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Augustana inducts new Hall of Fame class

This past Saturday, the Augustana Athletic Department introduced the 21st class into the Tribe of Vikings Hall of Fame during and after the football game.

This year’s inductees included Dave Linger, who graduated in 1981, Joe Wheeler who graduated in 1985, Patti Wenig Miller who graduated in 1991, Corey Christenson who graduated in 1997, Sarah Ainsworth Fulscher who graduated in 1998 and Joe Schmulbach who graduated in 2000.  This group of inductees includes All-Americans, record holders, CCIW Player of the Year recipients and exemplary student athletes.

Linger competed in the discus toss during his time in track and field at Augustana. He held the CCIW record for longest discus throw for 19 seasons and Augustana’s record for 28 seasons. Linger is a three time CCIW champion and was a Division III National Meet runner-up.

Linger learned a lot during his years in track and field, while being coached by head cross country and track and field coach Paul Olsen.

Linger said he learned lessons that have influenced his character and how he views life.

“(I’ve learned to) persevere and set goals,” Linger said. “Coach Olsen is super positive and always encouraged people. With Ols, sports wasn’t the most important thing. It was life, respecting people, win or lose, and always do your best.”

Linger also said that being inducted into the hall of fame “is the proudest moment of my life.”

Wheeler was a linebacker for the Augustana football team from 1981-1985 and was on two national championship teams. He was a part of Augustana’s most successful football era and, during his four-year career, only experienced two losses. Wheeler was recognized as the CCIW conference Defensive Player of the year in 1984.

Miller is one of the more accomplished female track and field stars in Augustana history. Her freshmen year she broke the outdoor school record for the triple jump on her first attempt. She went on to win three consecutive Illinois state titles in the triple jump. Miller believes that what makes Augustana teams so successful is the idea of “spreading the wealth and share the passion” and the spread of that success to future athletes.

(There’s a trickling down effect that we wanted to make sure be carried on,” Miller said.

Christenson was an Augustana athlete who compete in three different sports. Christenson’s versatility and athleticism lead to six All-American nominations, four CCIW individual championships and conference championship titles with both the football and wrestling team.

Fulscher is regarded as the most dominate female tennis player to come through Augustana. She was won three CCIW singles championships and, when she graduated in 1998, she was Augustana’s leader in singles victories as well as doubles victories.

Schmulbach joins his father, Tom, in the Tribe of Vikings Hall of Fame. The Schmulbach’s are the second father/son duo in the Hall of Fame. Schmulbach was a quarterback for the Vikings and had a unique skill set that included passing, running and blocking as he was a lead blocker in the team’s famous toss sweep. He won CCIW Offensive Player of the Year in his senior season.

The ceremony was filled with laughs, reminiscing and was an emotional night for the new batch of Hall of Famers. The Hall of Fame committee are already planning for the next class. These athletes that were recognized on Saturday will hold a special place in Augustana history.