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UNLV 2008 Hall of Fame Class Dominated by NCAA Champions

March 10, 2008

 2008 Hall of Fame Inductee Photo Gallery

LAS VEGAS - No less than three national championships will be celebrated as part of this fall's UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame ceremonies as the seven-person, two-team class was announced by the school on Tuesday.

Five former Rebel standout players, one longtime head coach and a distinguished contributor will join two record-setting teams in being inducted on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008.

The Class of 2008 is made up of former teammates Luke Smith and Tim Blenkiron (men's tennis), Marianne Vallin (women's tennis), Joe Kristosik (football), Kim Rondina (softball), coach Al McDaniels (men's and women's track and field), the 1998 men's golf team, the 1995 softball squad as well as longtime team dentist Dr. James Callaway.

The induction will take place at the new student union on the UNLV campus. Tickets ($110 per person) can be reserved now by calling Brian Finn at (702) 895-4753. Tables of 10 and sponsorship opportunities are also available. Ceremonies begin with cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and program to follow.

"You look at this class and you have to be very impressed," said UNLV Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick. "We'll be honoring two individual NCAA champions, a national championship team, a coach that produced two NCAA champions, and another pair of first team All-Americans as well as a College World Series team and a loyal friend of this program. It will be a thrilling evening as we welcome so many world-class winners into our hall of fame."

Born in 1987, UNLV's Athletic Hall of Fame will now grow to 96 members strong. Under the hall's bylaws, former student-athletes must have completed their eligibility at least 10 years earlier to be selected. Coaches and administrators must have stopped working at the University five years previous. All classes now enter on a biennial basis.


Tim Blenkiron
Tim Blenkiron (1994-97) was one of the best doubles players in school history and paired up with Luke Smith to win the 1997 NCAA Doubles Championship at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The 1997 ITA First Team All-American was also a member of the Rolex All-Star Team and competed at the U.S. Open. Blenkiron was a three-time first team all-conference selection in doubles from 1995-97 with a different partner each season. He was also a second team pick in singles in 1996. A member of three Big West Conference championship squads from 1994-96, Blenkiron is currently fifth all-time at UNLV with 81 career doubles victories and forged a 69-40 singles record. A former assistant coach with the Rebels (1998-99 season), he is still active in the Las Vegas tennis scene, having served as director of tennis for the Andre Agassi School, and currently coaches rising junior tennis star Asia Muhammad.

Joe Kristosik
UNLV football's first and only consensus first team All-American, Joe Kristosik (1995-98) was a four-year starter as a punter for the Rebels. The former Bishop Gorman High School quarterback walked on to Jeff Horton's squad and turned in a record-setting career to further the program's long line of award-winning punters. Kristosik, who left ranked fifth in school history with a 42.0-yard average, turned in one of the best seasons at his position in college football history as a senior in 1998. In 11 games, he averaged under 43 yards only twice and averaged over 50 three times. Having broken or tied seven school records during his career, in 1998 he became the first and only Rebel booter to lead the nation in punting and also helped UNLV lead the nation in net team punting for the first time. His average of 46.2 that fall was the second-highest in NCAA history for a punter with at least 75 attempts. Of his school-record 76 punts, 27 went at least 50 yards and eight went at least 60. His best game - and arguably one of the best performances by any punter ever -- came at BYU when he launched a school-record-tying 13 attempts for a stunning 52.5-yard average with eight longer than 50 and four longer than 60. Kristosik, who is the first and only Rebel to appear on the prestigious Walter Camp All-America Team, was also a first team choice by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association while being a finalist for the Mosi Tatupu National Special Teams Player of the Year Award.

Kim Rondina
Unquestionably the greatest slugger in UNLV softball history, Kim Rondina (1994-97) is one of only two three-time All-Americans in program history. The Rebels' only two-time conference softball player of the year, Rondina was named first team All-America in 1995 and third team in 1996 and 1997. A four-time first team all-conference shortstop from 1994-97, Rondina still holds 13 single-season and career UNLV batting records. She is the all-time leader in batting average (.415), hits (287), runs batted in (171), home runs (46), doubles (53), runs (168) and slugging percentage (.728). The four-time all-region honoree posted the school's three best single-season batting averages with a UNLV-record .445 in 1997, .436 in 1995 and .432 in 1996. She helped the Rebels to three NCAA tournament appearances, including one trip the Women's College World Series in 1995.

