Cross-country and track, football, soccer and women's basketball will be well-represented, as the Montana Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame grows by four members.

The University of Montana Athletic Department has announced the latest inductees into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame. The class of 2023 will be honored on Friday, October 27, in the Adams Center on the UM campus. The celebration coincides with a Griz home football game against Northern Colorado the next day.

Eric Taber in the UM Sports Information Department tells us that the careers of four of UM's most successful student-athletes and coaches will be recognized during the ceremony. Anyone who has followed Grizzly sports for any length of time will know some, if not all, of these names. 

Betsy Duerksen, Soccer Head Coach: 1994-2003

Congratulations! You're hired to coach...well, nothing at this point.

In 1994, she was hired to build Montana's fledgling soccer program from the ground up. The program she founded has gone on to be one of UM's most successful, having advanced to six NCAA tournaments, winning 8 Big Sky championships in the last 26 years. During Betsy's 10-year tenure, she led Montana to a Big Sky Conference title the first season the league sponsored the sport, 1997. That was merely the first step, as she guided the team to three more consecutive conference titles.

Coach Duerkson's overall record was 117-69-7, 33-9-2 in Big Sky action. And she was at the helm for one of the biggest wins in program history, in the 2000 NCAA tournament, a 1-0 victory at Washington State that remains the only NCAA tournament victory in Big Sky history.

Dean Erhard, Cross-Country/Track & Field: 1973-1977

Run back home, Montana kid.

Dean was born in Havre and also spent part of his youth in Helena and Billings before eventually moving to Illinois during his high school years. He was one of the most successful distance runners in Montana history, both at the conference and national level.

Among his remarkable accomplishments, he was a three-time All-American for the Grizzlies, twice in steeplechase and once in cross country, and competed in six NCAA meets. As a senior, he won his third consecutive Big Sky Conference steeplechase title as well as the three-mile and was named the Big Sky championship meet's most outstanding athlete.

In that senior season in 1977, he set a UM school steeplechase record of 8:40.4, a school record that still stands today. Dean finished fifth in the steeplechase at the NCAA championships, earning All-America honors.

Jeanne McNulty-King, Lady Griz Basketball: 1985-1990, Track & Field 1989-1990

What, basketball didn't keep you busy enough?

It was that Golden Age of Montana Lady Griz basketball, when the team started to garner a national reputation. And Jeanne McNulty-King was part of that driving force: a Big Sky MVP for the Lady Griz following the 1989-90 season and a Kodak All-District 7 honoree and All-America honorable mention in the same year.

She was a two-time All-Big Sky selection and a two-time member of the Big Sky all-tournament team in her junior and senior seasons. She finished her career third among UM's all-time scorers with 1,320 points and ninth in rebounding with 582. Jean still ranks 11th in program history in scoring and holds the school record for field goals made in a single season with 251 in her senior year.

And, oh yeah, she wasn't bad outside, either. In her one season of track, she was the 1989-90 Big Sky javelin champion and the Big Sky heptathlon runner-up.

Marc Mariani, Football: 2005-2009

Well, I suppose you can walk on. Just keep those tennis rackets out of the way.

It's not the only time a Griz football player joined the team as a walk-on and rose to such elite status in program history, but Marc Mariani epitomizes that heart and spirit of a determined Grizzly as well as any.

Tennis was his game, until we saw what he could do on the football field. Yet another new Hall-of-Famer originally from Havre, the former walk-on turned NFL All-Pro finished his time at Montana as one of the most successful receivers and return men in Griz and Big Sky Conference history.

During his Grizzly career, he set records for single-season receiving yards, career records in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, yards per punt return, punt return TDs, and kick return average. Those accomplishments and more earned him All-American honors from the Sports Network, the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation.

Image courtesy of U of Montana Sports Information
Image courtesy of U of Montana Sports Information

Marc was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft and went on to a six-year NFL career where he earned a place in the Pro Bowl. He set two Pro Bowl records in 2011 for number of returns and total return yards for a game. Those records still stand today.

The Griz would like to thank their Hall of Fame corporate sponsor, Wipfli, one of the top 20 accounting and advisory firms in the nation.

Tickets for the October 27 banquet are $60 each. You can order those and get more  information here. Congrats to all these Griz greats!

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