2014 Hall of Fame Class
(Left to Right): Jake Matthes, Mike Decker, Delethea Quarles, Matt Hildebrand and Wayne Haddix
(Men’s Track & Field: 1999-01)
Mike Decker came onto the scene as a sophomore and quickly dashed his way into Liberty University’s record books, setting standards that the current members of the track & field program are still chasing today.
Decker is one of just four track & field athletes in program history to earn three or more All-America honors during their careers, earning All-America distinctions in the 400 meters, twice at indoor nationals (2000 and 2001) and once at outdoor nationals (2000).
He was also a U.S. Olympic trials 400-meter dash participant in 2000. The native of Buena Vista, Va., was a three-time Big South Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year (1999, 2000, and 2001) and a 20-time Big South champion (12 individual events and eight relays).
During his senior year, Decker won every race he competed in during the Big South and IC4A seasons (both indoor and outdoor).
During his career, he netted Liberty 142 career points at Big South Track Championships and 113 at IC4A Championships. Decker is the program’s current record holder in the 200-meter (indoor) and 400-meter (indoor and outdoor) dash events.
(Football – 1983-86)
Wayne Haddix provided Liberty with its first standout defensive back when he came to Lynchburg from Middletown, Tenn., in 1983.
Four years later, Haddix left his mark on Liberty’s record books with 151 career tackles (85 solo, 66 assisted), while adding five forced fumbles and eight passes defended.
Haddix’s standout career on Liberty Mountain was recognized on the national scene when he became the first player in program history to get an invitation to the Senior Bowl and the second to participate in the Blue-Gray game.
His speed allowed him to excel in the return game, and he led the Flames in punt returns, three of his four years. He still holds the program’s single-game punt return record. Haddix extended his playing career when he became the 10th player in program history to sign a free agent professional contract (New York Giants, 1987).
He played five seasons in the NFL, spotlighted by his 1990 campaign where he recorded seven interceptions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That year, he became the first alumnus in program history to earn a trip to the NFL Pro Bowl game.
(Men’s Basketball, 1991-94)
Matt Hildebrand helped usher Flames Basketball into a new era when Liberty joined the Big South Conference during his sophomore season (1991-92). By his senior year, the native of Sturgis, Mich., had the Flames on the national scene, pushing the No. 1 team in the country during the 1994 NCAA Tournament.
Hildebrand started every game he played during his stellar 116-game career, finishing with 1,515 career points scored, 3,729 minutes played, and 207 career three-point field goals. A steady hand at the charity stripe, he finished with an 88.2 career free throw shooting percentage (398-of-451), which ranks him in the top 25 of the all-time NCAA Division I record books.
During his senior campaign, Hildebrand led the Flames to the program’s first-ever Big South title and earned the program its first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Liberty faced No. 1 seed North Carolina in the contest and led the Tar Heels with 10 minutes left to go in the game, thanks to his 20 points and five assists.
Hildebrand is one of four players in program history to have his jersey retired, and he still holds single-game, season, and career records, including the program mark for best career three-point field goal shooting percentage (42.9 – 207-of-483).
(Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field Coach, 1976-91)
Jake Matthes was the initial architect of one of the most successful athletics programs during the first four decades of Liberty’s Athletics Department.
He started the men’s cross country program in 1976 and the men’s track & field teams the following year. During his tenure as head coach, Liberty won the 1981 NCCAA men’s track & field national title, five Mason-Dixon men’s cross country championships, and eight men’s cross country regional titles.
Matthes, who coached Liberty at four different levels of competition (NCCAA, NAIA, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division I) helped 18 student-athletes at the NCCAA level earn All-America honors, four at the NAIA level, and three more as NCAA Division II competitors.
The native of Mansfield, Ohio, earned numerous coaching awards during his 15 years of coaching, including 1981 National Christian College Coach of the Year for men’s track & field and 1985 NCAA Division II South Region Coach of the Year for men’s cross country.
Matthes, who also started the women’s track & field and cross country programs in 1977, had Liberty’s outdoor track facility named after him in 1991. The facility, dubbed the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex, pairs his name with Ron Hopkins, who took over the women’s programs shortly after Matthes helped get them off the ground.
(Women’s Track & Field, 1987-89)
After transferring to Liberty following her freshman season, Delethea Quarles helped the Lady Flames start a dominant run in the Mason-Dixon Conference and jump-start the program’s success at the Division I level.
The native of Covington, Va., helped Liberty claim indoor and outdoor track championship titles during her junior and senior campaigns (1988 and 1989), thanks to her standout performances in the heptathlon. She also earned All-America honors in the discipline in 1987 and 1988, placing fifth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division II national championship.
Quarles was the first student-athlete in program history (men’s or women’s) to score more than 200 points in a season and one of only 11 in program history to do so at any level of competition (227.5 points as a senior). The 1989 Penn Relays 100-meter hurdles champion held the program record in the event for more than 20 years before it was broken in 2010.
She served as an assistant coach on Liberty’s staff for eight years (1990-97) before joining the coaching staff at South Carolina, where she has helped more than 20 student-athletes earn All-America honors.