Inducted: October 17, 2009
A standout in women's track and field, Elaine (Kempf) Zell was inducted into the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 17, 2009, as part of a class that raised the number of honorees to 51.
Zell competed for the Jackrabbits from 1979-82 and rewrote the SDSU record book in a number of events.
Competing in the era in which women's athletics made the transition from AIAW to NCAA competition, Zell was a versatile performer who won eight individual AIAW state titles, claimed four individual North Central Conference titles and ran on numerous championship relay teams. She won four consecutive AIAW state titles in the high jump, while adding back-to-back winning efforts in both the long jump and 400 meters.
The Woonsocket native was selected as the NCC Outstanding Female Athlete at the 1981 conference outdoor championships after tallying a meet-high 28 points. She won the 400 meters and long jump, placed second in the high jump and anchored the winning 4x400-meter relay.
Perhaps her best performance came earlier that year at the Dan Lennon Invitational in Vermillion, where she won all five events — three individual and two relays — she entered and set records in all five. Zell would go on to be named South Dakota Female College Athlete of the Year by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association after setting state collegiate records in the 400 meters (56.5 seconds), long jump (18 feet, 5 inches) and high jump (5-6). She also qualified for the AIAW National Track and Field Meet in Indianapolis in the long jump and 400 meters.
As a senior, Zell was a captain on Jackrabbit teams that captured NCC team titles both indoors and outdoors, sweeping individual titles in the 400 meters.She wrapped up her collegiate career by earning All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the high jump at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Sacramento, Calif., clearing 5-7.5. Zell also competed in the 400 meters and 4x400-meter relay, helping SDSU to a third-place finish in the team standings.