Recapping the Xavier Hall of Fame ceremony

By Spencer Tracy, Staff Writer

Abigail Bessler ‘17; Dexter Bailey ‘84; Joshua Duncan ‘08; Jay Johnson ‘05 and Michael Zennedjian Jr. ‘12, were inducted into the Xavier Athletics Hall of Fame last Friday night sharing the honor with 148 other Musketeers. Coaches, friends, faculty and family members gathered in the Schiff Center to reward the athlete’s accomplishments while at Xavier. 

Dexter Bailey was the first to be honored for his historic career on the basketball court. During the 1982-83 season, Bailey helped the Musketeers to a 22-8 record resulting in a MCC Tournament Championship and Xavier’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1961. He finished his Xavier career as a three-time rebounding champion and 15th all time on Xavier’s rebounding list with 1,730. Bailey’s excellence was noticed, leading him to be drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1984.  

Superstar Abigail Bessler, now by her married name Abbey Schuster, is the most recent to graduate of the group but reasonably so after building one of the best Xavier Volleyball resumes. Bessler won the East Region Rookie of the Year in 2013, implementing her Xavier success early in her career. She would graduate from Xavier with piles of accolades such as two-time All American (2013, 2016), 2015 Big East Player of the Year and three-time Regional Player of the Year. 

During her recruiting process, her parents were convinced she would sign with their alma mater, the University of Miami, however, she was dedicated to becoming a Musketeer. Bessler’s mother, Kathy, asked her why she chose Xavier over Miami to which she replied, “I wanted to write my own song.” 

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Over the weekend, Xavier inducted several former athletes into the Xavier Athletics Hall of Fame, recognizing them for their excellence as student-athletes in competing for the Musketeers at a Division I level.

Xavier reached three NCAA Tournaments including an Elite Eight appearance after a school-record 30 wins in a season thanks to the remarkable talent Joshua Duncan showcased in a four-year career as a Musketeer. He started his Xavier career alongside newly hired Head Coach Sean Miller, who developed Duncan into a scoring machine with 18.3 points per game during their Elite Eight run. 

Duncan’s talents did not go unnoticed placing him on the 2008 NCAA Tournament West Regional All-Tournament Team. Duncan is currently in his 15th season playing overseas for Chiba Jets Funabashi, a professional basketball team in Japan.   

One of the best to step on a diamond wearing a Xavier uniform, Jay Johnson was an outstanding outfielder for the Musketeers all four years. He marked his name in the Xavier record books as an active leader in most career hits and currently standing eighth all time in games played with 208. His talents were recognized nationally by being named All Conference First Team in 2004 and 2005 and Second Team in 2003. 

He was also named Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the year and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2002. After putting together an outstanding college baseball resume, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and played five years of minor league baseball. After accepting his award, Johnson shared a quote from his father that changed his life: “You can do anything you want as long as you work hard for it.” 

Teammates and coaches praised Michael Zennedjian Jr. about how great of a swimmer he was and an even better person. Zennedjian blew opponents out of the water his freshman year, earning him Conference Most Outstanding Rookie Performer in 2008-09. His success would continue when he won Most Outstanding Performer Awards in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. 

He collected 11 individual and five relay A-10 championships medals which is the most by any Xavier swimmer. During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Zennedjian shared some wise words that shaped him as a person and  swimmer when his mom told him, “Win or lose, never take for granted playing for your university and always shake our opponents’ hand.”