EATON — The 17th annual Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony was held Sunday, May 26, at the Preble County YMCA.
During its first 16 years, the PCAHOF Committee has recognized more than a century’s worth of accomplishments — by both males and females.
This year’s class included four teams and eight individuals and brings the total number of inductees to 217 individuals and 35 teams that have been recognized.
The night brought back a lot of memories and emotions from several of the inductees.
“It’s been a typical induction that we try and spread things out around the county. It’s always been our philosophy from the beginning that we would honor kids and teams from all the schools and we hope to continue that tradition,” Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame President Mike Akers said. “We’ve had a great year.”
Bill Derringer was not only an outstanding athlete at Twin Valley/Tri-County North High School, but returned to guide the Panthers football program to unprecedented success during his 13 years as head coach. Derringer, a 1985 graduate of Tri-County North, earned eight varsity letters – three in football, four in track and one in basketball – with football being his main sport. During his senior season he rushed for 1,480 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. After high school, he lettered four years at Ohio Northern University. After his playing days, Derringer coached high school football for 18 years and finished with a 108-76 record – 86-27 in the Cross County Conference with six postseason appearances (1994, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014).
Brian Carter is one of the best wrestlers to ever attend Preble Shawnee High School. The 1986 graduate went 60-3 over his final two seasons while finishing as the Ohio High School Athletic Association 105-pound state champion in his senior year with a perfect 32-0 record. He is Preble Shawnee’s only state champion in the sport of wrestling. During his junior season, Carter went 28-3 and finished as the state runner-up at 98 pounds. After high school, he was a NJCAA All-American at Cuyahoga Community College. Carter, who currently is an assistant coach at Shawnee, coached two state champions and five state runner-ups while serving as head coach at Carroll High School. He led the Patriots to three top-10 finishes at the state tournament and his team also won the Division II state dual team championship in 1998.
Misti Cole was a multi-sport athlete at National Trail High School, where she earned 11 varsity letters in four sports – volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field. Cole, a 1995 graduate, was a second-team all-state selection in volleyball and was the District 15 Player of the Year in 1994. She was a three-time first team selection in the Cross County Conference and player of the year in 1994. Cole earned first team all-area three times and held the school record for blocks and assists. In basketball, she was all-area three times, in addition to being an all-CCC first team selection twice. She was twice named the National Trail Female Athlete of the Year and won the Wendy’s Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award.
Jill Leedy was an all-state volleyball player, who earned 10 varsity letters, while playing at Twin Valley South. Leedy, a 1999 graduate, earned first-team all-county, first-team all-CCC, District 15 Division IV Player of the Year and third team all-state in volleyball during her senior season in 1998. During her junior season, Leedy was honorable mention all-state, in addition to being named first team all-county, first team all-CCC and first team District 15. She earned academic and athletic scholarships to the University of Findlay. While at Findlay, Leedy helped the Oilers to their first-ever NAIA National Tournament, where the team finished fifth. Leedy also has a successful coaching career, leading Springboro to three league titles in her five years as head coach.
Jake Welch etched his name atop Eaton High School’s wrestling record book with a dominating 33-0 record and a Division II 275-pound state championship during his senior season in 2000. During that memorable season, Welch pinned 30 of his 33 opponents. He finished the season as the sectional, district and Southwestern Buckeye League champion. During his junior year, he was 33-2 and placed sixth at the state tournament, while winning league and sectional titles. Welch, who earned eight varsity letters in football and wrestling, was named all-district in his senior season, in addition to being first team all-county, first team all-league, and the SWBL Offensive Lineman of the Year. He continued his playing career at Hillsdale College.
Leslie Roberts won more than 400 matches during her 31-year volleyball coaching career at Twin Valley South. Roberts guided the Panthers to a 436-239 record, while winning five CCC, eight sectional and four district titles. In 1997, her team was 20-4 and reached the regional final. She was named CCC Coach of the Year twice. She is a lifetime member of the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association and has served as OHSVCA District 15 Secretary, President and Trustee. Roberts always worked hard to instill the true purpose of interscholastic athletics into each and every one of her student-athletes, reminding them that high school athletics is meant to enrich their high school experience. She believed athletic programs to be an extension of the classroom which exists to prepare students for the next level of life, not the next level of sports.
