The 2003 Illinois NCAA Woman of the Year, two diamond gems and a track All-American will be officially inducted into the Monmouth College M Club Hall of Fame on Saturday as part of the college's Homecoming weekend festivities.
NCAA Woman of the Year finalist Melissa Jones Bittner '03, baseball great Casey Boydstun '02, softball slugger Jennifer Witmer '02 and track standout Chris Sondgeroth '98 will comprise the 30th class to be inducted into the college's athletic Hall of Fame. The 8:30 a.m. ceremony will be held on the main concourse of the Huff Athletic Center. The four inductees will then participate in the annual Homecoming parade at 11 a.m. and in pregame festivities before the Scots' football team hosts Grinnell in a 1 p.m. kickoff at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.
Melissa Jones Bittner (United Township High School)
Since the 1970s, most Monmouth College athletes have made their mark competing against their NCAA Division III peers. But in one memorable competition, Melissa Jones Bittner stood tall against the best female college athletes in all divisions.
Bittner was a Top 10 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year honor in 2003. Her nomination was based on a remarkable Fighting Scot career that saw her named All-Midwest Conference 15 times out of 16 opportunities.
The four-time All-American high jumper won that event the maximum eight times at MWC meets, posting a best effort of 5'6-1/2. In basketball, she scored 1,318 points which, at the time of her induction, ranked third in school history. The United Township High School product finished her volleyball career with three All-MWC honors and 1,325 kills.
Through the 2012-13 season, Bittner was four wins shy of being Monmouth's winningest women's basketball coach. She guided the Scots to their only NCAA tournament berth in 2012.
Casey Boydstun (Galesburg High School)
At the turn of the century, the best Monmouth College baseball player was shortstop Casey Boydstun, who was in the midst of a career that netted four consecutive first team All-Midwest Conference honors.
Credited with loving practices as much as the games, Boydstun was named the South Division Player of the Year as a junior and senior, helping the Fighting Scots to their first back-to-back 20-win seasons in nearly a decade.
At the time of his induction, the five-tool talent was MC's all-time leader in total bases (261), steals (71), hits (172) and at-bats (496). He scored 128 runs to rank third and swiped a single-season record 22 bases in 2001.
A career .347 hitter, the Galesburg High School product also held Monmouth's record for fielding assists (357). Boydstun led the Scots in hits in each of his four seasons, finishing in style with a team-high .362 average as a senior.
Jennifer Witmer (Polo High School)
One of the most prodigious sluggers in Monmouth College softball, Jen Witmer was a three-time All-Midwest Conference selection.
As a junior, Witmer hit .424 and set school records with eight home runs and 40 RBIs, earning the South Division Player of the Year honor. Never cheated on her swings, she finished her career on top of the home run list with 17.
At the time of her induction, Witmer was Monmouth's all-time leader in home runs, was second in RBIs (86), hits (136) and total bases (225) and was third in slugging percentage (.597). The outfielder from Polo, Ill., posted a career average of .361, which was ninth on the all-time list. She had two career grand slams and was the only player in Scots' softball history to hit for the cycle.
The Fighting Scots reached the MWC playoffs in Witmer's final three seasons and posted three straight winning records. Monmouth's 59 victories in that span have been topped by only one three-year period in team history.
Chris Sondgeroth (Erie High School)
No Fighting Scot had ever thrown the shot put further than Chris Sondgeroth's mark of 54'8-1/4 at the 1997 NCAA outdoor meet and, at the time of his induction, that mark remains the standard for Monmouth College throwers.
At the national level, Sondgeroth earned three All-American honors in the shot put, placing third at both the 1997 indoor and outdoor meets and taking fourth at the 1998 outdoor championships. Fifteen years after his final competition for Monmouth, he had five of the top 10 performances in the outdoor shot put.
Sondgeroth's best discus mark of 161'8, which he accomplished at the 1997 Midwest Conference meet, ranked as high as second on Monmouth's honor roll.
The product of Erie High School won four Midwest Conference shot put titles and added one first-place finish in the discus.