Champion '74, '77 Football Teams Highlight 2023 PCC Sports Hall of Fame Class

The 1977 PCC football team in action in their victory in the Junior Rose Bowl. The team is a new inductee into the 2023 class of the PCC Sports Hall of Fame.
The 1977 PCC football team in action in their victory in the Junior Rose Bowl. The team is a new inductee into the 2023 class of the PCC Sports Hall of Fame.

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After a 5-year layoff, the Pasadena City College Sports Hall of Fame is back in business in 2023. Ten former Lancers individual student-athletes, two coaches and three teams will enter the 2023 class with an on-campus ceremony taking place this Saturday, May 13. The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. at Sexson Auditorium. 

Football plays a big part of this year's group as both the 1974 and 1977 Lancers national championship teams will be inducted along with such PCC individual greats as 1972 All-American wide receiver Jesse Roberts, '74 MVP quarterback Jim Lejay, and 2001-02 linebacker James Griffin, who played on a Mission Conference champion squad and two bowl teams. Dennis Gossard, the school's all-time football wins leader as a head coach, also punched his ticket to the hall.

The rest of the class includes the 1978 state champion men's track and field team, state champion hurdler Walt Butler, who is the senior member of the group from the 1962 Lancers, 1976 record-holding hurdler John Rudd, who will go in posthumously, Elizabeth Heskett, 2001 women's track and field record-setting pole vaulter, Jo Ann Zwanziger, a former softball head coach and an athletic director for PCC women's sports from 1975-1988, women's soccer high scorer Kelley Hull (1997 and 1999), Elise King, softball region player of the year from 1981-82, Biljana Bosanac, an international student from Yugoslavia who set some records in women's basketball in 1991-1993, and 2-time state champion men's swimmer JC Barnett (1976-1978).  

After hearing the news of his induction, Butler, 81, recalled a childhood meeting with the legendary Mack Robinson, PCC Hall of Famer and a silver medalist in the 200 meters at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, and his experience at the 1962 state meet.

"I was in fourth grade, and he asked me 'do you want to win?," Butler said. "I laughed, and then he said 'if you want to win, you do everything I tell you.' When I got to PCC, my coach was Otto Anderson and he said the exact same thing to me. I was really scared the night before the state meet because I would be facing the guy who beat me in the high school state championships. But I ran that race in the rain, and it was just a special moment where I just happened to be the fastest. (PCC Hall of Famer) Dave Morris and I scored all of our team points and it was just a lot of fun for us to accomplish winning state titles."

This will be the first class for the PCC Hall of Fame in five years. The unfortunate combination of the COVID-19 pandemic (cancelled plans for a 2020 class) and on-campus indoor health restrictions the past few years caused the delay in inducting a new class. 

The Hall of Fame committee, including a number of PCC former sports alumni, added to a list created in 2020 in putting together a large class of 15 inductees. 

"This induction class crosses different decades, and all experienced great moments in our PCC athletics history," said Robert Lewis, Hall of Fame chairman and long-time sports information specialist at the college. "There are countless great individuals, teams and coaches who belong in our hall and their time will come. To narrow it down to 15 was tough for the committee, but this 2023 group covers a period of PCC sports history that needs to remembered and deserves to be celebrated."

The Hall plaques are adorned on the walls of the first floor of PCC's GM Athletics Building. With this year's class, the total of inductees are 116 individuals and four teams. The newest class will have their plaques unveiled at the May 13 ceremony.

Read about the history of the PCC Hall of Fame and Dick Ratliff Court of Champions here: PCC Sports Hall of Fame 

Here are bios on the PCC 2023 Hall of Fame class:


As of 2023, the 1974 Lancers football team is the last undefeated gridiron squad in the history of the college at 10-0-1. PCC went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season in earning the JC Grid-Wire national title. Directed by PCC Hall of Fame coach Myron Tarkanian, the Lancers defeated El Camino, 28-13, to complete an undefeated run to the Metropolitan Conference championship. Highlighted by the play of All-American 2nd Team linebacker Joe Smith, the team's defense was a beast as it shut out three opponents and limited them to an average of just 11.4 points per game. Offensively, the team was led by PCC Hall of Famers in All-American lineman Ned Vessey and conference MVP quarterback Jim Lejay. Punter Ken Crockett and defensive lineman Malon McCoy also were key performers. Nineteen players earned 4-year university scholarships. Unfortunately for the Lancers, the team's 14-14 tie v. East Los Angeles in the state playoffs ended their season abruptly as the Huskies advanced on the tie-breaker—most total offensive yards.

