VMI to Induct Eight into Sports Hall of Fame in February
Courtesy: VMIKeydets.com  
Release: 11/21/2016
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Courtesy: VMIKeydets.com

LEXINGTON, Va. - Seven former athletes and one alumnus who distinguished himself in sports journalism will be officially inducted into the Virginia Military Institute Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night, February 11, at a banquet to be held at Marshall Hall, the Center for Leadership and Ethics on the VMI Post. The induction banquet highlights a weekend of Hall of Fame festivities that include recognition of the inductees during a halftime of the VMI-The Citadel basketball game earlier that afternoon at Cameron Hall. For more information on the Hall of Fame dinner and weekend activities, go to www.vmi.edu.

The 2016 VMI Sports Hall of Fame inductees are listed below with expanded biographical capsules to follow.

MILDRED COOPER ’05 (Track & Field)  -  First VMI women’s individual conference champion in any sport history and dominated the women’s shot put throughout her career with five individual crowns in the event … named to the Big South 25th anniversary Indoor Track and Field team… finished her VMI career with five school records…becomes the first female athlete inducted in the VMI Sports Hall of Fame.

MATT ERWIN ’02 (Wrestling)  – Was a four-time NCAA qualifier and won the 174 pound weight class in the Southern Conference in 2002…also qualified for the NCAA’s as an at-large selection in 1999, 2000, and 2003…finished his career tied with All-American Leslie Apedoe for third most wins in school history (109).

JOEY GIBSON ’02 (Football)  - Quarterback between 1999 and 2002 seasons…finished his career as then the school’s all-time leading passer with 5,607 yards despite playing his first season in a triple-option offense…set the former school record for most career touchdown passes with 38 and most touchdowns responsible for in a season (24) and had 13 games of 200 or more yards passing.

SEAN MIZZER '06 (Football)  - One of the top rushers in school history playing between 2002 and 2006…finished his cadet career second on the school all-time rushing list with 3,733 yards behind only all-time leader Thomas Haskins…had 27 rushing touchdowns which tied him with VMI Hall of Famer Floyd Allen for second on the school list…ranks second all-time in 100-yard rushing games with 18.

MICH PETTYJOHN ’55 (Rifle) – A team leader on the rifle program in the mid 1950’s and helped the program gain recognition as a varsity sport in 1954 from the Athletic Council and improved funding soon followed…was a first team All-American in 1955 and the only VMI cadet to win the National Rifle Association Golden Bullet All-American Award.

EUGENE SCOTT ’80 (Track & Field)  -  Competed in the jumps and was part of the first wave of Southern Conference and state championship teams under Coach Wade Williams including the grand slam of 1979 when the Keydets captured both Southern Conference and State indoor and outdoor titles …won the three SoCon individual titles ...co-captained the 1979-80 track teams.  

KELLY SWEPPENHEISER ’06 (Baseball) - Graduated from the Institute as perhaps the most-decorated baseball player in the program's history and became the first player to be named as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American while also becoming the only player in school history to rank in the top five in career hits, runs, RBI and home runs. He was also selected as a First Team All-Big South player as both a junior and senior.

ROLAND LAZENBY ’74 (Special Citation) – Sports author who has written over 60 books and publications including works on Jerry West, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant…penned Best Regrets, VMI’s John McKenna And The Lost Age Of College Football – an account of the VMI football years during the tenure of legendary head football coach John McKenna…VMI Class of 1974 graduate.      

EXPANDED INDUCTEE CAPSULES:

MILDRED COOPER ’05 (Track & Field)  - First VMI women’s individual conference champion in any sport history and dominated the women’s shot put throughout her career with five individual crowns in the event … named to the Big South 25th anniversary Indoor Track and Field team…won the Big South Conference indoor and outdoor shot put in consecutive years (2003, 2004) after winning her initial shot put title as a true freshman in the 2002 Southern Conference Outdoor meet…finished her VMI career with five school records holding the VMI indoor shot put (47’ 11-3-4”) and 20# weight (56’ 7-1/2”) and outdoor marks in the shot put (47’ 10-1/2”), discus (141’ 1-1/4”) and hammer (160’ 1-1/4”)… also finished fourth in the 2004 Big South outdoor discus and the hammer…placed third in the 2005 Penn Relays in the shot put…a two-time USATF Junior National Qualifier…placed fifth in the 2003 ECAC shot put…served as team captain of the 2004-05 squad. 

 MATT ERWIN ’02 (Wrestling)  – Was a four-time NCAA qualifier and won the 174 pound weight class in the Southern Conference in 2002…also qualified for the NCAA’s as an at-large selection in 1999, 2000, and 2003…finished his career tied with All-American Leslie Apedoe for third most wins in school history (109)…won the 2003 All-Academy Championships at 174 lbs. and was second in the Southern Conference and Virginia State Championships that year at 174 lbs.…went 30-11 as a senior in 2002-03…ranked second on the team in wins in 2002 with 33 including a team-tying 13 dual match wins….won two matches at the 2002 NCAA Championships at 174 lb. class including one over fourth ranked Jeff Rusak of Old Dominion…took first place at 2002 All-Academy Championships and Bloomsburg Invitational…redshirted in 2000-01…went 2-2 in the NCAA Championships at 165 lbs. and was runner-up in the Southern Conference Championships while posting a 23-11 record and led the team in major decisions with five...went 23-9 as a freshman and qualified for the NCAA’s his freshman year and captured titles at the Keydet invitational and All-Academy Championships at 157 lbs. while posting second place finished in the SoCon and State Championships.    

