MOUNT PLEASANT -- Five Central Michigan University standout student-athletes and one accomplished team have been chosen for induction into the CMU Athletic Hall of Fame as the Class of 2009.
This year’s honorees are Richie Brinker (cross country/track and field, 1995-99), LaTanga (Cox) Christmas (women’s basketball, 1983-86), Casey Cunningham (wrestling, 1996-99), Pat O’Keefe (baseball, 1965-67), Rose (Trahan) Cipriano (swimming, 1979-82) and the 1971 baseball team.
The new inductees will be honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, Sept. 25, at the Comfort Inn, and then recognized at the CMU-Akron football game on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The CMU Athletic Hall of Fame began in 1984 and the current roster now includes 149 members. Plaques honoring all the inductees are on display in Dan Rose Center.
“The CMU Athletics Department is proud to honor this group with induction into the hall of fame,” said Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. “Their accomplishments are an important part of our history and helped lay the foundation for the Championship Culture in our department.”
To be eligible, the following must hold true for athletes: one becomes eligible 10 years after leaving school; one must earn two letters in one sport or one or more in two sports or brought recognition to the school by his or her athletic endeavors; and an outstanding career as an athlete must be continued in the individual's profession or occupation.
For induction as faculty/staff: a person becomes eligible five years after leaving his or her coaching position or athletic-related administrative position.
CMU Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2009
Richie Brinker, Cross Country/Track and Field — Three-time All-American, earning the honor twice in cross country and once in track … one of only two Chippewas in school history to earn All-America honors in both cross country and track … earned All-America status with a 35th place-finish at the 1997 NCAA Cross Country Championships, 32nd place at the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships and ninth place in the 10,000m at the 1999 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships … 1998 Mid-American Conference cross country individual champion … three-time first team All-MAC cross country selection also finishing third in 1997 and fourth in 1996 … 1999 MAC Indoor Championships Most Outstanding Performer … 1999 MAC champion in the indoor 5,000m and also was runner-up in the 3,000m that year … scored at the MAC Outdoor Championships all four years and three times at the MAC Indoor Championships … eight-time Academic All-MAC selection between the three seasons … ran with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project during post-collegiate career … member of the 2004 U.S. World Cross Country Team and participated in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and the 2001 USA Track and Field Championships … a native of Sandusky, Mich. who attended Sandusky High School … currently living in Clarkston, Mich. where he is a teacher and coach at Holly High School … family includes wife, Molly.
Casey Cunningham, Wrestling — 1999 NCAA National Champion at 157 pounds and 1998 national runner-up … two-time All-American and three-time Mid-American Conference champion … twice named MAC Wrestler of the Year (1998 and 1999) … 1999 MAC Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler … four-time team MVP … 1996 MAC Freshman of the Year … twice named first team national NWCA All-Academic and three-time Academic All-MAC selection … still holds school records for career winning percentage (.876, 134-19), career victories (134) and season winning percentage (.971, 34-1 in 1999) … also ranks sixth in career pins (31), fourth in season winning percentage (.906, 29-3 in 1998) and tied for sixth in single season victories (37) … twice competed in the NWCA All-Star Classic … had successful post-collegiate career placing at the 2004 and 2008 USA Olympic Trials … also placed at the World Team Trials, National Championships, U.S. Nationals and U.S. Senior Nationals … led CMU to the 1999 MAC team championship and two MAC Tournament titles (1998-99) … has served as an assistant coach at Central Michigan, Iowa State and Penn State … a native of Middleton, Mich. who attended Fulton High School … currently lives in University Park, Pa. where he is an assistant coach at Penn State … family includes wife, Tara, and children Hayden, Asher and Ryder.
LaTanga (Cox) Christmas, Basketball — 1986 first team All-Mid-American Conference selection and twice named honorable mention All-MAC (1984-85) … member of two MAC champion teams (1984 and 1985), two MAC Tournament championship squads (1983 and 1984) and twice played in the NCAA Tournament … 1984 MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player … one of only two players in school history with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds … led CMU in rebounding for three of her four seasons … currently ranks sixth in school history for career scoring (1,373), ninth in scoring average (11.73), second in field goal percentage (.529), fifth in field goals made (533), fourth in free throws made (307), second in rebounds (1,029), third in rebounding average (8.79) and third in blocked shots (98) … ranks in CMU’s single-season top 10 lists for field goal percentage, rebounds, rebounding average and blocked shots … member of the 1984 team that won a school-record 27 games (27-3) and went 18-0 in MAC play … a native of Flint, Mich. who prepped at Flint Northwestern High School … currently living in Port Huron, Mich. where she is an instructor at St. Clair County College … family includes husband, Tyrone, and children Adrianna, Nehemiah and Alesondra.
