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Seven new members to be inducted into Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame

Seven new members will be inducted into the Liberty University Athletics Hall of Fame during a special ceremony on Sept. 13 in the Montview Alumni Ballroom as part of Liberty’s Hall of Fame and Homecoming Weekend. The seven new members will be introduced at halftime of the Sept. 14 football game at Williams Stadium when the Flames host the University of Texas El Paso.

The 16th Athletics Hall of Fame class includes Dre Barnes (football), Kristal (Tharp) Bechtold (women’s basketball), Chuck Burch (Athletics Director), Keith Butler (baseball), Bill Gillespie (men’s track & field/football/strength and conditioning), Jennifer (Klugh) Margraff (women’s cross country/track & field), and Holly Van Noord (women’s soccer).

Dre Barnes

Barnes, who played for the Flames from 2001-04, was one of the most dominating running backs in program history. More than two decades following his playing career, he still holds the program’s gold standard for career rushing yards (4,063), including 1,347 as a junior in 2003 before missing five games due to injury in his senior season. He was a three-time Big South All-Conference honoree and became the program’s first-ever Big South Offensive Player of the Year in 2003.

Kristal (Tharp) Bechtold

Bechtold, a shooting guard for the Lady Flames from 2002-05, was one of the best long-range shooters in program history. The All-Big South Conference First Team honoree in 2003 and 2005 enters the Hall of Fame ranked third in program history in career three-point field goal percentage (35.8) and sixth in three-point field goals made (151). She helped lead Liberty to four consecutive Big South titles and a 100-26 record, and, along with 2015 Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Katie (Feenstra) Mattera, helped make history in 2005 by guiding the Lady Flames to their first two NCAA Tournament wins and an appearance in the Sweet 16. Also a standout in the classroom, Bechtold was a two-time Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2004 and 2005) and became the Lady Flames’ first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-America selection as a senior in 2005.

Chuck Burch

Burch joined the Liberty Athletics staff in 1982 and served as Director of Athletics from 1990-97 after playing a vital role in Liberty Athletics’ move to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1988. as an assistant Sports Information Director before being promoted to Assistant and Associate Athletics Director. He led Liberty to join the Big South Conference, starting with the 1991-92 season, and the Flames went on to capture 16 Big South titles in the first six years of league affiliation with Burch at the helm of the department, including the 1994 Big South Men’s Basketball Championship that placed Liberty in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

Keith Butler

Butler burst onto the collegiate baseball scene in 2000, earning Big South Freshman and Player of the Year honors after recording a .406 batting average, 56 runs scored, 16 doubles, six home runs, 49 RBIs, and 35 stolen bases to help Liberty capture the 2000 Big South Baseball Championship title and the program’s first-ever win at an NCAA Regional. He was also named to a pair of Freshman All-America teams (Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Baseball America). He was named to the Big South All-Tournament team all three years of his career at Liberty, and was the Big South’s inaugural winner of the Howard Bagwell Award (Male Athlete of the Year) in 2000. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 10th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft and still ranks in the top 10 among the Flames’ career leaders in runs, doubles and stolen bases.

Bill Gillespie

Gillespie’s impact on Liberty Athletics spans four different decades as a football player (1978-79), a national champion in track & field (1980-83), and a strength and conditioning coach (1983-91, 2005-18) who helped Train Champions for Christ at his alma mater. He was the 1980 and 1981 NCCAA national champion and a four-time All-American in the shot put, helping the track & field program to capture the NCCAA national team title in 1981. He held the Liberty outdoor men’s shot put record (55 feet, 8.5 inches) for 24 years after graduation in 1983, when he was named the 1983 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner, the highest honor bestowed upon a Liberty student-athlete. After an 11-year strength and conditioning career with the University of Washington’s football team that included a national championship in 1991, and a two-season stint with the Seattle Seahawks, Gillespie returned to Liberty Mountain where he served as Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach from 2005-18, helping Liberty move the Flames from the FCS to the FBS ranks. Gillespie is a 133-time weightlifting world record holder, including a 1,129-pound bench press at the age of 62 that is an all-time world record.

Jennifer (Klugh) Margraff

Margraff overcame a torn ACL in her senior year of high school to become one of the most highly-decorated women’s distance runners in Lady Flames cross country and track & field history from 2008-12. A 10-time Big South Championships individual event champion (three cross country, four indoor track & field and three outdoor track & field) she was an 18-time All-Big South performer, she is one of only four runners in program history to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country National Championship as an individual and she is the program’s only three-time Big South women’s cross country individual champion and three-time cross country All-Region performer (2010, 2011, and 2012). Competing in indoor track, Margraff won back-to-back Big South Most Outstanding Track Performer awards in 2011 and 2012, helping Liberty capture consecutive conference titles with by earning 28 points at both meets. At the time of her graduation in 2013, she owned four program records (cross country 5K, cross country 6K, indoor 3K and indoor 5K) and received Liberty’s highest student-athlete honor when she was named the winner of the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award.

Holly Van Noord

Van Noord was a stellar goalkeeper for the Lady Flames from 2013-16 when she helped them win three Big South Conference championships and secure bids to three NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship tournaments. A two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year honoree (2014 and 2016), Van Noord remains the program’s all-time career leader in shutouts (41) and goals-against average (0.80) and also ranks second in career games played (86) and career saves (407). A Van Noord is the only player in program history to be named to three Big South all-conference teams (first team in 2014 and 2016; second team in 2013) and was named the VaSID All-State Rookie of the Year in 2013. She was also named to four United Soccer Coaches All-Region teams, earning second-team honors in 2014 and 2016 and third-team recognition in 2013 and 2015.


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