A sad coincidence and HHS golf


Jeff Gilliland

The emotions life’s coincidences induce run the whole gamut. Sometimes they are nearly unbelievable, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes just sad.

Last week in this space I mentioned, in passing, the name of 1973 Hillsboro High School graduate Marc Fehring. Four days after that column was published I was going through obituaries that had been submitted to The Times-Gazette and came across one for Marc Fehring.

It was hard to believe. I had not saw that name in print in for many years, and suddenly I happened across it twice in less than a week.

I really only knew Marc Fehring because he was a member of the Hillsboro track team when I was a little kid. My dad was a track and field official, a former Hillsboro track standout, an avid track fan, and even into his 30s challenged a top Hillsboro sprinter to a race. Dad was around Hillsboro track and field athletes a lot, which meant I was, too. So, it was really only through my dad that I was somewhat familiar with Marc Fehring and his twin brother Chris.

A few years later I ran into Marc a time or two at social gatherings. The track connection was still there, and he was pleasant and easy to talk to.

That was many years ago. So it was interesting last week when I came across his name while looking up some old Hillsboro results from the Ohio High School State Track and Field Championships.

The reason I mentioned Marc in last week’s column was because in 1973 he finished fourth in the pole vault at the state meet. Jim Buck, who went on to set a state record in the 880-yard run the next year, finished third in the 880 in 1973. Jim got beat by a guy from Blanchester the same year Marc tied a guy from Blanchester at the state meet. That’s all I mentioned.

Still, coming across the Fehring name, among others, tweaked long-suppressed memories. They took me back many years and made me smile. That made it all the more sad when I came across the Fehring name again this week.

Marc Fehring carried his HHS success on into college and was a member of 1974 Ashland University NCAA national championship track and field team.

Like I said, I really did not know him. But from the little I did know, the stories I heard over the years, and comments I read posted to his obituary, he lived his life well.

One comment I read seemed to sum Marc Fehring’s life up well. I hope the author does not mind my sharing it, but David Mayer wrote this: “My deepest condolences to the Fehring family and Justin. Many fond memories of growing up in Hillsboro, Ohio and especially the last 30 years we were connected up again in California sharing many great trips to the mountains, fishing, camping, and backpacking. Countless concerts, fairs, festivals and sharing fun times with our mutual friends. Road trips in California and the big New England vacation in 2001. His advice on many of life’s issues will be missed but always remembered. Rest in Peace my adventurer friend.”

Marc’s obituary mentioned that he took many self-guided travels throughout the world, enjoying various peoples and cultures.

Yes, it was sad to learn Mark Fehring had passed away. But it seems to me that he dared to live a life most only dream of.

While I’m speaking of last week’s column, I have to admit that it was not completely accurate.

In writing of Hillsboro’s seven individual state track and field championships, I said that Hillsboro does not have a single state champion in any other sport. I also said Hillsboro’s runner-up state finish as a track and field team in 1909 was unmatched in school history.

I was wrong on both counts.

In 2003, Hillsboro’s Drew Balser claimed an individual state golf championship for Hillsboro, the same year he and his Indian teammates finished as state runners-up.

To top that off, the Indians broke the state team Division II record by several strokes that year, but Hunting Valley University School broke it by more.

And, I believe Ernie Blankenship (Jr.) was a state runner-up another year.

If there is any sport that can challenge track and field as Hillsboro’s most successful, it is golf. Indian track and fielders have maybe been more successful at the state level, but on the more local level, track and field cannot hold a candle to Hillsboro golf.

According to banners hanging in the HHS gymnasium, Hillsboro boys golf teams won league golf titles in 1970, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011.

Hillsboro boys track can only claim league titles in 1956, 1979, 2000 and 2002, according to the banners.

And, for the record, Hillsboro girls golf won league titles in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2013; while Hillsboro girls track won league championships in 1982, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999, according to the banners.

In my early years as a sports reporter at what was then The Press-Gazette, if Hillsboro had a golf match, I could be sure that the next day when I came to work the full results would be resting on my desk, courtesy of late coach Vernon Hooper, along with some comments. Coach Hoop was a delight to be around, and longtime coach Dan Spidel, who retired from coaching golf at Hillsboro after last year, was similarly easy to deal with.

My apologies to everyone connected with Hillsboro golf – the most consistently dominant Indian sport, by far, over the past three-plus decades.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

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