Two Hilltopper Greats Selected for Induction into WKU Athletic Hall of Fame

Aug. 5, 2003

Bowling Green, Ky. - Two former Western Kentucky University athletes have been elected as the 13th class for induction into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame.

The 2003 class includes Pete Walters (football) and Gayle Harris Watkins (track).

The selection of the 2003 class brings to 93 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 2003 class will be inducted in ceremonies during the annual W-Club Homecoming Luncheon, set for 11 a.m. (CST), Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Knicely Conference Center on the WKU South Campus on Nashville Road in Bowling Green. The event is free to W-Club members and their guests. However, reservations are a must and need to made with W-Club secretary-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. New Head Coach David Elson will pit the current NCAA I-AA National Champion Hilltopper Football Team against Gateway Football Conference rival Southern Illinois in that contest at L.T. Smith Stadium/Jimmy Feix Field.

Now, more about the members of the 2003 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame class.

* Pete Walters, a product of Webster County (Ky.) High School, lettered four seasons (1977-80) for the Hilltoppers, earning All-America and All-Ohio Valley Conference honors as a senior offensive guard in 1980. He was a key factor on Western clubs that took OVC championships in both 1978 and '80. Both of those teams finished the year ranked among the top five in the national polls - WKU was fourth in the final poll in '78 and fifth in '80. Walters was the recipient of Hilltopper football's prestigious Al Almond Award in 1980 when he also laid claim to football's Academic Achievement Award. He was Western's Male Athlete-of-the-Year as a senior and the winner of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Mouser Fellowship. Walters served as president of WKU's FCA chapter in '80-81. He earned his bachelor's degree in receation and religion in 1981, then added master's and doctor's degrees from Texas A&M in 1989 and '92, respectively. Dr. Walters spent four years on the faculty at West Texas A&M before moving on to Wheaton (Ill.) College in 1996 when he is now a professor of kinesiology. The son of David and Janet Walters of London, Ky., he and his wife, Margery, reside in Wheaton, Ill., and have two daughters, Corrie (14) and Sydney (11).

* Gayle Harris Watkins came to The Hill from nearby Franklin-Simpson (Ky.) High School and lettered four years (1976-80) for the Lady Toppers, earning a reputation as one of the nation's top hurdlers. She set Western records in the hurdlers that still stand - 13.21 in the outdoor 100 meters in 1978; and, 7.82 in the indoor 55 meters in 1980. Watkins was a two-time AIAW All-American as a senior in 1979, winning the national championship in the long jump (19-8) and finishing second in the 60-meter hurdles. Following her graduation in 1979, Watkins remained a prominent figure on the world track scene, competing around the globe and earning berths at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1980, '84 (where she was a finalist) and '88. Watkins was ranked as high as number two in the world in the indoor 50-meter hurdles in 1983 and she was ranked number one in the nation in the long jump (with a leap of 20-10.75) for a period of time in '79. A charter member of the WKU Track Hall of Fame, she is the daughter of Doug (deceased) and Lorene (who still lives in Franklin) Harris. Watkins and her husband James have two adult children, daughter Tanyita (also a WKU alumnus and a former Lady Topper track athlete) and son Ricardo, along with a granddaughter (Tanyita's three-year-old Tyiona). Watkins lives in Walnut, Calif., where she is an assistant coach with the Mt. San Antonio College track program. She is also a student advisor at Pomona Alternative School. And, Watkins is a Ph.D. candidate in higher education administration at Claremont Graduate University.

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