A brilliant baseball season at Washington State University led John Olerud to a stellar Major League career.
Ex-Cougar Olerud is one of five individuals to be inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 25 during festivities that begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Joining him are two coaching legends and two record-setting women athletes.
North Idaho College wrestling coach John Owen and Lewis-Clark State baseball mentor Ed Cheff will be joined in the Hall of Fame by basketball star Tammy Tibbles from Gonzaga University and the late Corissa Yasen, an All-American in track at Purdue.
Also being added to the INW Sports Scroll of Honor are longtime WSU sports information director Rod Commons and athlete and longtime sports official Clyde W. “Chic” Sale.
The induction is a joint venture of the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame Committee, the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, Spokane Public Facilities District and major sponsor Rosauers.
The Program will begin with an induction ceremony in the Hall of Fame area in the Arena, followed by a no-host reception and recognition lunch.
Tickets are available for $30 and can be purchased through the SRSC by contacting Barb Anzivino, (509) 893-5447 or online at spokanesports.org.
Olerud, a first baseman and pitcher for the WSU Cougars, is the only NCAA player to win 15 games and hit 20 or more home runs in one season. He batted .464 during that 1988 season and was named Baseball America’s Player of the Year. He went directly to the major leagues and played 17 seasons with five teams.
Under Owen, NIC won eight National Junior College Athletic Association wrestling championships, finished in the top three 18 times and compiled a dual match record of 304-23-2. NIC had 35 individual national champions and 102 All-Americans.
During 34 years as baseball coach of the Warriors in Lewiston, Cheff won nearly 80 percent of his games (1,705-430) and 16 NAIA national titles. L-C State reached the NAIA World Series a record 28 times and 14 of his 121 drafted players reached the majors.
Area high school star Tibbles became Gonzaga’s career scoring leader with 2,011 points and helped them to a West Coast Conference title in 1987. She led Creston to two State B basketball titles in three finals appearances from 1981-83, averaging 35 points per game as a senior, and set the state career scoring mark of 2,568 points.
Yasen excelled at Coeur d’Alene High and Purdue, winning 10 Big Ten championships in track and field, including a school and conference record 6-foot-3½ high jump, and was the NCAA heptathlon champion in 1996. As a Viking, she won eight track titles in three events. The Vikings won two team state basketball titles and one in track in 1991 and ‘92.
Commons was the Cougars’ SID for 31 years, retiring in 2007. Active in the College Sports Information Directors of America, he was elected to its hall of fame.
Sale officiated football for 54 years and basketball for 35. He worked five state high school grid championships, in the Pac-10 and Big Sky conferences and officiated at the Rose Bowl. He played basketball at Eastern Washington University from 1946-48.
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