The West Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Champions Selection Committee is proud to announce the Class of 2022 as the newest inductees into the Hall. The Athletic Hall of Champions, established in 1987, recognizes outstanding student-athletes, coaches and administrators for their significant achievements.
The Class of 2022: Seb Furness (Men's Soccer), Tony Graystone (Volleyball), Rita Hokianga (Softball), Glory Jangthongsiri (Women's Golf), Marshall Kasowski (Baseball), Dr. J. Patrick O'Brien (University President), Laura Prinsen (Volleyball), Eugene Sims (Football) and Libby Strickland (Track & Field).
The Selection Committee is comprised of 25 voting members that includes previous Inductees, coaches, Buffalo Club members, university faculty and staff and athletics staff.
"These nine individuals are a true example of the honor and tradition of West Texas A&M Athletics" said Kimberly Dudley, Assistant Athletic Director and Chair of the Selection Committee "The Class of 2022 has made a lasting impression on our university and we are honored to welcome them to the Hall of Champions. I would also like to thank the selection committee for their hard work throughout this process."
The Class of 2022 will be inducted during the Hall of Champions Reception scheduled for Friday, September 16th as well as being recognized as honorary captains during WT's football contest against Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday, September 17th.
CLASS OF 2022
Furness registered a standout career on The Pitch for the Buffs from 2008-11 as WT registered 45 victories during his time in Canyon including a run to the 2009 Midwest Regional Championship with a mark of 15-2-2 as Furness led all of Division II men's soccer in save percentage (.889).
The Middlesbrough, England native still holds the WT career record for saves (209) and shutouts (21). Following his time in Canyon, Furness played professionally for Tindastoll FC in Iceland before beginning a coaching career with stops at Creighton, Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado State.
Furness was named an assistant coach for the LSU women's program in January of 2020. The Tigers made a run to the NCAA Tournament during the 2021 campaign as they ranked third in the SEC in saves with 81. He works with LSU's goalkeepers and defensive unit while also taking charge of recruiting and game film analysis.
The rich tradition of Lady Buff Volleyball thrived under Tony Graystone from 1999-08 as he posted an overall record of 315-61 to become the all-time winningest coach in program history. He was named the Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year on five different occasions and the AVCA Southwest Region Coach of the Year four times.
At WT, Graystone guided the Lady Buffs to five NCAA Regional Tournaments including a run to the 2009 NCAA Division II National Finals. The Lady Buffs won eight LSC Championships while producing 16 All-Americans. In 2003, West Texas A&M set an NCAA standard with 77 conference wins in a row. Graystone reached 300 victories faster than any other coach in DII history. Graystone was also a member of WT's 1999 Division II National Championship squad as an assistant coach.
Tony spent seven seasons at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi where the Islanders recorded atleast 20 victories on three different occasions highlighted by the program's first NCAA Regional Tournament in 2015. Graystone was named the head coach at Texas Tech in January of 2016, leading the Lady Raiders to 89 victories over the past six seasons which is fourth in program history. TTU returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 for the first time in two decades.
To say that Rita Hokianga had an immediate impact on the 2014 version of the Lady Buffs would be an understatement, the Eastern Arizona JC transfer led WT to an overall record of 60-7 and the program's first ever National Championship as she went 29-3 in the circle with a 2.11 ERA with 21 complete games. She registered eight shutouts with two saves in her 212.1 innings of work, giving up 151 hits while striking out an incredible 283 batters for an opponent batting average of .195.
The Hawke's Bay, New Zealand native was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NCAA Division II World Series as she went a perfect 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA, tossing three complete games and striking out 21 opponents in her 25.2 innings of work. Hokianga was named the LSC Newcomer and Pitcher of the Year while also picking up 1st Team All-LSC honors, she was named the Daktronics South Central Region Pitcher of the Year while being honored as an All-American by Daktronics (3rd Team) and the NFCA (1st Team).
Hokianga made 71 appearances in the circle as a Lady Buff as she finished her career in Maroon & White with an incredible overall record of 49-9, striking out 427 batters during her 353.0 innings of work for a 2.55 ERA. Rita represented her home country as a member of the New Zealand National Team following her collegiate career.
Glory Jangthongsiri finished her career in Maroon & White as one of the top women's golfers in program history, finishing inside of the Top-10 on 25 different occasions. She qualified for the NCAA Regional Tournament four times with three of those coming alongside her teammates.
The Bangkok, Thailand native was a three-time Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American as she was just the second player in program history to qualify for the NCAA National Championships as an individual in 2015. Glory registered a scoring average of 75.58 (+3.78) during her 96 career rounds which ranks second in program history.
Jangthongsiri picked up seven career victories during her time as a Lady Buffs, the most in program history highlighted by the 2014 Lone Star Conference Championship. As a team, the Lady Buffs qualified for the NCAA National Championships in 2017 for just the second time in school history.
