Kansas Relays Hall of Fame Banquet to Recognize Second Class
April 11, 2005
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Monday, Kansas Relays Meet Director Tim Weaver announced the 2005 class of the Kansas Relays Hall of Fame. Honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday night, April 23 will be Cliff Cushman, Ed Elbel, Jim Hershberger, Bill Nieder, Bill Alley, Phil Mulkey, and Merlene Ottey. The banquet will be held at the Holiday Inn Holidome; the evening will begin with a reception and dinner at 7pm with remarks about all seven inductees and speeches from Hershberger, Alley, and Mulkey.
“We had over 330 fans, alumni, athletes and sponsors join us for last year’s banquet, and I expect this spring’s edition to be just as well attended,” said Weaver. “It is a rare opportunity to have so many fantastic athletes, from the 1950s through the GOLD ZONE, together in one room. This is the perfect way to cap off what will certainly be a weekend for the history books.”
The evening will also feature other honorees. The 4xMile Relay team of Wes Santee, Dick Wilson, Lloyd Koby, and Art Dalzell will be recognized for the addition of their names to the KU Athletics Hall of Fame. They set the American Record in the event in 1953. Also, a tribute to Bob and Pat Timmons will given in recognition of their recent gift of Rim Rock Farm to the University of Kansas. Rim Rock Farm, which hosted the 1998 NCAA Championship, is considered by many to be the best cross-country course in the nation.
Tickets to the Hall of Fame banquet and dinner are $25 each and available through the Kansas Relays Office. For more information contact the office at (785) 864-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed ElbelThe architect of the early success of the Kansas Relays, Ed “Doc” Elbel was born in 1895 in South Bend, Ind. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in 1920 from Springfield College in Massachusetts and then became Ottawa University’s director of physical education. He was hired as an associate professor at KU in 1928 and was the P.A. announcer for Kansas basketball and football games. In 1938, he earned his doctorate from the University of Iowa. “Doc” directed KU’s intramurals from 1928 to 1942, which was one of the leading programs of its kind. Elbel also taught physical education and was the Kansas Relays clerk of the course. Elbel excelled at organizing the Relays and made the events run with military-like precision. He left KU in 1942 to serve in the technical training command of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Elbel was famous for his research in physical education, specifically his work in exercise physiology. Elbel, who died in 1983, urged the physical education faculty in 1961, to “Do something for the boy or girl, man or woman without obvious athletic talent. Your job is to teach, not eliminate. Your greatest thrill may come when some unpromising lad bursts with pride at reaching a goal that was difficult for him.”
Cliff CushmanCushman came to Kansas from Grand Forks, N.D., where he won state titles in the long jump, high hurdles, and mile. As a freshman at KU, he competed unattached at the Kansas Relays and won the 400-meter hurdles in a meet record 51.9 seconds. As a junior in 1959, Cushman finished second in the 400 hurdles helping Kansas win its first NCAA outdoor track and field title. Cushman’s best year occurred in 1960. He was team captain, most outstanding performer at the Kansas Relays, and National Champion in the 400 hurdles. He helped the Jayhawks defend their NCAA Outdoor Championship. Also, he became an Olympian. In the 1960 Olympics at Rome, Cushman kept a near perfect 13-step pace and was in fourth place at the ninth hurdle. At the finish line, he leaned so far forward that he skidded across the track for second place with a time of 49.6 seconds. His time was only 0.3 seconds behind U.S. teammate Glenn Davis. The next year, Cushman joined the U.S. Air Force and continued training for the hurdles as well as training to become a jet-fighter pilot. He entered the 1964 Olympic Trials as one of the favorites in the 400 hurdles, but he tripped over the fifth hurdle and failed to qualify. Rather than feel sorry for himself, Cushman expressed his thoughts in his famous “Open Letter to Youth,” which has been reprinted many times since 1964. A few days after the birth of his first child, Cushman received orders to be sent to Vietnam. On September 25, 1966, his wife, Carolyn Cushman returned home where Air Force officials notified her that Cliff’s plane had been shot down and he was missing in action. Cushman’s body was never recovered, but his words have lived on in many texts: “I dare you to look up at the stars, not down at the mud, and set your sights on one of them that, up to now, you thought was unattainable. There is plenty of room at the top, but no room for anyone to sit down. Who knows? You may be surprised at what you can achieve with sincere effort. So get up, pick the cinders out of your wounds and take one more step. I dare you!”
