Kaleb Center, Sports Information Director
CHADRON – Seven former Chadron State College student-athletes have been selected for induction into the Eagles’ Athletic Hall of Fame this fall. The ceremonies will be on Saturday. Nov. 16 following Chadron State’s final regular-season football game.
The inductees include football players Jason Barthel, Cory Hegwer and Jeff Rusher, who also was an All-American wrestler. Another wrestler, Travis Peak, also will be inducted along with volleyball setter Shelly Kraus Fenton, rodeo standout Curt LaDuke and basketball player Jeremy Wissing.
Each graduated from the college at least 15 years ago, one of the stipulations for induction.
Both Barthel and Hegwer were defensive tackles who played on some exceptional teams at the turn of the century. During a four-year period, the Eagles had a 35-10 cumulative record, won or shared three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and were in the NCAA Division II playoffs twice.
A native of Lingle, Wyo., Barthel was a three-year starter and a two-time all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Nebraska NCAA Division II selection. He also was placed on the Eagles’ All-Century team that was chosen in 2014. A 2002 Chadron State graduate, he now lives in Casper, Wyo.
Hegwer came to Chadron State one year later from Wasson High School in Colorado Springs. He also was a two-time all-conference and all-state selection while playing for the Eagles. When Barthel and Hegwer were upperclassmen, the CSC defenses gave up less than 300 total net yards and fewer than 17 points a game. Hegwer now lives in Westminster, Colo.
Rusher was a three-time state champion wrestler at Wray High School in Colorado and now coaches that sport at Chase County High at Imperial, Neb. He was a three-year starter at middle linebacker for the Eagles and finished his college football career with 203 tackles, including 144 that were unassisted and 17.5 for lost yardage.
Rusher had an 82-35 record while filling the 197-pound weight class four years for the CSC wrestling team. He was 23-3 his junior year in 2003, when he was the West Regional champion and placed third at the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
He won his first three matches at nationals as a senior, but suffered an ankle injury and lost twice the next day to finish sixth. He was 22-5 for the season.
Peak concluded his wrestling career in 2004 by placing sixth at 157 pounds at the national tournament to earn All-America honors. He also qualified for nationals as a junior and ended his career with an 80-44 record. A native of Douglas, Wyo., he now coaches wrestling at Kelly Walsh High in Casper.
After coming up with 361 digs while playing in the back row as a freshman, Shelly Kraus started every game as the CSC volleyball team’s setter the next three years, but often played in a unconventional manner. She was sneaky and often dumped the ball over the net instead of lofting it to a teammate. She finished her career with 735 kills, several times more than most setters manage. She led the RMAC with a .369 hitting percentage as a sophomore in 2002 and was the conference’s first-team setter the following year. Now Shelly Fenton, she graduated from Pomona High in Denver and still lives in that city.
LaDuke highlighted his collegiate rodeo career by winning the all-around cowboy title in the Central Rocky Mountain Region in 2002-2003, and remains the only Chadron State cowboy to win the honor. He placed second in team roping, third in calf roping and fifth in steer wrestling in the region that year.
In addition, LaDuke won the calf roping at the Three-Region Shootout at Bozeman, Mont., just prior to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, where he placed fifth in the event. He caught and tied all seven of his calves at the two rodeos. A graduate of Dickinson High in North Dakota, his family was living on a ranch in the Valentine area when he attended CSC. He now manages a ranch at Buffalo, Wyo.
Wissing was a four-year starter for the Chadron State basketball team, scoring 1,532 points to tie for sixth place on the Eagles’ career-scoring list. He is the college’s all-time leader for career three-pointers with 245 while shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc.
Wissing was second on the CSC scoring chart as a freshman and led the team in scoring his final three seasons, finishing with a 14.6 point career average. A graduate of Grand Island Central Catholic, he now owns a roofing business in Durango, Colo.