The Southern Oregon University Sports Hall of Fame will expand again this fall, admitting five individuals and one team representing four decades of Raider athletics.
The class of 2017 was announced Friday by the Hall of Fame committee and includes a trio of men's tennis stars — Dick Blacksmith, John Popplewell and Ken Stevenson — known as SOU's "Big Three" from 1963-66, wrestling standout Joe Bold (1974-76), All-American heptathlete Jennifer Harman Adamy (1991-94) and the Raiders' memorable 2001 football team.
An induction ceremony will be held the morning of Sept. 30 in the Rogue River Room on the SOU campus. Later that day, at halftime of SOU's 1 p.m. football game against Rocky Mountain (Mont.), the inductees will be recognized in front of the Raider Stadium crowd. More information will be made available soon.
With Blacksmith, Popplewell and Stevenson lettering alongside each other for four years, the then-Southern Oregon College men's tennis team was an Oregon Collegiate Conference powerhouse. During their time, the Raiders never lost an OCC dual match and claimed the OCC Tournament title four years in a row. They were also a force at the NAIA District II Championships – placing second in 1963, tying for first in '64 and '65, and winning it outright in '66. Blacksmith and Popplewell competed at the NAIA National Championships, too — an injury kept Stevenson home — and led Southern Oregon to eighth place as seniors. Their resume as a team was padded by victories over NCAA opponents, beating Oregon State and Seattle University as freshman and topping University of Oregon twice as sophomores.
The only men's tennis player to previously enter the hall was Vern Loy (1968-71) with the class of 1993.
Bold will become the 19th wrestler to enter the Hall but was one of Southern Oregon's earliest stars on the national stage. After two years at Oregon State, he joined the Raiders for the latter part of his career and was the first individual in program history to compile multiple top-three finishes at the NAIA Championships; 22 individuals have joined his company since. Competing at 142 pounds, he placed third at the 1975 national tournament and was the runner-up in '76. Bold was additionally a regional champion, attaining NAIA District II and Evergreen Conference titles both years.
Twenty-three years after her career ended, Adamy's resume for the Southern Oregon women's track and field team has stood the test of time. Her name still appears six times on the Raiders' top-five lists: No. 2 in the 800 meters (2:15.14), No. 2 in the 4x400 relay (3:54.32), No. 3 in the heptathlon (4,623), No. 3 in the 400 (56.97) and No. 4 in the long jump (18-4). She became the second two-time NAIA All-American in team history, placing sixth in the heptathlon in 1993 and fourth as a senior in '94, and won five regional titles — the 400 three times and the 4x4 and heptathlon once apiece. As a sophomore, she was voted the district's Female Athlete of the Year.
Adamy will be the ninth women's track and field athlete to enter the Hall.
The 2001 squad will bring the number of Raider football teams in the club to four, joining the 1946, '62 and '83 outfits. The latest was the pearl of SOU Hall-of-Famer Jeff Olson's nine-year tenure as head coach, tying a school record for wins with a mark of 9-2 and ending a 14-year playoff drought. The NAIA Independents champions featured nine all-stars: An offense that averaged 43 points per game got a school-record 22 rushing touchdowns out of Dusty McGrorty and a then-record 24 TD passes from quarterback Travis Mari with All-American Jeremy Chapman on the line, and a defense that allowed just 16.8 points was anchored by All-American defensive back Nick Daniken. The Raiders reached the national quarterfinals by defeating McKendree (Ill.), 54-10, in the first round of the NAIA Championships Series and wrapped up at No. 5 in the national poll — the team's highest-ever finish at the time. SOU was subsequently voted the Northwest's top small-college team by area sportswriters and sports information directors for the first time.