Note: This is the first in a two part series profiling this year’s hall of fame inductees.
Champion of the 1983 Chicago Marathon and winner of the 1982 Stagg Medal for best all-around male athlete and scholar at the University, Mike Axinn (A.B. ’82) was an All-American in outdoor track and field and a two-time All-American in cross country. Axinn raced to a second-place finish at the 1981 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, and holds the seventh-place all-time Division III record in the outdoor 5,000 meter run. Before the advent of the UAA, he dominated the Midwest Conference, claiming three Conference titles and setting a record in the outdoor 10,000 meter that has yet to be broken. Twenty-four years after his graduation, he still holds University records in the indoor mile, 3,000, and 5,000 meters, and the outdoor 1,500 and 5,000 meters.
A key player in Chicago’s Big Ten football glory days and a 1955 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Paul Des Jardien (A.B. ’14) also excelled as a member of the school’s baseball, basketball, and track teams. Towering above opponents at six feet five inches, “Shorty” played for Chicago from 1912-1914 under the leadership of legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. During his stay in Hyde Park, Des Jardien led the football team to a 17–3–1 record, highlighted by an undefeated 1913 season that saw the Maroons win the conference title and Des Jardien named a consensus All-American. After graduating, Des Jardien played professional football for the Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Tigers, and Minneapolis Marines, and dabbled in professional baseball with the Cleveland Indians.
Undisputedly Chicago’s most accomplished modern cross-country and indoor and outdoor track runner, Rhaina Echols (A.B. ’00) amassed an impressive set of honors while running for the Maroons from 1996-2000. Echols was a seven time All-American, an eight time UAA champion, and, most impressively, won four NCAA Division III individual championships during her fourth-year seasons, blowing away the cross-country competition by a margin of 22 seconds. Six years after her graduation, Echols still holds University records by margins no smaller than 23 seconds in all five of her events: the cross country 5,000 meter, and indoor and outdoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters. In 2000, Echols capped off her impressive career by winning the Gertrude Dudley medal for the University’s best all-around female athlete and scholar.
While Echols dominated Chicago’s track at the end of the century, the beginning belonged to Hugo Friend (A.B. 1905). Running for the Maroons, Friend was a two-time Big Ten long jump champion and captained the 1905 track and field team that clinched Chicago’s first Big Ten Conference Championship in any sport.
Professionally, Friend was the 1905 USA Track and Field Champion in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles, before qualifying for the 1906 US Olympic Team. In Athens in 1906, Friend took home the bronze medal in the long jump and narrowly missed the podium in the 110-meter hurdles.