EUREKA, Ill. – Five former student-athletes and the 1976-77 men's basketball team have been selected for induction into the Eureka College Athletics Hall of Fame, according to an announcement from Director of Athletics Steve Thompson. Alex Hess, Katie Huizinga Ritchie, Mike Minehan, Wes Schmidgall and K.T. Zapushek Johnson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of EC's homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8 a.m. at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
The 1976-77 Eureka men's basketball team became the first squad in program history to reach 20 wins in a season and includes current EC Hall of Famers Tom Cassidy, Reggie Homes, Tim McGuire, Stan Prosser and Jeff Smith. The Red Devils opened the season with 16 victories in their first 18 games and ultimately finished with a 20-7 record, including a 7-1 mark at the Reagan Center. The campaign included a 71-57 victory over Illinois-Chicago, then known as the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, on Dec. 3, 1976 shortly before the Flames made the transition to NCAA Division I.
The 1976-77 season was the third season of 20 for Hall of Fame men's basketball head coach Dave Darnall.
Hess was a dual-sport athlete, competing as tight end for three seasons on the football team and two seasons as a catcher on the baseball team. He finished his 30-game collegiate football career ranked fifth in program history with 100 receptions and ranked 10th at Eureka with 1,254 receiving yards. He added five receiving touchdowns and scored an additional six rushing touchdowns as a short-yardage specialist in the EC offensive backfield. Hess was twice named to the All-UMAC Team as a tight end, including a First Team nod in 2010, and was a D3ProDay.com preseason and postseason All-American in 2011.
Perhaps the most productive hitter of the modern era of Eureka baseball, Hess put up a .309/.392/.637 line and 23 home runs over 76 appearances primarily behind the plate during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He was a two-time All-SLIAC choice, including a First Team honoree as a junior on EC's SLIAC Tournament semifinalist in 2010, a season in which he set a single-season Eureka record and ranked 22nd in Division III with 13 home runs.
Hess graduated from EC in 2012 and later served the College as sports information director from 2014 until 2016. He is the only male student-athlete at Eureka College to earn all-conference First Team accolades from the SLIAC and the UMAC since EC began its affiliate football membership with the UMAC in 2009.
Ritchie was a four-year women's soccer student-athlete and remains Eureka's all-time leader with 40 goals scored, 91 points and a .214 shot percentage. She also ranks second all-time with 110 shots on goal, second with a .588 shots on goal percentage, third with 187 shot attempts and fourth with 11 assists. Her 17 goals scored and 39 points as a sophomore in 2008 remain a single-season program record. She also owns the single-season mark with a .787 shots on goal percentage as a junior in 2009. Huizinga was a three-time All-SLIAC selection and graduated from Eureka College in 2010.
Minehan, a 2012 graduate of Eureka College, starred in Eureka's football defensive backfield and as a return specialist for three seasons after transferring from NAIA McKendree. He was a three-time All-UMAC selection, including First Team choices in 2010 and 2011. The Washington, Ill. native was named a preseason All-American by D3ProDay.com in 2011 and finished his career with 313 tackles, the most on record by a Eureka defensive back and the second-most by any EC defensive player since 2000. He also added 18.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and 1,492 return yards.
Following his collegiate career, Minehan joined Schmidgall for a stint as a professional with the the Bloomington Edge of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL). Minehan also participated in track and has served EC's football staff as defensive backs coach since 2012.
Schmidgall joined the Eureka football program in 2009 after transferring from NAIA Culver-Stockton and promptly became one of the most prolific wide receivers in program history. The Eureka, Ill. native closed his three-year EC career with 182 receptions, 3,411 yards and 42 touchdowns, all totals ranking second behind current head coach Kurt Barth on Eureka's all-time lists. Schmidgall's final collegiate catch, the 73rd of his senior season in 2011, broke Barth's single-season record for receptions. He also joins Barth as the only players in program history to have a 1,000-yard receiving season, having put up 1,247 yards as a sophomore in 2009 and 1,274 yards as a senior in 2011. He made 18 catches for 273 yards versus Greenville on Oct. 22, 2011, both marks ranking second in a game in program history.
Additionally, Schmidgall's 19.8 yards per catch set a single-season Eureka record in 2009 and his career average of 18.7 ranks second all-time among players to make at least 25 receptions. Schmidgall earned postseason All-America honors from D3ProDay.com and Beyond Sports College Network in 2011. He was ultimately a three-time All-UMAC First Team selection and Eureka's first-ever All-Region honoree from D3Football.com in 2011.
Johnson joins Ritchie as the most decorated women's soccer players in the College's history. A transfer from NCAA Division III Augustana (Ill.), she was an All-SLIAC selection in all three of her seasons in a Eureka uniform, currently owns Eureka's all-time record with 19 assists and shares the all-time points mark with Ritchie with 91. Her 36 career goals rank second at EC and she also appears on Eureka's career lists with 200 shots (second), a .180 shot percentage (second) 106 shots on goal (third) and a .530 shots on goal percentage (seventh). Johnson also joins Ritchie as two of only 18 players in program history to appear in at least 55 career matches. She graduated from Eureka College in 2011.