Two Bulldog sports stars inducted into GVHS Hall of Fame
during last Friday’s game
By Ben Lassetter
Two former Gunnison Valley athletes joined the school’s athletic hall of fame at last Friday’s basketball game against Duchesne.
The two inductees were 1964 grad Phil Olsen and 1974 grad Leslie Rosenvall, joining 10 other former Gunnison Valley student-athletes. They were selected by a committee of school staff and community members that formed with the inception of the hall of fame in 2016 as a way to “honor people from the past,” athletic director Rhett Jackson said.
Olsen and Rosenvall stood out foremost for their careers in their primary sports, Jackson said. The two said they look back fondly on what were formative high school experiences for them, as both were active in multiple school teams and organizations.
A “prolific track star” in the state of Utah, Jackson said, Olsen was “instrumental in helping GVHS win its first state championship, which was a track championship in 1963.”
Olsen’s main event was the 100-yard dash, which he won at the state level in his junior and senior years. In fact, he never lost a 100-yard dash during either of those years, including at the 1963 BYU Invitational, which made him the fastest sprinter in Utah that year.
The other individual event he ran was the 220-yard dash. In the 880-yard relay, his team included Gary Hill, Dale Rosenlund and Rusty Stevenson, and he ran the shuttle relay, which was a race in which runners ran 100 yards back-and-forth on a lawn.
These events no longer exist in state competitions. Because the team set a record in 1963 in the shuttle relay, he joked that it means more because it cannot be broken.
Aside from sports, he was in the choir, acted and participated in forensics. He said he remembered his track coach Payton Alexander and Principal Woodrow Beck for the influences they had on him.
Sports and being generally active at the school, he said, instilled values that he later carried with him at Snow College and BYU, then an ROTC stint with the Army in Georgia, then teaching at Hurricane Elementary School for 22 years, not to mention raising a family of six children and 22 grandchildren along with his wife, Judy.
He said those years taught him the importance of “giving it your all, just to really try. Put your best foot forward, and be kind to others, and have the courage to put out as much as you can be.”
He still lives in Hurricane, where he has been retired since 2011.
When Rosenvall came along some years later, the school had jumped from the “B” sports classification to “A,” meaning they competed against the bigger schools in sports. Some of his experience mirrored Olsen’s, though, such as in looking up to Principal Beck, standing out in his sport for four straight years and learning lessons in leadership along the way.
“It just keeps you competitive,” he said of being a student-athlete at the high school and college levels. “It keeps you on the edge of always trying to do the best you can. You become a team player, so you always are trying to help other people, and they help you.”
Rosenvall was one of the school’s first to start on the basketball team each of his four years. A 6-foot-3-inch forward, he led his teams to three state championships from sophomore to senior year as team captain. The Salt Lake Tribune named him state most valuable player those three years.
Also at GVHS, he pitched and played first base for four years on the baseball team, ran relays and threw the javelin in track and field and wrestled for one season. He was in band and musicals and was junior class president, prom director and a Sterling Scholar winner.
He attended BYU for one year, then went to Snow College and played basketball for two years. He transitioned to playing the guard position there. In his second year there, his team lost only twice, once in regular-season play and later in the championship.
Having grown up in Gunnison working at his father’s auto shop, Rosenvall’s Garage, he went on to have a career managing and advising at dealerships in Salt Lake City, where he lives now. He has three children and considers his wife Janine’s three children his own as well. They enjoy taking cruises and trips to Lake Powell.
Leslie Rosenvall is the son of Clyde and Jean Rosenvall of Gunnison. Phil Olsen is the son of Newel and Althilda Olsen, from Gunnison and Fayette, respectively.
The Gunnison Valley Athletic Hall of Fame was founded in 2016 and has inducted two new members each year since its founding.