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Four former UM standouts to be inducted into Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 08:14:16-04

(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)

MISSOULA — The University of Montana athletic department announced the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame incoming class of 2022, as well as this year's recipient of the Grizzly Lifetime Honors Award on Monday.

All five of this year's honorees are homegrown from the state of Montana, with three hailing from Missoula.

All-American runner Scott McGowan of Poplar, Lady Griz Big Sky MVP Ann (Lake) Rausch of Missoula, All-America offensive lineman Thatcher Szalay of Whitefish, and championship-winning basketball player and coach Blaine Taylor of Missoula will all be inducted in the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame class of 2022.

Long-time voice of Montana athletics "Grizzly" Bill Schwanke will be UM's fourth recipient of the Grizzly Lifetime Honors Award.

The Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1993 to pay tribute and give lasting recognition to those student-athletes, coaches, and teams who have made exceptional contributions and brought recognition, honor, and distinction to the University of Montana in the field of Intercollegiate Athletics, and who have continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by their experience. Induction into the Hall of Fame represents the highest athletic honor the university can bestow.

Established in 2018, the Grizzly Lifetime Honors Award pays tribute and gives recognition to supporters of Grizzly Athletics who are not eligible for the Grizzly Hall of Fame, which includes athletes and coaches only.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held in the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus in Missoula on Sept. 9, with the class of 2022 celebrated on the field during the Grizzlies' football game against South Dakota on Sept. 10. Ticket information for the banquet will be announced in the near future.

GRIZZLY SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2021

Scott McGowan
Track & Field 2000-2005
Poplar, Mont. (Poplar HS)

McGowan was the first Montanan to ever run a sub-four-minute mile and was tabbed by former UM track coach Brian Schweyen as "the greatest middle-distance runner to ever compete at UM."

During his collegiate career, he was a four-time All-American, earning the honor twice in the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500 in both 2002 and 2004. In his senior year, he finished fourth in the nation in the indoor mile and seventh in the outdoor 1,500.

He later placed 12th in the 1,500 in the 2004 US Olympic Trials in Sacramento. He was also a three-time Big Sky Conference champion, winning the indoor mile and outdoor 800 and 1,500 in 2004.

To this day, he holds three school records in the indoor mile (4:02.07), the outdoor 1,500 (3:41.87), and the indoor distance medley relay (9:49.23).

He broke the sub-four-minute mile barrier in January of 2005, finishing at 3:58.91 at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Later that year he became the Unites States champion in the indoor mile at the USATF Indoor Nationals.

He earned Academic All-Big Sky honors his freshman season and was named the team's "Most Inspirational" athlete in 2001.

McGowan graduated from UM in 2004 with a degree in History and went on to compete around the world professionally. A fourth-generation Montanan, he now works the family farm in his home town of Poplar.

His father, long-time basketball player and coach Felix McGowan was inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021.

Quoting McGowan: "When you're an athlete, at least for me, you're not looking to land in any sort of hall of fame. You're just trying to do your best and get better all the time. So, when I got this call, I was surprised. What an honor. I never expected this. It made me realize that people look back, appreciate me and appreciate the things I did, and hopefully think I represented the university well. So, that means a lot."

Ann (Lake) Rausch
Lady Griz Basketball 1990/91-1993/94
Missoula, Mont. (Big Sky HS)

Rausch was a key member of Lady Griz teams that had an overall record of 97-21, won three Big Sky tournament championships, and advanced to three NCAA tournaments.

As a senior, she was named Big Sky Conference MVP, named to the Kodak All-District 7 and honorable mention All-America teams, and was the Big Sky tournament MVP. She was also a three-time All-Big Sky performer and a four-time Big Sky Player of the Week.

Rausch was named the Mary Louise Pope Zimmerman Lady Griz MVP twice as both a junior and senior and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore.

She remains second in school history with 886 career rebounds and tenth in scoring with 1,358 points after leading the team in scoring and rebounding for two-straight seasons.

In the '93-'94, season she sank what were, then, the second-most free throws ever at UM with 129, still the fourth-most in program history. She currently ranks fifth in career free throws made.

In a game against Boise State in 1994, she tied the school record with 16 made field goals on 19 attempts - a mark that still stands - for a total of 36 points, to this day tied for the fifth-highest scoring game in program history.

She was also the leading scorer in Montana's 77-67 win over UNLV in the first round of the 1994 NCAA tournament with 24 points.

Quoting Rausch: "This means the world to me. The Lady Griz have always been a close-knit family. So, to be in the Hall of Fame with some of the best like Marti Leibenguth and Shannon (Cate) Schweyen, it's just special to be a part of that group and share this great honor."

Thatcher Szalay
Football 1998-2001
Whitefish, Mont. (Whitefish HS)

Considered one of the greatest offensive linemen to wear maroon and silver, Szalay was a key member of Grizzly teams that went 45-10 in his four seasons as a letterman. As a senior, he captained UM to the program's second National Championship – a 13-6 victory over Furman in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2001 – and was a starter on the national runner-up team in 2000.

