Twenty-three UW-Eau Claire athletics teams will celebrate anniversaries of between 20 and 60 years during the 2014-15 academic year.
In recognition of the anniversaries, the Sports Information office has posted pictures and idents of the 23 teams online at https://www.flickr.com/photos/uwecblugolds/sets/72157648772670425/ .
All but two of the 23 teams were coached by Hall of Fame coaches Ken Anderson, Tom Prior, Jim Rice, Robert Scott, Marilyn Skrivseth, Lisa Stone, Frank Wrigglesworth and Bill Zorn.
All but one team was a conference champion and that team played for a national championship. One was also a national champion.
The oldest recognized team is the 1954-55 men’s basketball team which posted a 20-2 record under legendary coach Bill Zorn and came within two points of advancing to the NAIA tournament in Kansas City, losing 84-82 to Beloit College in the district final.
Celebrating its golden anniversary this fall is Jim Rice’s 1964 football team which finished 7-2 overall while securing a repeat conference title after going unbeaten in 1963. That team was led by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Van Gorden who led the NAIA in total offense that year and signed with the Green Bay Packers after his Blugold career was over.
The school’s third national championship within a 20-month period took place 30 years ago this fall when the women’s cross country team captured the NAIA championship that was hosted by UW-Parkside in Kenosha. Mary Allen coached that team and Katie Somers won an individual national title to lead the Blugolds. That gold trophy followed championships by the women’s swim team in March, 1983 and the men’s ice hockey team in March, 1984.
Five teams are celebrating silver anniversaries including Ken Anderson’s basketball team which lost the NAIA championship game to Birmingham-Southern, 88-80, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. A young Clark Kellogg and Tim Brando called the game for a live national audience on ESPN. The Blugolds lost the conference championship to Bo Ryan’s UW-Platteville Pioneers but beat the Pioneers in the District 14 title game at Platteville, 64-61, to advance to the NAIA tournament where they brushed back four opponents to reach the title showdown. Anderson’s first championship team, in his second season as head coach in 1969-70, is celebrating its 45th anniversary. That squad was led by All-Americans Mike Ratliff and Frank Schade, both of whom were signed by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings of the NBA.
The other silver anniversary teams are the 1989-90 conference champion women’s basketball, women’s swimming, men’s swimming and men’s tennis teams. Lisa Stone directed the Blugold women’s basketball squad to its first ever league title in just her second year as head coach. She would direct the Blugolds to five more titles before leaving the program in 2000 to take over at Drake University.
In 1989-90, the men’s and women’s swim programs were in the midst of total domination of the conference under Tom Prior. In his 30 years as the men’s coach, the Blugolds won 25 championships including 19 consecutive from 1978 through 1996. Thus, his 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995 teams all have special anniversaries. In his 21 years as the women’s coach, the Blugolds won 19 championships including 18 in a row from 1980 through 1997. His honor squads include 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995. The championship by his 1980 team was the first conference championship for a Blugold women’s team.
Rounding out the silver anniversary teams was Robert Scott’s men’s tennis squad. Scott coached Blugold men’s tennis for 26 years and captured 10 league crowns including six in a row from 1976 through 1981. His honor teams include 1980 and 1990. The Blugolds also won the year after he retired in the final year the conference sponsored men’s tennis as a championship sport.
The women’s tennis team has claimed 12 conference titles including 10 in a row from 1993 through 2002. Celebrating its 20th anniversary is the 1994 squad directed by Marilyn Skrivseth.
The men’s golf team won eight conference championships under Frank Wrigglesworth before the conference dropped that sport from championship status in 1993. The 1979 Blugold squad is celebrating its 35th anniversary and the 1984 team its 30th anniversary.
The anniversary teams by year with their head coach:
1954-55 (60th) –
Men’s basketball (Bill Zorn)
1964-65 (50th) – Football (Jim Rice)
1969-70 (45th) – Men’s basketball (Ken Anderson)
1974-75 (40th) – Men’s swimming (Tom Prior)
1979-80 (35th) – Men’s basketball (Ken Anderson); Men’s swimming (Tom Prior); Women’s swimming (Tom Prior); Men’s tennis (Robert Scott); Men’s golf (Frank Wrigglesworth)
1984-85 (30th) – Women’s cross country (Mary Allen) – NAIA national champion; Men’s swimming (Tom Prior); Women’s swimming (Tom Prior); Men’s golf (Frank Wrigglesworth)
1989-90 (25th) – Men’s basketball (Ken Anderson) – NAIA national runnerup; Women’s basketball (Lisa Stone); Men’s swimming (Tom Prior); Women’s swimming (Tom Prior); Men’s tennis (Robert Scott)
1994-95 (20th) – Women’s basketball (Lisa Stone); Men’s swimming (Tom Prior); Women’s swimming (Tom Prior); Women’s tennis (Marilyn Skrivseth); Men’s tennis (Steve Siford)