Friday, February 20, 2004

Initial inductees for Hall revealed

Class made of 7 ex-athletes, coaches


Glenn Cunningham, Bill Easton, Bob Timmons, Wes Santee, Al Oerter, Billy Mills and Jim Ryun will be the first inductees into the the new Kansas Relays Hall of Fame.

"This is a special group of individuals whose accomplishments in the context of the Kansas Relays are matched only by their successes outside of track and field," Relays meet director Tim Weaver said.

The inaugural class was selected by a vote of alumni, the media and the Relays Committee. Each year, the Relays will induct five living members and two posthumous selections. Any athlete, coach, official, sponsor or individual associated with the event is eligible.

Cunningham dominated the mile in the 1930s, winning the Sullivan Award in 1933 to go along with his conference and NCAA titles, plus fourth- and second-place finishes in the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games.

Easton coached the Jayhawks from 1947 to 1965. He piloted KU to 39 conference titles, including eight consecutive sweeps of the conference cross country, indoor, and outdoor crowns. In addition, KU won three NCAA tiles under Easton.

Mills is responsible for one of the greatest moments in Olympic history. An All-American and conference champion while at KU, Mills became the 10,000-meter Olympic champion and world-record holder.

Oerter won the Olympics discus gold medal in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968. Oerter also won an unprecedented three consecutive triple crowns as a Jayhawk, taking the discus title at the Texas, Kansas, and Drake Relays in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and was the first man to throw a discus 200 feet.

Santee set multiple world records and won many conference and NCAA titles. He took the top place in the Kansas Relays mile in 1954 and 1955, his first effort turning in the second fastest American time. A 1952 Olympian, Santee ran just a fraction of a second over the four-minute mark in the mile when no one had broken that historic barrier.

Ryun, perhaps the most well known track athlete of his generation, won five NCAA titles and established six world records. He went on to represent the US in three Olympic Games, capturing the silver medal in 1968. Ryun achieved fame in high school as the first prep athlete to break the four-minute mile, a record that stood for 32 years.

Timmons, KU's head coach and the Relays' meet director from 1965 to 1988, coached KU to four NCAA team titles, 12 top-five finishes and 10 consecutive conference titles and had 11 NCAA champions.

The seven former athletes and coaches will be inducted during a dinner at the end of this year's April 15-17 Kansas Relays.

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