Daily Herald
Eight named to Burlington Central Hall of Fame
Daily Herald Staff Report
Published: 7/22/2010 12:03 AM

The Burlington Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee has approved eight new individuals, three boys track relay teams, a girls basketball team and a boys track squad for induction.

The Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9 at the high school. Daily Herald Fox Valley Sports Editor John Radtke, a Burlington Central alum, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

The following will be inducted to the Hall of Fame:

Dan Sheldon: A 2001 graduate, Sheldon was a three-sport athlete who made his greatest mark playing football, where he became an all-state running back, leading the Rockets to the state quarterfinals his senior year. A former Daily Herald All-Area captain, he then went on to play for some of coach Joe Novak's best NIU football teams, earning the nickname "Seabiscuit" when he led the nation in punt returning. Sheldon also played briefly for the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL.

Gary Stran: An inductee to the Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Stran came to Central as head football coach in 1974 and spent 17 years leading the Rockets, amassing a record of 110-49. He coached the football program to its first state playoff berth in 1985 and led the Rockets to the playoffs five times during his tenure.

Jim Swanson: A 1965 graduate who played three sports and excelled in baseball.

John Turk: A 1967 graduate who also played three sports and excelled in basketball and baseball.

Jenna Real: A former captain of the Daily Herald's All-Area team, the 2002 graduate is the school's all-time leading scorer for boys or girls basketball. An all-state basketball player she went on to a stellar career at Loyola University.

Mike Simpson: A three-sport athlete, this 1994 graduate was an all-conference football player who went on to play quarterback at Eureka College then Eastern Illinois University, where he still adorns the record book along with NFL quarterback Tony Romo.

Chris Wesson: A track and football standout, this 2004 graduate won the 800-meter state championship in 2004 after placing eighth in the event in 2003. He earned a track scholarship to Eastern Illinois University, where he was captain of the Panthers' track team for three years.

Susan (Yurs) Mertes: A 1984 graduate, Mertes played basketball and softball all four years of high school. She was part of the 1983-84 girls basketball team that reached the Sweet Sixteen and was a four-year letter winner in softball. Also played at Elgin Community College and completed her education at NIU.

Relay teams: The 1995 4 x 100 relay team, the 2001 4 x 100 relay team and the 2003 4 x 800 relay team will all be inducted. Each of those squads won state championships. Team members included Zach Frazier, Dustin Gregory, Earl Ali, PJ Carroll, Andrew Rex, Dan Knewitz, and Chris Wesson, among others.

2001 boys track team: The 2001 boys track team finished second in the state in Class A, losing the state championship to Harrisburg by 1 point. All four relays medaled at state as did seven individuals. The team also won Big Northern Conference and sectional championships.

1983-84 girls basketball team: This squad became the first Central basketball team of either gender to advance to a Sweet Sixteen. Coached by the now deceased Ralph Hix, team members were Michelle Butt, Jennifer Cork, Susan Yurs, Dawn DeWitte, Laura Mayberry, Terri Marshall and Beth Rakow.

For further information on the Hall of Fame, contact Jan Maas at Central High School, (847) 464-6030.