Harrell to be inducted into Texas Senior Hall of Fame
When champion discus thrower Jeff Harrell watched a friend inducted into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame in 2002, Harrell thought that could be him some day.
“Maybe one day … who knows …” Harrell told his wife, Daneilia.
Harrell, now 78, lives with his wife near Blanket and has won numerous awards as discus thrower in seniors competitions. Harrell learned recently that he has been selected for induction into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Harrell is a 10-time Texas Senior Games discus champion and the 2011 National Senior Games champion. Harrell climbed to No. 2 in discus world rankings for Masters Track and Field in 2017.
Harrell said he learned about his induction when he received a call on Father’s Day from Bruce Rollins, chairperson of the 2020 Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame. Harrell nearly hung up on Rollins, thinking it was a crank call or a sales pitch.
Then Harrell understood what Rollins was telling him.
“I had to sit down for a minute,” Harrell said, adding that it’s an honor and a great way to finish his career.
A letter from Rollins summarizes Harrell’s career:
“This outstanding 78-year-old track and field athlete learned how to throw the discus, javelin and shot put by first picking up a 5 pound weight, a piece of pipe and a motor part to prepare for the 2001 Kerrville Games,” the letter states. “Never having done any of this, he asked to borrow the implements to compete and won all three events. Moving on to San Antonio, he lost for the first and only time to a Texas thrower, John Conniff, in the discus.”
Harrell credits Texas Senior Games Hall of Famer Wendel Palmer for being an inspiration to work hard, hoping to maybe one day becoming a Hall of Famer himself, the letter states.
Overcoming a sever shoulder injury in 2011, Harrell came back to the national stage at the National Senior Games in 2017 in Birmingham, Ala. and set a new national record of 131 feet (breaking the old record by 10 feet for the 75-79 age group). That year, Harrell ranked second in the world out of 175 competitors.
Harrell also holds the 70-74 year old National Senior Games record which he set in 2011 while winning the National Senior Games Championship.
”All this is not bad for a promising high school baseball player who found his way back to the winners circle by participating in the Texas Senior Games events,” the letter states.
Because events have been canceled due to COVID, it is uncertain when Harrell will actually be inducted.
“I would like to thank the people that kept up with me and supported me,” Harrell. “I met a bunch of good athletes over the years. Those athletes include several former Olympians and world champion pole vaulter Bob Richards, Harrell said.
Harrell reties with 16 years as Texas champ and two national records. “My wife Daneilia went to all the meets. We were a team,” Harrell said.
In 2015, Harrell was profiled in the Bulletin as as one of the 25 greatest athletes in Brown County history.
Harrell was a two-time district pole vault champion at Brownwood High, and he also excelled on the baseball diamond. Though Brownwood High School did not field a team when Harrell was a teenager, he still posted impressive numbers in Senior League competition, including 156 strikeouts over a nine-game stretch.
After graduating high school in 1960, Harrell signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.