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Kentucky to induct six into Athletics Hall of Fame

Rich Brooks signaled to Kentucky fans after a victory over Mississippi State in 2006.
Rich Brooks signaled to Kentucky fans after a victory over Mississippi State in 2006. AP

Rich Brooks, the only football coach in school history to guide the University of Kentucky to bowl games in four consecutive years and win three straight bowls, heads a class of six inductees named Wednesday to the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.

Brooks will be joined in the 2016 class by basketball player Chuck Hayes, wrestler James Johnson, softball player Molly Johnson-Belcher, runner Bernadette Madigan-Dugan and football player Wesley Woodyard.

The group will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend, Sept. 23-24, in conjunction with the football home game against South Carolina.

The UK Athletics Hall of Fame was started in 2005. The charter class included 88 individuals who had previously had their jersey retired by UK. There is a five-year waiting period after leaving UK to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. A committee consisting of Hall of Famers, media members, campus representatives and current coaches and administrators elects new inductees each year.

Here is a closer look at the class of 2016:

Rich Brooks (2003-09): Brooks took over a program mired in NCAA probation and by 2006 led UK to a 28-20 win over Clemson in the Music City Bowl. He followed that with a win over Florida State in the 2007 Music City Bowl, a season which included a top-10 ranking and a victory over No. 1 (and eventual national champion) LSU. Brooks then led the Cats to a victory over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl before closing his UK career with a loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl. Under Brooks, the Cats won at least seven games four years in a row, the first time that had happened at UK since 1909-12.

Chuck Hayes (2002-05): Hayes was known for relentless defense and tenacious rebounding. He was named 2005 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He ranks seventh in career rebounds (910) and eighth in career steals (170) and is a member of UK’s 1,000-point club. He led the Wildcats in rebounding three straight seasons and played in the NCAA Tournament all four seasons he was at UK, including Elite Eight finishes in 2003 and 2005. Hayes went on to play 11 years in the NBA.

James Johnson (1977-80): A four-year letterman, Johnson started every year as a 190-pounder. He finished with a career record of 65-21, winning the Southern Open twice. He was a three-time SEC medalist, including a second-place finish at the 1980 league championships. After college, Johnson became a three-time national champion and four-time World Cup medalist as a Greco-Roman competitor, wrestling at 220 pounds. He was a member of the coaching staff for the U.S. team at the 2012 Olympics and is on the training staff for the 2016 Games.

Molly Johnson-Belcher (2007-10): Johnson was UK’s first softball All-American, its first four-time All-SEC honoree and led the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament berth. She ended her career owning UK career records in batting average (.389), doubles (56), runs (161), home runs (35), slugging percentage (.656) and total bases (445), was second in assists (510) and RBI (135), third in hits (264) and stolen bases (66), and fourth in triples (10). She is currently a UK assistant coach.

Bernadette Madigan-Dugan (1981-85): Madigan became the first UK female to win a national track championship when she won the NCAA 2-mile run in 1982. She won two SEC titles — the 1982 3,000-meter run and the 1983 3-mile run and earned All-America honors in five separate events — cross country, indoor 2-mile, outdoor 3,000 meters, indoor 3,200-meter relay and the outdoor 10,000 meters . She has coached collegiately at Marshall, Furman, UK and Transylvania and is currently coaching at Lexington Catholic High School.

Wesley Woodyard (2004-07): Woodyard, a linebacker, was named to the All-SEC First Team as a junior and senior. He made 395 career tackles, seventh-most in UK history, leading the team in tackles three straight seasons. As a senior, he led the league with 139 tackles. Woodyard helped lead the Wildcats to back-to-back Music City Bowl appearances. He has played eight seasons in the NFL with Denver and Tennessee.