CWU Athletics declares 2023 Hall of Fame inductees


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Charis Jones, Staff Reporter

CWU athletics has announced its 40th Hall of Fame class, featuring three individuals and a team. The inductees are Adam Bighill for football, Carolyn Mires for volleyball, Kristen Willis for women’s basketball and the 1989 Wildcat Football Team. 

The induction ceremony and Wildcat Gala is scheduled to take place in the SURC Ballroom on Saturday, May 6. The event will begin with a social, silent auction and hosted bar at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 6 p.m. In addition to the induction ceremonies, the event will include a live auction and other philanthropic opportunities to raise funds for student-athlete scholarships.

Each of the inductees has made significant contributions to CWU athletics, and the honor pays tribute to their achievements. 

“It is exciting to announce another outstanding class for the CWU Athletics Hall of Fame,”  Director of Athletics, Dr. Dennis Francois said, according to “Each of the individual inductees and the 1989 Football Team has left their mark on CWU athletics, and it’s truly an honor for us to recognize them for their accomplishments.”

Here is a brief overview of the inductees:

Adam Bighill (football), Montesano, Washington. (2007-2010):

Bighill played linebacker for the Wildcat football team from 2007 through 2010, and graduated from CWU in 2011. He earned numerous accolades during his time with the Central Washington football team, including GNAC co-Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-GNAC, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) First Team All-American, and Second Team All-American in 2010, as well as several other honors throughout his tenure, according to Wildcat Sports.

Throughout his Wildcat career, Bighill recorded 314 tackles, 46 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and seven interceptions. He currently holds the second spot in Wildcat history for tackles for loss, and fourth in total tackles and assisted tackles for an individual career. Bighill currently represents the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League (CFL), where he has played since 2018, after playing for the BC Lions from 2011 to 2016, and spending the 2017 season as a member of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

Bighill has had a successful professional career, winning the Grey Cup Championship in 2011, 2019 and 2021, being named the CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2015 and 2018, and being a CFL All-Star in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018. In the CFL, Bighill has started in 150 out of the 164 games he has played and has accumulated 797 tackles, 45 sacks, 15 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns and 14 forced fumbles.

Carolyn Mires (volleyball), Walla Walla, Washington. (1999-2002):

In the years spanning from 1999 to 2002, Mires played as an outside hitter for the Wildcat volleyball team. She received Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2001 and 2002 and was named to the GNAC All-Academic Team in those same years, along with being chosen as a PacWest All-Academic Selection in 2000. Mires’ outstanding performance during her time with the Wildcats earned her a place on the CWU 2000s all-decade volleyball team, which featured fellow hall of famers Kate Reome-Ridnour and LeAnne McGahuey.

Presently, Mires holds the record for most kills in CWU volleyball team history, with a total of 1,265 kills, ranking 17th all-time in GNAC history, according to Wildcat Sports. 

She also holds the GNAC record for most kills in a three-set match with 21 kills. Mires’ name appears in third place for all-time CWU top 10 in kills per set with 3.55, attack attempts with 3,388, and service aces with 123. 

Additionally, she ranks 10th in service aces per set with 0.35, and third in points per set with 4.13, and a total of 1,472 points earned. Mires set a program record with 395 kills in the 2002 season, which is currently the sixth-highest total of all time. In the 2000 season, her 3.91 kills per set were the second-best in program history and now rank eighth, according to Wildcat Sports.

Kristen Willis (women’s basketball) Kennewick, Washington. (1997-2001):

Kristen Willis was a guard for the CWU women’s basketball team from 1997-2001. During her time with the team, she earned several awards and recognitions, including Team Best Defense Award in two out of her four seasons, Honorable Mention All-PNAC in 1998, Team MVP in 1999, First Team All-PacWest in 2000, Honorable Mention Little Northwest Team in 2000, Honorable Mention All-GNAC in 2001, and was one of three team captains for the 1999-2000 season.

Currently, Willis holds the record for free throws made in a single season with 133 during the 1999-2000 season and her career record steals with 265. She also holds top-10 spots in single-season records for free throws made, free throws attempted, steals, and steals average. 

In career top-10s, Willis is second in free-throws made, third in free-throws attempted, second in assists, fourth in assists average, second in steals average, and seventh in games started with 97.

1989 Wildcat Football Team:

The 1989 Wildcat football team had a remarkable season under the leadership of Head Coach Mike Dunbar and captain Scott Didder. They finished the season with a 10-1-1 overall record and went undefeated in the Columbia Football Association with a 5-0-1 record. The team made their way into the NAIA National Tournament and won their first two games against Lewis and Clark (Oregon) and Dickinson State (North Dakota) by large margins of 51-0 and 49-7, respectively.

However, the Wildcats fell short in the semifinals against Westminster (Pennsylvania) with a score of 21-10 in Puyallup, Washington. Westminster would go on to win the championship against Wisconsin-La Crosse with a score of 51-30. 

The 1989 Wildcat football team had several standout players, including All-American Pat Patterson and All-Academic Scholar Athletes Alan Kesti and Eric Granberg. In addition, four current Hall of Fame members were on the team: Eric Boles, Pat Patterson, Mike (Estes) Patton and Marc Yonts.