There aren’t too many people who have meant more to the sports scene in Preble County than Eaton’s Earl Smith. His list of contributions to the Eaton Community School District, Preble County and Southwest Ohio is a long one. Smith, a 1963 graduate of Eaton High School, spent 50 years as a member of the football chain gang, 34 years as a scorekeeper for the boys and girls basketball teams, 32 years as an announcer for track meets and 30 years as a volunteer for cross country meets. In 2015, he received the Friends of Athletics Award from the Southwest District Athletic Board. He has worked for more than 50 years reporting scores for basketball tournament games at UD Arena and has been the official scorekeeper for six years. In addition, he was a registered OHSAA softball, baseball and volleyball official for several years, and he officiated numerous sectional and district contests. Smith was the director of the City of Eaton youth and adult softball leagues for 25 years. He has been awarded the Ohio USSSA Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2017 he was inducted into the Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame.
Dean Stoltz was well respected throughout his teaching and coaching career at Eaton High School from 1961-85. Stoltz coached basketball, track, football and started the cross country program. He was the varsity basketball coach for eight years, which was highlighted by a district runner-up finish in the big school division in 1962-63, plus a second place finish in the SWBL to an undefeated Northmont team. His 1965-66 team finished as SWBL co-champions. Stoltz was the varsity track coach for three years and continued to assist with the program after that, including tutoring state shot put champion Fred Ridder. He was very instrumental with the design, layout and construction of the first track at Eaton. After starting the cross country program in 1963-64, he continued to coach the team for several years. Sadly, Stoltz’s career was cut short with his death in 1985. The annual Dean Stoltz Invitational is named in his honor. It was started in 1986 and continues to be held every spring.
The 1996 National Trail volleyball team was one of the best-ever in Preble County. The Blazers, coached by Joy Yeazel and assisted by Dori Harrison, finished the season 24-3 and as regional runner-up. The team won Cross County Conference, sectional and district championships. Team members include Missy Allen, Kim Brown, Laura Brown, Jess Crelin, Coty Dees, Kim Frist, Nichole Robinson, Erin Rusk, Chandra Shepherd, Lori Stegall, Macy Swihart and Krystal Yount.
The 1998 Eaton Boys Cross County team finished the season with a 184-24 record and as the Division II state runner-up. Along the way, the team won the Southwestern Buckeye League, district and regional championships. The team placed first in nine of 14 races. Team members include Josh Ruebush, Adam Atkinson, Luke Peters, Steven Kittke, Tyler Charles, Brent Rossman, Ryan Clark, Mike Schoettinger, Mike Hake, Ben Jones, Brad Weller, Steven Kramer, Joel Rauschenbach, Josh Tolley, Landon O’Banion and Kyle Weller. The team was coached by Randy McKinney and Wayne Vanatta.
The 1999 Twin Valley South football team turned in one of the best seasons in Preble County history. The Panthers finished the season 11-2 and was the first football team from the county to reach the regional finals. The team ended the year as regional runner-up and Cross County Conference champions. Team members include Matt Maggard, Aaron Tapleman, Josh Dull, David Good, Brad Lindloff, Travis Angel, Mike George, Nathan Armstrong, Mike Crews, Andy Locke, Casey Johnson, Corey Thompson, Jim Wellbaum, Steve Byrd, Tom Byrd, Ken Cotterman, Matt Wellbaum, Jesse Nickell, Darad Crosier, Jon Hauser, Kyle Hamilton, Issac Shepherd, Ryan Kiracofe, Don McMurray, Ryan Kings, Sean McMurray, Kyle Clevenger, Eric Daughtery, Jason Hoy, Chuck Webb, Josh Shepherd and Mark Nuse. The team was coached by David Miller (head coach), Chris Creech, David Miller Sr., Jeffrey Schwartz, Frank Wright and Trace Smitherman.
The 2000 Eaton Boys track team had “One Awesome Season” as the Eagles captured league, district and regional championships and placed fourth at the OHSAA Division II state meet. The Eagles scored in five events at the state meet, which included an individual champion and a runner-up. Team members include Luke Peters, John Ludy, Adam Atkinson, Brad Weller, Bill Thompson, Steven Zaphe, John Simpson, Jason Renner, Brian Taylor, Marshall Bane, Brett Hill, Kyle Weller, Rusty Smith, Brandon Whitley, Adam Pitsinger, Beau Bronson, Richard Babb, Earl House, Ben Jones, Nick Buckalew, Ryan Brooks, Landen O’Banion, Rob Moyer and Scott Fister. The team was coached by Rick McCollum and Scott Burnett.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH