Only a select few student-athletes are talented enough to set a school scoring record in one sport, but it's almost unheard of to accomplish that feat in two different sports.
For Bill Schultz '97, that amazing feat became a reality at Ripon College where he was a three-time first-team all-conference wide receiver on the gridiron and a record-breaking sprinter and long jumper in track & field.
A 2008 inductee into Ripon College's Athletics Hall of Fame, Schultz remains the school's career points record holder in football, while ranking second all-time in track & field, 25 years after his graduation.
As a senior, Schultz became Ripon football's career scoring leader, finishing his career with 264 points, which broke a 30-year old record. That included a still-school record 43 receiving touchdowns, which is 13 more than the next-highest total and ranks fourth in Midwest Conference history, to go along with one kickoff return touchdown. Schultz also still holds Ripon's record for most consecutive games with a reception (33) and graduated with the school record in receiving yards (2,970), which currently ranks second. His 3,643 all-purpose yards are third all-time.
"A great deal in life comes down to the choices you make and the people you surround yourself with," Schultz said. "Thinking back to when I was 18 years old and had a college choice to make, there were many options and temptations, but choosing Ripon College was the single best decision I could have made because it provided me with an educational foundation for amazing post-college career opportunities and life-long friendships and memories."
As a freshman, Schultz caught 24 passes for 285 yards and seven touchdowns, before becoming Ripon's go-to receiver during his final three seasons, which saw him catch more than 10 touchdowns each year. That makes him the only player in program history to accomplish that feat more than once. One of just seven players in program history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season, Schultz owns two of the top-10 single-season receiving yardage outputs in Ripon history.
"Bill Schultz is one of the most prolific receivers to ever put on a Ripon uniform. He had sprinter speed, with the toughness of a lineman. Those skills, combined with outstanding hands, made Bill the most feared receiver in the Midwest Conference at the time," Ripon head football coach Ron Ernst said. "He was a receiver that had extreme confidence in his ability to beat any defensive back in the country. When a big play was needed, the goal was to get Bill the ball and he would do the rest."
At the time of his graduation, Schultz held school records for single game receiving yards (248) and touchdowns (4), both of which came against Lakeland College during his sophomore season. He also ranks second in school history for longest pass reception, catching a 96-yarder from Eric Rich against Carroll during the 1996 season.
Schultz's finest year came as a senior, when he recorded career-highs of 67 receptions, 1,005 yards and 13 touchdowns, all of which still rank among the top-10 in school history for a single season. That helped Schultz earn Wisconsin College Player of the Year honors, while also receiving the prestigious Pickard Award at the conclusion of that school year, given annually to Ripon's best all-around male and female athlete.
His performance that season helped the Red Hawks get past a bitter rival to win the 1996 Midwest Conference Championship.
"We had lost to Cornell College in the MWC Championship game the previous year and had lost to them again by a score of 26-14 in the third game of the 1996 season. After that game, we didn't lose again, finishing the season 9-1 and advancing to the MWC Championship game against that same Cornell team," Schultz recalled. "We defeated them 26-8 at Ingalls Field that day to win the MWC Championship. The best part was sharing the championship with the coaches, teammates and all of the family members who were always there as part of our team's journey."
That marked the first Midwest Conference Championship of Ernst's young coaching career.
"I was part of one of Coach Ernst's first recruiting classes, which was full of highly skilled athletes who bought into Coach Ernst's philosophy of 'getting better every day.' He and his coaching staff created a culture that expected championship results and the 1996 MWC Championship was the start of an amazing run for the program, which would win another conference title five years later," Schultz said. "I'm forever grateful to Coach Ernst for his mentorship, friendship and leadership, both on and off the field. He played a significant role in developing championship-caliber players, but also developed and continues to develop men who graduate from Ripon College as better people who are prepared to make a significant contribution to the world after graduation."
A three-time Team Most Valuable Player on the football field, Schultz also won that award all four years he was on the indoor track team and three times during the outdoor season, while holding a pair of school records at the time of his graduation, both of which lasted well into the next millennium. Along with teammates Matt Ritchie, Jon Leatherbury and fellow wide receiver Mike Diedrick, Schultz helped establish an outdoor school record in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1 minute, 33.27 seconds, which was set during his junior year. Arguably the most amazing record he held however came in the indoor long jump, where he recorded a new school-record jump of 22 feet, 9 inches during his junior season, despite Ripon not having an indoor track at that time.
"Bill was a natural athlete who was extremely skilled. He overcame the fact that we had no indoor track or sand pit to jump in for practice," former Ripon head track & field Coach Bob Duley said. "He held Ripon's long jump record for about 20 years, but also had great sprint speed in the 60, 100, and 200 meters. More importantly, he was an amazing person who was very easy to coach. If you want to define quality, you can start with Bill Schultz."
A native of Port Washington, Wis., Schultz resides in Ripon with his wife, Erica, and their three kids: Morgan, Spencer and Trevin. He works as a managing partner and consultant at Ceresco Consulting, while also serving as a board member for the Wisconsin Leadership Institute.