COLUMBUS, Ohio – Eight new members will be enshrined in the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. The Class of 2017 will be inducted Oct. 6 at a dinner and introduced to the public at halftime of the Ohio State home football vs. Maryland.
The group includes LeCharles Bentley (football), Tom Byers (men’s track and field), Mike Conley (men’s basketball), Chelsea Davis (women’s diving), Pete Hanson (men’s volleyball), Bryce Keough (wrestling), Christina Manning (women’s track and field), Nancy Pearson (women’s swimming).
The hall of fame was created in 1977 and has inducted 300 men through 2016. Bentley will be the 122nd member of the football program inducted while Conley is the 39th men’s basketball member and Byers is the 25th from the track and field program. Keough will be the 15th from the wrestling program enshrined will Hanson will be the sixth from the men’s volleyball program.
Women were first inducted into the hall in 1993, with 118 outstanding student-athletes, coaches and administrators enshrined through 2016. Manning is the 12th member from the women’s track and field program enshrined while Pearson is the 10th from the women’s swimming program and Davis the sixth from the women’s diving program.
LeCharles Bentley, football
LeCharles Bentley was a four-year letterman on the football team who won every major award possible as a collegian and then went on to a professional career that included two Pro Bowl selections before an injury ended his playing days. A Cleveland native and from St. Ignatius High School, Bentley was a three-year starter along the Buckeye offensive line and a consensus All-American as a senior in 2001.
His senior campaign also included his winning the top two offensive lineman awards for a center: he was named the Big Ten Conference’s offensive lineman of the year and he was the first Buckeye to ever win the Rimington Award as the nation’s outstanding center. He was drafted in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft by New Orleans and was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team. He spent four seasons with the Saints and two more with the Cleveland Browns before retiring.
Bentley received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State in 2010 through the school’s Degree Completion Program.
Tom Byers, men’s track and field
The 1974 USA champion in the 1,500m run, Tom Byers lettered for the track and field team at Ohio State from 1973-76. Byers, a stellar mid-distance athlete, owns a plethora of top marks in Ohio State history.
A three-time indoor All-American in the 1,000-yard run, Byers still owns the school record in the 1,500m run with a readout of 3:37.50 that he ran inside Ohio Stadium in 1974. Later that year in the mile, Byers clocked a time of 4:00.10 to set the school record at that time in the event. After his years of competing for the Scarlet and Gray, Byers was a commonplace in meets hosted by Ohio State. In 1978, he returned to French Field House and set the 1,500m facility record with a time of 3:44.00. Over five years later in 1983, the star-studded athlete returned to Ohio Stadium and set the facility record in the mile with a time of 3:57.15.
Byers was a three-time Big Ten indoor champion in the 1,000 yard run, sweeping the title in three straight years from 1974-76. In 1974, his winning time of 2:06.60 in the event set the Big Ten record and it will never be challenged after being retired.
1974 was an unforgettable year for the sophomore in Columbus as he was an indoor All-American and Big Ten indoor champion, but arguably his biggest accomplishments came on the national stage that year. Byers swept titles in the 800m and 1,500m run at the USA Junior Championships and later that summer he was the USA Outdoor champion in the 1,500m run. His time of 3:42.8 he clocked at the junior national meet that summer is still a meet record.
Mike Conley, men’s basketball
Mike Conley Jr. helped guide the Buckeyes to the NCAA championship game as a freshman in 2007. Conley earned first team All-Big Ten honors and started a wildly successful postseason performance, earning 2007 Big Ten Tournament Most Valuable Player honors, the first of four Buckeyes to claim the award in the Thad Matta era. Conley, who averaged 11.3 points per contest in his only season and owns the Ohio State single season overall and freshman record for assists with 238, followed the Big Ten Tournament effort with the 2007 NCAA South Regional Most Outstanding Player Award. He averaged 6.1 assists a game, the second highest average in Ohio State history, and is credited with six career games with at least 10 assists, second all-time behind Shannon Scott with eight (2012-15). A native of Indianapolis, Conley recorded 87 steals, the third most overall and the most by a freshman in Ohio State single season history.
In Ohio State’s freshman record book, Conley Jr. ranks No. 8 in scoring (441 pts.), No. 8 in field goals made (160), No. 9 in field goal percentage (.518/160-309), No. 5 in made free throws (100), No. 1 in assists (238) and steals (87). Three times he credited with five steals in a single game to tie the Ohio State rookie record for thefts in a game. His six games with 10 assists are tied for fourth.
Conley was part of an Ohio State team that won a school record 35 total games, won the Big Ten regular season and postseason tournament titles and advanced to the 2007 NCAA National Championship game. He was the second of three Buckeyes selected in the first 21 overall picks of the 2007 NBA Draft. Conley Jr. went No. 4 to the Memphis Grizzlies. High school and Ohio State teammate Greg Oden went No. 1 to the Portland Trailblazers and fellow OSU rookie Daequan Cook was selected No. 21 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Chelsea Davis, women’s diving
A national champion in 2008, Chelsea Davis had a phenomenal career as a diver at Ohio State. Her national title on three-meter was the fourth diving championship in the history of the women’s program and first since 2003. Davis was an All-American diver in 2008 as well as 2010, the same year she was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor. She is one of two members of Ohio State’s women’s swimming and diving program to be awarded the most prestigious academic honor the Big Ten has to offer.
