MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Northern Illinois. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
There are not many athletes which represent the golf-slash-speedskating category, so this one will be dedicated to Ken Henry, the only NIU athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.
Henry's performances at Northern Illinois were in and of itself not noteworthy, at least of their own blog post. He played on the golf team from 1949-52, and he did all right for himself, but no types of conference accolades or championships won. He is in the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame as a golfer, in the most pedantic sense, because NIU didn't have a speedskating team. But that's what he did best.
He participated in three different Olympics (1948, '52, '56) in the 500-meter, 1500-meter, and 5000-meter events. As a world elite he wasn't able to crack top tens in either of the longer events, but in the 1952 Games in Oslo, Norway he was able to break through with a time of 43.2 seconds in the medal race, seven tenths of a second ahead of the silver medallist, fellow American Don McDermott.
Henry went on to be a club professional in golf, even while speedskating professionally. As an added bonus he was selected to light the torch for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.
Best speedskater in MAC history? (Even if he played before NIU's MAC affiliation?) Has to be.
Who are your nominees for Northern Illinois's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.