Former Shanley star to have jersey retired at Iowa State

Ray Maloney, Sports
Angie Welle

AMES, Iowa — The floor of Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum was the scene of many memorable moments for former Fargo Shanley basketball standout Angie Welle.

Saturday, Welle will be on the floor one last time and is almost certain to show plenty of emotion as ISU retires her jersey during cermonies when the Cyclones play Missouri.

It will be part of a  reunion of the 2000 Cyclone team that captured the Big 12 championship. With Welle a big part of that.

Welle will join just three other former Cyclones to have their jersey retired. Tonya Burns, Jayme Olson and Megan Taylor are the others.

“The thing about (Welle) is that she made such a dramatic impact, both on and off the court, to our program,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “She is considered by many to be the best player to ever suit up for Iowa State ... and she really helped put our program on a national stage.”

That stage brought the former Deacon star plenty of recognition.

Welle ended her ISU career atop the charts in several categories, including being the school’s all-time scoring leader.

She racked up 2,149 points in an ISU uniform and averaged 16.3 points per game. Her scoring average ranks her No. 2 all-time at the school.

Other records hold by Welle include most field goals (791), most field goals attempted (1,234) and field goal percentage (.641).

Welle also hold records for most free throws in a career (557), free throws attempted (768) and rebounds (1,209). Her record of  155 blocked shots was eclipsed last season by Nicky Wieben, who finished her career with 198 blocks.

Welle began playing basketball as a third grader.

“I kind of started as a default,” Welle said. “My sister was playing and I just tagged along and used basketball as a  social function.”

It didn’t take long to see the blossoming talent.

After dominating North Dakota over her career at Fargo Shanley and being named Miss Basketball in 1998, Welle was recruited by several of the top programs in the nation.

She visited Iowa, Georgia and Penn State, along with Iowa State and Creighton, where her sister, Carrie, once starred.

It came down to Iowa State and Penn State, which Welle’s father seemed to favor.

“It came down to the opportunity to play right away,” Welle said. “Plus, I favored the seven-hour drive for my family to come and watch me play over the 27-hour drive to Penn State.”

She said she had to relearn the game after arriving on campus at ISU.

“Everybody we had were the best players on their teams,” Welle said. They posed a new set of challenges and you have to relearn some of the things you thought you knew about the game.”

Welle made the most of that immediate opportunity to see the playing floor. The litany of achievements, honors and accolades is proof of that.

She helped the Cyclones to an Elite Eight appearance as a freshman after the Cyclones knocked off a powerful Connecticut team to advance in the NCAA?tournament.

The Cyclones advanced to the Sweet 16 each of the final two years of Welle’s career.

A steady force for the Cyclones throughout her career, Welle holds three of the top eight single-season scoring averages in ISU history.

The 676 points scored in her final season (2001-02) still ranks as the most in Cyclone history. She also holds the No. 3 mark with 605 points as a junior. Her 507 points as a sophomore ranks eighth all-time at the school.

Welle posted 54 career double-doubles and averaged a double-double in both her junior and senior seasons.

She earned all-America honors from nine different publications during her career and was selected the MVP of the Big 12 tournament in 2001.

A four-time all-conference selection, Welle was a finalist for the prestigious Naismith Award as a senior and was was chosen in the WNBA?Draft in 2002 before opting to play overseas after being one of last cuts made by the Cleveland Rockers.

Welle, who now teaches school in West Fargo, said she has no regrets in her decision to attend school in Ames and play for Fennelly.

She took the time to compare the differences between playing in Shanley’s old gym, when the school was located on the north side of Fargo, and playing in spacious Hilton Coliseum as a collegian.

“The fans would pack into the old gym and Shanley,” Welle said. “There was no air conditiong and it would just be sweltering in there back when girls basketball was played during the fall.

“I still get goose-bumps when I think about playing at Hilton,” Welle added. “They consistently get 10,000 fans at the games, The fans are so amazing. They are truly the pride and joy of Ames.”

“It’s a great honor,” Fennelly said of Welle’s retirement ceremonies. “It’s something that is very well deserved.

“(Welle) was a tremendous player on and off the court,” he added. “She is the kind of player you get into coaching for.”