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Mizzou 25: Joann Rutherford Regional (Quarterfinal #3)

UPDATE: Called after 37 votes (weekends are slow at RMN). Hunter wins 62%-37%.

It's Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years! It's like Who's Now or The Greatest Highlight, only, uhh, cool.

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 Spider Region (fan favorites). Here's the Mizzou 25 bracket in all its resplendent glory.

We're now knee-deep in the Joann Rutherford Region! Here are the matchups. Mizzou’s had one great player in just about every sport in the last 25 years, so this is the best against the best.

3/6: Renee Kelly (Women’s Basketball) vs Ben Askren (Wrestling)
3/7: Nikki Thole (Soccer) vs Christian Cantwell (Track & Field)
3/8: Derrick Peterson (Track & Field) vs Lindsey Hunter (Volleyball)
3/9: Barb Wright (Softball) vs Max Scherzer (Baseball)

Derrick Peterson vs Lindsey Hunter

vs

1997-00

2002-05

For each member of the Rutherford Region, I've been saying so-and-so was the "greatest ___ in Mizzou history"...while I'll do my best to avoid saying that again with Derrick Peterson, all I'll say is this: show me a better middle-distance runner in Mizzou's storied track history. You can't do it. A consistent, enigmatic force in the middle distances, Peterson constantly rose to the occasion, setting the Mizzou 800m record at the 2000 NCAA Championships and the Mizzou and National 800m Indoor record at the 1999 NCAA Indoor Championships. He swept all eight 800m conference titles in his four years at Mizzou. He graduated from Mizzou with 1 national title, 6 All-America awards, 9 Big 12 titles, 15 All-Big 12 Awards, and 5 Drake Relays titles.

Like Christian Cantwell, Peterson has continued his achievements beyond the collegiate level. He was the runner-up at the 2001 USA Outdoor championships, the champion at the 2002 USA Indoor championships, and a 2004 Olympic qualifier.
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's 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.