An appreciation for the support of family members and the life lessons learned through athletics were common messages from the four new inductees into the Highland County Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies Thursday evening.
Audra Cook-Branham, Mark Pierson, Angie (Roush) Bogart and Terry McConnaughey were inducted in ceremonies held at the Ponderosa Banquet Center in Hillsboro.
Also recognized were student athletes from across the county who were nominated by their coaches. Tara Karnes of McClain High School was honored as student-athlete of the year, which includes a $200 scholarship from The Times-Gazette.
Jeff Gilliland, Times-Gazette content manager and organizer of the event, introduced each inductee, and he and sports reporter Robert Stegbauer awarded medallions to the student athletes in attendance.
Inductee Audra Cook-Branham, a 1996 graduate of McClain High School, talked about her shifting attitude toward sports in going from being a player to a coach.
Cook-Branham led her McClain basketball squad to a combined 57-10 record during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, scoring 1,235 points and grabbing a school record 919 rebounds.
She went on to score 1,805 points at NCAA Division I Cleveland State University and earned first-team All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference honors three times. She has served as a freshman or jayvee girls basketball coach at McClain for the past 11 seasons.
“As a player, I was always a competitor first,” she said. “As a coach, I gained an understanding of the impact on young people’s lives.”
Where once her life revolved around basketball, she said her priorities are now “God, family and basketball.” She thanked her family, friends, coaches and mentors for their support through the years.
Inductee Mark Pierson, a 1983 graduate of Lynchburg-Clay, was a state champion track star in the 1600 meters, an NAIA national runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in college, and a longtime coach at all levels in various sports at Lynchburg-Clay. He is also a member of the Rio Grande University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Lynchburg-Clay Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Hard work and dedication can take you a lot of places,” said Pierson on Thursday. He thanked his parents for their support through the years, noting that they would drive hours to watch him compete in a track event that might only take a few minutes.
“Those are things you don’t forget,” he said, urging the students in attendance to appreciate their parents.
Referring to his years spent devoted to countless hours of coaching, he thanked his wife “for allowing me to do that.”
Inductee Angie (Roush) Bogart is a 1992 graduate of Whiteoak High School who excelled in a number of sports. In softball, she batted .611 her senior year with 37 RBIs, seven home runs, five doubles, three triples and 19 stolen bases in just 54 at bats.
She was a three-time all-Southern Hills League selection, played basketball at Ohio Northern University for a year, then transferred to Morehead State University, playing four years of softball, where she made all-conference teams.
She ranks third on MSU’s all-time list with 15 doubles in a season, and fifth with 60 hits in a season. She also coached softball at Eastern Brown High School for four years, coached varsity volleyball for a year and jayvee basketball for a year.
Bogart thanked her husband and parents for their support, as well as former coach Robin Luck. She said she “did my best” in all her endeavors, recounting a story about going coon hunting with her father, who asked her why she was taking so long to pull the trigger after sighting her target. She replied, “I’m regulating my breath,” a technique she learned as part of a rifle team.
Inductee Terry McConnaughey, a 1964 graduate of Hillsboro High School, was a multi-sport athlete at HHS, and played on the first Hillsboro American Legion baseball team. He played baseball three years at Morehead State University.
He later started and led the Hillsboro Elementary physical education program for 35 years, coached Hillsboro’s first South Central Ohio League championship golf team and will soon start his 38th year of coaching golf at Hillsboro.
He also coached basketball at the junior high, freshman and reserve levels for a decade, along with coaching the first Hillsboro girls varsity golf team and junior high football for a year. He played competitive basketball until age 61.
McConnaughey joked that he and Gilliland both had line-drive basketball shots because they learned to play on a court located on the upper level of a barn.
McConnaughey, saying he has “turned my life over to the Lord,” talked about overcoming obstacles, saying that one such roadblock in his life was when, after pitching a one-hitter, a college coach told him, “If you think you are going to play ahead of my scholarship players, you’re crazy.”
McConnaughey thanked his family for their support, and said he loves teaching. He said he was “honored and blessed” to receive induction.
Tara Karnes, the winner of the student-athlete scholarship and the daughter of Steven and Patty Karnes of Greenfield, had a 3.93 GPA at McClain, and participated in a number of sports and club organizations. She was valedictorian of her class and Highland County junior fair queen, among many other honors and activities.
Other student athletes recognized Thursday were: Seth Willman, McClain, 3.5 GPA, golf, track; Michael Mangus, Fairfield, 3.89 GPA, track, cross country; Shelby Smithson, Fairfield, 3.0 GPA, softball, basketball, soccer; Brittany Caskey, McClain, 3.44 GPA, swimming, cheerleading; Thomas Schrader, McClain, 3.74 GPA, football, basketball, track; Megan Mustard, McClain, 3.95 GPA, track, soccer; Nick Wardlow, Whiteoak, 3.71 GPA, golf, basketball, baseball; Joseph Wilson, Fairfield, 3.12 GPA, soccer, basketball, baseball;
Katy Unger, McClain, 3.816 GPA, volleyball, basketball, softball; Dylan Trefz, McClain, 3.2 GPA, football, wrestling, baseball; Caitlyn Lovett, McClain, 3.74 GPA, softball, volleyball, basketball; Gage Montgomery, Fairfield, 3.27 GPA, basketball, baseball, cross country; Heather Cox, Fairfield, 3.85 GPA, basketball, soccer, softball, cross country; Josh Carroll, McClain, 3.52 GPA, baseball; Lauren Starkey, McClain, 3.98 GPA, soccer; Alissa Hauke, Hillsboro, salutatorian, cheerleading, track; Blake Hildebrant, Fairfield, 3.73 GPA, cross country, soccer, basketball; Chaz Lanier, Lynchburg-Clay, 3.7 GPA, baseball.
Plaques displaying the names of hall of fame inductees and top scholar athletes since the hall of fame began in 2010 are on display at the offices of The Times-Gazette. Full profiles of the inductees appeared in recent editions of the newspaper, and were reprinted in Thursday’s edition, copies of which were provided to attendees Thursday evening.