Ten former athletes were inducted into the Wharton County Junior College Athletic
Hall of Fame for 2022 at the recent induction ceremony held on the Wharton campus.
Some inductees were represented by family or friends. Seated, left to right, are Judy
Shilk representing Michele Ruschhaupt, Class of 1983 in tennis; Betty Parr Muegge
representing Ervin C. Muegge, Class of 1949 in football; Mamie Mauch, Class of 1977
in basketball and volleyball; and Betty Detmer representing Hubert M. Sonny Detmer
Jr., Class of 1964 in baseball, basketball and football. Standing, left to right,
are Scott Williams representing Steve Austin, Class of 1984 in football; Bradley Harter,
Class of 2002 in rodeo; Stephanie Jacks Saculla, Class of 2005 in rodeo; Walt Wendtland,
Class of 1974 in baseball; Lisa Crutcher representing Ronald Glenn Jones, Class of
1984 in baseball; and Burkley Harkless Sr., Class of 1964 in football.
WHARTON, TEXAS – From a pro-circuit cowboy to a major league baseball player to one
of the most recognized names in professional wrestling, Wharton County Junior College’s
2022 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees shared two things in common: excellence in their
respective sports and a love for WCJC.
“WCJC means a lot to you and you mean a lot to us,” WCJC Athletic Director Keith Case
told inductees during the recent reception luncheon and induction ceremony. “This
college right here has your footprints all over it.”
During the ceremony, held in the Pioneer Student Center on the Wharton campus, each
of the 10 individuals inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame were recognized. Plaques
of recognition were also installed on a permanent display located in the hallway outside
the Gene Bahnsen Gymnasium. The plaques include each recipient’s name, years associated
with the college and athletic affiliation. This year’s recipients were added to the
10 who made up last year’s inaugural class.
WCJC President Betty McCrohan welcomed the crowd, noting that the event was like a
“We want to celebrate with you,” McCrohan said.
Case, serving as emcee, noted that inductees were chosen by a selection committee
comprised of athletic department staff and long-time college instructors. He said
the group had been faced with quite a challenge due to the nominees’ accomplishments.
More than 100 nominees had been considered, with just 10 chosen.
Most of the inductees were in attendance, though several who are now deceased were
represented by friends or family members. Perhaps the most notable inductee, retired
professional wrestler and movie star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, was unable to attend
due to work obligations on the West Coast. His brother, Scott Williams, accepted the
honor on his behalf. Steve Austin played football at WCJC from 1984-85.
“WCJC got him off the ground,” Scott said of his brother. “I’m really proud to accept
this on his behalf.”
Retired professional cowboy Bradley Harter credited WCJC with providing the sort of
foundation needed to embark on a successful career, one that included competing in
more than 100 rodeos across the country. He specifically thanked WCJC Rodeo Coach
Sean Amestoy for setting a good example.
“I was able to live my dream and raise a family and do what I dreamed of doing since
the age of four,” Harter said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without WCJC and
Burkley Harkless Sr., a Bay City native who played football at WCJC in the mid-1960s,
credited the college for his success as well. His career included playing with the
Houston Oilers, Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers.
“I experienced a lot of positive changes in my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today
without WCJC,” Harkless said. “I really appreciate WCJC and want to thank God for
his grace and for leading me in the right direction.”
Named to the 2022 Athletic Hall of Fame were:
Steve Austin – An Edna, Texas, native, Austin came to WCJC in 1984 as a hard-hitting
linebacker. After accepting a scholarship to play football for the University of North
Texas, Austin later began training for professional wrestling. His career lasted from
1989 until 2003, with stints competing for the World Wrestling Championship and the
World Wrestling Federation (now renamed the WWE). Wrestling as “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin, he achieved numerous titles and championships, becoming one of the most well-known
wrestlers of all time. He currently works in movies and with TV programs.
Hubert M. Sonny Detmer Jr. – A Texas native, Detmer came to WCJC in the mid-1960s
on a baseball and basketball scholarship. He was later encouraged to play football
for the Pioneers. He lettered in all three sports before transferring to Florida State
University to continue his basketball and baseball careers. He later played in the
Continental Football League before embarking on a lengthy coaching career that included
leading teams to numerous district, regional and state titles. Detmer passed away
in 2020 at the age of 76.
Burkley Harkless Sr. – Born and raised in Bay City, Texas, Harkless spent two years
at WCJC (1963-1964), earning two time All-American honors in football before transferring
to The University of North Texas, where he played nose tackle from 1965-1966. Harkless
spent a number of years in the National Football League, playing for the Houston Oilers,
the Baltimore Colts and the San Francisco 49ers. He also competed in the Canadian
Football League, playing with the Edmonton Eskimos (now the Edmonton Elks) and the
Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Harkless later worked for
General Telephone and Electronics (GTE) and the Denton County Juvenile Probation Department.
