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 first round of the Lady Horns Region, devoted to UT's finest Lady Longhorn athletes, saw Cat Osterman and Jody Conradt blow by their competition. Who will win in a second round that includes Sanya Richards-Ross? That's up to you. Let the games begin!
Be sure to also vote in the second round of the Gridiron Greats Region and the Hoops, Homers and Olympians Region. Just click the links to go there and decide the fates of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Kevin Durant, and other UT legends.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Image Credits/Cat Osterman/University of Texas, Jody Conradt/www.coachconradt.com, Erin Aldrich/Zimbio, Blaire Luna/Daily Texan, Sanya Richards-Ross/Texasexes.org, Chris Plonsky/Austin Chronicle, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil/ESPN, Jill Sterkel/Texas Sports