The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 24, 2013

Seven athletes selected for PSU's hall of fame


From staff reports

— The Pittsburg State athletics department will induct seven people into its hall of fame during a ceremony Nov. 2.

Pitt State’s 2013 hall of fame class is headlined by a trio of decorated athletes in Aaron McConnell (football), Jeanette Mott Owens (track and cross country) and Dina Wathan Blevins (volleyball). Frank Crespino and Check Shelton will be meritorious achievement inductees, and Charles Morgan and Vern Akins will go in as “legacy” inductees.

McConnell, a defensive tackle for the Gorillas from 2000-03, was Pittsburg State’s first position player to become a four-time All-American. The Midwest City, Okla., native was a consensus first-team All-America selection and MIAA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. McConnell finished his career at PSU with 232 tackles with 75 for loss and 21 sacks in 48 games. He went on to spend a preseason with the Tennessee Titans before enjoying a successful career in the Arena Football League.

Mott captured the NCAA Division II national championship in the women’s steeplechase as a senior in 2002. The St. Marys, Kan., native earned All-America honors on four occasions in track and field. In addition to her national title, Mott finished as the national runner-up in the 5,000 meters at the 2002 national indoor championships. She earned cross country All-America honors twice.

Wathan became the first volleyball player at Pittsburg State to earn All-America honors during her senior season in 2003. The Blue Springs, Mo., native led the Gorillas to the program’s first NCAA national tournament berth in 2003. She set eight school records, including career kills (1,814), career service aces (158) and career digs (2,326).

Crespino was a four-year letterman for the Gorillas’ football team from 1951-54 before enjoying a decorated career as an educator and coach at St. Mary’s-Colgan High School. He compiled 416 combined victories while coaching football, basketball and baseball at Colgan. Crespino also served as an assistant football coach at Pittsburg State from 1980-85.

Shelton earned second-team All-CIC honors as a fullback for the Gorillas in 1960 before enjoying a decorated coaching career in the college ranks. He served as head coach for Drake (1977-85), Utah State (1986-91) and Pacific (1992-95). He earned conference coach of the year honors four times. Shelton was on the NCAA Football Rules Committee and the NCAA All-America Committee. He also was head coach of Arena football’s New York City Hawks and an assistant coach with NFL Europe’s Amsterdam franchise.

Morgan served in the department of intercollegiate athletics from 1931-48. He led the 1941 and 1942 football teams to CIC titles. Morgan’s 1943 squad posted the school’s first unblemished record (6-0-0) during a war-shortened season. He also served as the Gorillas’ interim head basketball coach in 1935 and led the team to a CIC co-championship.

Akins was a five-time CIC sprint champion from 1939-41. The Pittsburg native captured CIC crowns all three years in the 440-yard dash, and he captured league titles in the 220-yard dash in 1939 and 1941.

The group will be honored during a banquet at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Overman Student Center. The inductees also will be honored during halftime of Pittsburg State’s football game against Northeastern State later that day.