hopson and Brian Kellerman earned All-Big Sky honors; Ken Owens earned Big Sky Tournament MVP honors, and Kellerman and Gordie Herbert earned All-Tournament Team honors. When the Big Sky announced its 25th Anniversary Team, two members of the 1981-82 squad, Kellerman and Owens, were named to the team.
1985-86 Women’s Basketball Team
The Idaho women’s basketball team started the 1985-86 season with high hopes after returning four starters from their 1984-85 NCAA Tournament team. After cruising through the regular season with a 23-4 record the Women’s National Invitational Tournament came calling and the Vandals answered. After a first-round victory over Fresno State, the Vandal women matched up against No. 1 seed Notre Dame and knocked out the Irish in overtime. It then took down Northwest Louisiana to claim the WNIT title. The team featured a pair of Kodak District VII First Team All-Americans in Mary Raese Martin and Mary Westerwelle Danner. Raese Martin and Westerwelle Danner also both earned All-MWAC honors, as did Netra McGrew and Robin Behrens Barnes. The team’s blazing 53.8 shooting percentage on the season is a school record.