NM State Athletics Hall of Fame reveals Class of 2024

NM State Athletics Hall of Fame reveals Class of 2024
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. –  New Mexico State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia has announced the 2024 class of former Aggies to be inducted into the US Bank/NM State Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday.

On Friday, Moccia revealed that Fiana Finau (softball), Hernst Laroche (men’s basketball), Larry Rose III (football), and Joe Schmiesing (football) have been selected by the NM State Hall of Fame selection committee.

The induction ceremony for these four Aggies is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, inside the Danny Villanueva Victory Club in the Fulton Center. The following day, the group will be recognized during halftime of the NM State men’s basketball game against Louisiana Tech. The contest versus the Bulldogs is set to tip off at 7 p.m. in the Pan American Center.

Any supporters interested in attending the 2023 US Bank/NM State Hall of Fame ceremony may contact NM State Director of Special Events Nohemi Perez via email at nohemip@nmsu.edu. Tickets will be sold individually for $40.

“The 2024 US Bank/NM State Hall of Fame class is made up of four individuals who are more than deserving of induction,” NM State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. “Larry Rose III, who was a key component on the team that ended the 57-year bowl drought and scored the game winning touchdown in front of 25,000 fans in Tucson.

“Fiana Finau who is in the conversation of the greatest hitter in softball history, Hernst Laroche who is among the top five in several statistical categories and Joe Schmiesing who played on a great Aggie football team in 1967 and had a seven-year NFL career. I am happy that the committee included great players from our past. I can’t wait for this event, and I know we will have a huge crowd to honor them at the ceremony.”

The 2024 inductee made her debut in Las Cruces ahead of the 2014 softball season. After one season at San Diego State, she swiftly emerged as a standout player under the guidance of Kathy Rodolph and the Aggies. The Chula Vista, Calif., native was a three-year starter for the Aggies and played in a total of 167 games while appearing in the starting lineup 161 times during her tenure.

Throughout her career, Finau showcased a .363 batting average while amassing 176 hits, 47 home runs and 130 RBIs. This includes her junior season which still stands as one of the greatest single seasons at the plate in the program’s annals. In 2015, Finau logged a remarkable 74 RBIs – a number that remains first overall in program history for RBIs in a single season. That same year, Finau accumulated 137 total bases which ranks third in school history.

During her junior campaign, Finau hit 24 home runs, matching the single-season record set by Hoku Nohara in 2011. The mark set by Finau and Nohara is still tied for second in program history. Notably, Finau’s junior season featured a memorable stretch where she hit a home run in six consecutive games, falling just shy of tying the NCAA record. Her overall slugging percentage in 2015 stood at an impressive .792, a feat achieved by only five Aggies in the program’s 49-year history.

In 2015, Finau was named WAC Hitter of the Week twice on her way to garnering First Team All-WAC and NFCA All-Region honors. Her contributions played a crucial role in the Aggies’ record-breaking season with 47 wins, including a victory in the NCAA Regional over St. John’s.

Over her three seasons in Las Cruces, Finau was named First Team All-WAC each year, including being named the WAC Player of the Year in 2016. She also picked up NFCA All-Region recognition again in 2016 and was named conference hitter of the week five times. In addition, Finau became the first Aggie ever to be named the NFCA National Player of the Week – doing so on March 15, 2016, following a week in which she finished 11-for-19 with three doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs.

Following her career with the Aggies, Finau played overseas professionally in Haarlem, Netherlands. She currently excels as an Easton Slow Pitch Player, contributing to teams such as Derby Girls, Easton, Miken and Worth. Finau is a five-time USA Women’s Slow Pitch Player and a four time USA Women’s National All-American. Finau also earned Women’s AA MVP and Women’s Conference Offensive MVP for her play in slow pitch in 2019 and was also crowned the 2018 WSA Women’s National Batting Champion and the 2020 Women’s Home Run Champion. Most recently, she helped her team secure the USSSA Women’s Major World Series title in 2023.

Currently, Finau serves as an associate management analyst with San Diego City Employee’s Retirement System and resides in her hometown of Chula Vista, Calif.

Laroche ascends to the ranks of Aggie hall of famers, bringing an impressive array of accomplishments with him. Playing in a different era, Laroche played the entirety of his four-year collegiate career with the Aggies while earning a role in the starting lineup in all 135 games during his time as an Aggie. Laroche’s 135 consecutive starts remains the longest such streak in program history while his 135 games played ranks third among all Aggies. This also led to Laroche logging a total of 4,417 minutes during his time as an Aggie – a mark that still stands as the most by any Aggie in school history and is more than 400 minutes greater than any other Aggie.

Beyond his availability, Laroche’s influence extended far beyond the court. Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he earned a spot as the 29th member of the NM State 1000-point club, concluding his career with 1,209 total points. Laroche’s skills weren’t confined to scoring; he also excelled as a distributor, ranking second all-time in total assists with 552. He was also a relentless defender and compiled 216 total steals to rank second in Aggie history. Laroche also currently ranks 12th in career assists and 10th in career steals in the history of the Western Athletic Conference.

During his junior year, Laroche recorded 152 assists, the sixth-highest in a single season for an Aggie and the most since the turn of the century. Similarly, Laroche notched 64 steals during the 2011-12 season and 62 steals during the 2010-11 season – marks that rank tied for sixth and tied for eighth in program history, respectively. Laroche was also the Aggie’s team leader in assists all four seasons he represented the Aggie while leading the team in steals as a freshman, junior and senior. Laroche was also the WAC’s leader in steals per game in 2011-12 at 1.7.

