SPOKANE, Wash. -- No single family impacted a Whitworth College athletics program more than the four Rice brothers did for the Pirate swimming team, and for that Whitworth will induct them into the Heritage Gallery Hall of Fame on Saturday morning, September 17, 2005. Jeff and Jerry Rice, twin brothers who swam from 1994-997, Brian Rice (1998-2000) and Brent Rice (1999-2002), along with the 1996 NAIA national runner-up men's swimming team, make up the hall of fame class of 2005.
The 1995-96 men’s swimming team, led by NAIA Coach of the Year Tom Dodd, became only the third team in school history to finish as high as national runner-up, after the 1960 baseball team (champions) and the 1965 cross country team (2nd place). Along the way the Pirates finished 8-1 in dual meets, defeating Linfield in the teams’ second meeting and ending that school’s 39-meet winning streak that stretched over five seasons. The Pirates won the school’s first Northwest Conference men’s swimming title while competing at the NCIC championships in the Whitworth Aquatic Center. All thirteen men on the team scored points in the conference championship meet to contribute to the title. Eight of those men went on to compete at the NAIA Swimming and Diving Championships at the Palo Alto Aquatic Center in San Antonio, Texas. Again, all eight contributed points towards Whitworth’s national runner-up finish to defending national champion University of Puget Sound, six of them earning All-American honors. At the meet, Whitworth’s 400-yard Freestyle Relay of Guy Mikasa, Jerry Rice, Jeremiah Pappe and Jeff Rice won a national championship. Jeff Rice also won the first of his back to back titles in the 200-yard Individual Medley. The members of the 1995-96 men’s swimming team were: Chris Adams, Bryan Crane, Nathan Heppner, Guy Mikasa, Jeremiah Pappe, Mike Peloso, Carl Peregoy, Jon Peregoy, John Rasmussen, Jeff Rice, Jerry Rice, Steve Schadt and Dan Welch.
Jeff Rice became the first man in Whitworth swimming history to win an individual NAIA title when he raced to victory in the 200-yard Individual Medley at the 1996 championships in San Antonio, Texas. The following year he became the first Pirate man to become a repeat national champion, winning the same event at the NAIA championships in Federal Way, Washington. He made an immediate impact during his freshman season when he won the 100-yard Freestyle and 200-yard Butterfly and finished second in the 50-yard Freestyle at the Northwest Conference championships. As a senior in 1997, he won all three of his individual races and was named the Outstanding Men’s Swimmer at the NWC Championships. Over the course of his career he was a six-time Northwest Conference individual champion and a medalist (top three finish) in 11 of his 12 career individual races. He went on to qualify for the maximum 12 individual events at the NAIA national championships over the course of his career, scoring all 12 times. He was an All-American (top six finish) six times, leading Whitworth to a national runner-up finish in 1996 and a third place finish in 1997. He was a part of 11 All-American relays, including the 1996 national championship 400-yard Freestyle Relay. At one time he was the holder of four individual Whitworth records, all five of Whitworth’s relay records, two individual Northwest Conference records and three NWC relay marks. He was named as Whitworth’s Co-Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 1997, sharing the award with twin brother and fellow Heritage Gallary inductee Jerry Rice. Jeff is one of four Rice brothers to have indelibly left his mark on Whitworth College swimming.
Jerry Rice earned an NAIA title in the 400-yard Individual Medley at the 1997 national championship meet, concluding an outstanding career that saw him score in 11 of his 12 career individual events at the NAIA championships. Joining the team as a freshman for the 1993-94 season, his impact was immediate. He won the 200 and 400-yard Individual Medleys and finished second in the 200-yard Freestyle at the Northwest Conference championships, earning Outstanding Men’s Swimmer of the Meet honors. By the time he finished in 1997, he was the Northwest Conference meet record holder in the 200 and 400-yard Individual Medleys and a five-time individual conference champion. He was a medalist (top three finish) in all 12 of his career individual races at the Northwest Conference championships. He went on to qualify for the maximum 12 individual events at the national championships over the course of his career. He was an NAIA All-American (top six finish) seven times, including two national runner-up finishes and two third place finishes before earning his own NAIA title in the 400-yard Individual Medley as a senior. He was part of 10 All-American relays, including the 1996 national championship 400-yard Freestyle Relay. At one time he was the holder of three individual Whitworth records, all five of Whitworth’s relay records, two individual Northwest Conference records and three NWC relay marks. He was named as Whitworth’s Co-Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 1997, sharing the award with twin brother and fellow Heritage Gallary inductee Jeff Rice. Jerry is one of four Rice brothers to have indelibly left his mark on Whitworth College swimming.
Brian Rice was the third of four brothers to make his mark on the swimming program at Whitworth College. Transferring to Whitworth from community college for the 1997-98 season, the year after the graduation of Jeff and Jerry, he led the Pirate men to a fourth place finish at the NAIA national championships in Federal Way, Washington. He was an NAIA runner-up in the 400-yard Individual Medley and 800-yard Freestyle Relay and added All-American finishes in the 200 I.M. and 200 Breaststroke. In Whitworth’s first year as a member of the NCAA, he qualified individually for three individual events at the national championships, scored on the 400-yard Freestyle and 400-yard Medley relays and was an All-American on the 800-yard Freestyle Relay. In his final season, he missed qualifying for the national championships after battling illness late in the year. During his three year career at the Northwest Conference championships, he finished lower than third place once in his nine career races. At one time he held three Whitworth and Northwest Conference relay records.
Brent Rice graduated from Whitworth in 2002 as the most decorated swimmer in Pirate history. Leading Whitworth’s transition from the NAIA to the NCAA, he concluded his career, in the words of a long-time rival coach, as the "greatest swimmer in Northwest Conference history." He dominated the Northwest Conference championships like no swimmer ever had. As a freshman he won all three of his individual races (200-yard Individual Medley, 400-yard Individual Medley and 200-yard Butterfly) in meet record time (all records held at the time by older brothers Jerry and Jeff), earning Outstanding Men’s Swimmer of the Meet honors. Over the course of four years, he won nine of twelve career individual events at the NWC Championships and he swam with 11 conference champion relay teams. When he was finished, he held conference meet records in the 200 and 400-yard Individual Medleys, the 200-yard Butterfly and the 100-yard Freestyle. He added another NWC Outstanding Men’s Swimmer of the Meet award during his senior season. Over the course of his four years at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, he was an All-American (top eight finish) eight times and scored in all 12 of his career races. He finished as high as third place as a senior in the 200-yard I.M. He was also a member of 10 Pirate relay teams that scored at the NCAA championships. He was named Whitworth’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 2002. In May of 2004 Brent passed away in a car accident. He is forever memorialized at the Whitworth Aquatic Center with the Brent Rice Wall of Honor, recognizing all of the NCAA All-Americans ever to compete at Whitworth.
The Whitworth Heritage Gallery, sponsored by the Crimson Club, recognizes and celebrates former Pirate coaches, athletes, staff and community contributors who have excelled in their field, either at Whitworth or beyond Whitworth, while representing the highest ideals of the school. The first class was inducted in 1990. Previous inductees include former football player and coach Sam Adams; Paul Merkel and the 1960 NAIA championship baseball team; and Ray Washburn, a member of the championship team who went on to star with the St. Louis Cardinals. There are currently 51 individuals and five teams enshrined in the Whitworth Heritage Gallery.
The induction will take place in Whitworth's Hixon Union Building prior to the football game vs. La Verne on September 17th. It is open to the public. The cost of the brunch is $5 and prior reservations must be made by calling the Whitworth Athletics Department (777-3224).