Four Inducted Into USTFCCCA NCAA Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is pleased to announce the NCAA Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame Class of 2021!
Paul Conlin of UW-Platteville, Debbie Thometz of St. Thomas (Minn.), Janet Williams of Springfield College and Jeoffrey York of Albany will all be inducted later this evening during a virtual ceremony prior to the start of the 2021 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which are set to begin tomorrow in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Learn more about each of these inductees by clicking their names or scrolling below.
Here are those athletes already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, dating back to its inception in 2004.
Paul Conlin left his mark on NCAA Division III history as an athlete at UW-Platteville and continues to do so more than 25 years later as a coach at rival UW-Eau Claire.
As an athlete, Conlin was a three-time NCAA shot put champion, five-time All-American and four-time Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) champion.
Conlin made an impact in his freshman year, placing second at the 1990 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Naperville, Illinois. He finished runner-up to Keith Rucker of Ohio Wesleyan, who would later sweep the shot put crowns in the 1991 seasons.
Fast forward to 1992, because that’s when Conlin started an unbelievable hot streak. After winning his first postseason title at the 1992 WIAC Indoor Championships, Conlin topped the NCAA podium the following month, then rinsed and repeated the same cycle again outdoors.
Conlin nearly repeated the same quadruple-title year in 1993, but a runner-up finish at the NCAA DIII Indoor Championships dashed those hopes. He did, however, sweep the WIAC crowns again and added another NCAA Outdoor victory to his haul in Berea, Ohio.
History has been kind to Conlin, as he still sits No. 7 in NCAA DIII outdoor history. Conlin achieved his 19.08m (62-7¼) collegiate best at the 1993 WIAC Outdoor Championships.
As a coach, Conlin’s athletes shine when the lights are brightest. Throwers tutored by Conlin have combined for eight NCAA titles, 10 NCAA runner-ups and 44 All-America honors, as well as a slew of all-time performances.
Debbie Thometz (now Leyden) was historically fast.
Back in 1983, Thometz set a meet record in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Naperville, Illinois, that has yet to be broken 38 years later. She covered 25 laps of the 400-meter oval at North Central College in 33:50.32 (5:26/mile pace) and did so in a solo effort, winning by 1 minute, 17.55 seconds.
That mark also established a divisional record that stood for one year until Tori Neubauer went 33:25.80 the following year at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, when top NCAA DII and NCAA DIII athletes were still invited to compete. While Thometz now sits No. 6 on the all-time chart, she still owns the fastest mark run in NCAA DIII-only competition (Each of the five marks in front of her were turned in during large, mixed-division races).
Leading up to her historic performance at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships, Thometz turned in another stellar effort at the MIAC Outdoor Championships. Thometz won the 10,000 meters in 34:22.58, which also remains the meet record to this day.
Even though this is a Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame, Thometz also starred on the cross country course. Back in the fall of 1981, Thometz won the individual title at the AIAW Cross Country Championships and led St. Thomas (Minn.) to the team title over Holy Cross. Thometz sandwiched that victory between two runner-up finishes in 1980 and 1982.
Janet Williams placed second at the 1986 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in Saint Paul, Minnesota – as a team, not just as an individual in one race.
Williams scored 36 points, by herself, to lead Springfield College to its best team finish in program history, regardless of division (The Pride primarily competed in NCAA Division II during Williams’ career. Williams won the 1985 NCAA DII 400H crown and earned several All-America honors in the 100H and heptathlon, among other events).
Then a senior – allowed to compete at the NCAA DIII meet, because the NCAA DII meet was cancelled – Williams finished no worse than third in each of the five events in which she competed at the NCAA DIII Indoor Championships. Williams won the 55H in an NCAA DIII-record 7.99 (also a meet record), placed runner-up in the 55, third in the high jump, third in the long jump and third in the triple jump.
Her name would be atop both the NCAA DIII and meet record books until 2001, when Rhondale Jones of Lincoln (Pa.) went 7.85 to win her last of three consecutive event crowns. Jones was inducted into the NCAA Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame back in 2012.
Upon his induction into the University of Albany Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010, it was written that “[Jeoffrey] York is the most celebrated men’s track & field athlete in University history.”
Well, now York can be considered one of the most celebrated men’s hurdlers in NCAA Division III history with his induction into the NCAA Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame.
York left a legacy with his barrier-clearing prowess.
After a dynamic debut as a freshman in 1991 when he won the 110H crown at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships in Berea, Ohio, York turned it up a notch the following year. York swept the sprint-hurdling titles in 1992, but it’s what he did at the IC4A/ECAC Outdoor Championships that still resonates to this day. He won the 110H in a wind-aided 13.56 (+2.7), which remains the fastest all-conditions mark in the event in NCAA DIII history.
York completed the indoor-outdoor double once again in 1995 to join Maynard Hurd of Frostburg State as the only male athletes in NCAA DIII history to do so twice. That was not the only history York made that year, though, as his 7.31 in the 55H would remain the meet-record emeritus (55H would be discontinued in 2011) and his 13.85 outdoor winner was the all-conditions meet best until 2014.
All told, York ended his career with five NCAA titles. At the time, he and Hurd were the only hurdlers with that many crowns to their credit in NCAA DIII history.
York is currently the head track & field coach at Hudson Valley Community College.