Arguably the most talented Lancers football team ever assembled, the 1977 Lancers proved their worth in finishing 11-1, winning the Metropolitan Conference crown, the state championship, and the JC National championship. In front of more than 15,000 fans, PCC routed Jones, Mississippi, 38-9, to win the Junior Rose Bowl under head coach Al Luginbill. The team featured All-Americans and future veteran NFL players in PCC Hall of Fame defensive lineman Jim Wilks (New Orleans Saints) and kicker Mike Lansford (LA Rams) as well as other pros in Mike Dennis and Danny Pittman (both NY Giants). Lansford, who holds several PCC kicking records, made the game-winning FG to beat Sequoias, 24-21, in the Potato Bowl. Quarterback Sheldon Paris went on to be a first round draft pick in the Canadian Football League. Alonzo Brooks, an All-American the following season, set a PCC record for sacks in a game with 4.5 v. El Camino. A group of 25 Lancers earned 4-year university scholarships from this special unit. 

The 1978 Lancers men's track and field team won PCC's first-ever state championship in the sport after also capturing the Metropolitan Conference and Southern Cal team titles. Head coach and PCC Hall of Famer Skip Robinson became the first African-American to direct a state champion PCC team. The only Lancer to win an individual state title at the meet captured two first place awards in HOFer Kenny Hays, who broke Jackie Robinson's 40-year-old school national and school record in the long jump with a leap of 26-2 ¾ feet. Hays also won the triple jump state title with a school record 51-7 ½ . Sydney Mitchell placed second in the LJ event and remarkably also broke Robinson's record at 25-7 ¼. Eddie Wright (800 meters), Rod Goosby (200 meters), Rod Smith (high jump), and Matt Fuchs (javelin) all set then PCC records in their events.


A member of both the state's California Community College softball (inducted 1993) and women's volleyball Hall of Fames (1995), Jo Ann served as both a head coach at PCC in the two sports for more than a decade. She compiled a 128-42 winning record in softball, including directing the Lancers to the 1976 SoCal championship. In 1978, she was selected State Softball Coach of the Year, and she directed three Metro Conference titles overall. She served as women's sports athletic director from 1975-1988 and hired two future PCC Hall of Famers in Sandi Iverson (softball coach) and Lori Jepsen (inducted as athlete, volleyball coach). Her work on state rules committees helped bring together men and women's sports under one organization, the Commission on Athletics (COA), and helped create the idea of state championship tournaments for women's athletics beginning in 1977. Zwanziger was an instructor at PCC for 29 years before retiring in 1997.

Dennis served on the Lancers football coaching staff for a remarkable 32 consecutive years, 10 in three different stints as head coach. In 2010, he became the all-time winningest head coach in PCC gridiron history with 53 career victories. As a head coach from 1987-1994, Gossard's teams won bowl championships in both 1990 and 1992 and he guided the play of 14 JC All-American players. His 1992 team finished 10-1 overall, winning the PCC-hosted Rose City Classic Bowl over College of the Desert.  As an assistant coach, he took on many roles and was defensive coordinator of the 2001 Mission Conference champion Lancers.


Racing on a Lancers men's track and field team that placed as the state runner-up in 1962, Walt won the 120-yard high hurdles title at the state meet in a school record time of 14.1 seconds. Butler continued to race well after his college career ended and established many high marks in master's track and field events. In 2014, he was inducted into the USA Track and Field Master's Hall of Fame. Butler served as an assistant coach for PCC track and field and was instrumental in guiding a remarkable three consecutive state champs in the 400 hurdles from 1975-1977.

Playing at a college known for its rushing game, Jesse became the first real wide receiving threat in PCC history in 1972. A First Team All-American, Roberts played on a Lancers team that finished 12-1, won the Metropolitan Conference title and reached the Potato Bowl as PCC closed out the season just one win short of the state championship. He caught then Lancers single-season records for most receptions at 59 and most receiving yards with 1,205, averaging an impressive 20.4 yards a catch. He is still #3 on the PCC all-time list for most receiving yards in a career with 1,437. Roberts helped quarterback Rick Holoubek set the then PCC passing yards record. He earned a scholarship to University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

The quarterback and leader of the last undefeated PCC football team in 1974, Jim was a big reason why the Lancers finished 10-0 in the regular season as the Metropolitan Conference champions and the JC Grid-Wire national champions. Lejay rushed for 1,064 yards in 137 carries and was the Metro Player of the Year. In two seasons as a Lancer, he amassed 3,310 rushing/passing yards as the only PCC player to reach both the school's all-time rushing (#9) and passing lists (#20). After earning a scholarship to San Jose State and moving positions to wide receiver, he would go on to be a  10th round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 NFL Rookie Draft.

