MACOMB, Ill. – Four individuals and the back-to-back NAIA national championship gymnastics teams from 1964 and 1965 represent the 2013 Western Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame class. The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, October 11th, as part of the Homecoming/Hall of Fame weekend.
Those receiving the highest honor by Leatherneck Athletics are: Fred Adair (contributor), Russ Michna (football), Kathy Orban (administrator) and Becky Tyo (women’s basketball). The back-to-back NAIA national championship gymnastics team from 1964 and 1965 will be inducted as well.
“It is my honor to announce the Hall of Fame Class of 2013. These individuals and teams each played a distinct part in our Athletics history and it is only fitting to pay tribute to those who have shown exceptional athletic ability and who have made positive contributions to the athletic programs at Western Illinois University,” said interim athletics director Lisa Melz-Jennings.
Adair began work at the Western Illinois University Physical Plant in 1979 and worked as a Landscape Maintenance grounds foreman until his retirement in 2011. During his 30-plus years, he worked on the fields at Hanson Field (football/track and field), Mary Ellen McKee Stadium (softball), John MacKenzie Alumni Field (soccer), Boyer Stadium (baseball), three football practice fields and one soccer practice field. Thousands of Leatherneck student-athletes benefitted from Adair’s dedication and attention to detail. His reputation extended to St. Louis, as he supervised taking care of three NFL-quality football practice fields during the time that the St. Louis Rams traveled to Macomb for training camp.
Michna ended his career as a two-time Gateway Conference ‘Offensive Player of the Year’, one of the few players to win the award multiple times, let alone in consecutive years. During his four-year career, the Leathernecks made three NCAA Division I playoff appearances. In 2002 and 2003, Western won its opening round game but eventually fell in the quarterfinals. Michna twice earned First Team Academic All-Gateway Conference honors, and was named Academic All-Conference three years (one of nine Leathernecks all-time to receive the academic distinction three times). A First Team All-American in 2003, Michna still ranks in 13 season and career ‘Top 10’ listings.
Orban worked for 28 years in the Athletics Department, ending her career as the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance and Senior Woman Administrator. She joined the Athletics Department in August 1980 as the assistant field hockey coach, then promoted in 1985 to Assistant Athletics Director. Her responsibilities included public relations, promotions, the Westerwinds Athletic Club and home event management. When she was promoted to Associate AD, she had oversight over financial aid, student-athlete eligibility, athletic academic services, compliance, athletic training, and strength and conditioning.
Tyo ended her standout basketball career as the sixth-leading all-time scorer in Western women’s history, netting 1,367 points in her four years. No one in Western history has made more free throws in a season (127) and career (380), or had a better free throw percentage in a game (1.000, 10-for-10) than Tyo. She was named to the 2000 Mid-Continent Conference All-Newcomer team, and then the following year voted to the Mid-Con Second Team. Following her senior year she earned First Team honors. Tyo was also a three-time Academic All-Mid-Con selection.
Western won back-to-back National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national titles in gymnastics in 1964 and 1965, the first two national titles sponsored by the organization. Coached by Robert Clow (Hall of Fame Class of 1982), fifteen members representing the two teams will be inducted. They include: Gerry Aldrich, Dave Donaldson, Bill Downing, Dennis Hallett (deceased), Ray Ingersoll, Ray LaFrancis, Loren Michaels, Tom Muraoka, Gerald (Gerry) Peterson, Jack Peterson, Jerry Polacek, Mike Rogers, Howie Sokol, Gene Swanson (deceased), and Mac Weeks (deceased).
The Leathernecks edged Georgia Southern 156.5-156 to capture the ’64 national championship. Sokol won the 1964 individual NAIA national title in the rings, and Weeks won the tumbling title. In 1965 Western captured six individual titles and cruised to a repeat championship. The Leathernecks totaled 143 points with Eastern Washington next at 75.5 points. Individual titles were won by: Polacek (all-around), LaFrancis (trampoline), Rogers (side horse), Swanson (still rings), Ingersoll (horizontal bar), and Gerry Peterson (parallel bars).