OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 8, 2013) – Three basketball standouts, a top sprinter, a four-time All-American in tennis and the Oklahoma Christian golfer with the most career wins were inducted Friday night into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bruno Buccolo (men’s golf), Mike Gipson (men’s basketball and baseball), Gabriela Lancman (women’s tennis), Jarred Merrill (men’s basketball), Sarah Reese (women’s basketball) and Damon Sims (men’s track) received OC athletics’ highest honor during a banquet attended by more than 500 people. Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was the keynote speaker at that event.
The inductees were selected by a committee comprised of OC athletic department administrators, current OC coaches and faculty and staff members from outside the athletic department. With their induction, the OC Athletic Hall of Fame now has 47 members. Buccolo and Lancman were the first from their respective sports to earn induction.
“Bruno, Mike, Gabriela, Jarred, Sarah and Damon represent the best of OC athletics,” OC Athletic Director Curtis Janz said. “They were stars in their respective sports and brought honor to themselves, their teams and their university. We are proud of what each of them accomplished during their time at Oklahoma Christian.”
Buccolo recorded 10 tournament wins during his OC career from 2004 to 2008. Buccolo, from Tandill, Argentina, was a four-time first-team NAIA All-America selection (2005-2008) and a four-time PING All-America, making the second team in 2005 and the first team in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He was named to the All-Nicklaus Team – a list of the top 20 collegiate golfers in the U.S. at any level – in 2008.
Buccolo holds school records for career scoring average, freshman scoring average, junior scoring average and best 36-hole score.
Academically, Buccolo was a rare three-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete, earning the honor in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He also was named as a second-team Capital One Academic All-American in 2008 and was a three-time Academic All-District selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Gipson was one of OC’s best student-athletes during the formative years of the university’s athletic program. He led the OC basketball team in scoring for three straight seasons, from 1963-64 through 1965-66. He averaged a double-double during his senior season in 1965-66 at 20.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
He finished his career with 1,472 points, which remained as the university’s scoring record until 1980. He still ranks 20th in career points. Gipson, from Jonesboro, Ark., also pitched for OC’s baseball team.
Gipson went on to serve as a professor of biology at OC from 1970 to 2009.
Lancman helped vault OC’s women’s tennis program into national prominence, earning NAIA All-America first-team honors in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and All-America second-team honors in 2001. She led the Lady Eagles to the program’s first two NAIA national tournament appearances in 2000 and 2001.
Also a three-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete, Lancman, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America pick, making the third-team list in 2000 and the first-team list in 2001. She was named as the winner of the Tennis magazine/Intercollegiate Tennis Association NAIA Arthur Ashe Award for Sportsmanship and Leadership in 2001.
Merrill, from Abilene, Texas, was the top post player in OC men’s basketball history, earning NAIA player of the year honors as a senior in 2005. The two-time NAIA All-America first-team pick finished his career as OC’s leading career scorer with 2,189 points and second on the career rebounding list with 1,120. He was the first Sooner Athletic Conference player to record 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
He twice was named as the NAIA player of the week and also holds school records for single-season scoring (821 points), career field goals attempted (1,487), career free throws made (650) and attempted (795) and season free throws made (259) and attempted (311). He shares OC’s record for career double-doubles with 59.
Merrill went on to play professionally in Spain, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Bahrain, Lebanon and South Korea, as well as in the U.S. in the NBA Development League, the American Basketball Association and the United States Basketball League.
Reese is one of only five OC women’s basketball players to earn NAIA All-America status at least three times. After transferring to OC from Cameron, Reese was an All-America third-team pick in 2000, a second-team pick in 2001 and a first-team selection in 2002. She made the All-Sooner Athletic Conference first-team list each of those seasons and was the SAC newcomer of the year in 2000.
Reese, from Owasso, holds OC records for rebounds in a season (395) and career rebounding average (10.5). She is sixth on OC’s career scoring list with 1,707 points and fifth on the single-season scoring (661) and career rebounding (996) lists. She led the Lady Eagles in scoring in each of her three seasons. OC made the NAIA tournament in 2000, 2001 and 2002, reaching the second round in 2000 and 2002.
Sims was one of the top sprinters in OC history. The six-time NAIA All-America honoree from Baton Rouge, La., won the NAIA championship in the outdoor 200 meters in 1994. He also finished in the top six in the NAIA in the outdoor 100 (1994), the outdoor 200 (1995), the indoor 200 (1995) and the indoor 400 (1994, 1996).
He still holds OC records in the indoor 200 (21.72 seconds) and 400 (48.09 seconds) and the outdoor 200 (20.85 seconds). In 1996, Sims was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America third-team list and as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar by Black Issues in Higher Education.