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Rend Lake College Sports Hall of Fame announces 13th class of inductees for March 24 ceremony
By Bob Kelley, retired RLC Sports Information Director and 2012 Hall of Fame inductee
2012 RLC Sports Hall inductees include five individuals, three relay teams
INA, Ill. - The largest of 13 classes to be inducted into the Rend Lake College Sports Hall of Fame boasts a world record-holder, perhaps the most versatile Warrior athlete of all-time and an oft-decorated frontrunner who returned to his Juco alma mater as head coach.
Also counted among the elite contingent are a triple-jump threat in the truest sense, one Outdoor and two Indoor relay squads with a couple of common denominators. National Champions all.
Only a longtime friend of the Warrior/Lady Warrior program breaks up the Men’s Track and Field monopoly.
In order of their descriptive mention, those to be honored during on-campus ceremonies Saturday, March 24, are . . .
• Jason Craig (Huber Heights, OH), circa 2003-05, who between seasons at RLC represented his country by running the third leg for the record-setting USA 4 x 400-Meter Relay Team at the World Junior Championships in Grosetto, Italy. He returned as a seasoned veteran to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Indoor 400M Run and contribute to a winning NJCAA 4 x 800M Relay Outdoors.
• Pentathlete Tommy Bryan III (Centralia), 2005-07, who as a freshman sparked a runner-up showing by the Warriors in the NJCAA Indoor Finals by dominating 15 rivals in his five-event specialty, winning the high jump and placing top five in each of the others. His 3,723 total was 220 points better than his nearest foe and ranked second-best all-time.
• Current Head Coach Eric Alberter proved his mettle as a student-athlete at 800M by claiming four National titles, finishing second on four occasions and All-America designation nine times. From 2004-06, the Belleville (West High School) product won both as an individual (2006 Indoors) and as a member of three relay teams; he won Indoors and Outdoors; he won as a freshman and sophomore, and he won from ahead and coming from behind.
• Corey Dowden (Matteson / Rich South H.S.), 2002-04, captured the third-year program’s first NJCAA Men’s Outdoor Championship in May 2004 when he soared 15.51 meters (50 feet 10.75 inches) in the Triple Jump, a mark that still stands atop the Warrior Outdoor leader board eight years later. Dowden earned All-America status – top eight – both years Indoors and Out in the Triple and was a three-time All-American in the Long Jump and twice in the High Jump.
• Bob Kelley enters the Hall in the category of Sports Professional. He retired in 2006 after 27 years as RLC Director of Marketing / Public Information, doubling as Sports Information Director. He was an Assistant Coach for Men’s Basketball (five seasons) and Baseball (one), volunteered as Official Scorer for Men and Women’s Basketball, served as Great Rivers Athletic Conference Treasurer (21 years) and has been an integral part of the RLC Sports Hall of Fame since its inception.
The Class of 2012 likewise includes three NJCAA Championship Relay Track Teams . . .
• Latecomer Craig, a sprinter who had only run the 800M once previously, and reliable anchor Alberter teamed with Marcus Walton (Potosi, MO) and Tim Clark (Indianapolis, IN) to claim the 2005 Outdoor 4 x 800M Relay. The Warriors led from the start, thanks to Walton, with the lone freshman, Alberter, running the final leg unchallenged. Their collective 7:37.64 was a record at the time, :05 ahead of the runner-up. Walton and Clark concluded their careers as a six- and 11-time All-Americans, respectively.
• The 4000M Distance Medley Relay provided a pleasant surprise by winning the first of two relay events in the 2006 Indoor Finals on the campus of Kansas State University. It followed a second-place finish for RLC the year before in the same event and gave the team its second DMR National crown in five years, following the Hall of Fame act by the 2002 squad. Alberter ran the third, 800M leg of this tactful race, along with Canadian Freshman 1200M leadoff Chris Rengifo (Woodbridge, Ontario), 400M-Man Anthony Flournoy (Gary, IN) and 1600M Anchor Brad Middleton (Edwardsville). The sophomore-dominated group was clocked in 10:17.50. As a team, Coach Brent McLain’s Warriors finished runner-up for the third time in four years Indoors. Middleton merited All-America distinction six times in all, Rengifo five times.
• Just as the DMR unit had done on Friday, Rend Lake College’s 4 x 800M Relay Team began Saturday’s festivities with a victory, this one perhaps much more anticipated than the first one, according to McLain. That is because all four relay members were 800M competitors who had been pushed by teammates all year in preparation for the finals. The anchor and constant, once again, was Alberter, who was preceded by Freshman Shannon Sherrer (Vineland, NJ), Sophomore Kurt Heimann (Germantown / Breese Central H.S.) and Freshman Pat Clark (Virginia Beach, VA). Alberter waited until the final 200M to make his move, with the Warriors winning by :03.5 in a collective record time of 7:52.74 in Manhattan, KS.
The Fall 2009 Inductees, the previous largest class, included four individuals and three complete teams – Softball National qualifiers from 1995-96 and Men’s Cross-Country NJCAA Division II repeat National Champions in Fall 2002 and Fall 2003.
With the 2012 foursome, Men’s Track and Field now has seven individual Hall of Fame representatives (including those with two sports; ex., cross-country and track and field; ex., baseball and basketball), one more than Baseball and Softball. Men’s Basketball is next with five.
