HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — It's hard to stick out in a room full of state champions, but one induction during the second annual Ashtabula County Track and Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame celebration did just that.
The late Carl "Bus" Stancliff of Geneva was inducted into the hall of fame posthumously, as the 1928 state champion in the 1,600-meter run was the first-ever state-title winner from Ashtabula County. Keith Stancliff of Geneva, Carl's grandson, represented his grandfather at the Spire Institute on Sunday, and he mentioned about how Carl never really bragged about his accomplishments on the track.
"We had gotten together as a family several times before to talk about what grandpa had done," Keith said. "My uncles, aunts, and father used several stories they saw in the Star Beacon to work on putting things together. He was great in just about everything he did, but when he was alive, he really didn't talk much about it."
Carl Stancliff highlighted the ceremony where 14 state champions were honored, dating all the way from 1928 to 2010. Some, such as Dale Kaiser of Ashtabula, who had won the discus throw back in 1949, couldn't be found and therefore wasn't there, and others, such as Theresa Dyer-McCurry, a 1987 Jefferson graduate who won the high jump her senior year, couldn't attend.
The eldest inductee who attended the event was Roger Miller, who graduated from Edgewood in 1955. Miller won a state title in discus in 1952. Miller managed to continue his athletic success after high school, once defeating Olympian Bob Mathias in the long jump during a meet.
"I practiced a lot when I was in high school," he said. "I was coached by Ed Batanian, who was a good coach in some things but he didn't have much experience with track and field. He used to take me a lot to other meets and big time events to see what happened in some events, and I learned a lot from that."
Another inductee, Jefferson Class of 1987 graduate Alonzo Hatchette brought his own unique story with him. Hatchette is the only ever Ashtabula County athlete to hold a state record, winning the 800-meter race in 1987 with a time of 1:53.42.
That record held up for more than 10 years before another athlete broke it.
Hatchette credited his coaches with putting him in the right spots to succeed, while believing in himself taking him the rest of the way to glory.
"Back then, I depended on my coaches to put me into position to win events," the current Florida resident said. "After that, I let my faith control my mental outlook on things. That is so important for any athlete. Physically, you can get help to achieve goals, but mentally, you're on your own. I once heard it said that second place is only the last loser in something. I have three young kids now that I try to teach that to as well."
Hatchette proved to be the motivation for another inductee, Harbor Class of 1991 graduate Ray Isco. Isco competed in cross country and did well in the mile from 1989 to 1991.
Isco said it was a visit to the Hatchette family residence that helped drive him to excel in cross country and on the track.
"I went to visit the Hatchettes one time, and I saw Alonzo's state title plaque," Isco said. "It was fantastic, and really gave me something big to shoot for as a goal. Every athlete should have goals to work for."
Other honorees included John Bliffin of Conneaut (1992); Andy Grecius of Edgewood (1997); Mallory Kreider of Edgewood (2010); Tracy Miller Long of Ashtabula (1987); Zac Miller of Edgewood (2002); Scott Short of Edgewood (1991), represented by the wife of his former coach, Al Fazenbaker; and Grand Valley's Brenda Weaver-Borst (1988).
Each one of those individuals stood atop the podium in the entire state of Ohio in his or her respective event and divisions.
Just one team made the cut this year, the Edgewood cross country team of 1990. The Warriors were just one of two cross country teams to ever win a state crown (the other also being a team from Edgewood), and just one of three teams in any sport to sit atop the state of Ohio.
The Ashtabula Distance Runners' Club awarded four scholarships as well. Emily Deering of Geneva won for girls cross country, John McNutt of Lakeside won for boys cross country, Carly Watt of Lakeside won for girls track and Mason Lilja of Edgewood took the track honors for boys.
Along with all the awards, the current state qualifiers in track and field this season also were introduced to the crowd. Director Ron Weaver, father of inductee Brenda Weaver-Borst, said he hopes these athletes might one day force their way into the hall of fame with their exploits in Columbus later this week.