On Tuesday the University of Minnesota "M" Club, one of the nations largest and oldest letterwiners club announced the 2015 class for its Hall of Fame. The fourteen inductees span a time period from 1930 through 2003 and represent nine different sports. The inductees will be honored in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium on October 15th, and will be honored on the field during the Gopher Football October 17th game against Nebraska. The fourteen inductees are as follows:
Luke Becker (Wrestling, 2000-03) -- Becker was the first Gopher wrestler to be a four time All-American. Becker won an individual national championship in 2002 and was a member of both the 2001 and 2002 team national championship teams. Since his wrestling career ended, Becker has been a part of Minnesota's coaching staff, where he presently serves as assistant coach.
Ronda Curtin (Women's Hockey, 2000-03) -- Curtin helped the Gopher Women to their first national title -- the AWCHA National Championship in 2000 and became the program's first two-time All-American in 2002 and 2003. She was also the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year in both seasons, the only Gopher to earn the award twice.
Chris Darkins (Football, 1992-95; Track, 1993-96) -- Darkins is of course remembered for being a stud running back for the Gophers in his time at the U of M, but also made history on the track. Darkins earned First Team All-Big Ten honors in 1994 by setting a school record with 1,443 rushing yards on the season. Darkins career rushing total of 3,235 yards was third on Minnesota's all-time list when his career ended and remains fifth-best in program history. On the track, Darkins was the runner up in the 55 meters at the 1995 Big Ten Championships, and took the title home in 1996, establishing a school record time.
Roland DePaul (Men's Hockey, 1946-49) -- DePaul led the team in scoring in each of his three seasons with the Gophers. In 1948, DePaul was named Second Team All-America and served as the captain of the 1948-49 team.
Olga (Splichalova) Espinosa (Women's Swimming, 1995-98) -- Espinosa earned seven All-America honors during her career at Minnesota and was a five-time individual All-American. She captured three Big Ten titles during her collegiate career, winning both the 500 free and 1650 free in 1996, and repeating as the 500 free champion in 1997.
Brent Gates (Baseball, 1988-91) -- Gates put together one of the best individual seasons in Gopher baseball history in 1991. He hit .412 and knocked in 60 runs, credentials that earned him First Team All-Big Ten, First Team All-America and Big Ten Player of the Year honors. He also was named a 1989 Freshman All-America. Gates was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft in 1991 by the Oakland Athletics and had a seven-year MLB career. His son, Brent Gates Jr. will be a freshman on the Gopher Hockey team in 2015-16.
Clifton Gustafson (Wrestling, 1936-38) -- Gustafson was the program's first multiple-time All-American, finishing third at heavyweight at the 1937 NCAA tournament and then finishing as runner-up the following season. Gustafson won the Big Ten Heavyweight title in 1937 and finishing as the runner-up in 1938. Beyond his accomplishments in conference and NCAA events, Gustafson won the 1938 AAU national championship.
Jack Manders (Football, 1930-32) -- Manders led the Gophers in rushing in both 1930 and 1931, finishing both of those seasons as a Second Team All-American. In 1931, he also earned First Team All-Big Ten laurels as the conference's scoring leader. He went on to an eight-year professional career, a tenure that included three All-Pro seasons as a running back and a kicker and two NFL scoring titles. Manders' 78 consecutive PAT conversions during one stretch of his career set an NFL record at the time.
Dick Meredith (Men's Hockey, 1952-54) -- As a freshman, Meredith earned NCAA All-Tournament team honors in 1953. Following his junior year, he was invited to join the U.S. National Team and competed in the 1956 Olympics, scoring two goals for the U.S. en route to a silver medal. Four years later, Meredith added two more goals as the U.S. team won its first gold medal in ice hockey at the 1960 Olympics.
Jennie Moe (Women's Tennis, 1989-92) -- Moe earned 92 singles victories in her Gopher career, which was the most in program history at the time. To this day, her doubles wins (89) and wins overall (181) remain the most by any Gopher woman in the modern era. She became the first Gopher to be named First Team All-Big Ten three consecutive times. With her induction, Moe becomes just the third second-generation Hall of Famer in Gopher Athletics' history. Her father, former Gopher student-athlete and U of M Director of Athletics Tom Moe, was inducted in 2000.
Dave Odegard (Track & Field, 1959-61) -- Odegard was the first great hurdler in Minnesota history. He became the first Gopher to win the Big Ten Indoor title in the 70-yard hurdles. During the outdoor season later that year, Odegard claimed the conference crown in the 120-yard hurdles. He advanced to compete in the 110-meter high hurdles at the NCAA Championships, where he finished as the runner-up. His performance earned him All-America honors, the first for a Gopher hurdler.
Joey Ray (Men's Gymnastics, 1981-84) -- In Ray's freshman season he won Big Ten titles on pommel horse and parallel bars, the latter opening the door to racking up four straight Big Ten titles in the event, making Ray one of only two Gophers to win four Big Ten titles in a single event. In addition to his acumen on the bars, Ray also finished first or second in the Big Ten all-around all four years he competed, earning the conference title in 1983. Ray's contributions were critical to Big Ten team titles for Minnesota in both 1982 and 1984.
Bill "Buzz" Schneider (Men's Hockey, 1972-75) -- Schneider was a leader for Minnesota's first NCAA championship team in men's hockey in 1974. Schneider accumulated 91 points in 115 career games, including 50 goals. After his Gopher career Buzz would go on to play for five U.S. National Teams, including both the 1976 Olympic team and the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team. Schneider led the gold medal-winning U.S. team in scoring in the 1980 Olympics with eight points (five goals).
Byrl Thompson (Track & Field, 1949-50, `56) -- When it came to throwing the discus, Thompson was not only one of the best at Minnesota, he was one of the best in the nation. During his Gopher career, he was a two-time Big Ten outdoors discus champ and finished runner-up at the 1949 NCAAs in the event. He ranked third and fourth in the U.S in discus in 1948 and 1949, respectively, and was an alternate for the 1948 U.S. Olympic team.
Congrats to all 14 inductees! They will increase the Hall of Fame's total membership to 334 individuals across 27 different varsity sports.