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Class of 2016 Inductees
|Julie Culley - Women's Cross Country/Track & Field
A three-time Academic All-American, United States Olympian and New Jersey's NCAA Woman of the Year, Julie Culley was an NCAA Cross Country Championships participant in 2000, a 2002 NCAA Cross Country All-American and a 2003 NCAA qualifier in the 3000m. A Lebanon, New Jersey native, she still holds the Rutgers school records in the indoor 3000m and the outdoor 5000m, as well the Scarlet Knight benchmark with the distance medley relay team. Additionally, she brought home six Metropolitan Championship titles, one of which was in the 2002 Metropolitan Cross Country Championship, setting a new course record with her first place performance. A three-time MVP of the cross country team and a two-time MVP of the track & field team, Culley was awarded the Headley Singer Award, given annually to one outstanding female RU student-athlete and recipient of the David A. "Sonny" Werblin Award, given to a national level accomplished RU athlete. Graduating cum laude from the State University of New Jersey with degrees in marketing and political science, she was also a five-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star and the Aeropostale Big East Scholar-Athlete. Following her Rutgers career, Culley won the women's 5000m at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where she was a finalist in her event. She was also part of Team USA at the 2008 IAAF Indoor World Championships in 3000m, the 2009 IAAF Outdoor Track & Field in 5,000m and at the 2009 IAAF Cross Country World Championships in the 8000m. Culley is currently an assistant coach with the Georgetown track and field program and was just honored as the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Assistant Coach of the Year.
|Kelly Harrigan - Women's Swimming |
Kelly Harrigan, who competed at Rutgers from 2002 to 2006, was a four-time first team All-American during her impressive career with the women's swimming and diving program. During her senior season, Harrigan was a first team All-America performer in the 200 backstroke and 100 backstroke, finishing third and eighth in the events, respectively. The Bristol, Connecticut native also picked up first team All-America designation in the 200 backstroke during the 2004 and 2005 campaigns along with an honorable mention selection during her rookie season in 2003. During her time at Rutgers, Harrigan broke four individual and five relay records throughout her collegiate career. A four-time program MVP, Harrigan was a 20-time BIG EAST Conference champion during her decorated career "On the Banks", breaking 10 conference championship records (six individual, four relay) during her four-year collegiate campaign. Harrigan earned back-to-back BIG EAST Most Outstanding Swimmer accolades in 2005 and 2006, helping the Scarlet Knights finish second at the BIG EAST Championships during the 2006 season. At the conference championship meet that year, Harrigan captured four relay and three individual titles. Harrigan also helped Rutgers to runner-up team performances in 2003 and 2004. Harrigan shined in the classroom as well, being named a four-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star while receiving the prestigious BIG EAST Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award during her senior campaign. After completing her undergraduate degree at Rutgers, Harrigan moved on to the University of Pennsylvania, where she went on to study to become a veterinarian. On the world stage, Harrigan was a three-time Olympic Trials participant, competing in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Representing the United States at the 2007 World University Games, Harrigan captured a gold medal in the 200 backstroke and participated in USA's 800 freestyle relay's gold-medal performance, which re-set a World University Games' record. Her time in the 200 backstroke was the 16th-fastest time in the world in 2007.
