Sept. 21, 2012
Last night, nine former student-athletes and coaches were honored for their accomplishments and contributions that have helped build the rich tradition of Golden Gopher Athletics. Friends and family of the University of Minnesota gathered at TCF Bank Stadium to celebrate the official induction of these Gopher greats into the M Club Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2012 included Lindsey Berg (volleyball, 1999-2001), Tyrone Carter (football, 1996-99), Bryan "Butsy" Erickson (men's hockey, 1979-83), Chad Kraft (wrestling, 1996-1999), Shani Marks Johnson (track & field, 2000-03), Dan Morgan (baseball, 1975-77), J Robinson wrestling head coach, 1986-present), John Williams (football, 1965-67) and Jennifer Walek (soccer, 1993-95, 1997).
The University of Minnesota "M" Club is a nonprofit organization representing all letterwinners from University of Minnesota athletics teams. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor achievements and to preserve the tradition of those athletes, coaches and athletic staff members who have contributed in an outstanding and positive way to the University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Department.
The criteria for induction to the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame include four different categories: significant accomplishments by a former student-athlete; significant achievements by a former coach or administrator; significant contributions of time, talent or resources to the athletics department by someone other than an athlete, coach or administrator, and significant professional achievement by a former Minnesota student-athlete.
Former student-athletes inducted for significant accomplishments become eligible for selection five years after the expiration of their eligibility, while former coaches and staff members must have served the department for five years to be eligible.
Class of 2012 - M Club Hall of Fame
Lindsey Berg, Volleyball (1999-2001)
One of the biggest names on the international volleyball scene, Lindsey Berg first starred as a setter for the Golden Gophers. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Berg was a four-year starter at Minnesota and still ranks second all-time in Big Ten history in both services aces (283) and assists (5,913).
During her Gopher career, Berg helped lead Minnesota to a pair of Big Ten runner-up finishes and NCAA Regional appearances in 1999 and 2000. In 2000, she helped lead the Gophers to a remarkable 30-4 overall record and their highest winning percentage in school history at .882.
Berg went on to become the first player from the Minnesota volleyball program to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2004, followed up that appearance with as a member of the USA's 2008 Olympics squad and is projected to be the starting setter in the 2012 London Olympic games. She has also been twice named USA Volleyball Indoor Female Athlete of the Year, winning the award in 2008 and 2011, and last year was also inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Tyrone Carter, Football (1996-99)
One of the most decorated football players in recent history at Minnesota, Tyrone Carter played in the defensive backfield for the Gophers from 1996-99 and was a four-year letterwinner. He served as captain during his final season.
During his collegiate career he made a program-record 528 tackles and ranks third (158), tied for sixth (144) and eighth (143) in tackles during a season. Carter won the 1999 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the top defensive back in college football, and was also a First Team All-American in 1998 and 1999.
Carter was drafted in the fourth round, 118th overall, by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2000 NFL Draft. He played in 158 games during an 11-year NFL career and made 421 tackles. In addition to playing with the Vikings, he also played for the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and most recently the San Diego Chargers. Carter is a two-time Super Bowl champion, winning both titles as a member of the Steelers.
Bryan "Butsy" Erickson, Hockey (1979-83)
Bryan "Butsy" Erickson played hockey at Minnesota from 1979 to 1983 and finished his career as the Gophers' fourth all-time leading scorer with 238 points in 144 games.
Erickson topped 80 points twice in a season as a Gopher. His most prolific year was during his sophomore campaign when he tallied 86 points in 44 games. Oddly enough, he only led the team in scoring once and that was when he had 45 points during his junior year.
The Roseau, Minn., native was a member of two WCHA regular-season championship team, two WCHA playoff championship teams and played in two NCAA Frozen Fours as a Gopher.
Erickson went on to play 351 NHL games as a member of the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Winnipeg Jets before retiring after the 1993-94 season. He also played for Team USA in several international competitions.
Chad Kraft, Wrestling (1996-1999)
The late 90s were a golden time for Gopher wrestling due in large part to Chad Kraft. Kraft was an integral competitor helping the team to a Big Ten second-place finish in 1997 and a Big Ten title in 1999. With Kraft on the squad, the Maroon and Gold finished third at the 1997 NCAA Championships and took consecutive runner-up finishes in 1998 and 1999.
While at Minnesota, Kraft amassed a record of 115-23-0 (.833 win percentage) and solidified his name forever in the history books by becoming Minnesota's first four-time All-American, never placing outside the top five at the national championship. Kraft currently ranks 18th in all-time career victories (115) and 7th in career dual meets (65).
Shani Marks Johnson, Track & Field (2000-03)
Shani Marks Johnson came to the Golden Gophers as a high school state champion, left as an All-American, and soared to even greater heights in her post-collegiate career.