Luke Smith
The only multiple NCAA champion in UNLV athletics history, men's tennis star Luke Smith (1994-97) won the 1997 national championship in singles and then in doubles along with Tim Blenkiron as his partner. A three-time ITA First Team All-American, he also was a 1996 NCAA Doubles Semifinalist with partner Roger Pettersson and played in a total of five NCAA singles and doubles championship tournaments during his college career. The only eight-time combined first team all-conference honoree in the program's history, Smith is the also only Rebel to earn all-league doubles honors with four different partners. A member of the Rolex All-Star Team in both 1996 and '97, he was a member of three Big West Conference championship teams from 1994-96. After winning the two national championships to complete his senior season, Smith played in the U.S. Open in both singles and doubles and then went on to a professional career that was cut short by multiple injuries. He was a member of the 1997 Davis Cup Team for his native Australia and twice reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in doubles. The winner of three Challenger, nine Futures and 14 Satellite professional tournament titles in singles and doubles, Smith reached as high as 253rd in the world in singles and 124th in doubles before retiring. For the past four years he has worked as assistant head coach at the Peter Smith Tennis Academy in his hometown of Adelaide.

Marianne Vallin
The first UNLV women's tennis player to earn spot in the hall of fame, Marianne Vallin (1994-97) is arguably the most decorated female athlete in school history. The only player in any Rebel sport - men's or women's - to be named conference player of the year three times in a career (1994 and '96 Big West, 1997 WAC), Vallin was a first team All-American in singles three times (1995-97) after being named the ITA National Freshman of the Year as rookie from Sweden in 1994. An eight-time first team all-conference honoree (four each in singles and doubles), she qualified for a school-record seven combined individual NCAA championship tournament appearances (four singles and three doubles). Still standing first all-time at the school with 125 singles victories, she also is fifth in career doubles wins with 62 and holds the program record for highest singles ranking (fourth). The 1997 Nevada NCAA Woman of the Year and two-time UNLV SportsWoman of the Year earned one of the biggest individual kudos in school history after her senior season when she brought home the 1997 Gladys Heldman Award, which goes to the nation's top women's tennis student-athlete.

1998 UNLV men's golf team
The 1998 UNLV men's golf team is still one of only two Rebel squads, along with 1990 men's basketball, to earn a national championship. Head coach Dwaine Knight's team won the 1998 NCAA Division One Men's Golf Championship at the Championship Golf Course in Albuquerque. The Rebels shot a final-round one-over par 289 to finish at 34-under-par 1,118, which set the NCAA record for lowest total in history after also setting the national record for lowest team score after two rounds with 23-under par. The squad set a school record with seven team tournament titles during the 1997-98 season and featured All-Americans Jeremy Anderson, Bill Lunde, Chris Berry and Charley Hoffman while Knight earned conference, regional and national coach of the year honors.

1995 UNLV women's softball team
New hall-of-famer Kim Rondina is a big reason that the 1995 UNLV women's softball team still stands as the most successful in program history and will become only the second women's squad to enter the hall, joining 1989-90 women's basketball. Coached by Shan McDonald, the Rebels set or tied 30 different school team records and 17 single-season marks en route to tying the school record for wins with a 49-14 record. The first and only UNLV softball squad to win an outright conference title, it went 27-5 in the Big West and 15-2 on the road to go with a school-record 15-game winning streak during the spring. The third Rebel team to reach the Women's College World Series, it went 2-1 in Oklahoma City before being eliminated by top-ranked Arizona to finish tied for third at the event. Closing ranked fourth in the nation, the Rebels boasted five players named to NSCA All-America teams, including two on the first team (Rondina and Cyndi Parus) as well as seven tabbed All-Big West Conference.

Al McDaniels
The first coach to be elected to the hall since 2004, longtime men's and women's track and field head man Al McDaniels (1975-92) forged some of the most successful results of any UNLV sport. Having joined UNLV in 1970 as an assistant track and football coach, he was elevated to head coach of both the men's and women's programs in 1975 (the Rebel men's track program was dropped in the early 1980s). He guided his women's squads to five Big West Conference championships and produced more than 60 individual champions and 40 All-Americans. He produced two NCAA Champions: 1984 heptathlon winner Sheila Tarr and 1987 1,000-meter indoor champ Trena Hull, while six Lady Rebels were named BWC Athlete of the Year under his watch. Named conference coach of the year four times, McDaniels saw his women's teams earn four top-25 national indoor finishes and two outdoor efforts, including a program-best sixth at the 1992 NCAA event. A graduate of Nevada, Reno, McDaniels earned his master's degree from UNLV and has taught at the school for many years, including serving as the Director of Physical Education Activities from 1998-2004.

Dr. James Callaway D.D.S.
Also entering the hall will be Distinguished Contributor Dr. James Callaway D.D.S. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Dr. Callaway has been part of the Rebel family for three decades, serving as the team dentist since 1977. The nationally respected dentist is also an accomplished artist and has donated much of time and talents to UNLV athletics and its hall of fame.
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