EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - Two national champions are among five individuals that make up the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame class of 2017. The group also includes two conference players of the year and a first team All-American.
The new class, which will be inducted during homecoming weekend, includes football player Darrell Souhrada, hockey player Greg Robertson, women's basketball player Vanessa (Schley) Boetcher, distance runner Bill Langhout and diver John Karpe.
This group represents the 41st class of men's inductees and the 28th class of women's inductees and brings the number of athletes, coaches and administrators who have been honored to 222.
The Blugold Hall of Fame was established 44 years ago in 1973 to pay tribute, to give deserved recognition and to enhance school tradition by honoring former athletic letterwinners, coaches or administrators who demonstrated distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while on the campus at Eau Claire and have distinguished themselves in their profession or personally since leaving the institution.
There must be a lapse of 15 years from their final season of eligibility before an athlete can be considered for induction.
The class will be inducted Friday, September 29 and then honored by riding in the homecoming parade Saturday morning and introduced at halftime of the football game vs. UW-River Falls Saturday afternoon, September 30. The induction banquet will take place in the Dakota Ballroom of the Davies Center on campus with a social hour at 4:30 p.m., banquet at 5:30 p.m. and program at 6:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and the football game at 1 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $25 and can be obtained by contacting the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association at (715) 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Former WEAU TV 13 sports director and current UW-Eau Claire Foundation Senior Major Gifts Officer Rick Foy will present the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees.
Besides outstanding athletic credentials for this year's class, the five have distinguished themselves professionally, personally or in community service since leaving the institution, according to Tim Petermann, Blugold Hall of Fame Executive Director.
Langhout was the track program's first national champion when he won the NAIA marathon in 1980. John Karpe won three NCAA national diving championships and was runner-up three times in addition to claiming six conference championships in the two diving events. Souhrada is the school's all-time leading rusher in football, helping the Blugolds to conference championships in 1998 and 2001 when he was the conference player of the year. Boetcher was the 2001 conference player of the year in basketball. Robertson was a first team ACHA All-American in 1990 for the Blugold hockey team.
Bill Langhout, born in Evanston, Illinois but a prep graduate of Manitowoc Lincoln High School, conquered the Texas heat to win the 1980 NAIA marathon with a time of 2:30.33.3. While Langhout didn't complete the 10,000-meter run at the Wisconsin State University Conference championships earlier that month due to the heat, he bested the 42 runners that started the race at 6 a.m. in Abilene, Texas. Only 28 finished the race with the temperature hovering around 86 degrees. Even in winning the marathon, Langhout was forced to stop twice because of intestinal cramps.
The 1980 gold medal came in Langhout's third try at the NAIA marathon after having finished 10th in 1979 and 14th in 1978. That win was Langhout's major victory at UW-Eau Claire where he lettered two times in cross country and three times in track. With the 10 points awarded for the marathon gold medal, the Blugolds tied for 19th in the overall team standings that year. Langhout is the only Blugold to have won an NAIA outdoor track championship. In recent years, Blugold track athletes have claimed numerous titles in the NCAA outdoor track championships.
Langhout graduated in 1980 with a degree in comparative religious studies. He has spent the past three decades in the packaging business, serving as the National Sales Manager for Genpak LLC, and Innovation manager for Nordenia USA, which in 2012 was acquired by the Mondi Group for whom he is currently employed as a Global Key Account Manager.
With his degree, Langhout initially served as a chaplain for the Boy Scouts and led post college track tours to Eastern Europe for Athletes in Action. He has been involved in leadership with Promise Keepers, Young Life, both in La Crosse, WI and Woodbury, MN, Hockey Ministry International and Five Oaks Community Church in Woodbury. Langhout served two years as president of the Woodbury High School booster club and has been involved in several capital campaigns for church, high school athletics and Young Life.
Post college running brought with it many memorable moments for Langhout. After accepting a position with Campus Crusade's Athletes in Action Track and Field team, Bill and his wife Sarah were able to share their faith with the opportunity to continue running. This experience allowed Bill and Sarah to take post college athletes on tour through Europe as well as host chapels at NCAA championships in the U.S. Langhout's goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials. He tried in 1984 and 1988, but came up a couple of minutes short. Langhout's best marathon was in 1980 with a 2:22 at the Nike OTC marathon in Eugene, OR.
Langhout continued running through the next 3.5 decades and continues to compete today. In 2010 Langhout competed in the Zevenheuvenloop 15k at Nijmegen, Holland with a 57:10 clocking, in 2011 at the USATF Indoor Track Championships U of M 5K with a 17:16:34, and in 2015 at the 15 GNG (Get-n-gear) 10K with a 37:35. Langhout ran the Grand Masters Grandmas marathon with a 3:03:06 in 2013 and has ranked in ROY (runner of the year) the last 10 years.
