The list of Longhorn Legends reads longer than a Lord of the Rings novel, but who is the ultimate Texas Longhorns ambassador? That's what Horns Illustrated aims to determine in our Longhorn Legends Faceoff and the answer lies in your hands.
The Lady Horns Region is devoted to the greatest Lady Longhorns athlete ever. Who will survive a field that includes Cat Osterman, Sanya Richards-Ross and Jody Conradt? That's up to you.
Voting for the first round closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 14 and you can vote once a day for your favorite Longhorns. So get to it!
Cat Osterman vs. Andrea Lloyd-Curry
Osterman, a four-time All-American and two-time Olympian, belongs in the discussion of greatest softball pitchers ever. How impressive was Osterman on the mound? She's the only softball player to win National Player of the Year honors three times and became the first softball player to appear on a Sports Illustrated cover in 2002. You want more records? Cat owns plenty of them. She holds career records at UT in victories (136), ERA (0.51), shutouts (85), and no-hitters (20). The southpaw pitcher also stands as the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in ERA three times still hold the NCAA all-time lead for strikeouts per 7-innings (14.34).
Lloyd-Curry, a 2007 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, entered college as a three-time Player of the Year in her home state of Idaho and she lived up to the hype. She started all four years with the Lady Longhorns, finishing with a 125-8 overall record, and the sure-shot forward knocked down 53% of her shots on way to becoming a three-time Naismith All-American. Oh, she also led the team to a No. 1 ranking every year she played and helped the 1985-1986 team to their oft-mentioned undefeated national championship year. So she's got that going for her, which is nice.
Jody Conradt vs. Kelly (Wilson) Schmedes
Conradt blazed trails in women's athletics and ranks as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all-time. The first active women's basketball coach inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Conradt's Lady Longhorns never lost a game in Southwest Conference play and she led her team to an undefeated season and national title in the 1985-1986 season. As if that weren't enough, she also rocked as an athletic administrator, earning the honor from Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal as one of the nation's "Top 50 Female Sports Executives." UT also immortalized her likeness by giving her a statue on campus, so she's kind of a big deal.
Kelly (Wilson) Schmedes played from 2001-2004 and remains a legend within the Texas women's soccer program. She became the Abby Wambach of the Forty Acres by setting school career records in points (129) and assists (41), proving she was as powerful a facilitator as a striker. The four-time All-Big 12 first teamer shares the mark for game-winning goals (13) and ranks second in goals (44), and she stands as one of only six UT students to ever earn the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award, given to the top eight senior student-athletes for each school year. The honor proves that Wilson Schmedes pushed herself both in the classroom and on the pitch.
Annette Smith-Knight vs. Erin Aldrich
Smith-Knight made a name for herself before she even hit the UT campus. A 2013 Women's Basketball Hall Of Fame Inductee who loved physical play, Texas coaching legend Jody Conradt called Smith-Knight "the first building block" of the Lady Longhorn team that went undefeated in their 1985-1986 season. Her skills as a post player become more impressive when you consider she was only 5-11. Smith-Knight still ranks as UT's No. 1 career scorer with 2,523 points, and fourth in rebounds (966). Her abilities on the court were only matched by her intense spirit, as she overcame an ACL injury her junior season in returning as the team's leader.
Total domination of one sport didn't satisfy Erin Aldrich, so she decided to take over two. Aldrich outrivaled opponents in track and field as a Four-time NCAA Champion, six-time All-American and six-time Big 12 Champion in high jump. Those performances helped her team win four straight NCAA indoor and outdoor titles from 1997-1999. She also shined in volleyball,recording 450 kills, 300 digs and 150 blocks in single season. What we're trying to say is that Aldrich pretty much excels at everything she does. Right now, she's probably crushing somebody at a Scrabble tournament. Don't put it past her. After all, Aldrich graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, so you know she has a way with words.
Blaire Luna vs. Angela Bradburn-Spangler
A young gun in our Longhorn Legends Faceoff, Luna holds her own against any opponent and proved to be one of the greatest UT pitchers ever. The three-time All-American hurler rocketed her way to recognition as a freshman, earning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. By the end of her career at Texas, the Austin native finished in the top three in nearly every career pitching category, including wins (2nd/112), innings pitched (2nd/914.1), complete games (2nd/109), shutouts (2nd/48), strikeouts (2nd/1,428) and lowest opponent batting average (3rd/.156). Perhaps best of all, Luna helped lead the Longhorns in 2013 to their third Women’s College World Series semifinal appearance in program history.
One of the elite high jumpers to ever play at the University of Texas, Angela Bradburn-Spangler leapt onto the college circuit and crushed the competition. Before she became a three-time USA national champion, she won three Southwest Conference high jump titles, a feat that earned her a spot on the SWC All-Decade Team for 1980s. Her career best jump ranks third in UT history and she enjoyed multiple individual titles within her discipline. Her accomplishments definitely warrant the track star's appearance into the Longhorn Legends Face-off. The question is who can rise above her?
