June 2, 2006

Eight named to Athletics Hall of Fame: Sports Shorts 6/2/06

Since the University of Chicago’s Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 2003, each year has seen the addition of past greats and recent heroes to its ranks. The Class of 2006 seems set to continue that trend.

With summer just around the corner, the Athletics Department officially announced eight Chicago graduates as this year’s Hall inductees Wednesday. Star distance runners Mike Axinn (A.B. 1982) and Rhaina Echols (A.B. 2000), multi-sport sensation Paul Des Jardien (E.X. 1915), Olympic medalist Hugo Friend (A.B. 1906), MVP Ann Harvilla (A.B. 1979), top gymnast Earl Shanken (A.B. 1942), All-American fencer Wai Gen Yee (A.B. 1995), and record-setting hoopster Joel Zemans (A.B. 1963) will formally enter the Hall of Fame in a ceremony during Homecoming Weekend festivities on October 13.

A two-time All-American and three-time Midwest Conference champion in men’s cross country, Axinn reached the pinnacle of his career with a second-place finish at the 1981 Division III cross country championships. The distance maven also earned All-American recognition in outdoor track and field to help establish Chicago as a force to be reckoned with during the school’s early years as a D-III program. Leaving his mark in Hyde Park and throughout the region, Axinn still holds five indoor and outdoor track and field records for the Maroons, and his Midwest Conference mark in the 10,000-meter run has been untouched since 1981.

It was a rare day when Des Jardien didn’t don the maroon and white. A jack-of-all-trades, he lettered in baseball, basketball, and track and field during his Chicago career but was at his absolute best as an All-American center during football’s glory days. Des Jardien snapped the ball for the 1913 Big Ten champions and tore up the league to help lead his squad to a 17–3–1 record from 1912–1914. After graduation, he took his game to the professional level, playing football for the Chicago Cardinals and Minneapolis Marines and taking the field for one season with the Cleveland Indians.

One of the legends of the modern era, Echols dominated three sports during the 1999–2000 academic year to earn herself four NCAA individual titles. She got her fourth year off on the right foot by taking home the gold at the women’s cross country championships, claimed top honors in the 5,000-meter run at indoor nationals, and celebrated her graduation by leaving the competition in the dust in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs at outdoor NCAAs. Over the course of her career, Echols garnered seven All-American certificates and was an eight-time UAA champion in cross country and indoor and outdoor track.

Still, even Echols couldn’t match the accomplishments of two-time Big Ten long jump champion Friend. In 1905, Friend captained the track and field squad that captured Chicago’s first Big Ten title in any sport and earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team. In the 1906 Athens Interolympiad, the Chicago grad earned the bronze in the long jump and finished just short of the podium in the 110-meter hurdles.

Like Des Jardien, Harvilla excelled across the seasons during her stint in Hyde Park. From 1975–1979, she started each year for the Maroons on the volleyball court and then traded knee pads for sliding pads to take the field with softball in the spring. After leading volleyball to the Illinois Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (IAIAW) state semifinals in 1976, Harvilla was a key member of a softball squad that won the IAIAW state title that spring. The 1979 Dudley Medal recipient and two-time softball MVP currently ranks among softball’s best in five categories and collected eight letters between her two sports.

Hyde Park may not be home to an NCAA-sanctioned gymnastics team anymore, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Shanken’s accomplishments. He won three NCAA titles in vault and guided his team to top-five finishes at nationals each year from 1940–42. The Maroons topped out at third in Division I in 1941, while Shanken clinched a Big Ten title in his own event.

While Yee didn’t quite match that feat, he did make three trips to the NCAA fencing tournament in his own right, earning All-American status in 1993 and 1994. He won more than 300 bouts in the maroon and white, captured a league title in the foil in 1993, and was awarded the Stagg Medal in 1995.

When the men’s basketball program made its first-ever appearance in the postseason in 1961, two-time All-American Zemans helped take them all the way to the national quarterfinals. His impact is still felt in the record books, where he ranks second in free throw attempts and fourth in field goals made.