Jim HershbergerIn 1969, when the Kansas Relays needed a shot in the arm, Hershberger made a major donation to KU towards the purchase of an all-weather track at Memorial Stadium. It was quickly the envy of facilities around the nation. Following that gift, the track was named Jim Hershberger Track in recognition of his generosity. In the following 20 years, Hershberger continued donating to the University for scholarships, renovations to the track, and championship rings for Kansas Athletics. He funded the Kansas Relays banquet for over 20 years. In 1984, he again made a major contribution to the track and field program that allowed for the track bearing his name to be resurfaced. Through track events that Hershberger was featured in, over 6 million dollars was raised for charity, namely the Hershberger Cancer Run, Walk for Mankind, MVP, and Breathe Easy. In high school, Hershberger was all-state in cross country, wrestling and track. After first attending the University of Oklahoma on a wresting scholarship, Hershberger transferred to KU and ran track for the Jayhawks in the early 1950’s. He performed best in the 220 yard and 440 yard dashes. After graduation, he kept competing in different sports. He won 20 national championships at various indoor and outdoor meets in races from sprints to marathons. On his 50th birthday, Hershberger competed against famous athletes in 18 events and was featured in Runner’s World. The most outstanding male athlete at the NCAA indoor championships was once awarded the Jim Hershberger Award. Hershberger was featured on the cover of the Wheatie’s box as part of their Search For Champions campaign. He is the only person in Kansas history to be named Man of the Year in three categories – Business, Philanthropy and Sports. Hershberger has two tracks named for him and is now in three Halls of Fame.
Bill NiederWhile playing football on the KU freshman squad in September of 1953, Nieder injured his right knee. Later in the hospital, his foot developed the early stages of gangrene, and nearly had to be amputated. Throughout his lifetime he continued having knee troubles. He had it drained 150 times, and had three additional surgeries. In high school, Nieder threw the shot put and set the state record as a senior for Lawrence High School. Kansas coach Bill Easton took notice. After his football injury and rehabilitation, Easton contacted Nieder and asked him to consider coming out for track and field. Together they started working on rehabilitating Nieder’s knee. After quite a while, he was ready to start his track career. In 1955, Nieder won the Big 7 Conference Indoor Championship with a league record of 53-10 3/4in. He set that-and future records-using an unorthodox rotation to throw due to his previous knee injury. During the outdoor season, he won the Texas, Kansas, and Drake Relay Triple Crown. He also won the NCAA crown with put of 57-3in. In 1956, he set another NCAA record of 59-9in at the Texas Relays. A week later he became the first collegiate thrower over 60 ft. At the NCAA Outdoor Championship that year he placed second, finished third at the Olympic Trials, and came home with the Olympic silver medal finishing behind Parry O’Brien. Prior to the 1960 Olympic Trials he re-injured his knee and was only able to finish fourth, failing to qualify for the US team. He was asked to continue working out with the Olympic team and compete in three meets before the team’s departure for Rome. At the first meet he out-threw the other members of the Olympic team by a foot and a half. He won the next meet, and in the final competition he broke his own world record with a 65-10in heave in warm-ups. Because of his great showing and an injury to another member of the team, he was placed on the 1960 Olympic team. On his fifth try in Rome, he hurled the shot 64-6 ¾ in, good for the gold medal. He set a new Olympic record and bested, by almost two feet, Parry O’Brien’s second place throw.
