27 Sep Utah Athletics Inducts 2019 Hall of Fame Classpost was originally published on this site
Kristina Baskett, Torin Koos, Jeff Simonich, 1981 and ’82 gymnastics, and 2004 football welcomed as members of the 2019 class
SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah Athletics is honoring three former Ute athletes and three outstanding teams by inducting them into its Hall of Fame this weekend. The class was formally enshrined Friday evening and will be honored during the Utah-Washington State football game on Saturday night.
Kristina Baskett (Gymnastics)
One of the most successful gymnasts in Utah history, Kristina Baskett was crowned a national champion and 12-time All-American. Baskett won a share of the 2006 NCAA uneven bars title as a freshman, placed third in the all-around as a junior, and was the all-around silver medalist as a senior. Baskett was a seven-time medalist at nationals and a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Embarking on a highly successful career in the entertainment business, Baskett has accumulated over 100 credits between major motion pictures, television shows and commercials. Her most notable role was serving as the stunt double for Arya Stark in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Kristina is married to former Utah football player John Peel and resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she works as an assistant gymnastics coach at Arizona State.
Torin Koos (Skiing)
A three-time All-American cross country skier with the Utes, Torin Koos went on to win 10 U.S. titles and compete in four Winter Olympics. During his sophomore year at Utah in 2001, Koos earned a spot on the U.S. Ski Team for the FIS World Ski Championships. He also finished seventh in the classical race at the 2001 NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors for the first time.
In 2002, he rejoined Team USA for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, finishing 36th. Later that season, Koos earned two more All-America citations by finishing fourth in the freestyle and sixth in the classical at NCAAs. He competed in six additional World Championships and three more Olympics. Koos has transitioned into a career in sports communications and currently resides in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Jeff Simonich (Track & Field/Cross Country)
Jeff Simonich captured four Western Athletic Conference titles and was a four-time All-American. As a junior in 1997, Simonich placed fifth at the WAC Cross Country Championships and qualified for nationals. He also won the WAC title in the 5,000 meters and advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he placed eighth and earned All-America honors.
During his senior year, Simonich was crowned the 1998 WAC cross country champion and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships. He captured gold in the 3,000 and the 5,000 at the WAC Track & Field Championships, and placed in the top 11 at NCAAs in both events. Simonich is the father of three children and lives in Meridian, Idaho, where he owns a successful sporting business.
After steadily building a program from the ground up, the 1981 Utah gymnastics team realized a dream that was six years in the making under head coach Greg Marsden, winning the AIAW National Championship. The Utes went 27-2 during the regular season and faced a stiff challenge from UCLA at the national meet in Salt Lake City. However, Utah held off the Bruins 145.65-144.10 to claim the program’s first national title.
Freshmen Megan McCunniff and Linda Kardos both earned three All-America citations. McCunniff placed fourth in the all-around, third on beam and seventh on floor. Kardos was sixth in the all-around, sixth on beam and seventh on vault. Also earning All-American honors were senior co-caption Diane Ellingson, who was the runner-up on bars, Eileen Huck, who placed fifth on floor, and Shannon Coleman, who finished eighth on beam.
Winning one national championship makes you elite. Going back to back establishes your program as a national power. That was the challenge placed in front of the 1982 Utah gymnastics team. Shifting their affiliation from the AIAW to the NCAA, the Utes drew record-setting crowds for nationals in the Special Events Center. Utah crushed second-place Cal State-Fullerton by nearly four and a half points. It was the largest winning margin in the history of the women’s gymnastics championships.
Five Utes combined for 13 All-America awards. Sue Stednitz claimed a pair of NCAA titles in the all-around and on beam. Christa Canary was the runner-up in the all-around and tied for second place on beam. Elaine Alfano was the NCAA title-winner on the vault. Other strong performances came from Megan McCunniff, who placed second on beam, and Linda Kardos, who took third on floor. Greg Marsen earned his second consecutive National Coach of the Year award.
A 12-0 record, a No. 4 final national ranking and becoming the original BCS Busters, the 2004 Utah football team had season of historic proportions. The Utes’ closest game was a 14-point victory over Air Force. By late November, the Utes had risen to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the BCS rankings. A 52-21 win over BYU in the final game of the regular season secured a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, where Utah rolled to a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh.
Utah’s high-powered offense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Alex Smith, averaged just under 500 yards and 45.3 points per game to rank third in the nation. Senior offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu was a first-team All-American and wide receiver Steve Savoy earned second-team All-American honors. Senior defensive back Morgan Scalley received second-team All-America recognition, while defensive linemen Steve Fifita and Sione Pouha were first-team all-Mountain West picks. In his second and final season at Utah, Urban Meyer was named National Coach of the Year by four organizations.