EATON — After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame returned on Sunday, May 29.
This year, eight individuals and four teams were honored during the ceremony held at the Preble County YMCA.
”Welcome to our 18th induction ceremony for the Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2002, we formed a committee to establish the Hall of Fame in order to recognize former athletes and others who have made contributions to our local sports,” Hall of Fame President Mike Akers said. “The committee continues to enjoy reviving memories from friends and families of past Preble Countians to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions. We continue to solicit nominations to the Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame. Nominations for this year continued through 2000 to add to our pool of potential inductees.”
This year’s class included Kelly Saunders, Matt O’Diam, Bill Thompson, Mark Silvers, Randy McKinney, Tony Augspurger, Darcy Robinson, Eddie Mowen Jr., the 1996 Preble Shawnee girls track team, 1997 Twin Valley South volleyball team, 1998-99 Eaton boys basketball team and the 1999 Eaton volleyball team.
During its first 17 years the PCAHoF Committee has recognized more than a century’s worth of accomplishments – both by males and females.
“The committee feels we have put together another outstanding class. With the induction of this year’s class, the hall now numbers 264 members, with 225 individuals and 39 teams,” Akers said.
Akers thanked the committee and sponsors for their continued dedication.
”I would like to thank everyone on the committee for all their time and effort. It has been an enjoyable process leading up to our induction ceremony,” he said. “Our sponsors and those who submitted nominations are greatly appreciated also. We would like to thank the Preble County YMCA for allowing us to host our inductions here and to display the plaques of our honorees. We hope this evening will bring back many fond memories for all of us.”
The evening was filled with memorable stories, thank yous, laughs and tears.
The 1996 Preble Shawnee girls track team had a remarkable season and what many consider to be the best in school history. The Arrows were district champions and finished as regional runner-up, in addition to multiple first and second place finishes throughout the season. The team set multiple school records and a total of five girls qualified for and placed at the state meet that season. Team members include Ann Lohrey, Kasey Westfall, Abby Johnson, Cari Hensley, Leigh Mondello, Heather Neal, Tina Fuchs, Kelly Wagers, Angel Rossi, Lisa Elliot, Ruth Rohrbach, Shawndra Thompson, Jody Robertson and Missy Lay. The team was coached by Bryan Rioch.
The 1997 Twin Valley South volleyball team capped off an impressive season with a regional runner-up finish. The Panthers finished the season 20-4 while winning the Cross County Conference, sectional, and district championships. In the regional semifinals the Panthers beat Preble Shawnee before falling to Marion Elgin in three sets. Team members include Andrea Spratt, Karrie Sutton, Amanda Spratt, RaeAnn Davis, Jill Leedy, Ashley Brubaker, Mandy Shockey, Lynsey Somers, Lindsey Knaff, Hollie Bowers, Lori Ulrich and Angie Somers. The team was coached Leslie Roberts and Jennifer Riley.
The 1999 Eaton volleyball team finished the season 21-6 and as regional runner-up, falling to Marion River Valley in the regional championship game. The trip to the regional capped a six-year run in which at least one Preble County volleyball team reached the regional level. Eaton won the Southwestern Buckeye League and district championships. Team members include Betsy Moreland, Linsey McGhee, Jenny Freels, Kristie Ferriell, Tiffany Johnston, Joslyn Abner, Morgan Adsit, Ann Haber, Danielle Schrage, Amy Kutter, Natalie Keller, Melissa Doss and Susan Lee. The team was coached by Belinda Moeller and Mandy Tinstman.
The 1998-99 Eaton boys’ basketball team won the Southwestern Buckeye League title and finished the regular season a perfect 20-0 and ranked third in the state. Team members include Andy Borgwardt, Jason Renner, Justin Meyers, Brain Hess, Tyler Charles, Rickey Shafer, Jeff Johnson, Jarrod Prifogle, Dave Hewitt, Jonathon Dues, Brad Pefley, Matt Sowers, Dave Holtzmuller, Clayton Genth and Andy Jerdon. The team was coached by Don Dickey and Randy McKinney.
Kelly Saunders, a 1996 graduate of National Trail, earned 10 varsity letters: four in volleyball, three in basketball, and three in track and field. In her volleyball senior season, she was named District 15 Player of the Year and 2nd Team All-State. She was All-CCC four times and 2nd Team District her junior year. She helped lead the Blazer volleyball team to three consecutive trips to the regional tournament. In basketball she was a District 15 All-Star and All-CCC and All-Preble County twice. She holds the Trail record for field goal percentage. She was the Preble County champion and set the school record for the shot put and won the discus event in the CCC. She was named National Trail Female Athlete of the Year as a senior. Saunders won two letters in volleyball and four in track at Southern Illinois University.
