BLUGOLD HALL OF FAME TO ADD FIVE
Two national champions are among five individuals that make up the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame class of 2017. The group also includes two conference players of the year and a first team All-American.
The new class, which will be inducted during homecoming weekend, includes football player Darrell Souhrada, hockey player Greg Robertson, women’s basketball player Vanessa (Schley) Boetcher, distance runner Bill Langhout and diver John Karpe.
This group represents the 41st class of men’s inductees and the 28th class of women’s inductees and brings the number of athletes, coaches and administrators who have been honored to 222.
The Blugold Hall of Fame was established 44 years ago in 1973 to pay tribute, to give deserved recognition and to enhance school tradition by honoring former athletic letterwinners, coaches or administrators who demonstrated distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while on the campus at Eau Claire and have distinguished themselves in their profession or personally since leaving the institution.
There must be a lapse of 15 years from their final season of eligibility before an athlete can be considered for induction.
Besides outstanding athletic credentials for this year’s class, the five have distinguished themselves professionally, personally or in community service since leaving the institution, according to Tim Petermann, Blugold Hall of Fame Executive Director.
Langhout was the track program’s first national champion when he won the NAIA marathon in 1980. John Karpe won three NCAA national diving championships and was runner-up three times in addition to claiming six conference championships in the two diving events. Souhrada is the school’s all-time leading rusher in football, helping the Blugolds to conference championships in 1998 and 2001 when he was the conference player of the year. Boetcher was the 2001 conference player of the year in basketball. Robertson was a first team ACHA All-American in 1990 for the Blugold hockey team.
At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, Darrell Souhrada (SOO rah dah) is not one of the biggest backs to don a Blugold uniform but the Riceville, Iowa native rates as the most productive. He finished with the most yards rushing and most rushing touchdowns in school history.
He was a very consistent performer with great power and breakaway speed. As evidence of those athletic traits, Souhrada qualified for the Iowa state track meet in the 100-meter dash and shot put in 1997 and was All-State as a running back and linebacker at Riceville High.
He came within 60 yards of having four 1,000-yard seasons at Eau Claire, getting 977 as a freshman and 969 as a sophomore. He then set a school single season mark with 1,588 yards as a junior. He closed out with 1,038 yards as a senior despite missing the first three games of the season with an injury.
While setting the school standard with 53 career TDs, he only once scored three touchdowns in a game. Only three times did he produce 190 or more yards in a single game. That said, he set a school record with 51 carries against Platteville in the 2000 season while gaining 303 yards, the second most in school history.
Attesting to his breakaway ability, Souhrada owns the longest run from scrimmage in school history, a 94-yard jaunt against Stout, and five of the top eight longest runs.
He was a freshman on the 1998 Blugold team that was quarterbacked by Sean Hoolihan and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA playoffs. Counting all playoff games that year, Souhrada lost the team rushing title to B. J. Jones, 979 to 977.
Both the 1998 and 2001 Blugold teams tied for first in the conference race, the first with Bob Nielson as head coach and the second with Todd Hoffner at the helm. The 1998 team set a school record for wins in a season with 10 and the Blugolds were 26-17 overall and 16-12 in conference play during Souhrada’s career.
Souhrada was a three-time first team All-Conference pick and the conference co-player of the year in 2001. He was also named to the WIAC’s All-Centennial football team in 2012. He earned AFCA All-Region first team honors in 2000 and 2001 after getting third team recognition in 1999. A two-year team captain and three-year team offensive MVP, Souhrada was named to the USA Football All-American second team in 2000.
Souhrada, a two-time Blugold Super Six Award winner, graduated in 2002 with a degree in management information systems. He is self-employed as a commercial real estate broker and real estate property investor in Bettendorf, Iowa. He has been involved in the real estate field and building the family real estate business since 2003.
He and his wife Sarah, a high school physical education and health teacher, have three children: Kylie, age 10; Sophie, 3; and Benjamin, 1.