The Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation has honored the best the Beehive State has to offer in the world of sports for a half-century, from John Stockton and Karl Malone to Larry H. Miller and this year’s inductees, Spence Eccles and Brigham Young University athletic director Tom Holmoe.
However, this year’s gala, set for Monday night at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, will honor all 266 Hall of Fame inductees, dating back to the foundation’s inception in 1967. The list of post honorees, a veritable who’s who of Utah sports, includes five individuals with ties to Tooele County.
Amy Christiansen Palmer, a 1993 graduate of Grantsville High School and current Erda resident, represented the United States in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Palmer, a former Utah state high school champion in the shot put, discus and javelin, fulfilled a lifelong dream when she finished eighth at the Olympics. She also participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay in Tooele, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Jack Johnson, another Grantsville High graduate, was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1970. He was a three-time All-Rocky Mountain Conference selection as a tackle for the University of Utah football team in the early 1930s, and was an All-America selection in 1932. He went on to a seven-year professional career with the Detroit Lions.
George Melinkovich, a Tooele High graduate, was inducted in 1990. Melinkovich was a three-sport athlete at THS in the late 1920s before going on to play college football for legendary coach Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. He was a 1932 All-America selection at fullback for the Fighting Irish. Later, Melinkovich was a coach at Tooele High for 22 years.
Wilma Swenson, a Grantsville resident, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. She was a dominant softball pitcher, tossing 45 no-hitters. She pitched 11 years for the Utah Shamrocks, finishing second in the 1953 World Tournament and earning All-American honors along the way.
Former Stansbury Park resident Ed Eliason was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 after spending 21 years with the U.S. Olympic archery team. He was the national indoor champion in 1989 and 1990, and won the Olympic Festival and national outdoor championships in 1989 and 1991.
For more information on the gala, including ticket information, visit www.utahsportshalloffame.org.