Elite Quartet Named to USTFCCCA Division III Athlete Hall of Fame

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

March 31, 2011   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday that the association will induct four new members to their Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame. Dan Henderson (Wheaton (Ill.)), Vicki Mitchell (SUNY Cortland), Shawn Watson (Mount Union), and Eleena Zhelezov (Brandeis) will be recognized during an induction ceremony on Wednesday, May 25, in Delaware, Ohio, in conjunction with the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships. All told, the quartet won a total of 30 NCAA individual crowns during their illustrious collegiate careers.

View the USTFCCCA’s Division III Athlete Hall of Fame

Dan Henderson — Wheaton (Ill.)

Henderson still holds the NCAA outdoor 5000-meter championships record with a 13:55.0 run recorded in winning his first of back-to-back national D-III titles at the distance in 1979. In total, Henderson tallied three NCAA outdoor crowns with a winning run in the 10,000 meters in 1978. Henderson went on to win the NCAA cross country crown in 1978 as well. The three-time CCIW Cross Country Champion was named Wheaton’s Athlete of the Year in 1979, and he is a 1990 inductee into their Hall of Fame. Henderson is Wheaton’s indoor record holder in the mile and two mile and outdoor record holder in seven distance specialties. Henderson continued to compete post-collegiately boasting a sixth-place finish in the 5000 meters at 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Vicki Mitchell – SUNY Cortland

The native New Yorker was a seven-time NCAA Champion and ten-time USTFCCCA All-American in cross country and track events ranging from the 1500 meters up to the 10k. In 1990, Mitchell won her first of two indoor 1500 meter NCAA crowns, was crowned national outdoor champ at 3000 meters, and won the D-III cross country title that fall. The following year, Mitchell recorded double national wins in the 1500 and 5000 indoors and in the 5000 and 10k outdoors.  The Cortland C-Club Hall of Famer competed in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10k and qualified for the 2000 U.S. Marathon trials in her first attempt at the distance. Mitchell is in her 11th season coaching the men and women at the University at Buffalo.

Shawn Watson – Mount Union

The 18-time All-American won four indoor NCAA titles and five outdoor NCAA titles in the horizontal jumps. Indoors, Watson won his third long jump crown in 1999 with a current-meet record of 25-3¼ (7.70m). Outdoors, a long jump crown in 1999 made him a four-time titilist in the event, making Watson one of only four men to have swept outdoor crowns in a single event in Division III. In addition, during his freshman campaign in 1996, Watson claimed the indoor-outdoor sweep of both long and triple jumps.  

The school record holder in all four events, Watson owns the longest two long jump marks ever earned in NCAA D-III Championship competition. He was a four-time OAC Most Outstanding Indoor Field Athlete and three-time outdoor recipient. Watson was a U.S. Olympic Trials participant in the long jump in 1996 and 2000.

Eleena Zhelezov – Brandeis

The 1995 Division III Indoor National Athlete of the Year completed her collegiate career with nine individual NCAA titles. Zhelezov, with eight NCAA triple jump titles from 1992 to 1995, is the only the second athlete, man or woman, in NCAA track & field history, in all divisions, to sweep a single event four times both indoors and outdoors. During her freshman season in 1992, Zhelezov added an indoor national long jump title. All told, Zhelezov was a 15-time All-American, 14-time UAA Champion and 13-time New England D-III Champion. The Brandeis Hall of Fame member still holds school records in both horizontal jumps.