Bill AlleyAlley grew up in Shorthills, New Jersey. He first went to Syracuse University and then transferred to KU after his freshman year. In 1959, his first year competing for Kansas, at an early season meet in Abilene, Kan., Alley threw 258-4in but was not credited with a new U.S. record because the toss was ruled wind-aided. A week later at the Texas Relays, Alley threw 270-1in which set the U.S. record, smashed the collegiate record by 13 feet, and set the Texas Relays record by 18 feet. Alley dominated the competition that spring. He won eight other meets and set six meet records ranging from 249 ft to 266 ft. He won the NCAA Outdoor Championship with a toss of 240-5in. His performance in 1959 at the Outdoor Championship enabled the Jayhawks to win their first national title. In 1960, he repeated as a record-setting winner in the Texas, Kansas, and Drake Relays Triple Crown, and the conference championship. At the NCAA’s that year he threw 268-9in and the Jayhawks repeated as NCAA Champs. Alley was known for some of his unusual training methods. He threw golf balls, tossed a 12 lb shot put with a javelin throwing motion, and worked out on a homemade pulley. In 1960, Alley placed second at the Olympic Trials. At a pre-Olympic competition, Alley had five throws exceed 270ft, one of which sailed 283-8in. His last throw was not counted as a world record because of too much ground slope. He credits his coach, Bill Easton, who was inducted into the Kansas Relays Hall of Fame in 2004, and the KU program for his athletic success. “They gave me all the tools and everything I needed to develop my skills,” He says, “Easton provided the correct environment, the stimulation, the peers. It just provided me the opportunity and helped me become what I wanted to do, which was to be the best in my event. It was an important part of building myself. It gave me a lot of self-confidence. It carried on in my life and business career. It gave me the inner feeling to know if I worked hard enough, I could achieve my objectives and goals.”
Phil MulkeyMemorial Stadium always brought out the best in Mulkey. Winner of an amazing eight Kansas Relays Decathlon titles, he was the first decathlete ever to score 8,000 points, setting a world record with a tally of 8049. A skinny, resourceful farm kid from Missouri, Mulkey used the head of a post maul as a shot put, a plow disk as a discus, and a pitchfork handle as a javelin. He cut a bamboo tree into a pole and vaulted onto the garage. That was the beginning of a career that took him to the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Going into the finals in the decathlon, he needed only to clear his usual height of 14 ft. 10 in. in the pole vault to win a bronze medal. But he pulled a groin muscle and had to withdraw from the competition. Mulkey continued to compete through the ’60s, winning national titles as a decathlete. He was ranked in the top 10 US list by Track & Field News six times, including a #1 ranking in 1961. Active now in master’s track and field, he has won 15 gold medals and has set 14 national Senior Games records in pole vault, high jump, long jump, discus and shot put since 1989.
Merlene OtteyOttey was born in Jamaica in 1960. She ran as a collegiate for the University of Nebraska from 1980 to 1984. During that time, she made numerous appearances at the Kansas Relays and was most impressive. She won the 100-meter dash in 1982 and 1983; the 200-meter dash in 1981, 1982, and 1983 and set Relays records in both the 100 meters and 200 meters. Her meet record in the 100-meter dash still stands. She was named Outstanding Performer in 1981, 1982, and 1983. Internationally, Ottey has enjoyed unprecedented longevity for an Olympic sprinter. She won an amazing eight Olympic medals (more than any other female athlete), 14 World Championship medals (more than any other athlete, male or female), including two golds (1993 and 1995). She was the first woman to run the 60 meter dash in under seven seconds, the first woman to run the 100 meter dash under 11 seconds, and the first woman in the indoor 200 meter dash to run under 22 seconds. She has held the world indoor record at 200 meters for over 20 years. She is the oldest Olympic medallist in track and field history, having won the silver medal in the 4×100 meter relay in Sydney at the age of 40. At one point, Ottey won 57 consecutive 100-meter races and 34 consecutive 200-meter races. Her appearance at the 2004 Olympics for her new nation of residence, Slovenia, where she qualified for the semifinals in both the 100m and 200m at age 44 shows that she richly deserves the sobriquet of “The Bronze Queen of Jamaica.” Her first Olympic bronze was won in the 200-meter dash in the 1980 games – years before most of her competitors in Athens were born.
The 78th Kansas Relays will run from April 21 – 23; the GOLD ZONE is Saturday, April 23 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. For more information on the Kansas Relays, a complete GOLD ZONE schedule, and ticket information, visit http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/sports/c-relay/