Oct. 13, 2000
Columbia, Mo. - Nine former standout student-athletes and one coach have been chosen for induction into the MU Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. They represent the 11th induction class since the inception of the Hall in 1990.
The induction dinner will be held Fri., Jan. 26, at the Reynolds Alumni Center on the campus of the University. A reception will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and induction ceremonies at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person and may be purchased by contacting Brenda Baker in the Tiger Development Office, at (573) 884-0742. The class will be further honored during halftime ceremonies at the next day's men's basketball game, Jan. 27, against Texas Tech.
As called for in the Hall of Fame bylaws, the inductees are selected from two eras - PIONEER (1890-1966) and MODERN (1967-1995). Former student-athletes are not eligible for consideration until five years after they complete their competitive career at Missouri. Coaches and staff members must have spent at least five years working at Mizzou, and also have a five-year waiting period.
This year, three persons were selected from the Pioneer Era, and seven were chosen from the Modern Era. They include:
Bob Jeffries - Football, 1940-41 All-Big Six guard on 1941 team that led the nation in rushing and won conference title
Ray Uriarte - Baseball, 1953, 1957-58 All-American third baseman who led MU to 2nd-place at 1958 College World Series
Jim Whitaker - Football, 1965-66 Standout DB who was an all-conference performer on the field and in the classroom
Denise Buchheister-Lindo - Swimming/Diving, 1979-82 Three-time all-American and four-time Big Eight Conference champion diver
Sharon Farrah - Women's Basketball, Softball, 1976-79 Four-time all-Big Eight guard. Played on Big Eight Championship team of 1978
Bob Kopnisky - Wrestling Coach, 1974-86 Winningest coach in MU wrestling history, with a 125-72-3 record
Dan Lavitt - Track & Field, 1977-80 Four-time all-American and Big Eight champion hurdler
Frank "Tres" Mitchell - Men's Tennis, 1973-76 Top men's player in MU history, led Tigers to first and only Big Eight team title in 1975
Dave Otto - Baseball, 1983-85 All-American DH (1985) and standout pitcher who still ranks in several top-five lists
Ben Plucknett - Track & Field, 1973-76 Big Eight champion, all-American and U.S. record-holder in the discus
The Hall's constitution and bylaws express its purpose - "...to recognize and honor those individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the achievements and prestige of the University of Missouri in the field of athletics, and who have continued to demonstrate in their lives, the values imparted by intercollegiate athletics."
There are now 121 individuals and two national championship teams in the Hall of Fame, which was made possible by the 1989 bequest of $100,000 from the estate of the late A.C. (Ace) and Mary Stotler. Displays honoring each of the inductees are located on the northwest side of the main concourse at Hearnes Center.
HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE BIOS
Pioneer Era (1890-1966)
BOB JEFFRIES - A native of Kansas City, Mo., Jeffries was an all-Big Six guard on Don Faurot's team in 1941 that debuted the Split-T formation which revolutionized college football. That squad led the nation in rushing (307.7 yards per game), won the Big Six Conference championship and earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl. Jeffries, along with fellow line mate Darold Jenkins, led the blocking for backfield stars Bob Stueber and Harry Ice. All of those men now reside in the MU Hall of Fame. Jeffries played in the College All-Star Game in Chicago in 1942, and was named to the Chicago Tribune's All-America team. Following his graduation in 1942, Jeffries played professional football for two years. The Tiger Club of Kansas City honored him in 1996 for his dedication to MU. He resides in Kansas City.
RAY URIARTE - A first-team all-American third baseman in 1958 who came to Mizzou from nearby Mexico, Mo. Uriarte walked on at MU in 1952, but was cut by legendary Coach John "Hi" Simmons. He later returned to ask "Why?" and Simmons told him he could try again when the team began outdoor workouts. He did, made the team, and went on to play four games as a freshman. He lettered in 1953, but his career was interrupted by military service, and as a paratrooper made 18 jumps in two years, and played baseball for the post team in Fayetteville, N.C. He returned to Mizzou, and in his junior year of 1957, was elected team captain. In 1958, Uriarte led the Tigers to the Big Seven championship, the District V title and to second place in the College World Series (MU lost in 14 innings in the title game to USC). That season, he led the team with 17 stolen bases, 39 runs scored, 36 walks and an on-base percentage of .662, which still stands as the MU single-season record some 43 years later. In addition to his all-American recognition in 1958, Uriarte also received all-Big Eight and all-District V honors that season. Called by Coach Simmons "the best leadoff man I ever had at the University," Uriarte later served as an assistant coach for Simmons in 1959 and 1960.
JIM WHITAKER - A standout defensive back who was known for his jarring hits in the secondary. Lettered for Dan Devine's teams in 1965-66, and was part of Tiger teams that went 14-5-2 and won the 1966 Sugar Bowl over Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators. Whitaker was selected as the team co-captain his senior season, and won all-Big Eight and academic all-Big Eight honors that season. He led MU in interceptions as a senior, with six for 113 yards, including a critical interception return for a touchdown that produced a 21-14 victory over Illinois, in Champaign. An outstanding student, the Kansas City, Mo. native received the prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship in 1967. He currently resides in the Kansas City area, where he is a surgeon.
Modern Era (1967-1995)
DENISE BUCHHEISTER-LINDO - The most prolific diver in MU history, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native was a force on the conference and national level from 1979-82. Was a three-time all-American, and claimed four different Big Eight individual championships. Made a splash, literally, as a freshman, when she won the Big Eight championship and earned all-American honors in the one-meter event in 1979. Buchheister swept the Big Eight one-meter and three-meter competition in 1981, and also won all-American honors at three-meters that same year. She closed out her career by winning the Big Eight three-meter competition, and was an all-American at one meter in 1982. She set Big Eight records in 1979 and 1981 at one meter, which have since been broken, but she still holds MU records at one meter (444.75) and three-meters (469.43), both set in 1980. Currently resides in Kailua, Hi.
SHARON FARRAH - A native of Mexico, Mo. who was a standout guard on the first four teams coached by Joann Rutherford - teams that had a cumulative record of 82-39 from 1976-79. A four-time all-Big Eight selection who still ranks fourth in MU career scoring with 1,820 points and fifth with a career average of 15.3 points per game. She left as MU's career scoring leader, until Hall of Famer Joni Davis usurped her mark. Farrah played on MU's Big Eight Conference championship team in 1978, and on teams that placed second in 1976 and 1979. She was named to the Big Eight all-Tournament team in 1978 and 1979, and was later named an honorable mention selection to the Big Eight team of the 1970s. An excellent all-around athlete, Farrah also lettered twice at MU in softball. She later played professional basketball in Europe following her days at Missouri. Currently resides in Spring, Texas.
BOB KOPNISKY - An NCAA champion wrestler at the University of Maryland (1965), Kopnisky came to Missouri as head coach in 1974, and led MU to national prominence. From 1974 to 1986, Kopnisky amassed a record of 125-72-3 (making him far-and-away the winningest coach in MU history), and had his teams place nine times at the NCAA Championships. His 1984 squad finished 10th at the NCAA meet, which represents MU's best-ever finish there. Missouri had never had an all-America wrestler prior to his arrival at MU, and he coached 11 of them, including MU's first-ever Big Eight Conference champion in John Sonderegger (1984). Currently resides in Carmel, Ind. His son, John, is a current standout on the Missouri wrestling team.
DAN LAVITT - Blessed with blazing speed, Lavitt came to MU from Raytown, Mo., and went on to one of the great careers in Tiger track history. Lavitt claimed four Big Eight hurdling titles and was a four-time all-American at three different hurdling events from 1977-80. Lavitt led Missouri to the Big Eight Conference Indoor Championship in 1979 - its first since the national championship year of 1965, and MU's last indoor title. Still holds the school record in the 110-meter high hurdles (13.53 seconds). That was established in 1980 and was the fastest collegiate time in the nation that year - even faster than hurdling legend Renaldo Nehemiah. Lavitt also ran on MU's 1,600-meter sprint medley relay team in 1979 that set a world record of 3:12.5. That has since been broken, but it still stands today as the MU record. Highest finish at the NCAAs was 3rd in 1980 (indoor 60-yd. high hurdles). Resides in Columbia.
FRANK "TRES" MITCHELL - A native of Columbia, Mo., Mitchell lettered at MU from 1973-76, and left as the only MU tennis player ever to win more than 100 matches. Playing number one singles and doubles for most of his career, Mitchell won Big Eight titles at both singles and doubles in 1975, helping MU win its first and only Big Eight Conference team championship. Later that year, Mitchell reached the quarterfinals at the NCAA Tournament, and helped MU to a 15th-place finish. Since leaving Missouri, Mitchell has stayed active in the sport. In 1989, he won the National Men's 35 Indoor Singles championships and played on the USA Italian Cup team in 1990. Mitchell was nominated in 1995 for the Rolex Achievement Award, administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. He is the first member of the now-defunct men's tennis program to be inducted into the MU Hall of Fame. Resides in Tulsa, Okla., where he is a trauma surgeon.
DAVE OTTO - A native of Elk Grove, Ill., Otto was a standout pitcher and designated hitter for MU Hall of Fame Coach Gene McArtor from 1983-85. An all-American DH in 1985, Otto earned all-Big Eight and all-District V honors the same season, hitting 16 home runs that year. He stands fifth on the MU career batting average chart (.366). Also an imposing figure on the mound, Otto stands third in career strikeouts, with 195 in his three-year career. He also co-holds the school record for games started in a season, with 14. Otto was a freshman all-American at Mizzou in 1983, and earned academic all-America honors in both 1984 and 1985. He signed with the Oakland Athletics in 1985, and spent time in the major leagues with the A's in 1988-89-90. Otto was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1990, and moved into their starting rotation in 1991. He spent 1992 with the Indians as a starter, and then signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993, for whom he pitched in middle relief, and as an extra starter. He currently resides in Wheaton, Ill., and works with television broadcasts for the Chicago Cubs.
BEN PLUCKNETT - A native of Beatrice, Neb. who lettered in track and field at MU from 1973 through 1976. Plucknett was a three-time Big Eight champion in the discus (1973, 1974 and 1976). He placed fourth in the discus at the 1976 NCAA Outdoor Championships, and earned all-America honors. Following his days at Missouri, Plucknett competed on the international scene, and qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics as part of the U.S. team. He did not get to compete, however, due to the United States' boycott of the Games. Plucknett later went on to set the American record in the discus at a meet at Stockholm, Sweden in 1981 with a heave of 72.34 meters (237 feet, 3 inches). That mark still stands nearly 20 years later as the U.S. record. Currently resides in Essex, Mo.
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