An Academic All-American, four-time OSU Scholar Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Davis was named the NCAA Tri-Diver of the Year after her national championship-winning performance. She competed at the 2008 Olympic Trials on three-meter springboard, finishing tenth. A Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, she won a Big Ten Championship on three-meter and was an All-American in 2006 at Northwestern before transferring to Ohio State.
Pete Hanson, men’s volleyball
Pete Hanson is coming off back-to-back NCAA men’s volleyball national championships in 2016-17, marking the Buckeyes’ third national title since 2011. Hanson has guided the OSU men’s volleyball program for over three decades (1985-present) and owns an overall winning percentage of .669 (677-335) with a 296-90 (.777) mark in conference matches. He is no stranger to Hall of Fame induction, selected to the 2015 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame class as one of just 70 members overall at the time of his enshrinement.
AVCA admiration is also nothing new for Hanson, earning the organization’s National Coach of the Year award three times since 2000 (’00, ’11, ’16). Volleyball Magazine recognized him as such, too, in both 1998 and 2011. Hanson’s career is well-decorated at the league level as well, voted as the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Coach of the Year a conference-record 13 times. The Hanson-driven Buckeyes broke through in 2011 to capture just the third national crown from a Midwest school in NCAA men’s volleyball history (Penn State, 1994 and 2008) dating back to 1970. The trend has continued since with MIVA representation reigning supreme in five of the last seven seasons.
In total, Hanson has accumulated 17 MIVA regular season championships, 12 MIVA Tournament titles, 12 NCAA Semifinals appearances and three NCAA national trophies. Under his leadership, the Buckeyes have registered 20-or-more wins in 21 of 33 seasons, including the past two campaigns of 31 and 32 victories in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Those ’16-17 Buckeyes rattled off 42 consecutive wins ranging 398 days between losses, marking the longest winning streak in OSU Athletics history for teams competing in head-to-head competition and third-best in NCAA men’s volleyball all-time.
Five of Hanson’s pupils have been bestowed the Big Ten Medal of Honor, awarded annually to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each member institution who has “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
Bryce Keough, wrestling
Bryce Keough captained the 1951 Ohio State wrestling team to a Big Ten championship, winning the 147 lb. title along the way. It was the second conference crown of his career, as he also claimed top honors at 155 lbs. in 1949. Ohio State’s team title in 1951 was just its second overall and first in 28 years. At the 1951 NCAA Championships, Keough advanced to the quarterfinal round and helped the Buckeyes finish sixth overall, their highest placement in his three seasons. Just the fourth two-time Big Ten champion in program history at the time, Keough earned varsity letters in 1949, 1950 and 1951 during a time when the Buckeyes 17-6-2 in dual matches. Keough was a walk-on for the Buckeyes who grew up in Swanton, Ohio and earned his degree in agricultural engineering.
Christina Manning, women’s track and field
Eleven-time All-American, 10-time Big Ten champion, and two-time national champion Christina Manning was a four-year letterwinner for the Ohio State track and field team from 2008-12. A native of Waldorf, Md., Manning still owns the ninth-fastest 60m hurdle time (7.91) and 10th-fastest 100m hurdle time (12.68) in NCAA history.
Manning holds the school records in four separate events: the 60m dash (7.23), 60m hurdles (7.91), 100m hurdles (12.68) and the 4x100m relay (43.70). The four-time Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year also still owns Big Ten championship meet records in the 60m hurdles with a 7.95 and the aforementioned 43.70 is still the fastest to be run by a relay team at the B1G meet. Manning was an instrumental cog in helping Ohio State collect three team titles at the Big Ten Championships over the course of her career. She was a member of the 2011 indoor, 2011 outdoor and 2012 outdoor conference winning teams, the first three in program history.
The 2012 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year, Manning went out on top as a senior. She won both of her national titles during her final year on campus. At the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships, she clocked a time of 7.91 to claim gold, and less than three months later, she returned to win the title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a time of 12.89 in the 100m hurdles.
The hurdler was named the 2012 Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year for her accomplishments and was a semifinalist for the Bowerman Award, track and field’s most lauded honor. Manning graduated in December of 2012 with a degree in criminology. Manning is in the midst of her track and field career and took bronze at the 2017 Indoor Championships with a time of 8.02 in the 60m hurdles. She also set a personal best of 7.82 in the same event in February of 2017 to move her into No. 8 all-time on the USA list.
Nancy Pearson, women’s swimming
An All-American in 1982, Nancy Pearson helped put Ohio State women’s swimming on the map. She was a two-time Big Ten Champion as a member of the 800 freestyle relay, helping bring home titles in that event in 1982 and 1983. With her leadership and excellence in the pool, Ohio State rattled off five consecutive Big Ten championships starting in 1982.
Pearson was a model of consistent improvement during her career; she scored for Ohio State in each of her five events at Big Ten Championships in all four years of her career, and she improved upon her times in those events with each successive season. In 1981 she was the Ohio Collegiate Champion in the 1650 freestyle. Upon her departure from the Buckeyes she was the school record holder in the 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyles as well as one of the record-setters in the 800 freestyle relay. A Big Ten Medal of Honor winner in 1983, she was also a four-time scholar athlete and graduated summa cum laude from the College of Education.