Whitman Athletics Inducts New HOF Class
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Their athletic experiences range from baseball in the 1930s, golf in the 1960s and track & field in the 1970s to volleyball and soccer in the 1980s, but the five former greats being inducted into the Whitman College Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday are bound by one common thread.
All five were conference champions, either individually or as part of a team.
Four of the five were back on campus as guests of honor at Saturday's induction ceremonies and reception in the Sherwood Center Hall of Fame foyer.
The late Wilfred "Pete" Jonas, who capped his senior baseball season in 1938 by pitching Whitman to its third conference title in four years, died in 2005 at age 89 in Spokane, Wash., after a long career as an optometrist.
Living members of the new Hall of Fame class are:
Del Rankin '70, a four-time All-Northwest Conference golfer who helped Whitman win four straight team titles.
John Leier '74, a two-time champion NWC champion in the 880-yard run who placed as high as third at the national championships.
Kristin Richel Goodwin '88, a three-time All-NWC volleyball player who was part of Whitman's 1984 Women's Conference of Independent College championship squad.
Keri Hall Greenheck '88, a four-time all-conference soccer player who shared in a 1984 championship and continues to hold school scoring records.
More information about the Whitman Hall of Fame Class of 2010 follows:
Pete Jonas '38
|Jonas, kneeling in front of
teammate Scotty Cummins
Arguably the best pitcher to ever throw the horsehide for Whitman, Pete Jonas was the staff ace on powerful Missionary teams that played for the Northwest Conference title in four straight seasons and won three crowns.
As a senior in 1938, Jonas twirled a three-hit shutout that helped Whitman dominate the post-season tournament. The Missionaries won each of their four playoff games, outscoring the opposition 24-4, to finish the season with a 33-6 record.
Whitman stormed to the 1937 NWC championship by winning three straight post-season games, one of them a Jonas four-hit shutout.
As a freshman in 1935, when the Missionaries took two of three games from Willamette to claim the title, Jonas tossed a complete-game victory and then won a second game with four innings of scoreless relief.
Regular season career highlights for the fire-balling right-hander included a no-hitter against the University of Idaho. Jonas also struck out 14 University of Washington batters in a 5-0 shutout. In another of his outings against the Huskies, he dropped a 3-2 decision despite again fanning 14 batters and helping his own cause by clubbing a home run to right field.
During the 1938 season, one observer noted that Whitman coach R.V. Borleske had the “ace hurler of the Pacific Coast in the fiery Pete Jonas. Jonas has been approached by various scouts representing Big League clubs, and will probably play professional baseball.”
After Whitman, Jonas played several seasons for the Seattle Rainiers and other minor league clubs. He won 10 or more games in three straight seasons, posting earned run averages of less than 3.00.
Del Rankin '70
As consistent as he was excellent on the golf course, Del Rankin is the only Whitman golfer to earn All-Northwest Conference honors in four successive years.
He also capped each of his four seasons by helping the Missionaries bring home an NWC championship trophy.
Rankin earned all-conference honors each year by posting one of the top five scores at the championship tournament. His best individual performance came in 1969 at the Tualatin Country Club near Portland, Ore., where he captured medalist honors and led Whitman to a 24-stroke victory over its nearest competitor.
Rankin’s teammates marveled at his consistency because he was often Whitman’s shortest hitter off the tee. While competitors hit short irons to the green, Rankin was amazingly accurate with his middle and long irons.
Mark Lodine, winner of medalist honors at the 1970 tournament and Rankin’s teammate for four years, recalls that "Del had a sweet swing. He was very solid. You could always count on Del to score well because he was a competitor."
"Del could really focus in a match," remembers Dr. Bob Thomsen, his golf coach at Whitman. "He looked for a way to win."
Rankin tried his hand at being a PGA club professional after graduation, but he soon returned to Yakima, Wash., to join his father's business.
After retirement in 2001, he rejoined the PGA as a teaching professional and became active in formation of a local chapter of The First Tee, a youth character development program based on the game of golf.
He serves as the chapter's executive program director and recently finished a 10-week summer session with 350 participants attending 25 weekly classes at various golf courses and city parks in the Yakima Valley.