At Minnesota, Johnson earned All-America honors during both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2003, with a runner-up finish in triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She also won three Big Ten titles: two in outdoor triple jump (2001 and `03), and one in the indoor 600 meters (2001). Johnson was a first-team Academic All-American in 2003.
The year after her Gopher career ended, Johnson finished fourth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. In the next four years, she won three USA Outdoor triple jump titles (2006, '07, '08) and two USA Indoor titles (2005 and '07).
In 2008, Johnson qualified for the Olympics by winning at the Trials with a career-best mark of 47 feet, 2 1/4 inches. She went on to finish 28th in Beijing. Johnson is one of only three Olympians ever to come out of the Minnesota track and field program. She is the only Golden Gopher to compete for Team U.S.A. in the Olympic Games.
Dan Morgan, Baseball (1975-77)
A first team All-American, two-time All-Big Ten selection and a key member of Minnesota's last College World Series team in 1977, Dan Morgan is remembered as one of the Gophers' all-time great pitchers. In fact, Morgan still ranks second in school history in career ERA (1.97), tied for sixth in wins (21) and is ninth in career strikeouts (198). He is also tied for fourth in school history in wins in a season (10, 1976 and 1977) and sixth in strikeouts (93 in 1977).
During his All-America senior season in 1977, Morgan was nearly unhittable, posting an ERA of 1.56 in 94.2 innings and went a perfect 10-0 in 16 games with six complete games. As junior in 1976, Morgan pitched in 14 games, compiling a 10-2 record and an ERA of 1.67 in 79.2 innings pitched.
Morgan went on to be selected in the 15th round of the 1977 Major League Baseball draft by Montreal. He passed away prematurely on May 31, 1996.
J Robinson, Wrestling (1986-present)
No doubt the most decorated head coach in Gopher Wrestling history, J Robinson has developed an environment of excellence that has seen Minnesota rise to elite status in college wrestling.
Since taking over the Gopher program in 1986, Robinson's teams have claimed the first three national championships in Minnesota history (2001, 2002, 2007) while the three-time national coach of the year has helped develop 57 All-Americans, 13 individual national champions, six Big Ten team titles and 29 individual Big Ten champions.
All told, Robinson's wrestlers have amassed a total of 109 All-America honors, including a NCAA record 10 All-Americans during the national championship run in 2001. His .743 winning percentage is a program record, and his 388 dual meet victories stand as the second best mark in Minnesota wrestling history -- just five wins away from overcoming Wally Johnson for the all-time win record.
Robinson's efforts have not gone unnoticed by his peers in the wrestling community. In June of 2005, Robinson earned the ultimate honor as he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Stillwater, Okla. He was named the 1998, 2001, and 2012 Dan Gable Coach of the Year by Wrestling Insider News (WIN) Magazine and earned the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Coach of the Year award in 2001 and 2012. Robinson also has earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors seven times in his career, more than any other coach in the conference's history. At the 2002 National Duals in Columbus, Ohio, he was awarded the 2001 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year award for his work and support of wrestling at all levels.
John Williams, Football (1965-67)
John Williams was a star offensive tackle for Minnesota and helped lead the Golden Gophers to the 1967 Big Ten title. He was a three-year letterwinner for the Maroon and Gold. Williams was named First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten in 1967. Williams was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the first round with the 23rd overall pick in the 1968 NFL Draft. He went on to play 166 games in the NFL over 12 seasons with the Colts and Los Angeles Rams and was a member of the 1970 Baltimore team that won Super Bowl V.
Jennifer Walek, Soccer (1993-95, 1997)
Jennifer Walek was simply a goal machine during her career at Minnesota and continues to rank as the Golden Gophers' all-time leading scorer.
A three-time All-Big Ten selection and the conference's 1995 Player of the Year, Walek's accomplishments on the pitch continues to stand the test of time as she sits atop the Gophers' career chart for points (162), goals (60), game-winning goals (17) and assists (42).
A member of Minnesota's Big Ten Conference championship and NCAA Tournament teams of 1995 and 1997, Walek was a critical ingredient to Minnesota's success. She finished with double-digit point totals in both years, including a 50-point season (16 goals/18 assists) in 1995 that earned her the conference's highest honor.
It was not the first time that Walek reached the 50-point plateau in her Gopher career, however. As a freshman, the Lake Elmo, Minn., product burst onto the college soccer scene by scoring 22 goals and assisting on nine others in just 19 games to finish fifth in the nation in scoring. Her 53 total points and 22 goals are both school records.
The class is the 10th since the men's and women's halls of fame were combined into the University of Minnesota M Club Hall of Fame in 2003.
The group will also be honored at the Gophers' football game vs. Syracuse this Saturday, Sept. 22 at TCF Bank Stadium.