Bill and Sarah currently live in Woodbury, MN and are parents of three boys, Matthew, Phillip, and Teddy and have two granddaughters, Adalyn and Clara.
Greg Robertson arrived at UW-Eau Claire in 1986 from Calgary, Alberta. Coincidentally, head coach Mike Eaves arrived that year as well, from the Calgary Flames of the NHL.
Although Eaves stayed just one year, Robertson went on to a stellar four-year career with the Blugolds. He holds the school record for games played at 122 and ranks seventh in career points with 133, the most ever by a defenseman.
Robertson earned AHCA All-American first team honors as a senior after receiving AHCA All-American second team honors as a junior. He was a three-time All-NCHA pick and a three-time All-WSUC honoree along with team MVP as a sophomore. Robertson also led the Blugolds as their alternate captain as a sophomore and was captain during his final two seasons.
Robertson played his final three seasons for head coach Troy Ward who directed the Blugolds to a pair of second-place finishes in the NCHA, which at the time included current NCAA Division I programs Bemidji State, St. Cloud State and Mankato State. The Blugolds played in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in 1989 and in 1990 posted what was then the most wins in school history with an 18-13-3 record.
A 1990 graduate of UWEC in business management, Robertson spent the first 20 years of his career in sales. For 11 years, he was with ATCO Ltd., Fed Ex and Burt Automotive Group in Denver. He then moved back to Calgary and spent nine years with Jack Carter Automotive Group as Financial Services Manager, Used Car Manager and New Car Manager.
Since 2010, Greg has been Manager of Youth Development Programs for Hockey Canada, which is responsible for the growth of the game from the grassroots level to National team programs.
Over the years, Robertson has always stayed involved with the game of hockey as a coach and administrator both in Denver and Calgary. While in Denver, he coached the Bantam AAA Littleton Hawks to six state championships, two regional championships and was runner-up and a bronze medalist in USA Hockey's National Championship tournament. He has coached his sons in Calgary for 17 years as part of the Trails West Minor Hockey Association. Robertson also served as the Association's president from 2009-2016 and was the recipient of the TWHA volunteer of the year award in 2012, Hockey Calgary's association of the year award in 2014 and the Shawn Morgan coach dedication award in 2016.
He and his wife Gina (Mitchell), who is a staffing consultant and also a 1990 UWEC graduate, are parents of two boys: Quinton, 19, and Hunter, 16.
John Karpe (CAR pee) was the NCAA Diver of the Year for three consecutive years in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Each year, he took a first and a second on the two boards at the national meet. He won the one-meter competition in 1997 and the three-meter competition in 1998 and 1999 with runner-up finishes on the alternate board each year, making him a six-time All-American.
Karpe, a Minnesota native who prepped at Coon Rapids, won both the one-meter and three-meter titles in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship meets three straight years after transferring from UW-Madison. He set conference records on both boards as a sophomore and broke his own records as a senior. He also broke school and pool records on both boards multiple times. He was named to the WIAC's All-Centennial team for swimming in 2012.
His performances helped the Blugolds to runner-up conference finishes in 1997 and 1998 and a conference championship in 1999, the last time the Blugolds won the title. The 1999 Blugolds also placed seventh in the NCAA nationals, the highest finish achieved by a Blugold men's team in NCAA swimming competition.
Karpe was a business administration and management information systems major at UWEC, graduating in 2000. For the first three years after he left UWEC, Karpe was a high dive performer for Sacco Shows, traveling throughout the country. He would perform 80-foot high dives into 10 feet of water and did so at places such as Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and the Minnesota State Fair.
Karpe has coached diving for 22 years including stints at UWEC and Hamline as well as Apple Valley, Chaska, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park, Irondale and Mounds View high schools in Minnesota. He is still coaching this year at Spring Lake Park, Irondale and Mounds View. He has coached one boy who won two state titles and one girl who won state once.
Since he left the Sacco Shows, Karpe has been involved with various companies in an IT capacity of some sort. He is currently in IT Support for the Park Dental group of dental offices in the Twin Cities, currently working in Roseville.
Karpe has two children, Lily, age 9, and Matthew, age 2.
VANESSA (SCHLEY) BOETCHER
Vanessa (Schley-pronounced SCH lie) Boetcher started 58 consecutive games and came up just three points shy of 1,000 points in a three-year Blugold career after transferring from UW-River Falls.
