Three Hilltopper Greats To Be Inducted Into WKU Athletic Hall of Fame

Bowling Green, Ky. — Three former Western Kentucky University athletes will be inducted as the 14th class into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies set for Homecoming Weekend this fall.

The 2004 class includes Paul Gray (football), Sue Lausten Avril (riflery) and Kim Pehlke Salyer (basketball).

The induction of the 2004 class brings to 96 the number of former Western Kentucky athletes and coaches who have earned berths in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame since its founding in 1991.

The 2004 class will be inducted in ceremonies during the annual W-Club Homecoming Luncheon, set for 11 a.m. (CST), Saturday, Oct. 23, at the new Hall of Champions in the renovated E.A. Diddle Arena on the WKU campus in Bowling Green. The event is free to W-Club members and their guests. However, reservations are a must and need to be made with W-Club treasurer Bill Edwards (270-745-6026; bill.edwards@wku.edu).

The inductees will also be honored in ceremonies during the annual Homecoming Game, set to kickoff at 4 p.m., later that day. Second-year head coach David Elson will pit his Hilltopper football team against Gateway Football Conference rival Indiana State in that contest at L.T. Smith Stadium/Jimmy Feix Field.

Now, more about the members of the 2004 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame class.

• Paul Gray, a product of Daviess County (Ky.) High School in Owensboro, lettered four seasons (1980-83) at linebacker for Hilltopper football, earning All-America honors from the Associated Press both his junior and senior seasons. He was also an all-Ohio Valley Conference selection as a sophomore in 1981 (WKU football became an independent in the ’82 season). He completed his career on The Hill with both season (100 in ’81) and career (298) records for assisted tackles - both standards that still stand in the Topper record books 21 years later. He also owns the second highest single season total for assisted tackles (93 in '82). And, his season (173 in ’81) and career (488) numbers for total tackles were second only to fellow All-America linebacker Rick Green's (1972-75) school-record totals. He is one of only 10 Hilltopper footballers who have earned All-America recognition on multiple occasions. Gray and his wife, Michael (Hines, an '85 WKU alumna), reside in Louisville with their three children — two daughters, Keegan (6) and Piper (5); and a son, Liam (3).

•Sue Lausten (Avril) came to The Hill from Westerville, Ohio, and starred for four seasons (1970-73) in riflery, earning a reputation as perhaps the outstanding performer in that sport ever at Western. A two-time junior national champion before her arrival at WKU, Lausten earned two unique distinctions among Hilltopper athletes. She was the first Western female athlete to win a national championship (1971 National Collegiate Rifle Champion) and she was the first woman on The Hill to earn All-America laurels (1971 and again in '72). She also etched her name forever in the national record books, becoming the first woman in the 35-year history of the event to win the overall Intercollegiate Rifle Championship in ’71. She paced the Toppers all four of her years on The Hill in individual season scoring average. Along the way, she set eight national records in smallbore rifle shooting. And, she was invited to participate in the final Olympic Team tryouts on five occasions (1968, ’72, ’76, ’80 and ’92). Lausten has also been a member of the United States Randle Team (the U.S. women's team at the National Championships) nine times 1967, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’72, ’74, ’77, ’78 and ’81). She coached that team twice (1979 and ’02) and served as the team captain in ’80 and ’03. Also on the list of her accomplishments are five Arizona state championships in the early 1980s. She and her husband, David Avril (a former rifle standout at Tennessee Tech), live in Scottsdale, Ariz., with their 11-year-old son, Robert.

• Kim Pehlke (Salyer), Kentucky's 1988 Miss Basketball at Doss High School in Louisville, lettered four years (1989-92) for the Lady Toppers, the last of those playing a key role in the Lady Toppers’ march to the 1992 NCAA Final Four championship game. She played perhaps her best basketball in the '92 NCAA Tournament. In that five-game stretch, she averaged 22.8 points, shot 51 percent from the floor (55.6 percent from three-point range) and 79 percent at the free throw line, earning MidEast Regional MVP honors and a berth on the Final Four All-Tournament Team. She was also a unanimous selection on the all-Sun Belt Conference Team and the MVP of the SBC Tournament. Pehlke garnered all-SBC and Sun Belt All-Tournament Team honors as a junior. She completed her career at WKU ranked first in three-point field goal percentage (41.6 percent), second in assists (374) and fifth in scoring (1,487 points). She still ranks among the Lady Topper top 10 in 11 career records categories - games played, games started, points scored, field goals made, field goals attempted, three-pointers made, three-point attempts, three-point percentage (a record that still stands), assists, steals and minutes per game. And, she still owns three Western single-game school records for NCAA Tournament competition — points scored (30), steals (5) and three-point field goals made (4). The four Western teams she played on won 95 of 127 games (74.8%), three SBC championships and three SBC Tourney titles, making four straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Toppers were 29-3 her junior season and 27-8 on the way to NCAA runner-up honors her senior year. WKU’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1992, she lives in Louisville with her two sons — Kameron (8) and Kyle (6).

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