Hall of Fame membership after 13 inductions, beginning in 2000, now salutes 29 individual athletes, four track relay teams, two Coaches, three Sports Professionals and three Cross-Country Teams (2001, 2002 and 2003), Men’s Golf Team (1994-95), Softball Team (1995-96) and Men’s Basketball Team (1988-89).
Charter Members welcomed in 2000 were Doug Creel (Men’s Basketball, 1978-80), single-season and career scoring leader for 16 years; Mike McClure (Baseball Coach, ’71-81), whose teams won more games (312) than any of his successors, at a .638 winning clip; Susie Woodward (Women’s Basketball, ’81-83), who averaged 23.6 points per game and finished with 1,368 for her career, and Lee Yearwood (Men’s Basketball, Mt. Vernon Community College, ’60-62), author of 26.5 ppg as a freshman, 26.0 as a soph for a fledgling program.
That select quartet was followed by Second-Team All-America April Long (Softball, ’93-95), a centerfielder deluxe with 90 runs batted in (58 games) as a sophomore, and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall-of-Famer James “Hummer” Waugh (Basketball Coach, ’66-95), who split his time between men and women’s programs en route to 500 career wins, in 2001, and First-Team All-America Bryant Lowe (Men’s Basketball, ’94-96), a Top Five scorer and rebounder as a National Player of the Year contender with all-time bests of 1,490 and 678, respectively, in 2002.
Also, the 1994-95 Men’s Golf Team that finished as NJCAA Division II runner-up, behind First-Team All-American – fourth overall – Matt Armstrong (Men’s Golf, ’94-95), and First- and Second-Team All-American Jaymie Cowell (Softball, ’95-97), the main lynchpin in the Lady Warriors’ first and only appearance in the Fast-Pitch National Finals, in Spring 2003; the late Jace Bugg (Men’s Golf, ’95-97), third individually as a First-Team All-America honoree and U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist who was headed for the Professional Golf Association Tour before stricken with leukemia, and 6-foot-2 Cheryl Weis (Women’s Basketball, ’87-89), the freshman center on a 25-8 quintet and a 1,175-point producer during a record 64-game career, in Fall 2003; third-leading scorer Curtis Smith (Men’s Basketball, ’80-82), with 1,080 points, in 2004.
Also, the 1985-86 Baseball Team, 82-26 Region XXIV Champions; two-sport standout Randy Lemay (Baseball/Basketball, ’72-74) and Louisville Slugger and NJCAA Second-Team All-American Rick Gaebe (Baseball, ’84-86), in 2006; First-Team All-American Jennifer Calandrilla (Softball, ’97-99) and Great Rivers Athletic Conference “MVP” Cliff McIntosh (Baseball, ’84-86), a .404 hitter and 5-1 hurler as a soph for 25-3 champs, in 2007.
More recently, Wayne Arnold (Coach/Sports Professional, ’63-Present), Second-Team All-America Elizabeth Kasey (Women’s Golf, ’99-’01, Mark S. Kern (RLC President, ’91-Present) and the 2001 Men’s Cross-Country NJCAA D-II National Champions, in 2008.
First-Team All-America Dan DeMent (Baseball, ’96-98) and his career-record .415 composite batting average and Angela Robinson (Softball, ’95-97), whose record 55 wins included one in the NJCAA Fast-Pitch Championships, were added to the ranks in Spring 2009. That November, the largest previous class in Hall History was comprised of prolific home run smasher and Second-Team All-America Mike Breyman (Baseball, ’00-02); National Indoor High Jump Champ Todd Green (Track and Field, ’01-03); two-time NJCAA D-II Individual Medalist Ian Hornabrook (Cross-Country and Track/Field, ’01-03); Third-Team All-America Meredith Ramsey (Softball, ’99-’01); the ’95-96 Softball Team, which went 46-21, claimed Region XXIV honors and placed ninth in the nation; the 2003 and 2004 Cross-Country Teams, both of which were National kingpins.
In November 2010, the last time a Hall of Fame crowd gathered, three individuals, a track relay team and the winningest basketball team in Warrior history (29-6) were recognized. That contingent included RBI Machine (113 season, 200 in 182 games in all), GRAC “Most Valuable Player” and Second-Team All-America Catcher Chad Stombaugh (Baseball, ’86-88); Amanda Perjenski (Softball, ’95-97), the other half of RLC’s 1-2 pitching punch that added up to back-to-back 41-25 and 61-21 records, and Justin Kunz (Cross-Country / Track and Field, ’03-05), an Academic All-American as well as Second-Team All-America in Cross-Country and seven-time All-America on the track.
The Men’s Indoor 4000M Distance Medley Relay Team (’01-02) put together the first Warrior National title in Track and Field. Its winning parts – Robert Duncan, Santos Gonzalez, Rusty Millenbine and Hornabrook.
All the 1988-89 Men’s Basketball Team headed by Coach of the Year Haskins did was to go unbeaten in 13 home games, attain a No. 12 national ranking, win a GRAC crown for the first time at 13-3 and a first-ever Region XXIV Tournament. Only a 62-61 setback in the Inter-Region showdown with host Cleveland State (TN) denied the Warriors their first berth in the NJCAA Finals. The team that won a record 12 games in a row was led by Third-Team All-America Antwan Stallworth, All-Region and Tourney “MVP” Chad Rushing, GRAC Freshman of the Year Abdul Muhammad and league Sportsmanship Award recipient Tommy Hayes.