To make the inaugural class for the Decatur Public Schools Hall of Fame, gigantic bullet points were needed on the resume.

That includes eventually making an Olympic team, the city's first football All-American or being an integral piece in a state championship team.

For Deana Simmons, she was a big reason the IHSA started including the triple jump in the girls state competition.

The MacArthur graduate competed on the national level as a junior, placing 11th in the U.S. in the indoor triple jump. The next year, 1996, the IHSA included the event and Simmons dominated. Her 41-foot, 5-inch mark was a state record until this season, and the state title capped off a 13-medal track and field career for the General.

Simmons is the most recent graduate of the first class of the Hall of Fames inductees, released on Wednesday. It includes 10 athletes, one coach in Gay Kintner, and one team in the undefeated 1965 Lakeview football team.

"That's amazing. That's really an honor," Simmons said.

Mike Dugan, interim co-superintendent of DPS 61, was happy with the diversity of sports and schools represented.

"We are thrilled with the quality the selection committee has come up with for our inaugural athletic Hall of Fame class," Dugan said in a statement.

Dugan said they wanted to take care of some of the older athletes first, and Simmons being the only athlete honored who graduated after 1980 certainly reflected that.

The oldest was Lee Sentman Jr., who ran hurdles for Decatur High, and medaled in '26 and '27 before going on to Illinois. He went on to run a world record in the 120-yard high hurdles in the Kansas Relays.

Perhaps the most well-known inductee, not only in the area, but around the state is Bill Madlock. Before winning four batting titles with the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates, he played baseball at Eisenhower. Madlock also scored more than 1,000 points on the basketball court.

Rudy Phillips was the lone athlete recognized for his skill on the gridiron. The MacArthur grad was the city's first prep All-American, scoring 152 points in a season.

A trio of basketball players were inducted. Ken Barnes helped Stephen Decatur to a 1962 state championship, including hitting the game-winning free throw. Hubie Carter led Eisenhower to its lone state basketball trophy, a fourth-place finish in '76, and Wayne Dunning scored more than 1,000 points at Lakeview before playing at Millikin.

Holding two of the city's four individual wrestling titles was enough to get Stephen Decatur's Mark Malley inducted. He took the 145-pound state championships in '68 and '69.

Gay Kintner coached Decatur High to three state championship basketball teams ('31, '36, '45) as well as two more state trophies. The '65 Lakeview football team went 9-0, but didn't play in a state tournament -- the IHSA didn't start the playoffs until the 1974-75 season.

Three women were inducted, including Simmons. Penny Hammel, who went on to win three LPGA tournaments and three Futures tournaments, won two state titles at MacArthur. Alongside her is fellow General Marsha Bond, whose volleyball prowess took her to the University of Kentucky and eventually the Olympics.

Simmons, who lives out in Los Angeles after her time at UCLA helped her fall in love with the city, said she has fond memories of her high school years.

"The last year, of course, senior is always very special, but for me it was the triple jump because they didn't have that for girls," Simmons said. "To be able to set a record at that time... it was very exciting."

While she works in clinical research, Simmons' athleticism is very much alive, whether competing in the women's semi-pro football league, or looking to compete in a indoor track meet this winter with her family.

The idea is to have the first class gather at the football game between MacArthur and Eisenhower on August 27 at Millikin.

The selection committee was made of up media, current and former athletics directors, former coaches and adminstrators.

Another class is set for induction in the winter when MacArthur and Eisenhower face off in basketball. Those interested in nominating athletes for that class can submit suggestions through the online nomination form at dps61.org.

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adow@herald-review.com|(217) 421-6978


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for the Herald & Review.

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