During his career, the Griz won four-straight Big Sky championships, with Szalay (pronounced Zu-lay) earning first-team all-conference honors at offensive guard in 1999, 2000, and 2001. He's the only Grizzly offensive lineman in program history to be named first-team all-conference in three consecutive years and one of only four players in league history to do it.

He was a major contributor on one of Montana's best-ever rushing attacks, opening up holes and lanes for running back Yohance Humphrey, who tops the Grizzly record book with 4,070 career yards.

A consensus All-American, Szalay was named to five different All-America teams after the 2001 campaign, more than any other Grizzly that season.

He was named the team's co-Golden Helmet Award winner as a sophomore in 1999 alongside Adam Boomer. He later won UM's Paul Weskamp award for outstanding offensive lineman and served as co-captain as a senior in 2001 before showcasing his skills for NFL scouts at the 2002 Paradise Bowl All-Star game.

Szalay went on to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002 and was the only undrafted free agent to make the 53-man roster that season. After three years with the Bengals, he went on to play for the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 and the Seattle Seahawks in 2006.

Also a star in the classroom, he was a two-time Academic All-Big Sky selection as a junior and senior. He graduated from UM with a degree in Education while competing in the NFL and earned a master's degree in 2010.

He is currently a math teacher at Florence Carlton Middle School in Florence, Mont., and was inducted into the Montana Football Hall of Fame in 2019

Quoting Szalay: "When I got that call, I couldn't even talk. Thank you were pretty much the only words I could muster up. But when I hung up the phone, boy, there was a puddle on my office floor. I just lost it," he said.

"Those five years just flew by, and winning that championship, the history it created, and the memories it made is still rewarding for me to this day."

Blaine Taylor
Men's Basketball Player: 1977-81, Head Coach: 1991-98
Missoula, Mont. (Hellgate HS)

One of the five winningest coaches of all-time at UM, Taylor was 141-66 in his seven-year stint and has a school-record winning percentage of 68%.

His 1991-92 team set a school record with 27 wins (27-4). In '92 UM won the Big Sky title, advanced to the NCAA tourney, and he was named Big Sky Coach of the Year.

As a player, he led UM in assists his sophomore, junior, and senior years and held a (then) school record for career free throw percentage of 82.4%.

He received both the Naseby Rhinehart Award and the Allan Nielson Award in 1981 and was also named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team that season.

After departing Montana, he won a school-record 239 games (239-144) as the head coach at Old Dominion in 12 seasons and led the Monarchs to four NCAA tournaments.

He was named the Colonial League Coach of the Year in 2006. His ODU squads had seven 20-win seasons, and his 2005 team set a school mark with 28 wins.

Quoting Taylor: "I was born and raised in Missoula, and I just remember walking into the Mercantile, or a 4B's restaurant and seeing pictures of guys like Wild Bill Kelly and those that were in the Hall of Fame, and feeling like they were someone really special. It never dawned on me at the time that I'd have a chance to join that company one day. I'm just flooded with thoughts of how much I admired those people, how grateful I am, and how humbling it is to be a part of it."

Grizzly Lifetime Honors Award recipient

Bill Schwanke
Grizzly Athletics 1967-2001
Missoula, Mont. (Missoula County HS)

Born and raised in Missoula, "Grizzly' Bill Schwanke graduated from UM with a journalism degree in 1967. He was editor of the Montana Kaimin from 1965-66, and became the Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics after graduating.

In 1971 Schwanke became the sports director at KYLT radio and served as the play-by-play broadcaster for Montana football and basketball until 1988, where he was instrumental in developing the Montana Sports Radio Network.

From 1988 to 1991 he served as the director of the Grizzly Athletic Association (now the GSA), and continued broadcasting through 1993. From 1991 to 1997 he served as the Assistant Director for Marketing and Media Relations for Grizzly Athletics, starting the corporate sponsorship program at UM and developing the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame.

He later served as the Executive Director of the GAA until 2001, working to raise funds, put on golf tournaments, auctions, and re-establishing the "M Club" for former student-athletes. He also worked as an editor, writer, and videographer for the Missoulian until 2010.

In the community, Schwanke served as the American Legion Baseball chairman, served on the Board of Directors at Larchmont Golf Course, the Target Range school board, as a trustee for the Community Medical Center Foundation, and on his church council for many years.

In 2021, a group of national FCS football broadcasters created the "Bill Schwanke Award" to be given annually to the FCS Broadcaster of the Year.

Quoting Schwanke: "I've been a Grizzly my whole life, and I just can't imagine a greater honor than this. I'm very appreciative," he said.

"I was so close to many of the athletes in this hall of fame and did many of their games on the radio, so this means a lot from that standpoint. And to be considered with the previous recipients of the Lifetime Honors Award, those are people I worked with for many years and have the utmost respect for. So, I'm in great company."