Sanya Richards-Ross vs. Carlette Guidry
Richards-Ross wasted no time bursting onto the college track & field scene, winning the NCAA national championship in the 400 meters event as a freshman. In her two years at the University of Texas, the Jamaican-born speed demon became a five-time NCAA Champion and 11-time All-American. She owns the school records in the indoor and outdoor 400 meters, and showed Longhorns fans a glimpse of her future as a four-time Olympic Gold medalist and six-time World Champion. We also give her some burnt orange brownie points for marrying another Longhorn athlete, former Longhorn cornerback and current NFL pro, Aaron Ross.
Guidry's destiny to become an Olympic Gold medalist as a 400-meter relay runner seems like a foregone conclusion when you consider her accomplishments as a Texas Longhorn. The 12-time NCAA Champion track star earned All-America honors 23 times, and received the Honda Award as the National Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 1991. How much did Carlette Guidry dominate the sport? She was named SWC Female Track Athlete of the 1980's. And let's get real. She could probably still beat almost any of us in a race to this day.
Chris Plonsky vs. Susan Gilchrist Lakoski
Chris Plonksy understands better than anyone that Texas athletics represents more than just a game. The administrator just capped off her 25th year with the university and continually helps to build the Longhorn brand into a powerhouse. As Women's AD and UT Athletics' chief liaison with multimedia rights holder IMG College, Plonsky continually grows the burnt orange into the most recognizable university in college sports. You didn't think blockbuster deals like UT's agreement with ESPN to create the Longhorn Network fall from the sky, did you? Since Plonsky took the reins as Women's AD in 2001, the Texas Women's teams have reeled in 39 Conference Championships and 3 National Championships. What we're saying is that all Plonsky's teams do is win.
Susan Gilchrist Lakoski ran the show on tennis courts throughout her college career in becoming Texas tennis' first four-time All-American in singles and doubles. She also held serve as the leader of a 1993 team that won four straight SWC titles and UT's first national title in the program. A three-time SWC Player of the Year (1990, 1991 and 1993), Gilchrist Lakoski turned into a groundbreaking talent within the college ranks and helped establish the program as a consistent title contender. You can't ask for more than that.
Kamie Ethridge vs. Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil
From the moment she hit the court with Texas in 1982, Kamie Ethridge planted her flag as a great floor general. She's considered one of the finest women's hoopers of all time and received the Honda Broderick Cup, Margaret Wade Trophy, and Naismith National Player of the Year Awards in the 1985-1986 season as the collegiate women's athlete of the year. By the time she left the Lady Longhorns, she held the team's all-time assists record and won a national championship her senior year. Ethridge flat out balled in her day and earned an induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Davis-Wrightsil rose above her competition in every way imaginable. She stepped on the scene as a freshman and won Most Outstanding Player honors as a freshman at the 1986 Final Four, helping the undefeated Lady Longhorns earn a national championship. She then took the team to another Final Four in 1987, and to two Elite Eight appearances in 1988 and 1989. The 6'1" forward, a two-time Naismith Award winner, still holds the university's all-time record for career scoring average (19.9 points) and earned the honor as the SWC's "Athlete of the Decade." For good measure, the two-time All-American The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame honored her with induction in 2006. So yeah, she's pretty talented.
Jill Sterkel vs. Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt
We could spend pages chronicling the accolades of Jill Sterkel and she deserves every word. Currently the school's Co-Head Coach for Women's Swimming & Diving, the four-time Olympian and "greatest women's swimmer in University of Texas history" she blew past her competition on way to 27 All-America honors and won 16 individual national championships. She also received the Honda Award as National Female Swimmer of the Year twice. The fact that Sterkel became the Big 12 Conference Women's Swimming Coach of the Year six times so far stands as an equally noteworthy accomplishment. It's not hyperbole to say that Jill Sterkel stands as one of the greatest authorities in swimming history.
In swimming, the 50-yard freestyle marks a short and sweet competition, and Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt lived both adjectives to the fullest while at the University of Texas. The swimmer left her opponents in bubbles and earned a reputation as the nation's fastest in the event. A member of the 1988, 1990 and 1991 NCAA Championship teams. she torpedoed past her opponents and became the first female to swim the 50-yard freestyle in under 22 seconds. Her 50-yard freestyle time (21.92) still stands as the best in UT women's swimming history.
Image Credits/Cat Osterman/University of Texas, Andrea Lloyd-Curry/University of Texas, Jody Conradt/www.coachconradt.com, Kelly Wilson/Gotexassoccer.com, Annette Smith-Knight/Big12sports.com, Erin Aldrich/Zimbio, Blaire Luna/Daily Texan, Angela Bradburn-Spangler/Texas Sports, Sanya Richards-Ross/Texasexes.org, Carlette Guidry/ Texas Athletics, Chris Plonsky/Austin Chronicle, Kamie Ethridge/Austin American-Statesman, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil/ESPN, Jill Sterkel/Texas Sports, Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt/Texas Sports