July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Variety spices up 2009 class

Steve King

The Gazette

MEDINA —If you like variety in your outstanding local athletes, then you’re going to like the 2009 class of enshrines for the Medina County Sports Hall of Fame.

With inductees Shannon McPeak Heisler, Rick Hewit, Phil Bova, Sarah Wilfong and Jim Kendel, along with the Al Thomas Award winner, Mike Gannon, six of the seven county high schools — and almost every sport offered on the high school level — are represented.

The only common thread is three of the inductees are best known for what they did in basketball. But even that fact has a wide-ranging aspect to it in that one was a player, one was primarily a coach and the other offici-ated.

The varied group will be honored during the Hall’s 24th annual induction ceremonies set for June 18 at 6 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club and The Gazette, will be staged at The Galaxy Restaurant and Conference Center in Wadsworth.

Also among the former athletes to be feted will be the 1980 and 1981 Brunswick High girls softball teams, which made back-to-back trips to the Class AAA state tournament.

Those squads and the HOF recipients were selected by a panel that included the athletic directors from all the county high schools, along with selected members of the Kiwanis Club and The Gazette, during voting Tuesday at the Medina Recreation Center.

But this will be a special kind of night in another way because, as always, the past will be merged with the present. Also to be honored will be the members of the All-Gazette teams from the 2008-09 school year, includ-ing the Athletes and Coaches of the Year, the Female and Male Senior Athletes of the Year, and the Female and Male Special Olympics Athletes of the Year.

Ticket information for the banquet will be forth-coming in The Gazette.

Here’s a quick look at the six new Hall of Famers:

n McPeak Heisler — She starred in girls tennis at Brunswick, just like her sister, Erin, a 1992 HOF inductee. One of the best players in the sport in Ohio at the time, the 1988 gradu-ate amassed a 116-13 career record playing No. 1 singles. She qualified for the district tournament all four years, winning in 1987, and made it to state on three occasions along with being the first Pioneer Conference and Gazette MVP in girls tennis. Also a two-year varsity softball player for the Blue Devils, she went on to play tennis at Ohio University.

n Hewit — He was cap-tain of Cloverleaf’s first league championship boys basketball team in 1968 in the Chippewa Conference, but it’s in coaching the Colts that he really made his mark. He is the school’s most successful basketball coach with 136 victories, winning three PC titles in a four-year stretch from 1981 to ‘84. His 1982 and ‘84 clubs were ranked eighth in the state in Class AAA. In addi-tion, he did short coaching stints at The College of Wooster and Millersburg West Holmes High.

n Bova — Some people may know him as a longtime dedicated employee at Buckeye High, hardly ever missing a day of work in his role as vocational coordinator. But others know him as a men’s college basketball official for over 30 years in the Big Ten and Mid-American Conferences and the Horizon League. He officiated 400 games from 1996 to 2006, including nine in the NCAA Tournament. One of the most friendly and positive people you’ll ever meet, he can also be tough, as evidenced by the fact he once ejected legendary coach Bobby Knight from a game for throwing a chair. He’s heavily involved in baseball as well, annually conducting a youth clinic at Baldwin-Wallace College.

n Wilfong — She starred in basketball on both the high school and college levels. The 1993 Wadsworth graduate was a four-year starter and a three-time All-Suburban League and All-Medina County selection. She led the Grizzlies to three SL titles, scored 1,040 career points and still holds the school record for single-season steals (174) and assists (113). An all-around athlete, she also lettered three years in volleyball and a year in soccer. She started all four years in basketball at the University of Bridge-port (Conn.), being named the team MVP as a senior. Career-wise, she is the only player in school history to score over 1,000 points, getting 1,309, and had 605 career rebounds and 523 assists, the second-highest total in school history. She led Bridgeport to two New England Collegiate Conference championships and three NCAA Tourna-ment berths, all of which helped her to be inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 1998. She returned to Wadsworth to coach on the high school, AAU and youth levels for a time.

n Kendel — The 1976 Highland graduate was one of the best running backs the area has ever produced, rushing for 2,551 career yards, the 12th-highest total in county history, 44 touch-downs (fourth-best) and 16 two-point conversions (third). His total of 308 total points scored is No. 6. As a senior, he rushed for 1,007 yards, No. 12 on the county’s list, and scored 13 touchdowns (13th-best). With Kendal helping to lead the way, the Hornets put together a combined 18-2 mark in his junior and senior years. He also ran track and competed in wres-tling, making it to the state tournament as a senior in his only season in the latter sport. He went to the Uni-versity of Toledo and started as a freshman in football, but injuries halted his career. He has operated a chiropractic practice in the county for the last 25 years.

n Gannon — The Al Thomas Award, named for a former longtime sports editor of The Gazette, goes to someone who contributes to sports in a support role, and Gannon fits that description perfectly. For several decades, he has been as much a part of the Black River sports scene as any-one. He’s been involved with the booster club, has coached boys and girls basketball from the youth leagues to the varsity level and currently keeps the scorebook for the girls varsity hoops team. He also helps with the football squad, has served as a line judge in volleyball and has assisted in the running of track and cross country meets. The epitome of a dedicated fan, he hasn’t missed a Pirates football game in more than a quar-ter-century.

Contact Steve King at sports@ohio.net.