Matt O’Diam, a 1997 graduate of Twin Valley South, earned eight varsity letters in the sports of golf and track and field and was inducted into the TVS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. He continued his track and field career at Heidelberg University. In high school, he was a two-time league, district and regional champion in the pole vault, as well as two-time state qualifier. In his senior year, O’Diam was the state runner-up. At Heidelberg, he was a four-time OAC champion, helping the team win its first-ever league championship.
Bill Thompson, a 2000 graduate of Eaton High School, earned seven varsity letters in the sports of football and track and field. In his track career, Thompson was a state runner-up in the 400-meters his senior season. He set several school records, including the 100, 200 and 400-meters as well as being part of the 4×100 relay record setting team. He continues his track career at Otterbein where he was a conference champion in the 400 and runner up in the 200. During his football career at Eaton, Thompson was first team all-league his senior season.
Darcy Robinson spent several years impacting the youth of Twin Valley South. In her 30-plus years at the school, she has been a part of thousands of teenage lives. Teenagers who walked through her doors where she was both an educator and coach, she impacted in a way in which wins and losses, or conference or district titles, could never accomplish. She coached volleyball, basketball, softball, and boys golf at South. She started the softball program, and her list of accomplishments is numerous. Robinson is now a member of both her high school and college halls of fame. While at college she became the first woman in school history to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career, according to Defiance College’s website. She also threw the first pitch in Defiance College fast pitch softball history and was the school’s female athlete of the year in 1983. Robinson saw the evolution of sports, especially female sports, over the course of her career. Her freshman year, her basketball season was a once a week, intramural session which only lasted an hour because scholastic women’s basketball was not offered. Her sophomore year was the first year the state of Ohio offered interscholastic women’s sports.
Mark Silvers, a 1974 graduate of Eaton High School, was a stellar athlete before moving into the coaching ranks, where he has spent the past 40-plus years molding the lives of young people. While at Eaton, he earned six varsity letters in wrestling and football. He is a four-time GMVWCA Coach-of- the-Year (’95, ’96, ’99, ’12,) state Division I Coach-of-the-Year (2000,) Wayne Hall-of-Fame Inductee (2010,) Alliance Top Gun Hall-of-Fame Inductee (2012,) and Ohio Wrestling Hall-of-Fame Inductee (2017.) Between Ontario, Wayne and Eaton, Silvers has coached 46 tournament championships, 12 league championships, 12 sectional championships, two district championships, 80 individual state qualifiers, 27 individual state placers, six individual state champions and a Division I state team runner-up in 2000. In addition to coaching wrestling, Silvers coached football at Wayne and currently serves as an assistant to Eaton’s cross country and track programs.
Tony Augspurger, known as Coach A to those at Twin Valley South, left a legacy at the school. Augspurger brought his passion, relentless energy, unorthodox style, and high expectations to the boys’ basketball program in 1987-88. For 33 seasons he served as the coach and leader to basketball teams where he strived to mold his players into the best athletes and most quality young men. He retired with a record of 451-292. During his tenure, Augspurger coached 10 1,000-point scorers in addition to being named Cross County Conference Coach of the Year five times, two-time SW District Coach of the year, AP Coach of the Year in 1994 and 1998 and AP All-Ohio Co-Coach of the Year in 1998. His teams won six CCC titles, including last season. The Panthers own six sectional titles and a district championship under Augspurger.
Randy McKinney, a 1981 graduate of Eaton High School, is one of the school’s most successful coaches and athletes. He earned 10 varsity letters while participating in basketball, cross country and track and field. He has more than 40 years of varsity coaching experience in those three sports as well. As a coach, he helped guide the boys’ cross country team to a state championship in 2001 and a state runner-up finish in 1998. He was also named state coach of the year in 2001. His boys’ and girls’ teams have won 12 district titles and have been runner-up 11 times combined. He has coached 76 state qualifiers and has been the SWBL Coach of the Year 16 times. In 2003, his was named the Midwest Section Cross Country Coach of the Year and most recently was honored with the Ed Barker Award by the OATCCC. During high school, he was a three-time state qualifier in cross country, earning first and second team honors as a junior and senior. In addition, he was also a four-time regional qualifier in track.
Eddie Mowen Jr., a 1986 graduate of Preble Shawnee, has spent nearly 24 years reporting and photographing Preble County athletics for The Register-Herald. Alongside his many other community-based endeavors over the years, he has coached basketball, softball and soccer, helping shape the lives of many young Preble County athletes. He served as a member and past secretary of the Butler County Volleyball Officials Association for more than 20 years, was a member of the Southwest Ohio District Officials Committee, has been a state certified volleyball and basketball official, has served on the PC Say Soccer Board, is a founding member of the Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame, and more. Mowen has been the recipient of numerous sports, news and other feature photography awards from the Ohio Newspaper Association. He has been recognized numerous times for fair and impartial coverage by the Ohio School Boards Association and has been recognized by the Special Olympics for his coverage of their athletic events. He has a passion for supporting Preble County’s youth and scholar athletes and as a former athlete himself, continues to make sports an integral part of his life.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr