Feb. 10, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern inducted four student-athletes into its Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night at the Allen Center on its Evanston Campus. The Hall of Fame's 23rd class also was honored at halftime of Saturday's Northwestern-Penn State men's basketball game.
The Athletic Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1984 to honor former athletes, coaches and administrators who have helped establish a proud tradition in intercollegiate competition at Northwestern. Individuals are eligible for Hall of Fame recognition beginning five years after their final competition at NU.
This year's four inductees increase Northwestern's Hall of Fame membership to 126. One of the honorees, Kim Paton Fromberg, was unable to travel due to pregnancy, and will be officially inducted next year.
Following are brief summaries of the inductees' careers.
Jim Benepe, Men's Golf (1984-86) -- Benepe savored a stellar two-year career with the Wildcats, earning first-team All-America honors in 1986 and claiming the 1986 Big Ten championship. In addition, he posted a top-10 finish that year at the NCAA National Championships.
Benepe, who played his first two years at Weber State, earned All-Big Ten distinction in both 1985 and '86. He also was named Northwestern's 1986 Male Athlete of the Year. Today, he ranks fifth on Northwestern's career stroke average list, and he has posted two of the lowest single-season stroke averages in Wildcat history -- the 11th and 13th best all-time.
After leaving Northwestern, Benepe embarked on a professional career that has seen him play 123 events. His professional highlight came in 1988, when making his first PGA Tour start, won the Western Open in Oak Brook, Ill. Up until 2001, he was the last professional golfer to win a PGA Tour event in his first start. He won the PGA Tour's 1988 Rookie of the Year honor.
Benepe, a 2006 Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame inductee and a corporate marketing manager with Phoenix Fuel, LLC, also recorded professional wins on the Australian Tour (1987 Victoria Open) and the Canadian Tour (1987 British Columbia Open). After leaving the tour in the early 1990s, Benepe returned to competitive golf in the late 1990s, playing in select events in Australia, on the PGA Tour and in several events on the Nationwide Tour.
Rohan Gardner, Wrestling (1991-96) -- Beginning his Wildcat career as a walk-on student-athlete, Gardner left as a two-time All-American. He capped a stellar career with a scholarship and a 108-29 overall record.
A 1996 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic first-team member (one of 10 wrestlers to earn the honor), Gardner won the 1996 Big Ten crown at 177 pounds, edging Michigan State's Erich Harvey, 9-8. He went on to finish third at the 1996 NCAA Championships. In 1995, he won a career-most 30 matches (30-5) and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships.
Gardner went 59-11 in his final two seasons with the Wildcats. He also qualified for the NCAA Championships at 167 pounds his sophomore year.
Gardner's 108 wins ranks eighth today on Northwestern's all-time victory list. He was the Wildcats' Stuteville (point leader) and Lupton (net takedowns) Award recipients in 1995 and '96. He also won the Jack Riley Fall Trophy in 1994.
Gardner was born in Jamaica before moving to south Florida when he was in the fourth grade. The eventual Florida high school state champion then enrolled at Northwestern in 1991. He suffered a knee injury his sophomore year, which resulted in a medical hardship and fifth season. He put that fifth year to good use, earning a master's degree in engineering. Gardner now works for Marks Brothers Engineering Contractors in Miami.
Wendi Kemp, Field Hockey and Lacrosse (1983-86) -- Kemp starred for both the field hockey and lacrosse teams during the mid-1980s, earning all-conference honors in field hockey and All-American honors in lacrosse. She finished her lacrosse career fourth on Northwestern's all-time scoring list with 85 points. At the conclusion of her career, she ranked fourth on the career goals (50) list and second in assists (35). Kemp is eighth presently on NU's all-time assist list. She was named a Brine second-team All-American three times (1984, 1985 and 1986).
For those three seasons Kemp earned All-America honors, the Wildcats went a combined 27-12, with NCAA postseason trips in 1984 and '86.
As a field hockey player, Kemp ranked fourth on the school's all-time scoring list (82 points) at the conclusion of her career. Her 82 points still ranks 12th all-time. Kemp scored 32 career goals, which were the fourth most at the end of her career and ninth at the time of her induction. Kemp's 36 points (15 goals, 6 assists) in 1985 is the 12th-best season in school history.
Kemp earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 1985. She also made the all-NCAA Tournament that season as the Wildcats reached the national semifinals and finished the year 20-2. The 1985 team captured Northwestern's third consecutive Big Ten title.
Kemp earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 1984 and 1985.
Following her graduation in 1986, Kemp earned a law degree from the University of Connecticut and became an attorney, specializing in labor, employment and immigration law.
Kim Paton Fromberg, Women's Swimming & Diving (1992-95) -- Paton enjoyed unparalleled success as a freestyle specialist before injuries forced her into early retirement. She held the Northwestern record in the 200 freestyle (1:47.60), her best event, for 10-plus years. (Andrea Hupman broke the mark in 2005.)
Paton also had success in the 100 free (49.96 and 500 free (4:46.63), continuing to NU's second-best times in both events. She became the first Big Ten swimmer to break the 50-second barrier in the 100 free. It was versatility that made Paton a star in the relays. She holds four separate team records in relay events. In 1994, Paton surfaced as the most dominant swimmer in the Big Ten. At the Conference Championships, Paton won three individual events (100, 200, 500 freestyle) and two relay events (400, 800 free relays). She was named the 1994 Co-Big Ten Swimmer of the Year and was a finalist for Big Ten Athlete of the Year.
Hailing from the Toronto, Ontario area in Canada, Paton was a member of the Canadian National Swim Team, prior to her arrival at Northwestern in 1992. As a member of Canada's Pan American Games team in 1991, she won three bronze medals.
In just three years of collegiate swimming, Paton recorded three All-America cuts and nine Big Ten championships.
Following her graduation in 1996, Paton helped coach amateur swim teams in Toronto as well as New Jersey, her current residence.
For reservations to the 2006-07 Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, please call Jean Yale at 847-491-3694 by Jan. 31.