SEATTLE Two athletes who were wildly popular in this state, especially the Yakima Valley, will enter the State of Washington Hall of Fame this summer.
Kelly Blair LaBounty, who graduated from Prosser High School, and Seattle Mariner major league hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr. will join six other accomplished, notable athletes at the induction.
“I’m honored and excited,” LaBounty, who grew up as Kelly Blair, said from her home in Eugene, Ore., yesterday.
Regarding being inducted alongside “Junior,” she said, “I think my boys are more excited about that than me.”
Hall of Fame Director Marc Blau said the induction has not been scheduled yet, but it will take place at a Mariner baseball game in late July or early August
Others in the State of Washington Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 include George Karl, Reuben Mayes, Mike Price, jockey Alfred Johnson of Spokane, Tacoma fastpitch pitcher Louise Mazzuca and former Seattle baseball team owner Dan Dugdale. All have amazing stories.
Plaques depicting each inductee are displayed at the Shanaman Sports Museum in the Tacoma Dome.
Price coached Washington State to the 1997 and 2002 Rose Bowls. He was 83-76 in 14 seasons with the Cougars.
Rueben was an All-American running back for the Cougars and set an NCAA record with 357 rushing yards against Oregon in 1984.
Under George Karl, the Seattle Sonics made the NBA playoffs in each of his seven seasons. He coached the Sonics to the 1996 NBA Finals, where they lost to Chicago.
Johnson grew up near Spokane and rode winners at the 1922 and ‘26 Kentucky Derby and 1925-26 Belmont Stakes.
Louise Mazzuca, Tacoma, fastpitch pitcher hurled 35 no-hitters (including 9 perfect games), made five All-America teams and set a World Tournament record in 1961 with three no-hitters.
She was just the second woman from Washington to be inducted into the American Softball Association.
Dugdale, sometimes called Washington’s “father of professional baseball,” played 50 games in the Major Leagues. He is best known for organizing the Pacific Northwest League
LaBounty, who was known as Kelly Blair in the valley, was a top collegiate and international heptathlete. She competed in the 1996 Olympics, finishing 8th. She qualified for the 2000 Olympics but was injured and did not compete.
LaBounty, married to former Seattle Seahawk defensive end Matt LaBounty, lives in Eugene, where she started her international career. But she has not forgotten her roots.
“I think about my high school days a lot,” she said. “Winning the state championship stands out the most, just playing with my friends.”
She was a 3-time U.S. Outdoor champion. She won the NCAA title for the University of Oregon in 1993.
She is already a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in 2011.
LaBounty played basketball for the Ducks two years. She dropped the sport in favor of her heptathlete skills her junior and senior years.
LaBounty got the attention of Yakima Valley sports fans in the late 1980s at Prosser. After making all-state two years, leading the Prosser girls to a state title and being named MVP, the Ducks came calling.
A great track athlete in various events, she eventually decided to focus on the heptathlon and the Olympics.
Thirty years later, she still holds six Prosser records:
1988 — 200 meters, 25.10; 100-meter hurdles 14.30; 300 hurdles, 45.03; long jump, 19-2.
1989 — high jump, 5-10½; javelin, 124-4.
“I was doing a little of everything even back then,” La Bounty said.
LaBounty was a year out of college when she thought she could make the Olympics doing the five events of the heptathlon.
She was there in 1996 and qualified again in 2000.