In the Bicentennial Year of our nation, John dominated the 400 intermediate hurdles event in community college men's track and field. Rudd set a PCC, state and national JC record in winning the 400 meters title at the 1976 state meet in Bakersfield. He came to PCC after serving a few years in the U.S. Army. His time of 50.2 seconds broke fellow PCC Hall of Famer Grant Niederhaus' mark of 50.5 set just the previous season. Rudd's gold medal win would have beaten the NCAA Division II champion as well.  All the more amazing is that 47 years later, Rudd's time is the longest standing track and field record at PCC. Rudd received an invitation to race in the Olympic Trials in '76. He earned a scholarship to the University of Houston and went on to become a machinist, raising his family in Texas. Rudd passed away in 2020 at the age of 67. 

A state prep champion from Kentucky, John Clay "JC" brought his talents to PCC and was part of head coach Ron Ballatore's Lancers swim dynasty. Named team captain, JC swam on two state champion teams in 1977-78 and twice was the state champion himself in the versatile 400-yard individual medley event. As a freshman, Barnett's 4:07.75 time in 1977 was the nation's fastest time among community colleges. That mark stood as a school record for 34 years before being broken in 2011. The 2-time, All-American had the second best national time as a sophomore. Barnett went on to swim for a NCAA Division 2 champion team at Cal State Northridge in 1979.   

A prolific batter, Elise still holds PCC softball records for most hits in a career (114), and the two highest on-base percentage marks, including her school record .593 as a freshman. The first baseman batted .468 in 1982, a batting average that stood as a school record for 22 years before it was broken by PCC Hall of Famer Sarah Sherman in 2004. In 1981, the All-SoCal selection helped the Lancers win the conference title. As a sophomore in 1982, King was named Southern California Player of the Year, Metropolitan Conference MVP, and PCC Women's Athlete of the Year for all sports. At the 4-year level, she earned All-American honors and was a member of the 1983 College World Series All-Tournament team when she led Cal State Fullerton to a national runner-up finish.

Few players in PCC women's basketball history had the skill set that Biljana displayed in her two seasons as a Lancers forward. The 5-foot-9 product of Yugoslavia was a rebounder, a passer, and could shoot just as well from the outside and inside range. Named South Coast Conference MVP in her sophomore season, she averaged 21.6 points, 17.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.5 steals and poured in a conference-high 71 baskets from 3-point distance. Her 445 total rebounds in 26 games has stood as a single-season school record for now 27 years. Five times, she scored 33 or more points, occupying five spots on the Top 20 of Lancers all-time highest scoring games. Three times, she recorded the rare feat of a triple-double.

A member of PCC's first-ever women's soccer team in 1997, Kelley established herself as the most prolific scorer in Lancers history. The 2-time, All-South Coast Conference First Team forward set a still-existing school record for most goals (34) and most points (80) in that inaugural season. She scored seven hat tricks, four of those in consecutive games.  After a year, she came back to play in '99 and finished her PCC career as the school's all-time leader in goals, assists, and points with 129. Hull helped PCC to its first postseason appearance in 1999, winning an opening round game v. Palomar. The Lancers compiled an outstanding 29-8-2 record in her career.

While few women in the history of women's track and field at PCC have even attempted to try the pole vault, Elizabeth took the event to its highest level in 2001. Heskett set the then JC national record and in the PV at 12 feet, 7 inches at the U.S. Elite Meet in Chula Vista. She went on to record the pole vault triple crown by winning the South Coast Conference, Southern California and then state titles. Heskett broke the state meet record in leaping 12-2 on her first attempt at American River College, a full foot higher than the rest of the field. Heskett's 12-7 mark remains a school record.

The defensive force on back-to-back Lancers bowl teams, James totaled a still-standing PCC career record for sacks with 17 as he was a 2-time, All-Mission Conference First Team selection. In his sophomore season, the talented linebacker led the squad in tackles with 86, made nine sacks, a school-record 39 hurries, and earned JC All-American First Team honors. As a freshman, he helped the Lancers win their only Mission Conference championship on a 10-1 PCC squad. The Pasadena Quarterbacks Club named him Community College Player of the Year. He would have the distinction of playing in college bowl games all four of his years, the last two while at Virginia Tech. In 2004, he started on an ACC champion team that made it to the Sugar Bowl.

 Photos from 2018 Hall of Fame Ceremony