Six former Chippewas named to CMU Weston Hall of Fame

Aug. 22, 2016

MOUNT PLEASANT, MICHIGAN - Three distinguished track and field athletes, a two-sport standout, a championship gymnast and a basketball player who set a standard for rebounding are the newest members of the Central Michigan University Marcy Weston Hall of Fame.

The six -- Alden Bernardi, Sara Burtinsky, Johnie Drake, Tamera Thomas, Ken VanDyke and Pierre Vinson -- will be inducted Friday, Oct. 28, in a ceremony in McGuirk Arena. The event begins at 7 p.m., and is free and open to the public. All six also will be honored at halftime of the football game against Kent State on Saturday, Oct. 29.

"Every inductee this year had not just one moment of success, but excelled athletically throughout their time as Central Michigan students," CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said. "Many of them established records that stand today, and their record of community involvement as CMU graduates is stellar."

More on the inductees:

Alden (Al) Bernardi, two-sport star: Bernardi was promoted from junior varsity to the varsity football program early in the memorable 9-0 1956 season. Bernardi's freshman highlight was a 22-yard interception return, and he saw his first action as a halfback. He moved to fullback as a sophomore, but was at halfback for his finest game his senior season in October 1959 against Eastern Michigan. He ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-8 victory. Bernardi was part of a speedy four-man backfield that season with Jerry O'Neil, Walt Beach and Bob Kelley, and they combined to average 5.5 yards a carry. Bernardi, a two-way player, was named to the All-IIAC team in 1959 as a defensive back. He ran track for four seasons, most frequently competing as a hurdler, earning all-conference honors in high and low hurdles from 1957-59.

Sara Burtinsky, all-around gymnast: A five-time Mid-American Conference champion, Burtinsky was the 2005 MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year. Burtinsky helped CMU earn MAC championships in 2003 and 2004, and CMU won three consecutive regular-season MAC titles in 2003-2005 and reached the NCAA regional championships in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Her individual MAC titles came on the uneven bars (2004, 2005), all-around (2004, 2005) and the balance beam (2004). She 9.975 mark on the beam remains a program record. Burtinsky, an award-winning scholar athlete, also earned a regional title on bars in 2004 and reached the NCAA Championship.

Johnie Drake, champion sprinter: A world-class sprinter who excelled in the 60-meter dash, Drake earned All-America honors in 2004 when he finished eighth at NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter. He was named the Outstanding Performer at the 2006 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships and was a four-time MAC Champion, winning the 60-meter dash and 200 at the 2004 MAC Indoor Championships and the 100 and 200 at the 2006 MAC Championships. Still owns the CMU record in the 100 with a time of 10.14 seconds and in the 60m at 6.54 seconds. At one point, Drake held the fastest time in the nation in the 60m in 2004 and 2005 and the world in 2006. He was a member of two MAC championship teams -- 2005 indoor and 2006 outdoor.

Tamera Thomas, All-American athlete: Thomas, a five-time Mid-American Conference champion, still owns six CMU women's track and field records (60-meter hurdles, 8.29 seconds; 55-meter hurdles, 7.77; 100 hurdles, 13.26; indoor long jump, 19 feet, 11 ¾ inches; pentathlon, 4,069 points and the 100-meter dash, 11.74 seconds). Thomas earned All-America honors in 2006 in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She was the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2005 and 2006 MAC Indoor Championships, winning the 60-meter hurdles and pentathlon titles both years. She was a national qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles in 2005 and won same event at the 2006 MAC Outdoor Championships. Thomas was awarded the Bill Boyden Award in 2005, given to a senior who best combines participation in a varsity sport with leadership in campus affairs and community involvement.

Ken VanDyke, men's basketball star: VanDyke averaged 10.4 rebounds a game from 1959-1962 and is the third-leading career rebounder in CMU history with 958. He still holds CMU records for rebound by a freshman (271) and freshman rebounding average (11.3). He had 280 rebounds his sophomore year, a record at the time. He was a steady point producer, averaging 12.2 points per game for his career and in double figures every season. He led CMU in scoring in 1961 and 1962. VanDyke, a Muskegon native, went on to a 31-year teaching career with Fruitport Community Schools. He also coached boys and girls basketball. He was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

Pierre Vinson, eight-time MAC champion: Vinson earned eight MAC titles while at CMU, and he was named co-Most Valuable Performer at the 2005 and 2006 MAC Indoor Championships and was the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2005 MAC Outdoor Championships. Vinson also earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the 60m at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships. A member of three MAC championship teams, the Detroit native set the CMU 100-meter record in 2004 with a time of 10.34 seconds. His eight MAC titles came in the 100-meter dash (outdoor, 2004, 2005), 200 (outdoor and indoor in 2004, 2005) and 60-meter dash (indoor, 2005, 2006).

The 2016 class is the 33rd group of inductees, and it brings to 202 the number of hall members -- athletes, coaches, administrators, contributors and championship teams. The inaugural class was inducted in 1984.

Individuals are eligible for induction 10 years after their final season at CMU; they must earn two letters in one sport or one or more in two sports; or brought recognition to the school by his or her athletic endeavors; and an outstanding career as an athlete must be continued in the individual's profession or occupation.

For induction as faculty/staff: A person becomes eligible five years after leaving his or her coaching position or athletic-related administrative position. Hall of Fame selections are made by the Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame Board of Directors.

The hall is named in honor of Marcy Weston, the former executive associate director of athletics/sport administration who retired in 2015. Weston came to CMU in 1972 and served the university athletic department in several capacities, including as a coach and an administrator, for 42 years.

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