Pat O’Keefe, Baseball — First team All-Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) selection in 1967 after batting a team-high .433 with 29 RBI … led the team to the 1967 IIAC championship … earned three letters while playing third base … played in the minor leagues for three years from 1968-70 … is one of the most successful high school coaches in the state of Michigan in both baseball and football at Grand Ledge High School … won state titles in both sports, winning baseball titles in 1977 and 1995 and the Class A football championship in 2001 … elected to the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame for both sports (baseball in 1990 and football in 2006) … currently serving as Grand Ledge’s baseball coach, a position he has held for 41 years while compiling a 997-273 record for a staggering .785 winning percentage … spent 13 seasons as head football coach posting a 93-39 record … one of eight finalists for the 2008 National High School Baseball Coach of the Year award … baseball team was state runner-up twice and won 23 conference championships, nine regional championships and four times advanced to the state semifinals … football team won four conference titles and reached the playoffs seven times … a native of Standish, Mich. who prepped at Standish-Sterling High School … currently lives in Grand Ledge, Mich. where he serves as the Grand Ledge Recreation Director … family includes wife, Melody, and children Dennis, Patrick Jr., Megan and Collin.
Rose (Trahan) Cipriano, Swimming — Held Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) regional records in 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle … held CMU records in eight individual categories -- 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000-yard freestyle and 50, 100 and 200-yard backstroke … was a member of five CMU record-holding relay teams -- 200, 400 and 800 freestyle, 200 and 400 medley-- including serving as the anchor on most … three times qualified for AIAW national championships in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, with best finish of 24th as a freshman … 1981 MAC 50-yard freestyle champion while finishing second in both the 100 and 200-yard freestyle losing both races by less than three-tenths of a second … led CMU to the 1980 regional AIAW team championship by claiming three regional individual titles (50, 100, 200-yard freestyle), one third-place finish and anchoring three winning relay teams … member of 1979 state AIAW championship team … won two regional titles (50 and 100-yard freestyle) in 1979 as CMU finished fourth in team standings … a native of Bay City, Mich. who prepped at Bay City Central High School … currently living in Farmington Hills, Mich. where she is a personal trainer at the Farmington Family YMCA … family includes husband, Bob, and children Tucker, Salvatore, Tanner and Isabella.
1971 Baseball Team — NCAA College Division national runner-up … posted a 35-7-1 record in Dave Keilitz’ first year as head coach … second-best national finish in any sport in school history behind the football team’s 1974 Division II national title … finished the regular season with a No. 1 national ranking, the only team in school history to ever hold the country’s top ranking during the regular season … led by first team All-America selection Andy Kanoza and second team All-America pick Ralph Darin … Darin went 12-1 with a 2.24 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 100.1 innings pitched … Kanoza batted .331 while belting a team-high five homers … Jim Cooper posted a team-high .369 batting average and a team-high 37 RBI … the squad had a 12-game winning streak and another 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1) … won the Midwest Regional with a 4-1 record after dropping the first game to Southern Illinois … defeated Mankato State and San Diego in the College World Series before falling in a pair of games to Florida Southern.
1971 CMU Baseball Team Roster: Head coach Dave Keilitz, assistant coach Dean Kreiner, pitcher Glenn Allen (St. Charles, Mich.), infielder Gary Arbogast (Ann Arbor, Mich.), infielder Chuck Cassady (Grand Blanc, Mich.), outfielder Jim Connell (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), outfielder Jim Cooper (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), pitcher Ralph Darin (River Rouge, Mich.), catcher Kirk Hamilton (Pontiac, Mich.), outfielder Leo Haynes (Flint, Mich.), outfielder Chuck Heeringa (Grand Rapids, Mich.), pitcher Jerry Hoag (Wyoming, Mich.), catcher L.D. Jones (Elsie, Mich.), catcher Alex Kanoza (Grand Rapids, Mich.), infielder Andy Kanoza (Grand Rapids, Mich.), pitcher Bob Kocinsky (Bay City, Mich.), pitcher Gary Lewandowski (Bay City, Mich.), outfielder Dave Machemer (Benton Harbor, Mich.), pitcher Greg Main (Southfield, Mich.), infielder Ed Papes (Freesoil, Mich.), pitcher Cap Pohlman (Saginaw, Mich.), infielder Jack Roelofs (Zeeland, Mich.), outfielder John Schroeter (Livonia, Mich.), infielder Steve Shragal (Detroit, Mich.), infielder Jeff Sovern (Battle Creek, Mich.), outfielder Bob VonReichbauer (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), pitcher Craig Wadsworth (Lapeer, Mich.), infielder Dick Watkins (Burlington, Mich.), pitcher Dave Weisler (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), outfielder Larry Whitehead (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), catcher Wally Williams (Walled Lake, Mich.) and pitcher Dennis Wooster (Pontiac, Mich.).