|Brian Leonard - Football
Brian Leonard, an eight-year veteran of the National Football League (NFL), starred on the gridiron for the Scarlet Knights from 2003-06. A native of Gouverneur, New York, Leonard finished his remarkable career "On the Banks" ranked among the top-10 in several categories, including receptions with 207 (second), rushing touchdowns with 32 (T-third) and points by a non-kicker with 272 (fourth). He established a BIG EAST record with at least one reception in all 47 games of his career. Leonard finished second in RU history with 678 rushing attempts and fifth in the school's annals with 2,775 rushing yards. He also amassed 1,868 receiving yards from his fullback position. Also an outstanding student, Leonard became the 17th recipient of the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, at The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame's 49th Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. Leonard was a three-time First-Team All-America selection by Pro Football Weekly. In addition, he earned All-BIG EAST honors (First or Second Team) three times in his career. Leonard was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played for four franchises during his eight-year NFL career, including the Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
|Mike Leta - Wrestling
Mike Leta, a 2009 inductee into the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, was one of the most successful wrestlers in Rutgers history and claimed the highest NCAA finish since the program's founding in 1930. Leta began his career by placing third at the Freshman Eastern Championships in 1959 at West Point. A year later in 1960, Leta went undefeated in the regular season under head coach Dick Voliva and captured the top spot at Easterns by defeating NCAA Champion Larry Lauchle, 14-13, in the finals. The EIWA named this the "match of the century" in 2000. Leta did not stop there, capping off 1960 with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships, the highest All-America finish in RU history. Following his All-America run in 1960, the 137-pounder went on to qualify for the NCAA Championships again as a senior in 1962, when he also finished fourth at Easterns. The Branchburg, New Jersey native recorded a 55-7-3 overall record in his Rutgers career and was especially dominant in dual meets, where he went a staggering 41-2-2 in a Scarlet Knight singlet. In addition to wrestling, Leta was a three-time letterwinner on the 150-pound football team at Rutgers and named to the all-league first team in 1961. Leta graduated from Rutgers in 1962 and enjoyed successful stints as a New Jersey high school wrestling coach at Hillside, Bridgewater-Raritan West and North Plainfield, before returning to Rutgers as an assistant under head coach John Sacchi in 1995, a position he held for 10 years. During his tenure, Leta helped coach former Scarlet Knight Tom Tanis to a fourth-place finish on the All-America podium in 2002. Leta, former President of the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association, was elected to the New Jersey High School and New Jersey Coaches Region 5 Hall of Fame following his numerous accomplishments.
|Cappie Pondexter - Women's Basketball
One of the best to grace the hardwood of the RAC, Cappie Pondexter's list of honors collected as a Scarlet Knight are long and distinguished. The 5-9 guard who played for Rutgers from 2001-06 was the fourth Scarlet Knight in women's basketball history to be named a First Team Kodak/WBCA All-American and was the 2006 Women's Basketball News Service National Player of the Year. During her career, the Chicago native averaged 18.3 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game in 121 games played. Her named is scattered all across the Rutgers record book including ranking second in all-time scoring (2,211), first in three-point field goal percentage (.426), sixth in assists (470) and as one of three Scarlet Knights to pour in 40 or more points in a game. As a senior, Pondexter was named a finalist for all three major national player-of-the-year awards (State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith and Women's Wooden Award), the Bayer Advantage Senior CLASS Award and the Nancy Lieberman Award (top point guard). The unanimous choice as the 2006 BIG EAST Player of the Year, she became the first player in league history to be named to the All-BIG EAST First Team four times during her career. The highest WNBA draft pick in school history, taken second by the Phoenix Mercury in 2006, Pondexter's career has continued to shine following her days "On The Banks." Now in her 11th season in the league and second season with the Chicago Sky, she is a two-time WNBA champion (Phoenix Mercury '07 & `09), a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a three-time All-WNBA First Team selection. Most recently, she was named one of the 20 greatest players in the 20-year history of the WNBA and became the seventh player in league history to score more than 6,000 career points.
|Bob Reasso - Men's Soccer
Spending nearly three decades as a head coach "On The Banks", Bob Reasso led the Rutgers men's soccer team to 13 NCAA appearances, including the 1990 national championship game, three Final fours, six league titles and coached 19 Scarlet Knight All-Americans. During his 29 seasons at Rutgers, Reasso compiled an overall record of 351-183-71, winning 10 or more matches in 21 seasons and reaching the 15-win mark seven times. In 1990, building off a Final Four appearance from the previous season, Reasso was named NSCAA National Coach of the Year as he guided the Scarlet Knights to the national championship game that resulted in a penalty kick shootout. Rutgers ended the season at 20-3-2 as they knocked off previously unbeaten and No.1 ranked Evansville to reach the championship match. The Reasso-led Scarlet Knights also dominated top-ranked UCLA in the MetLife Classic and followed with 600 minutes of shutout soccer to close out the regular season. The 20 victories earned by the 1990 team under Reasso, which included a win over Penn State to claim its first Atlantic 10 title, still remain an RU record. During his tenure, Reasso was the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year three times and Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year four times. In 2005, Reasso was honored as a "Loyal Son of Rutgers" - a distinction given to the most cherished individuals involved with the University, becoming only the sixth Scarlet Knights head coach who graduated from a university other than Rutgers to receive this distinction. Currently the Athletic Director, Vice President for Athletics and head men's soccer coach at his alma mater, Pfeiffer University, Reasso was named the 2015 NSCAA Division II National Coach of the Year as the Falcons captured the Division II National Championship with a 25-0 record.