When South Dakota State decided to honor its national champions in the fall of 1998, it simplified the selection of the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Simply, when you talk about national champions at SDSU, Garry Bentley’s name goes to the top of the list. He won five ndividual titles in cross country and track during his career from 1972-75 and also ran on a national championship cross country team.
With those credentials, the native of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and current resident of Bangkok, Thailand, was inducted into the Hall of Fame Sept. 12, 1998.
Bentley’s emergence as a distance runner came despite the fact that he never ran in high school, preferring field hockey and table tennis. And it continued after he left SDSU when he represented Australia in international competition in 1977 and 1981. He won the 1981 Australian National Marathon, then retired from all competitive athletics a year later to concentrate on professional opportunities — a career which has seen him as a research and development chemist for H.J. Heinz Company in Melbourne; a factory microbiologist/production supervisor for Mayfair Ham and Bacon Company in Bendigo, Victoria; quality assurance manager for Cadbury Confectionery Company in Tasmania; and general manager of the Cadbury Confectionery Company in Jakarta, Indonesia. From 1994-96, he was owner/manager of a clothing manufacturing company in Hobart, but he moved to Thailand in 1996.
Bentley, who graduated from SDSU in 1975 with a degree in human nutrition/food technology, is currently factory manager of the Thai Dairy Industry Company Ltd. in Bangkok, where he lives with his wife, Janice, and two teen-age sons.
At SDSU his list of accomplishments was lengthy, including lettering four years in both cross country and track. His list of 15 North Central Conference individual titles included three straight NCC cross country championships (1972-73-74) . He won NCAA titles in cross country in 1973 and 1974, setting course records both times. He won the NCAA College Division title in the 1500 in 1972, captured the national title in the 3-mile in 1973, then repeated in that event in 1974. He competed in the NCAA University Division (now Division I) cross country meet three times, placing eighth in 1973. He competed in the 3-mile run at the 1974 Division I outdoor track meet, finishing sixth. His name was all over the SDSU record book, showing up in eight places indoors and nine spots outdoors. Some of those are still records, retired when track went to metric measurements.
In 1975, Bentley won the 6-mile run at Drake, running 27:31.0 in a field which included most of the top American runners at the time — Gary Bjorklund, Frank Shorter, Glenn Herald, along with some international stars like Neil Cusack of Ireland and Tony Stannings of Great Britain. In that race, Bentley broke his own SDSU and South Dakota collegiate mark of 29:09.4. His bests also included a 4:03.1 mile and 13:24.4 3-mile time.