During his one season on the mound for the Buffaloes, Marshall Kasowski proved to be one of the top pitchers in Division II Baseball history as he set a new Lone Star Conference record for strikeouts in a season with 165. The Buffs went 36-18 that season and won the 2017 LSC Tournament Championship.
The Conroe, Texas native was tabbed the LSC Pitcher of the Year while also being named the South Central Region Pitcher of the Year by D2CCA and the NCBWA. Kasowski, an All-American honoree by three different publications, was the only DII player named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watchlist and he was also a finalist for the prestigious Brett Tomko Award.
The 2017 season saw Kasowski go 9-5 with a 2.22 ERA as he tossed three complete games during his 17 appearances with 165 strikeouts during 93.1 innings of work. The right-hander tied a WT single-game strikeout record with 17 against Eastern New Mexico on March 24th.
Kasowski led DII Baseball in strikeouts (165) and strikeouts per nine innings (15.91) as he was taken with the 400th overall pick in the 13th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Marshall was a member of the 2019 Tulsa Drillers who claimed the Texas League Championship and he is currently with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple-A affiliate of the LA Dodgers.
Dr. J. Patrick O'Brien
The continued success of West Texas A&M Athletics is directly tied to Dr. J. Patrick O'Brien's decade as University President from 2006-16. He served as the backbone of the creation of one of the top athletic programs in the nation.
WT became the first institution in the Lone Star Conference to provide full scholarship funding for all sports and attained full Title IX compliance as a result. He envisioned a more modern campus and new construction projects were his signature. Updated academic facilities, modern residence halls and new athletics facilities were among more than $150 million in new construction under his tenure. The Buffalo Sports Park, Bain Athletic Center and the vision for an on-campus football stadium were important additions for the athletic program.
WT Track & Field was also reinstated with the support of O'Brien. Success In all sports has become a trademark at WT. During his tenure, WT won dozens of LSC Championships and every team advanced to NCAA Championships. National Championships were earned in equestrian, softball and women's track and field.
O'Brien served as the chair of the NCAA Presidents Council as well as chair of the LSC Council of Presidents. He and his wife Karen rarely missed a Buff or Lady Buff event when they were on campus and remain avid supporters while enjoying retirement in New Orleans.
West Texas A&M Volleyball has produced some of the top student-athletes in Division II history and Laura Prinsen's career from 2006-09 was one of the most productive and impressive in program history. Laura saw time in 471 sets during 152 matches for the Lady Buffs as the two-time All-American went 143-21 in Maroon & White including an unblemished 48-0 record in Lone Star Conference play with four LSC Championships.
Prinsen registered 1,693 career kills which ranks fourth in program history for an average of 3.59 per set to go along with 294 assists, 106 aces, 1,206 digs and 260 blocks as the Spring, Texas native is one of just seven players in WT history with both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She was a two-time All-American while being named both the LSC Freshman of the Year and LSC Offensive Player of the Year during her career.
Laura led the Lady Buffs to four consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II Postseason as they claimed three Regional Championships (2006, 207, 2009) highlighted by an appearance in the 2009 DII National Championship Match with an overall record of 39-4. WT protected their home court during that span as the Lady Buffs went an incredible 90-8 at "The Box" during Prinsen's career with 54 of those victories coming in straight sets.
One of the greatest defensive linemen to ever wear the Maroon & White, Eugene Sims put his name on the West Texas A&M Football program in 2008-09. The Buffs registered an overall record of 18-7 during his time in Canyon including an 11-2 record in 2008 as WT advanced to the second round of the NCAA Postseason.
The Mt. Olive, Mississippi native finished his career with 112 total tackles with 26.5 of those coming for a loss to go along with 17 sacks. He was a two-time Lone Star Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year while being named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and the Associate Press. As a senior in 2009, Sims was WT's leading tackler among down lineman with 56 tackles (19 solo, 37 assists) to go along with seven sacks, five pass breakups, four blocked kicks and three forced fumbles.
Sims was drafted with the 189th pick in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams as he saw time in 99 games with 20 starts for the Rams from 2010-16. He registered 150 total tackles during his professional career highlighted by 12 sacks, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
One of the most decorated Track & Field athletes in West Texas A&M history, Libby Strickland takes her rightful place in the WTAMU Hall of Champions. Strickland was a part of three different Lone Star Conference Championship teams.
Strickland was a driving force behind the resurgence of the Track & Field program as the Amarillo native was an 11-time First Team All-American while claiming nine different Lone Star Conference individual championships along with the 2014 LSC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year accolade. In the classroom, Strickland was a six-time LSC All-Academic honoree and a two-time winner of the Wes Kittley Award (2014, 2016).
The Randall High School product still holds the school record in the indoor high jump and the pentathlon. As a senior in 2016, Strickland placed third in the high jump at the Indoor NCAA Championships to become the first student-athlete in program history to earn All-American honors in a single-event in four consecutive seasons. Strickland also competed on the volleyball court for the Lady Buffs following her track & field career, seeing time in 27 matches in 2016.