Five named to Blue Raider Hall of Fame

Bunio, Johnson, Niemeyer, Peterson and Richardson Chosen

June 18, 2010 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A quintet of some of the top athletic achievers in Middle Tennessee State University history has been selected to be inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in September.

Baseball is represented by current Head Coach Steve Peterson and pitcher Dave Richardson, while Football assistant coach Ed Bunio, track All-American Dwight Johnson, and tennis All-American Fred Niemeyer round out the Class of 2010. This will bring the total number of inductees to 117 since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976.

The induction ceremony will be held prior to the home football game with Austin Peay on September 11th. It will be held in the courtyard behind the Blue Raider Athletic Hall of Fame and there is no admission charge. Blue Raider fans are encouraged to attend.

When Boots Donnelly took on the task of rebuilding the Austin Peay football program in 1977, he retained Ed Bunio from the Governor staff, starting an 18-year relationship as both colleague and friend. Bunio's defense at Austin Peay led the league in '77, and he then followed Donnelly to Middle Tennessee in 1979, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach until he retired after the 1994 season.

He was a driving force in the rebuilding of the Blue Raiders football fortunes with his great defenses in the 1980s. Among the players he sent to the pros were Don Griffin, Marty Carter, and Mike Caldwell. He also coached the OVC's Defensive Player of the Year in 1982 (Dennis Mix), 1985 (Don Griffin), 1988 (Don Thomas), 1989 (Anthony Coleman), and 1990 (Marty Carter).

He was described by his nominator as "a great teacher of young men, a great co-worker, and a great friend".

The dominant force in Ohio Valley Conference Track in the mid-1980s was Dwight Johnson. He came to MTSU in 1983 as both a football player and track star. Track proved to be his forte, as he earned All-American honors in the long jump in 1984 and 1985. He helped continue the success of MTSU's famed "Grasshopper Gang" that dominated the OVC in the 1980s and '90s.

He ran the sprints, both indoors and outdoors, ran on record-setting 400 meter relay teams, and competed in the long jump as well as the 300-meter indoors in which he still holds the OVC record.

Competing in the Ohio Valley Conference, Johnson was Track Athlete of the Year three times (1984-85-86). He won the OVC 200-meter in a record time of 20.65 seconds in 1985, and also anchored the winning 400-meter relay team that ran a record time of 40.83 seconds, the fifth fastest time in the nation that year. His other career best marks of 26-6 in the long jump and his 20.65 in the 200-meters still rank fourth on the all-time Blue Raider list.

In football, he caught 16 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in three years. He rushed once for three yards.

In high school at Whites Creek in Nashville, he was coached by Howard Alsup, and at MTSU his coaches were Dean Hayes and Boots Donnelly. All three have previously been inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.

Perhaps the best tennis player in MTSU history, Niemeyer was dominant during his years with the Blue Raiders, earning All-American honors three times in his career. He is from Magog, Quebec, Canada.

Niemeyer first earned All-American honors in 1994 as a freshman when he teamed with 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Goebel. He won All-American honors in doubles again in 1996, this time teaming with Anthony DeLuise.

His best season was his senior year in 1997. He earned All-American honors in singles after posting a 36-8 record, and earning his third consecutive OVC Player of the Year award. He finished the season ranked fourth in the ITA National Rankings.

Niemeyer holds the MTSU records for wins in both singles and doubles, for both single-season and career. His combined career win total is 233, 54 more than the second-best mark. STEVE PETERSON
Steve Peterson has been the head coach at MTSU since 1988, following six years in two separate stints as an assistant to John Stanford.

In February of 2001, Peterson got his 403rd win, breaking the MTSU record set by Stanford. Since then, he has gone on to compile 742 wins, including his 700th vs. Western Kentucky in 2009. The 44 wins by the 2009 team went down as a Blue Raider record.

He has coached MTSU to eight Ohio Valley Conference championships, seven OVC tournament titles, and nine NCAA tournament appearances.

Coach Peterson has coached nine All-Americans, including four Freshman All-Americans. He has developed a Sun Belt Player of the Year, six OVC Players of the Year, two Sun Belt Pitchers of the Year and an OVC Pitcher of the Year and 51 First Team All-Conference performers. In the Sun Belt, the nation's fifth rated conference, Peterson's teams have won three conference titles and two tournament championships.

He was named the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association's Collegiate Coach of the Year both in 1992 and 2000, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2007.

Peterson currently has 31 former Blue Raiders in the coaching profession, and has seen 66 of his players drafted by the pros.

At the end of his first two years at MTSU, Dave Richardson, a left-handed pitcher from Nashville, had a 3-6 record and a 7.77 ERA. However, he blossomed in his junior year of 1987, posting a 12-5 record and a 2.98 ERA. For his efforts, he was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year.

His senior season in 1988 was even better, with a school record 13 wins against only five losses. The 13 wins eclipsed his school and OVC win record set the previous year. He struck out 116 while walking only 43. He was All-OVC, and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest game of his career was in the first game of the NCAA Regional when he threw a six-hitter in beating fifth-ranked Texas A&M, 3-1, at Starkville, Miss.

Richardson ranks first in career wins (29) and complete games (23), and is third in innings pitched and fourth in strikeouts. His single-season records include wins (13 in 1988) innings pitched 127.1 (1988) and 12 of his 13 wins in 1988 were complete games.

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