It's pretty easy to get locked in on one member of the newest class of inductees to the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Ron Dayne isn't just the headliner of the seven-person group. He's regarded by some as the greatest athlete in UW history. He might be the most important figure, too, given how his much-decorated football career brought zest to an act that was in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder.

Dayne set the NCAA career rushing record from 1996 to '99, starred on two Big Ten Conference title-winners, was twice the MVP of the Rose Bowl and won the Heisman Trophy. His ovation is sure to be longest and loudest Saturday night when the inductees are acknowledged at halftime of UW's season opener against Northern Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium.

Hard to believe it's been 10 years already.

But the other inductees - Clare Eichner (women's track and cross country), Wayne Esser (Mendota Gridiron Club executive director), Thornton Kipper (baseball), Joe Panos (football), Bill Reddan (men's soccer) and Robin Threatt (women's basketball) - have distinguished resumes that demand examination.

Eichner won four NCAA races in 1993 (3,000 and mile indoors; 3,000 and 1,500 outdoors). That's a big deal when you know the only other woman to claim four individual titles in the same school year is the greatest female athlete in UW history: Suzy Favor Hamilton.

Esser has been active in the Mendota Gridiron Club since 1960 and an officer in the football booster organization since 1969. He's worked with five UW athletic directors, eight coaches, seen 547 games, raised millions of dollars and smoothed countless ruffled feathers. Ooohh, would his book be a fun read.

Before Kipper spent three major league seasons pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, he helped define two of the biggest accomplishments in the star-crossed history of the defunct UW baseball program. He went 5-0 as the Badgers won the Big Ten title in 1950 - their last - and won both games for UW in its only appearance in what is now known as the College World Series. He died in 2006.

Panos was an All-Big Ten offensive tackle in 1993 who went on to play seven seasons in the NFL, but his induction is best defined by the fact that he's the first member of that breakthrough Rose Bowl squad to be so honored. A walk-on, he captained a team that included 11 eventual All-Big Ten picks, two All-Americans and 14 NFL draftees.

Reddan is more than the father of UW soccer, more than the first inductee from the men's program. His love for the sport - he started the club team at UW in 1964 and helped coach the Badgers from 1977 to '96 - brought the now-gigantic youth soccer movement in the Madison area to life. I wonder how many adults and their children embraced the game, all because of Reddan?

Threatt toiled during one of the worst stretches in UW women's basketball history - 61-78 overall, including two 20-loss seasons - but emerged as the all-time leading scorer in school history with 1,901 points (since surpassed by three players), was a two-time All-Big Ten first-team pick and led the Badgers to their first NCAA tournament berth in 1992.

Yes, one person will dominate the official Hall of Fame ceremony Friday at the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, but the other inductees share his worthiness.

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