7 inducted into Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Fame

By Murray Evans

Two cross country and track standouts, one of Oklahoma Christian’s best baseball players, a pair of basketball stars, the only head softball coach in the university’s history and an award-winning newspaper writer were inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mike Baldwin, Lauren Decker, Tom Heath, Ron Stangeland, Jason Taylor, Clint Vaughn and Steve Wolfe formally received OC’s highest athletic honor during a banquet in the Gaylord University Center.

“This is another outstanding class of Hall of Fame inductees, one that represents a good cross section of our athletic department,” OC Athletic Director Curtis Janz said. “Each person has, in his or her own way, made a major contribution to the history of OC athletics and we are glad that we are able to honor them for their achievements.”

Baldwin, a 1978 OC graduate from Okmulgee, was a longtime sports writer for The Oklahoman who helped pioneer a tradition of quality sports media work among OC student writers and broadcasters. He served as the sports editor of the Seminole Producer and the Edmond Sun before joining The Oklahoman’s staff in 1982 and spending 33 years there. He covered most of the Oklahoma City newspaper’s major beats, from high schools to NCAA Division I colleges to the NFL and NBA.

Baldwin, who won numerous writing and reporting awards during his tenure, also served as OC men’s basketball’s play-by-play voice for two years while in college and spent his senior year working at OC’s newspaper, The Talon. He also served as the sports information director for OC and NAIA District 9 during the 1981-82 academic year and has assisted other OC graduates in landing jobs in local media.

Decker, from Edmond, was a three-time NAIA All-America selection, one of only five OC women’s basketball players ever to achieve that feat. She received honorable mention on the NAIA list in 2004 before making the second-team squad in 2005 and the first-team squad in 2006. In 2005, she also was a Kodak All-America honorable mention selection. In all three years, she also earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors and made the CoSIDA Academic All-District first-team list.

In 2005, she won the NAIA’s Emil S. Liston Award, which is presented annually to one junior women’s basketball player who has shown high athletic and scholastic achievement. She was the only OC women’s player ever to receive that honor. Decker ranks fifth on OC career scoring list with 1,755 points and led the Lady Eagles to the NAIA tournament in each of her four seasons, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2003 and the second round in 2004 and 2005.

Heath has served as the OC softball program’s only head coach since it made its debut in 1995, posting a career record of 656-454-1 through Tuesday. He guided the Lady Eagles to NAIA tournament berths in 2002 and 2003 and to runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015 in the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship.  He has coached 12 NAIA/NCCAA All-Americans and more than 20 NAIA/NCCAA Scholar-Athletes and more than 95 percent of his senior players have graduated.

He and assistant Steve Gault were named as the NAIA Southwest Region coaching staff of the year in 1998 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and in 1999, Heath was selected as the Sooner Athletic Conference coach of the year. The past two years, he was named as the NCCAA Central Region coach of the year. The namesake of the $3.9 million softball stadium opened in 2014 on OC’s campus, Heath also was OC’s longtime director of intramurals and served as the Eagles’ interim head baseball coach in 1981.

Stangeland, from Ponca City, was a three-time NAIA All-American and a two-time national champion in distance events for the Eagles’ track and cross country teams in the mid-1970s. He was part of a relay team – along with Wolfe – that won NAIA indoor titles in 1976 in what now is known as the 4x800-meter relay and in 1977 in the distance medley relay.

The foursome also finished third in the 4x800-meter relay at the prestigious U.S. Track and Field Federation National Indoor Championships in 1976. Individually, Stangeland finished second in the NAIA indoor 1,000 meters in 1977. He also qualified twice for the NAIA Cross Country Championship, finishing 49th in 1975 and 83rd in 1976.

Taylor, from Edmond, is one of only two three-time All-America men’s basketball selections in OC history, earning NAIA third-team honors in 2008 and first-team honors in 2009 and 2010. He and current OC Athletic Hall of Famer Jarred Merrill are the only two Eagles ever to earn consecutive first-team All-America honors. Taylor also was a three-time first-team All-Sooner Athletic Conference selection (2008, 2009, 2010) and was the SAC player of the year in 2009.

Taylor ranks third on OC’s all-time scoring list with 2,051 points, with his 777 points in 2008-09 putting him third on the program’s single-season scoring list. He led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding for three straight seasons and was a two-time NAIA player of the week, once in 2009 and once in 2010. Taylor is one of only two OC players ever to earn an NAIA Champions of Character Award, doing so in 2010.

Vaughn, from Edmond, grew up around the OC campus as the son of former OC student-athlete Ray Vaughn Jr. and the grandson of former coach – and OC Athletic Hall of Famer – Ray Vaughn Sr. Clint Vaughn was an NAIA All-America second-team selection in 1997, when he also was named as the Sooner Athletic Conference player of the year after hitting .477 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs. He was a three-time All-SAC pick, making the second-team list in 1996 and the first-team list in 1997 and 1998.

The power-hitting first baseman still holds school records for career home runs (46), career RBIs (197), single-season batting average (.477 in 1997), single-season home runs (20 in 1998), single-season hits (89 in 1998) and single-season at-bats (208 in 1998). Vaughn was chosen in the eighth round of Major League Baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds (the highest of any NAIA player that season) and played in the minor leagues, making the 1998 Pioneer League All-Star team.

Wolfe, from Rock Island, Ill., was a three-time NAIA All-American and two-time national champion for the Eagles’ track and cross country teams. Along with Stangeland, Wolfe was part of a relay team that won NAIA indoor titles in 1976 in what now is known as the 4x800-meter relay and in 1977 in the distance medley relay.

The foursome also finished third in the 4x800-meter relay at the prestigious U.S. Track and Field Federation National Indoor Championships in 1976. Wolfe also was a member of the indoor 4x800 relay team that took third at the NAIA indoor meet in 1977. He qualified twice for the NAIA Cross Country Championships, placing 33rd in 1975 (then the best finish in OC history) and 59th in 1976. He once held school records in the mile, three-mile run, 5,000 meters, marathon and distance medley relay.

Summer 2016

View more stories from the Summer 2016 issue of Vision magazine.