Former Men’s Track and Field Standout Matt Byrnes Completes 2024 Hall of Fame Class


DEKALB, Ill. – Matt Byrnes, a conference championship and qualifying thrower for the NIU Men’s Team, will be inducted into the NIU Hall of Fame Class of 2024.

Byrnes is the seventh, and final, member of the 2024 Hall of Fame Class to be announced. He completes a class that also includes Debbie Huston (Women’s Soccer, 1994-98), Jordan Lynch (Football, 2009-13), Kate McCullagh (Volleyball, 2003-06), Holly Reichard (Gymnastics, 2008-11), Pete Waite (Volleyball Head Coach, 1988-98) and Jimmie Ward (Football, 2009-13). The group will be formally inducted during Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 18-19) at NIU.

“We are very pleased to welcome Matt Byrnes into the NIU Hall of Fame,” said Rodney Davis, Chairman of the NIU Hall of Fame Committee. “Matt was a highly accomplished student-athlete and he is very deserving of his place in this year’s Hall of Fame Class.”

Byrnes won the shot put title at the 1975 Mid-American Conference Outdoor and was a three-time Championships qualifier in the shot put.

A native of West Des Moines, Iowa, Byrnes was a state runner-up in the shot put at Jefferson High School before beginning his collegiate career at Drake, spending two seasons with the Bulldogs.

In his first season at NIU, Byrnes won four indoor shot put titles while finishing second at the MAC Invitational with a mark of 56-05.25 (17.20m) and second at the Central Collegiate Championship with a season-best mark of 57-07.75 (17.57m).

Byrnes went on to win six more meets during the 1975 outdoor campaign, including the MAC Championship where he recorded a mark of 56-07.50 (17.25m) to win the conference crown. His season-best throw came at Northern Iowa, winning the meet title with a mark of 57-08.75 (17.59m).

The 1975 MAC Championship marked the first time a Huskie student-athlete had won a MAC title, as Byrnes won the shot put, Larry Satchwell took top honors in the hammer throw and Scott Pauli claimed the pole vault crown, helping the Huskies post their best conference meet finish, claiming fifth.

As a senior in 1976, Byrnes took 10th in the shot put at the Indoor Championships, recording a mark of 54-11.50 (16.75m) at the national meet. Byrnes recorded a season-best mark of 59-06.00 (18.13m) at the MAC Championships, finishing second.

During the 1976 outdoor season, Byrnes claimed first-place finishes in the shot put at seven different events, including the Illinois Intercollegiate and the Central Collegiate. He posted a season-best mark of 60-02.50 (18.35m) twice that spring, first at the NIU Invitational and again in the prelims at the MAC Championship, where he finished second.

Byrnes concluded his Huskie career with an 11th place finish in the shot put at the 1976 NCAA Outdoor , recording a mark of 58-05.25 (17.81m).

Following his time at NIU, Byrnes went on to compete for the Chicago Track Club and the Maccabi Track Club. He returned to NIU Health Service in 1994 and served as a team physician.  



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