The 2015 class includes Chris Robinson (basketball), Eugene Smith (track & field), Raigo Toompuu (track & field) and Kicker Vencill (swimming).
The induction of the 2015 class brings the number of former WKU athletes and coaches to earn berths in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame to 142 since its founding in 1991.
The 2015 class will be inducted in a ceremony highlighting the annual W-Club Homecoming Brunch, set for 8 a.m. (CT), Saturday, Nov. 7, on the main floor (The John Oldham Court) in E.A. Diddle Arena on the WKU campus in Bowling Green.
Tickets for the event, which is open to the general public, are $15 each and can be purchased and/or reserved:
• online at alumni.wku.edu/wclubbrunch15 (then click on the “Registration” box and fill out the reservation form)
• by calling 1-888-WKU-ALUM (1-888-958-2586) or, locally in the Bowling Green area, 270-745-4395;
• or, by contacting either W-Club Treasurer Bill Edwards (270-745-6026; firstname.lastname@example.org) or W-Club Secretary Paul Just (270-792-4247; email@example.com).
Each W-Club member who has paid his/her 2015-16 dues may claim two complimentary tickets to the event; however, seating is limited and reservations MUST be made — either online, by phone with the Alumni Association, or with Edwards or Just — to ensure seating is available. Non-members, and the general public, are welcome, but must purchase tickets (see above). Letterwinners who have not yet paid their ‘15-16 dues may do so online via credit card or at the door with a prior reservation.
The inductees will also be honored in ceremonies on Jimmy Feix Field at halftime of the annual Homecoming Football Game, set to kickoff at 11 a.m., later that morning. Head Coach Jeff Brohm will pit his Hilltoppers against Conference USA foe Florida Atlantic at Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium. Tickets for the game are available by calling 1-800-5-BIG-RED (or 270-745-5222). A reminder: W-Club members with a valid 2015-16 membership card may claim one complementary ticket to the football game as well.
Now, more about the members of the 2015 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame class:
CHRIS ROBINSON (Basketball, 1993-96)
Robinson, a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, was the SBC Player-of-the-Year in 1995 and earned All-America honors as a senior. He led WKU in both scoring (14.7 ppg in ‘94, 17.0 in ‘95 and 16.8 in ‘96) and steals (49 in ‘94, 58 in ‘95 and 68 in ‘96) three times. The MVP of 1995 SBC Tournament (and a two-time all-tourney pick), “C-Rob” scored 1,656 points to rank 9th among all Hilltoppers (he is still 11th on that list) and he is still among Top 15 in scoring by a freshman, a sophomore and a junior. He finished career ranked #2 at WKU in both steals (203) and minutes played (3,338). The 4 teams he played on went 86-35 (71%), including a 27-4 mark by the ‘95 club that was the second best record in the nation (behind only NCAA champ UCLA). His teams won two SBC titles (‘94 & ‘95), two SBC tournaments (‘93 & ‘95) and earned 3 trips to the NCAA tourney, reaching the “Sweet 16” in ‘95. Robinson, who came to The Hill from Macon, Ga., was the 51st pick (2nd round) in the ‘96 NBA Draft by Vancouver and played for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings. He was also played pro ball internationally. Robinson now resides in Smyrna, Ga.
EUGENE SMITH (Track & Field, 1968-71)
Smith won the Ohio Valley Conference shot put competition each of his 4 years on The Hill (a feat that has not been duplicated since), earning All-Conference honors each season. He qualified for the NCAA Championship meet six times — four (‘68-71) in the outdoor meet and twice (‘70 and ‘71); and, he also qualified for the United States Track & Field Federation (USTFF) championships in 1970. The Hilltoppers were ranked the number two team in the Southeast by Track and Field News in 1970. Smith’s performances were key factors in the Hilltoppers’ 4 straight OVC track crowns. He set a league record with his 55-2.75 throw in the 1970 meet and then bettered that with a 56-2.25 toss in ‘71. His 57-10.25 throw as a junior in ‘70 was a school record as well. He came to The Hill out of the military, where he was the Commanding General Invitational shot put champion 3 times (1965-67). He was also the Lake Erie AAU District champ in both 1979 and ‘71. Smith lives in Richmond Heights, Ohio.
RAIGO TOOMPUU (Track & Field, 2002-05)
Toompuu earned All-America honors in the discus at the 2005 NCAA championships and represented his native Estonia in the 2012 London Olympics, finishing 30th in the shot put. A three-time NCAA qualifier (2003, ‘04 and ‘05) in both the shot and the discus, Toompuu won 12 individual Sun Belt Conference titles (indoor and outdoor — 7 in the shot, 4 in the discus and 1 in the weight throw). He was the top scorer in the SBC Outdoor Championships all four years and 3 times he was named Outstanding Field Performer at the league indoor meet. He earned All-Sun Belt honors 20 times in 6 events (4 each in the indoor shot put and weight throw; and 12 times in outdoor competition — 4 each in the discus and the shot plus 2 in the hammer and in the javelin). For his efforts, he was named to the SBC all-time teams in both indoor and outdoor track in 2006. He set a new school record in the discus with his 192-10 throw in 2005 (bettering the 32-year-old mark set by Chuck Eneix in 1973). And, his 60-10 3/4 shot put was the 4th longest in school history and the longest toss by a Hilltopper in 30 years. Toompuu returned to The Hill in 2014 as an assistant coach on the Topper staff.
KICKER VENCILL (Swimming, 1997-00)
Vencill, an NCAA qualifier (in the 100 freestyle) as a senior, completed his eligibility with six school records (in the 100 and 200 free; and on 4 relay teams). He still holds the school mark in the 100; and, is 2nd only to All-American Steve Crocker in the 50 free. He set 9 Bill Powell Natatorium pool records. Vencill was elected team MVP each of his last 3 seasons and was the team’s Most Improved Swimmer twice (only the 2nd athlete to win that award 2 times). His 4 teams went 50-4 in dual meets — 12-4 in 1998 and a combined 38-0 the other 3 seasons. Vencill was the National Independent Conference Male Swimmer of the Year as a senior and, overall, he was a 10-time NIC champion. The team captain and the WKU Male Athlete of the Year in ‘99-00, he is one of only 3 WKU swimmers (along with Crocker and Claire Donahue) to represent the USA in international competition. He was ranked among the top performers in the world in both the 50 and 100 free from 1999-03. He qualified for the Olympic Trials 3 times (2000, ‘04 and ‘08) and competed for the US National Swimming Team in 2001 and ‘03, winning a silver medal at the ‘01 World University Games in Beijing. Vencill came to The Hill from Richmond, Ky., and now resides in Playa Del Rey, Calif.