Bradley Harter – Born in San Angelo, Texas, Harter wanted to be a professional cowboy
from early on in life. During Harter’s two years at WCJC (2001-2002), the team won
the Southern Region and competed nationally, while Harter won several All-Around,
bull riding and bronc riding titles. After WCJC, Harter transferred to Tarleton State
University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and also
qualified for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo National Finals four times and the
PRCA National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas 11 times. He then embarked on a professional
career that included competing in more than 100 rodeos annually across the United
States and Canada. He retired in 2019 after suffering a career-ending injury in Las
Vegas and currently works for the Louisiana Farm Bureau.
Ronald Glenn Jones – A native of Seguin, Texas, Jones was selected in the 14th round
of the 1982 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays but turned down that offer, choosing
instead to get an education and do some maturing at WCJC. The following year, he was
drafted in the 2nd round by the Montreal Expos, but he remained committed to staying
at WCJC for another year. After WCJC, Jones signed as an undrafted free agent for
the Philadelphia Phillies and began making his mark, known for his power swing and
homerun potential. Injuries, however, ended his promising career after just a couple
of years. He played ball in independent, foreign and semi-pro leagues until 2000,
when he began coaching youth baseball in the Houston area. He passed away in 2006
at the age of 41.
Mamie Mauch – The El Campo native made a name for herself on the basketball and volleyball
courts while at WCJC in the late 1970s. In 1977, she was awarded All-Region honors
and named to the NJCAA Women’s Basketball All-American team. After transferring to
Baylor University in Waco, she was awarded All-Tourney at the University of Houston
tournament in 1979. With her teaching certificate in hand, Mauch embarked on a 14-year
career in coaching and teaching at Louise Independent School District, Brownsville
Independent School District and El Campo Independent School District. She later turned
her talents to the field of agricultural management.
Ervin C. Muegge – Born near Kennedy, Texas, Muegge initially played football for Texas
A&M before transferring to WCJC, where he played under the tutelage of famed WCJC
coaches Johnnie Frankie and Tom Pickett. Muegge earned an associate’s degree at WCJC
while excelling on the gridiron, making the All-American and All-Conference teams
in 1949. Earning a scholarship to the University of Houston, Muegge received the Most
Spirited Player award in 1950. After college, he returned to Wharton where he was
named Progressive Farmer magazine’s “Young Farmer of the Year” award. He retired and
joined his son Eric’s real estate firm, C.E. Muegge Real Estate. Muegge passed away
in 2003 at the age of 73.
Michele Ruschhaupt – Originally from Cuero, Texas, Ruschhaupt was a tennis aficionado,
playing for the Cuero High School tennis team and dedicating her summers to traveling
and playing the United States Tennis Association (USTA) tour in Texas. While at WCJC
in the early 1980s, Ruschhaupt was a two time NJCAA All-American and competed in the
NJCAA finals twice. After WCJC, she transferred to Northeast Louisiana University
to play tennis for a team that was ranked in the Top 25 of the country. Ruschhaupt’s
final year of college was spent at the University of Houston, where she served as
an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team.
Stephanie Jacks Saculla – A Beaumont, Texas, native, Saculla competed with WCJC’s
rodeo team from 2003-2005. She earned a host of awards during her career, including
qualifying for the CNFR in goat tying in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She was also named
the Southern Regional Champion in goat tying in 2004 and 2007, the Reserve Champion
in goat tying in 2005 and 2008, the CNFR National Champion in goat tying in 2005 and
the CNFR Reserve National Champion in goat tying in 2007. After retiring, she has
coached and mentored numerous students. When not in the saddle, Saculla works as a
real estate agent for Connect Realty.
Walt Wendtland – Graduating from Lamar Consolidated High School in 1972, Wendtland
had a remarkable career at WCJC, making All-Conference, All-Region and All-American
teams in 1974 as well as being the first baseball player to win the coveted Johnnie
Frankie Award, a recognition reserved for a WCJC player who exhibits outstanding abilities
and character. After WCJC, Wendtland transferred to Mississippi State University,
where he was the starting catcher for two years. After graduation, he served as head
baseball coach for Stephen F. Austin University while obtaining his master’s degree.
In 1978, he embarked on a 33-year career in education. He retired in 2010 and currently
owns Doublesteal Fishing Guide Service in Matagorda County, Texas.