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Hall welcomes diverse quintet

The Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame will induct five new members during the North Idaho Sports Banquet on April 9. The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Inn.

The five are former North Idaho College wrestling coach John Owen, ex-Post Falls basketball coach C.W. Totten, Sandpoint javelin standout Jim DeMers and former NFL players Ron Heller and Mark Schlereth.

The top high school and college athletes, teams and coaches will also be honored at the banquet.

Owen, a native of Lolo, Mont., was the head wrestling coach at NIC from 1978-97 and led the Cardinals to eight national titles. He coached 35 individual national champions and 102 All-Americans.

NIC was 304-23-2 in Owen’s 20 seasons and finished in the top three 15 times at the NJCAA Tournament. He was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 1989.

Owen is currently the head coach at Central Valley High and an instructor at NIC.

Totten was a multisport athlete at Coeur d’Alene High in the late 1940s and went on to play basketball at Boise Junior College and the University of Idaho.

Totten began a 30-year coaching career as an assistant under Elmer Jordan at Coeur d’Alene. Totten eventually took over as athletic director, football coach and basketball coach at Post Falls High. His basketball teams won two state titles and he also coached the 1964 state-championship track team.

Totten later coached at Hellgate High in Missoula, Kelso (Wash.) High, and Evergreen High in Vancouver, Wash.

DeMers was an All-State performer in football and basketball at Sandpoint High in the 1920s, but he made a name for himself nationally as a javelin thrower. DeMers was the first prep athlete to top 200 feet in the javelin and had a record throw of 205-6 at a prestigious high school meet in 1925 in Chicago. For perspective, the winning throw in the 1924 Olympics was 206-6¾.

DeMers made the U.S. track and field team, but a shoulder injury kept him out of the 1928 Games and illness prevented him from competing in the 1932 Games.

DeMers later served on the police force in Redondo Beach, Calif., for 20 years. His javelin still hangs on the wall at Bulldog Gym.

Heller moved from California to Clark Fork in 1976 and immediately became a football, basketball and track standout for the Wampus Cats. At Oregon State University, he played linebacker his first three years and tight end as a senior.

Heller played three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the late 1980s. He went on to play for Atlanta and he spent the 1990 and 1992 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, where he started 16 games.

He finished his career with 84 catches for 871 yards and five touchdowns. Heller lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., with his wife and four children.

Schlereth was an All-State football player at Robert Service High in Anchorage before developing into an All-Big Sky and All-American offensive lineman at the University of Idaho in the 1980s.

Schlereth became the first native-born Alaskan to play in the NFL, beating the odds as a 10th-round draft pick. Despite 28 surgeries, he played 12 NFL seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1991 and 1998.

Schlereth started on three Super Bowl championship teams (Washington in 1992, and Denver in 1998 and 1999). Schlereth currently is a commentator at ESPN and also co-hosts a radio talk show in Denver.

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