Boetcher, a prep standout at Gilman, played her first two Blugold seasons for Hall of Fame coach Lisa Stone and finished her final season with current coach Tonja Englund.
Boetcher led the conference in scoring in 2001 with a 17.1 average en route to conference player of the year honors after earning all-conference recognition for a second consecutive year. She led the Blugolds as they won eight of their final nine conference games to tie UW-Oshkosh for the league title in 2001. The competitive league saw five teams finish at either 12-4 or 11-5. The Blugolds then rolled through the conference tournament with three straight wins for the title.
Boetcher was also a starter on the 1999-00 team that went 16-0 in conference play and won its first 28 games before losing the season finale in the NCAA Division III tournament to Washington University which was in the midst of claiming three consecutive NCAA Division III championships. Wash U was also the team that ended the Blugolds' season when Boetcher was a senior.
During Boetcher's three seasons in Eau Claire, the Blugolds were 74-12 overall, 41-7 in conference play and 8-1 in conference tournament games. She was the only Wisconsin player under consideration for Kodak All-American in 2001. She was MVP of the Thanksgiving Showcase which the Blugolds won in 2000 and All-Tournament in the 8-team Marymount University (VA) Tournament. The Blugolds lost the championship of that tourney to the host school by a single point. She set a Blugold school single game scoring record with 36 points against conference co-champion Oshkosh on the Titans' home court in 2001.
Boetcher earned her UWEC degree in psychology in 2001, then obtained a master's degree in education and a specialist degree in school psychology at UW-Stout. She spent two years as a school psychologist in the Unity School District in Balsam Lake and has been a school psychologist in the Eau Claire school district at North High School since 2005.
She and her husband Dan, a Blugold basketball letterman, are parents of three children: Waylon, age 6; Lucy, 4; and Simon, 22 months. Dan is a social studies teacher in the Baldwin-Woodville school district.
At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, Darrell Souhrada (SOO rah dah) is not one of the biggest backs to don a Blugold uniform but the Riceville, Iowa native rates as the most productive. He finished with the most yards rushing and most rushing touchdowns in school history.
He was a very consistent performer with great power and breakaway speed. As evidence of those athletic traits, Souhrada qualified for the Iowa state track meet in the 100-meter dash and shot put in 1997 and was All-State as a running back and linebacker at Riceville High.
He came within 60 yards of having four 1,000-yard seasons at Eau Claire, getting 977 as a freshman and 969 as a sophomore. He then set a school single season mark with 1,588 yards as a junior. He closed out with 1,038 yards as a senior despite missing the first three games of the season with an injury.
While setting the school standard with 53 career TDs, he only once scored three touchdowns in a game. Only three times did he produce 190 or more yards in a single game. That said, he set a school record with 51 carries against Platteville in the 2000 season while gaining 303 yards, the second most in school history.
Attesting to his breakaway ability, Souhrada owns the longest run from scrimmage in school history, a 94-yard jaunt against Stout, and five of the top eight longest runs.
He was a freshman on the 1998 Blugold team that was quarterbacked by Sean Hoolihan and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA playoffs. Counting all playoff games that year, Souhrada lost the team rushing title to B. J. Jones, 979 to 977.
Both the 1998 and 2001 Blugold teams tied for first in the conference race, the first with Bob Nielson as head coach and the second with Todd Hoffner at the helm. The 1998 team set a school record for wins in a season with 10 and the Blugolds were 26-17 overall and 16-12 in conference play during Souhrada's career.
Souhrada was a three-time first team All-Conference pick and the conference co-player of the year in 2001. He was also named to the WIAC's All-Centennial football team in 2012. He earned AFCA All-Region first team honors in 2000 and 2001 after getting third team recognition in 1999. A two-year team captain and three-year team offensive MVP, Souhrada was named to the USA Football All-American second team in 2000.
Souhrada, a two-time Blugold Super Six Award winner, graduated in 2002 with a degree in management information systems. He is self-employed as a commercial real estate broker and real estate property investor in Bettendorf, Iowa. He has been involved in the real estate field and building the family real estate business since 2003.
He and his wife Sarah, a high school physical education and health teacher, have three children: Kylie, age 10; Sophie, 3; and Benjamin, 1.
(current conference for men's and women's sports, combined in 1996)
WSUC = Wisconsin State University Conference (former men's only conference)
AHCA = American Hockey Coaches Association
AFCA = American Football Coaches Association
NAIA = National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (former national organization to which UWEC belonged through the 1992-93 seasons)
NCAA = National Collegiate Athletic Association (current national organization which UWEC joined provisionally in 1986-87)
USATF = USA Track & Field