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Blackburn College announces Athletic Hall of Fame inductees

The 2002 Blackburn College baseball Beavers were the first team in NCAA history to win a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and was the league’s inaugural postseason representative. They will be inducted into the Blackburn College Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 30. Photo courtesy of Blackburn Athletics.


The Blackburn College Athletics Department has announced the 2023 Class for the Blackburn College Athletics Hall of Fame.
The newest inductees include five individuals as well as the members of the 2002 and 2004 baseball teams.

Keith Luther

Keith Luther was a 1979 graduate that played three seasons on the men’s basketball team. He was the team’s leading scorer all three seasons he played and was team captain, team MVP and an All Prairie College Conference team member.

Luther averaged over 15 points per game during his career at Blackburn.

Luther currently resides in Naperville with his wife, Kristen.

Kenneth Place

Kenneth Place is a 1991 graduate who enjoyed an ‘outstanding’ baseball career at Blackburn.

In 1990, Ken was named an All-American by the National Small College Athletic Association.

Place currently resides in Montgomery with his wife, Mary Jo.

Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith was a 1990 graduate that was a four-year member of the cross country team. He also spent three years on the track team and two years playing basketball.

Smith was named the cross country team’s MVP three years in 1988, 1989, and 1990. He was also named the track MVP in 1989.

Smith was a four-time member of the All-Prarie College Conference Team and was also named to the All St.Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Team in 1990.

Smith now resides in Chicago.

Grace Young

Grace Young is a 2011 graduate that was a member of the softball team at Blackburn.

Young was the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year twice, in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, Young was named Second Team NCAA All-Region and First Team NCAA All-Region in 2011.

In 2010, Young hit .474 and followed that up by batting .402 in 2011.

Young currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.

Major Barnes

Major Barnes was a 1973 graduate of Blackburn and a member of the men’s basketball team.

Barnes is being inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously.

Barnes is the 16th leading scorer in Blackburn College history, posting 1243 tallies in just 73 games for an average of 17.2 points per contest, which is fourth all-time.

2002 baseball team

The 2002 Blackburn Beavers were the first team in NCAA history to win a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and first league representative to appear in a postseason regional.

The team was led by Confererence Player of the Year and Conference

Newcomer of the Year Tony Etnier.

The Beavers also had seven players named to the All-Conference team.

The team finished 27-15 overall and 17-4 in the conference and was nationally ranked in the Central Region.

Joining Etnier on the conference’s first team were CJ Jones, Kenny Brown and Brandon Beal.

2004 baseball team

The only team in Blackburn history to win an NCAA Tournament game in any sport was the 2004 baseball squad, which blew through the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 19-2 conference record after starting the season 1-13.

Carl Heuer, Billy Puckett, Kyle Rensing, Jerad Pruitt were named first team All-SLIAC while Mark Armes set an NCAA record by hitting four home runs in a game against Westminster.

Kyle Rensing was named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.


The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. in the Mahan Science Building Lobby on the Blackburn College campus Sat., Sept. 30.