JOEY GIBSON ’02 (Football)  -   Quarterback between 1999 and 2002 seasons…finished his career as then the school’s all-time leading passer with 5,607 yards despite playing his first season in a triple-option offense… now ranks third in passing on the all-time list…set the former mark for most career touchdown passes with 38 and most touchdowns responsible for in a season (24) and had 13 games of 200 or more yards passing which is tied for second on the all-time list…threw 17 touchdowns passes in VMI’s six-win 2002 season which was the second most in school history and his seven 200-yard or more passing games during 2002 are the second most in on the all-time list…was named first team All-SoCon in 2002 becoming the first VMI quarterback to earn that distinction since Howard Dyer in 1960…led VMI to Silver Shako wins over The Citadel in 2000 (SoCon Player of the Week) and 2002…was named National 1-AA player of the Week against The Citadel in 2000 when he completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns… also named SoCon Player of the Week when he tossed three TD scores in the opener against Davidson.

SEAN MIZZER '06 (Football)  - One of the top rushers in school history playing between 2002 and 2006…finished his cadet career second on the school all-time rushing list with 3,733 yards behind only all-time leader Thomas Haskins…had 27 rushing touchdowns which tied him with VMI Hall of Famer Floyd Allen for second on the school list…ranks second all-time in 100-yard rushing games with 18 and rushed for 100-yard games four consecutive games in 2003…Led the team in rushing in 2003 (1,244-7th best in school history ), 2004 (729), and 2006 (1,022)…was a part of the offense that produced back-to-back six win seasons in 2002 and 2003…had seven 100-yard rushing games in 2003 which is tied for the third highest in a season in school history…had his top rushing effort against Davidson in 2003 with 206 yards…currently ranks fifth in overall all-time scoring with 186 points and his 31 touchdowns place him third on the VMI career list...ranks third all-time in all-purpose yards with 5,736…only player in school history with 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game (106 rush, 104 rec) vs. Western Carolina in 2002…named first team All-Big South in 2003 and 2006.

MICH PETTYJOHN ’55 (Rifle)– A team leader on the rifle program in the mid 1950’s and helped the program gain recognition as a varsity sport in 1954 from the Athletic Council and improved funding soon followed…was a first team All-American in 1955 and the only VMI cadet to win the National Rifle Association Golden Bullet All-American Award… led the 1954 team when it went 14-4, and won a sectional championship that season… was a top-point winner on the squad and attained national recognition…participated in all four years of his cadetship and co-captained the 1955 rifle team as a senior and earned varsity letters in both seasons the monogram was awarded.   

EUGENE SCOTT ’80 (Track & Field)  - Competed in the jumps and was part of the first wave of Southern Conference and state championship teams under Coach Wade Williams including the grand slam of 1979 when the Keydets captured both Southern Conference and State indoor and outdoor titles …won the 1979 state outdoor title in the triple jump in 1978 with a jump of 15.08 meters and also captured the 1979 SoCon outdoor triple jump at 48’2”…won the 1979 Southern Conference indoor triple jump with a mark of 51’ 3” and captured the 1980 indoor long jump (24’ 5-1/4”)…was a member of four Southern Conference track championship squads and three state championship track championships...co-captained the 1979-80 track teams.   

KELLY SWEPPENHEISER ’06 (Baseball) - Sweppenhiser graduated from the Institute as perhaps the most-decorated baseball player in the program's history, as he became the first Keydet to be named to the prestigious Dick Howser Award Watch List, became the first player to be named as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, while also becoming the only player in school history to rank in the top five in career hits, runs, RBI and home runs. He was also selected as a First Team All-Big South player as both a junior and senior, while also being named the Big South's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for baseball while also being named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III Team. In 2006, he helped lead the team to the school-record for wins for the third time in his career…was the 2003 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year. A four-year starter at third base for the Keydets, Sweppenhiser became the school's all-time leader with 263 hits, 172 runs, 411 total bases, 756 at bats and a .457 on-base percentage, while also ranking in the top five in the program's history in doubles, home runs, RBI and batting average. In his senior season, he led the Keydets with a .350 batting average, 72 hits, seven home runs, 41 RBI, a .524 slugging percentage and a .479 on-base percentage. He also set a new school record by scoring 58 runs, helping the Keydets set new single-season marks for runs, hits and RBI. Selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 44th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft and reached the AAA level in the organization.

ROLAND LAZENBY ’74 (Special Citation) Sports author who has written over 60 books and publications including works on Jerry West, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant…penned Best Regrets, VMI’s John McKenna And The Lost Age Of College Football – an account of the VMI football years during the tenure of legendary head football coach John McKenna…VMI Class of 1974 graduate…has also taught media writing, sports communication, and reporting for 20 combined years at Radford and Virginia Tech...his 1997 book, Michael Jordan: The Life. Bull Run! The story of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls was named Sports Book of the Year by the Independent Publishers Association.       


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