In a way, the few empty seats were proof the best had been chosen.
As part of Seattle Prep's centennial celebration, the school selected four alumni and a former coach to be the first members of Prep's Athletic Hall of Fame.
The five former Panthers were inducted into the newly formed Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Westin Hotel, during the school's centennial celebration banquet.
For reasons befitting Hall of Famers, two of them were absent, represented only in sight and sound.
Tom Gorman, Prep class of 1964, and Don Kardong, class of '67, gave their acceptance speeches via videotape.
Gorman sent his tape from Kansas City, site of next week's Davis Cup semifinal tennis match between the U.S. and Germany. Gorman, the captain and coach of the U.S. team, expressed his thanks standing next to the Davis Cup trophy his team won last year.
Kardong, who finished fourth in the marathon at the 1976 Olympic Games, also left a seat empty, while he led a national meeting of track officials in Sacramento. Kardong is the chairman of The Athletic Congress' distance running committee.
Gorman and Kardong, also former basketball players at Prep, never could make the starting five. They said they were glad to make this "first five."
Mike McCloskey, Prep's swimming coach, headed the selection committee that chose Gorman, Kardong, Art McCaffray, Walter McGovern and John Goodwin to represent Prep's inaugural class of inductees.
"We've been putting this together for the last five years, gathering information, finding out who the heck graduated from this school," McCloskey said. "I started with three pages of names.
"It turned out to be really interesting doing the research. I didn't realize how much wars came into play. A lot of great athletes had to go to war and then faded away. Some took eight years to finish college."
McCaffray, Goodwin and McGovern all served in the armed forces during World War II.
McGovern and McCaffray, both class of 1940, were the only inductees present at the ceremony. Goodwin, who died 12 years ago, was represented by his son Tom Goodwin.
STATE CHAMPION COACH
Goodwin was the only inductee who wasn't an athlete. Born in 1922, he became Prep's football coach in 1948. During the 1960s, Goodwin coached two state-championship teams and put together a winning streak of 21 games.
In 1965 he was named the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's sports star of the year, becoming the only non-athlete to receive the award.
Goodwin, born in Portland and raised in Spokane, attended Gonzaga Prep (where he earned 12 varsity letters) and Gonzaga University. He was a punter on Gonzaga's football team.
McCaffray played football and baseball at Prep. He played college football at the College of the Pacific, where he was coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg.
Stagg called McCaffray the best tackle he had seen in 54 years. McCaffray was named All-America in 1943 before becoming an all-pro tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
ALL-TIME BASKETBALL LEADER
McGovern is the Prep boys basketball team's all-time leading scorer. He set the school's single-season record as a junior, and broke it as a senior.
He started for the University of Santa Clara as a sophomore and junior, before enlisting in the Navy.
The Navy transferred McGovern to Gonzaga, where he was allowed to play basketball. McGovern led Gonzaga to a 23-2 record and a No. 6 national ranking before being called into active duty.
Before the end of World War II, McGovern would be named honorable mention All-America.
After the war, he was invited to complete his college eligibility at Washington, Washington State and Santa Clara, but turned them down to attend law school. McGovern also turned down an offer to play professional basketball with the Washington Capitols.
BEST OF TENNIS PLAYERS
Gorman, who graduated from Prep in 1964, is considered the best tennis player to ever come from Seattle. He was named All-America at Seattle University in 1968, and achieved a top-10 world ranking in 1973.
His ascent to the top 10 was marked by semifinal appearances in three Grand Slam tournaments. In 1971, he beat Rod Laver to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon.
In 1972 he beat Jimmy Connors and Roscoe Tanner to reach the semis of the U.S. Open.
The next year, he reached the semis of the French Open and beat Bjorn Borg in his homeland to win the Stockholm Open.
Kardong, class of '67, was a member of Prep's first cross-country team in 1964. He finished second at the state meet in 1966.
He went on to run for Stanford, placing third in the NCAA cross-country championships in 1970.
In 1974, he ran the fifth fastest three-mile time turned in by an American that year (12 minutes, 57.6 seconds).
At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, he was three seconds short of winning a bronze medal in the marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 16 seconds.
Kardong, founder of the Bloomsday Run in Spokane, has written books on running and is a senior writer for Runner's World magazine.
Seattle Prep will induct a new group into the Athletic Hall of Fame every year. Plaques and photographs honoring them will be hung in the school's athletic complex.
"We want the kids to know we've had athletes at this school who have gone on to the Olympics," McCloskey said.
"We hope the Hall of Fame will bridge the gap between today's athletes and the past athletes."
Said Prep Athletic Director Tom Doyle: "We have all that history. This is a way of making it come alive."