Rankin and wife Sara Wynn '70, who continue to make their home in Yakima, have two adult sons.
John Leier '74
One of the greatest middle distance runners in the history of Whitman track & field, John Leier qualified for the NAIA National Championships in the 880-yard run to cap each of his last two seasons.
Leier placed sixth at nationals as a junior and was third as a senior in 1974. He clocked a time of 1:49.7 at the 1974 meet, beating Kenya’s Michael Boit, a bronze medalist at the 1972 Olympics, in the process.
Leier won the 880 at the NWC championship meets in both 1973 (1:52.7) and 1974 (1:52.2), and he still holds the NWC meet record at 1:51.5 (800-meter equivalent).
He also holds or shares Whitman school records in the 800 meters (1:48.5) and sprint medley relay (3:27.5).
Leier came to Whitman as a Washington state high school champion at the 440-yard distance, but hamstring injuries plagued his first two college seasons. His best 440 time (48.4) as a sophomore was faster than the winning time in that event at the NWC meet in each of his first two seasons.
Leier was the 1974 winner of the R.V. Borleske Trophy, given annually to the top male athlete at Whitman.
He majored in history and anthropology at Whitman and is an environmental resources specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Walla Walla. He and wife Karen have four children (ages 23, 22, 17 and 17).
Kristin Richel Goodwin '88
One of Whitman's most decorated volleyball athletes, Kristin Richel Goodwin is the only Missionary volleyball player to be voted three times to the All-Northwest Conference First Team.
Richel, an outside hitter, earned first-team honors at the conclusion of the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons, a time span that marked the first three years that women’s volleyball was governed by the NWC.
As a first-year player, Richel helped the Missionaries capture a Women’s Conference of Independent Colleges title in the fall of 1984, which was that organization’s final year of existence. Whitman nearly duplicated its championship run during Richel’s sophomore season in 1985, finishing second in the NWC standings.
While her height (5-feet-6) was more suited to back row defense, Richel excelled as an outside hitter by combining aggressive instincts with outstanding vertical leaping ability.
During the summer after her first year at Whitman, Richel was named to a Northwest traveling team that played matches in England, Scotland and Wales.
Based on her performance in the British Isles, Kristin was offered an NCAA Division I scholarship by one northwest university, but she chose to return to Whitman.
Richel, who also ran track for Whitman, still shares the school record for the two-mile relay with three teammates.
After graduating from Whitman in 1988, Richel coached high school volleyball and basketball for a few years before earning a master's degree in physical therapy and practicing for more than 10 years.
She and husband Tom Goodwin, an orthopedic surgeon, have three sons (ages 16, 14 and 13). The family lives in Eagle, Idaho.
Keri Hall Greenheck '88
More than two decades after her graduation, Keri Hall Greenheck still holds the single-season and career scoring records for women's soccer at Whitman.
Hall made an immediate impact as a first-year player in the fall of 1984, sparking the Missionaries to the Women’s Conference of Independent Colleges championship while topping the team in scoring and earning a spot on the All-WCIC Team.
Whitman finished that superlative season with win-loss-tie records of 11-3-2 (overall) and 7-1-2 (WCIC).
Hall also led Whitman in scoring in her final three seasons, when women’s soccer was brought under the auspices of the Northwest Conference. She capped each of those seasons with All-NWC First-Team honors.
Hall scored goals in bunches, getting four in one game on three different occasions. She also booted hat tricks in back-to-back games during her first season.
Her 22 goals in 16 games during the fall of 1986 stands as Whitman’s single-season scoring record. While records are incomplete, she finished her career with more than 70 goals.
Noted for the tenacity and ferocity of her play on the field, as well as for her game sense and leadership skills, Hall served as a team captain as a senior.
After Whitman, Hall earned her law degree and worked as an attorney in both the San Diego and Seattle areas.
She and husband Dave Greenheck, an engineer and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, have two sons and a daughter (ages 15, 13, 9). The family lives in Sammamish, Wash.
|Keri Hall, third from left|
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com