In his career, Laroche averaged 9.0 points, 4.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 32.7 minutes per game while helping lead the Aggies to 81 total victories, including a 26-win season in 2011-12 which ranks tied for the sixth-most wins in a single season by any Aggie team in the program’s 117-year history.

Laroche’s contributions helped NM State reach two NCAA Tournaments as the Aggies were crowned WAC Tournament Champions in both the 2009-10 season and the 2011-12 season. Laroche was also recognized as a member of the WAC All-Tournament Team in his final season as an Aggie and was named Second Team All-WAC during the 2011-12 campaign as well.

Following a tremendous career with the Aggies, Laroche took his skills to the professional level – putting together a pro career which spanned 10 years (2012-22) and included stops with eight teams in seven different countries. In total, Laroche played in 268 games professionally, and, most recently, he played for the Montreal Alliance in the CEBL in 2021-22 where he averaged 8.4 points, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals during the team’s inaugural season.

Laroche’s career was highlighted by a pair of seasons in the Czech Republic where he averaged nearly 16 points per game in back-to-back years. During the 2013-14 season, he posted 15.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game for Lions J. Hradec. He then followed that with a year with Sluneta Usti nad Labem – averaging 15.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

The new hall of fame inductee is currently living in his home city of Montreal and has returned to school where he is working on obtaining his master’s in business administration. Laroche also recently accepted a role to become an assistant coach at the University of Laval in Quebec City, Canada.

The individual who played a pivotal role in restoring the Aggie football program to greatness is now eternally honored. Following an incredible four-year career with the Aggies, Larry Rose III has been named a first-ballot hall-of-famer – becoming the first Aggie athlete to be inducted into the hall of fame in their first eligible year since Rachael Cuellar (track & field) was inducted in 2010.

Serving as one of the most dynamic running backs in the school’s history, Rose III finished his career ranked second in program history in rushing yards with 4,558 while averaging nearly six yards per carry (5.9). Rose III is also the Aggies’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (37) and total touchdowns (42), achieving this feat in in 44 games played. Out of the backfield, he also compiled 1,157 receiving yards making him second in program history in scrimmage yards with 5,715.

In a sport typically dominated by upperclassmen, Rose III immediately found his way onto the field as he tallied over 1,000 scrimmage yards in all four years as an Aggie. This includes putting together one of the greatest individual seasons in school history as a sophomore when he rushed for a program record 1,657 yards and finished the year with 1,940 yards from scrimmage. In 2015, Rose III averaged 138.1 rushing yards per game which remains the highest yards-per-game average in a single season by any Aggie in program history. This was highlighted by a game on Oct. 3, 2015, in which Rose III ran for an astonishing 260 yards against in-state rival New Mexico. This remains the third-most rushing yards in a single game in school history.

In 2015, Rose III also tallied 14 rushing touchdowns which marks the fourth most by an Aggie in a single season. His outstanding performance led him to claim Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors, leading the SBC in rushing yards and touchdowns. Recognition continued as he was named to the Associated Press All-American Third Team, joining an exclusive group of only 17 Aggies to receive all-America honors. The Sun Belt further honored Rose III with honorable mention in 2014 and second-team recognition in 2017.

In total, Rose III posted 200-plus rushing yards four times in his career, making him responsible for four of the top 16 single game rushing marks in school history. He also eclipsed 100 yards on the ground 19 times in his career – a feat only two other Aggies accomplished. Rose III also had a knack for the explosive play during his time as he recorded three of the 12 longest plays in NM State history, including an 82-yard rush in 2015 versus UTEP.

Beyond his freshman debut, Rose III displayed sustained excellence by leading the Aggies in rushing yards for all four years of his collegiate career – a rare achievement shared by only two other Aggies, Denvis Manns (1995-98) and Ron “Po” James (1968-71), both hall of famers who served as the Aggies’ leading rushers for four consecutive years.

After leaving NM State, Rose III signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent to begin his professional career. Rose III later signed with the Los Angeles Rams on May 15, 2018, for the first of two brief stints with the Rams. His career later continued in the Alliance of American Football where he signed with the Arizona Hotshots and appeared in one game.

Prior to being selected in the fifth round of the 2020 XFL Draft, Rose III also spent time in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Most recently, Rose III was drafted by the New Orleans Breakers in the 27th round of the 2022 United States Football League Draft.

Today, Rose III is a professional truck driver and travels the country alongside his girlfriend, Lashya Cole, while working for Tri-State Motor Transit.

Thanks to his time as a star on the gridiron in the late 60’s, Schmiesing has been inducted into the NM State Hall of Fame. Schmiesing’s presence on the Aggie defense during the 1967 season helped lead the Aggies to a 7-2-1 record under Warren Woodson. During Schmiesing’s lone season with the program, the Crimson and White defense limited opponents to just 14.5 points per game, including holding opposing offenses to 10 or fewer points in six of the 10 games.

Schmiesing was a versatile defender, leading him to lining up at defensive end and defensive tackle during his time with the Aggies. He eventually went on to be selected in the fourth round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals – making him the eighth Aggie ever to be selected and one of just 30 Aggies in program history to hear their name called at the NFL Draft. Schmiesing ultimately had a seven-year NFL career that included stops with four different teams. During his NFL career, Schmiesing appeared in 80 games and made 38 starts while playing for the Cardinals (1968-71), Detroit Lions (1972), Baltimore Colts (1973) and the New York Jets (1974). In total, Schmiesing finished his NFL career with 10 sacks, including collecting a career-high 4.5 sacks in 1973 with the Colts.

Schmiesing and his wife, Cynthia, have four daughters – Melissa, Kelly, Ryann and Nicole. Schmiesing is currently retired and resides in Sauk Centre, Minn., where he also spent time working with youth programs for the state.

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