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Mizzou 25: Joann Rutherford Region (Semifinal #2)

UPDATE (11:48am Friday): Hunter wins a tight one. After 73 votes, I'm calling it for her, 39-34 (53%-46%).

UPDATE (5:58am Friday): Hunter leads by only 2, so I'm going to do like I did for Pell-Atkins...I'm keeping the poll open until somebody leads by 5.

One round is in the books for Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years!

Mizzou 25 is set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Harold "Spider" Burke Region (fan favorites). To see where the bracket currently stands, click here.

Three Elite Eight slots remain! Here are the Joann Rutherford matchups.

3/19: Ben Askren vs Christian Cantwell
3/20: Lindsey Hunter vs Max Scherzer

Lindsey Hunter vs Max Scherzer




The Boy: How good was Lindsey Hunter? Not only is the 2005 All-American Mizzou's all-time assists leader, but the distance she put between herself and #2 or #3 on the list is staggering. Her 6097 assists is a ridiculous 1143 ahead of #2 on the list and 2285 ahead of #3. Current setter Lei Wang will likely finish #2 all-time...and she may not come within 1000 of Hunter.

The setter has as much or more impact on a team's success than a point guard in basketball or even a QB in football. Hunter spoiled Mizzou fans by making the job look really easy. Her success lies not only in her career assists, but also in Mizzou's unprecedented success during her four-year tenure. In the four years before Hunter arrived at Mizzou, the Tigers averaged 17 wins a year and went 0-2 in the NCAA tourney. The two years after? A 17.5-win average and 1-2 in the tourney. Hunter's four years? 22.5 wins a year, and a 5-4 tourney record, including the exhilarating, dominant 2005 run to the Elite Eight. Hunter was the catalyst for Mizzou's surge as a volleyball power, and the Tigers haven't yet matched her success since her departure.
The Boy: In the early-'00s, Tim Jamieson's tenure at Mizzou seemed to have plateaued. After a 2nd-place conference finish and 39 wins in his second season ('96), Mizzou had averaged only 32 wins and a 7th place finish. Then he put the ball in Max Scherzer's hands.

Now...I don't want to over-generalize here. It took many good hitters and pitchers to turn the program around--Nathan Culp was possibly as valuable as Scherzer, and the new crop of Mizzou pitchers might be even better--but with Scherzer's development from wild freshman to unhittable sophomore/junior, he became the face of a pitching staff that has only gotten better and better. In 2005, Scherzer earned the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year award with a 1.84 ERA and 131 K's in 106 innings. In 2006, he shook off an injury and pulled off a 2.25 ERA with 78 K's in 80 innings, saving his best performances for the stretch run of the season. His emergence coincided with Mizzou's surge in both visibility and quality, and his meteoric development gave legitimacy to a coaching staff that now boasts one of the best pitching corps in the country.