|Title:||Class of 1987|
Richard Zeleny was truly one of the most renowned athletes in WPI's history. His accomplishments as a runner will never be equaled.
The records he set in cross country and on the track were phenomenal. Most astonishing is his record for endurance. The New Jersey State high school champion, he came to WPI in 1948 and proceeded to lower the school cross country record each of his four years.
When he graduated in 1953, he also owned the best times at Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts and the Coast Guard Academy. In a four-year span, he won 14 of 20 races and racked up four second place and two thirds place finishes as well.
Drive and determination also propelled him to succeed on the indoor track in winter and the outdoor track in the spring. Always the fastest on the relay team, he had the sole distinction of participating in every relay race during his four years.
A team man, he may have been most proud when, in 1952, with just 11 men, Tech ventured to Lewiston and upset Bates 52-47. One of his most sparkling moments came in his senior year during a meet at Amherst College. In the span of less than an hour, he accomplished the near impossible task of winning the half-mile, mile and two-mile events.
His versatility should also be noted. During the winter of his senior year, for example, he won six different running events - the 440-, 600-, 880- and 1,000-yard, and mile and two-mile runs.
He was a leader on the track and off. A member of Tau Beta Pi, which recognized him for his scholarship, he was also an active member of the Varsity Club, in which he served as secretary, and the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, in which he served as both secretary and treasurer.
Tonight we proudly honor Dick Zeleny for his outstanding athletic achievement by inducting him, posthumously, into the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame.