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Reina, Slay, Harkness, Lee & Franzen Into EIWA Hall of Fame

Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association

Five new members will be inducted into the EIWA Hall of Fame in a ceremony before the final round of the EIWA Championships on March 8 at the University of Pennsylvania.

The announcement was made by Larry Sheridan, chairman of the EIWA Hall of Fame Committee.

The new inductees are former Penn coach Roger Reina, Olympic champion and former Penn wrestler Brandon Slay, NCAA champion Travis Lee of Cornell, NCAA champion John Harkness of Harvard, and three-time EIWA champion Gerry Franzen of Navy.

Bios for each of the inductees follow:

No one has played a more significant role in the storied tradition of Penn Wrestling than Roger Reina. After serving as team captain his senior year in 1984, Reina served two years as Larry Lauchle's assistant coach and in 1986, Roger was named the youngest Division I head coach in the nation. Nineteen years later, he retired with a record of 205-106-6, more than twice the next best figure at Penn. Three of his teams placed Top 12 at Nationals, with a high of 9th in 2000 -- the school's 3rd-highest ever finish.

Reina wrestlers achieved 17 NCAA medals and became seven of Penn's eight multiple medalists. His wrestlers achieved three NCAA finals, several national Greco-Roman and Freestyle titles, including 2000 NCAA champ Brett Matter and 2000 Olympic champion Brandon Slay. Penn set an Ivy record by winning seven straight Ivy titles from 1996-2002. In the EIWA, Reina coached the Quakers' first-ever team title and four straight from 1996-1999. After Penn won no individual titles from 1945-95, his 1997 team tied the league mark with seven champions, among 31 titles won from 1996-2005.

Five of Reina's grapplers earned the Class of 1915 Award, as the university's top seniors in athletics, leadership and character. He was elected Chairman of the Ivy League Wrestling Coaches Association, President of the EIWA Coaches Association and President of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. He was a four-time NWCA National Coach of the Year nominee and a three-time EIWA Coach of the Year.

Roger is currently Director of Major Gifts for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and still attends every home meet as an integral part of the program's continued success.

Brandon Slay was the brightest shining star of the Roger Reina era, who owns the distinction as Penn's only Olympic medalist, after he won Gold at the 2000 Sydney Games. Slay's arrival on campus in 1993 helped create an immediate impact, as he led the Quakers to their first Ivy title since 1972.

He would retain All-Ivy honors four straight years and won EIWA titles in '96 and '97 after earning third and second place. In between, Brandon took a year off and won national freestyle and greco-roman titles. He returned to Penn with a vengeance in 1996 and '97, not only winning Easterns but twice placing second in the nation at 167 pounds. He was the EIWA Wrestler of the Year in 1997 and was the first wrestler in Penn's history to win 100 bouts, finishing with 110 which is still fifth all-time. His 33 wins in 1997 set a school record at the time.

Following his Penn career, Brandon was a University National Freestyle champion in both '98 and '99. After placing sixth in 1999 at the U.S. Open, he became champion and the Outstanding Wrestler Award at the 2000 event, before winning Gold in Sydney.

After the Olympics, Brandon started an organization called Greater Gold, which prepares youth to reach their academic and athletic potential through shared religious messages. He still travels nationally speaking to schools, youth groups, churches and business organizations. Slay is a 1998 finance graduate of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Amarillo, TX, he now resides in Dallas, where he is employed by Stream Realty Partners, a commercial real estate firm.

In 2005, Travis Lee became Cornell's first-ever 4-time All-American, the first in the EIWA in 22 years and one of just five in league history. He's the only NCAA All-American in history to hail from Hawaii and in 2001 became a junior national champion in Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Without deferring any seasons, Lee became a 4-time EIWA champion (one of just eight ever in the league) and was the first 2-time NCAA champion in the conference in 16 years. He also won a Midlands Championship in 2002.

Wrestling at 125 and 133, his national titles came as a sophomore and senior, also placing seventh as a freshman and fifth. In the EIWA, Travis was voted the Freshman of the Year in '02, Wrestler of the Year in '03, Outstanding Wrestler in '04 and '05 and won the Fletcher Memorial Award for most career points.

He was the Ivy League's Wrestler of the Year in 2003 and 2005 and a three-time All-Ivy First Team selection. He's Cornell's all-time winningest grappler with a record of 143-13. He was 47-3 in career duals and his win pct of .917 is second only to 1960 Olympian Dave Auble.

A volunteer assistant coach with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, his post-grad freestyle resume includes winning championships at the 2005 NYAC Open, 2006 Clansmen International and 2007 Dave Schultz International. He placed 2nd at the 2005 Sunkist Kids Open and 2006 NYAC Open. Lee owns a degree in biological and environmental engineering, and a master's degree, now working full-time at Kionix in Ithaca.

Seven years ago, 85-year old John Cheesman "Chip "Harkness was in a spirited debate in Harvard's gym with an EIWA fan, who challenged him: "What do you know about wrestling? "Harkness retorted: "I'm Harvard's only national champion, what have you done? "He soon learned he was mixing it up with Lehigh national champ, Billy Stuart.

Harkness was equally skilled at wrestling and the real world. He placed third at 175 in the 1936 EIWA Championships, then won in '38 by avenging his 1936 semi-finals loss to 3-time finalist and defending champ, Ross Shaffer, Penn State. "Chip "won Nationals in 1938 by beating the returning runner-up, Marshall Word from Oklahoma.

After graduation Harkness completed a master's in 1941 at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. "Chip "served briefly in the American Field Service, then in World War II was an ambulance driver, most notably at the Battle of Casino.

After the War, Harkness joined six others including wife, Sarah, and [Walter?] Gropius to found a partnership, The Architect's Collaborative, TAC (1945-1995). The firm designed well known buildings around the world as a benchmark in postwar modernism. The organization was unique for emphasizing a team vs. individual approach and by the 1980s was a pioneer in designing "green "buildings. Harkness designed many school buildings and was one of two founders who served throughout TAC's entire 50 years.

Well into the 1950's, "Chip "was still known within the Crimson wrestling room for his speed, strength, modesty and generosity in training wrestlers. In fact, the first thing Jesse Jantzen did after getting his hand raised in 2004 as Harvard's second NCAA champion was to turn and salute Harkness in the stands.

John currently lives in Vinalhaven, ME.

Gerry Franzen of the United States Naval Academy represents the ultimate in EIWA excellence. He was a perfect 12-0 record en route to three league titles at 177 and the Outstanding Wrestler award as a senior in 1965. He earned that with three falls, including one over future NCAA champion at 191, Tom Schlendorf, Syracuse. Gerry won his first two finals by fall and 14-1, both against Pitt's NCAA 5th, Ken Barr. In Franzen's first Easterns, he was unknown but beat four straight seeds, including 1964 All-American at 191, John Gladish, Lehigh.

A Navy team captain, Franzen is one of six Midshipmen to win three league titles and is one of 13 two-time All-Americans. He won eight of 14 bouts in three Nationals, placing sixth in 1963 and fifth in '64. All six defeats came vs. All-Americans, five of them placing Top Three. He was a two-time semi-finalist and had three falls and two major decisions by today's rules.

A native of Portland, OR who now lives in Vancouver, WA, Gerry was a state champion for Bob Majors, a protégé' of Oregon State's Dale Thomas. At the Naval Academy Franzen earned the Weems Wrestling Award and later served on the U.S.S. Constellation. During active duty in Vietnam he became Interservice Champion at 213 pounds and was 4th in Greco-Roman at the 1967 A.A.U. Nationals. His quip today belies his serious roles: "That weight tells you there wasn't much rigor training on cruise in the China Sea."
For all of his distinguished contributions to his sport, his Academy and his country we congratulate Gerry Franzen on his well-earned induction into the EIWA Hall of Fame.

Posted February 26th, 2009. Filed under Amateur Wrestling Tagged: , , , , ,

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