HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — The Ashtabula County Track & Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame inducted its newest members during Sunday night’s ceremony at Spire Institute.
Edgewood’s 1992 cross country team, John Clarkson, Roger Lillie, Sheila McCarthy McGee, Audra Puckrin and Charles Sidbeck were all honored.
Ed Best, the coach of the Warriors cross country team, spoke first. He hung a T-shirt over the podium which read “We don’t move mountains” on the front and “we run over them” on the back. He then recognized his runners — Mike Andrejack, Brian Gray, Jamie Konegni, Chris Taft, Tom Taft, Dan Cline, Jr., Jeff Holub and Thomas Ketchem — who led the team to a second-place finish at state. Best noted how he had four runners who could take first in any given match and all four ran faster than the leader of Edgewood’s 1990 state championship team. The Warriors finished the 1992 season with a 136-2 record — both losses came against Bay Village, the eventual state champs.
“I actually had one opposing coach come up to me and say ‘You’re kids, don’t look like runners, but they kick our butts,’” Best said. “... It was just fun coaching a team like that.”
• Clarkson was posthumously inducted. His nephew, John M. Clarkson, accepted on his uncle’s behalf.
Clarkson, a 1951 Spencer High School graduate, qualified for the 1950 Ohio High School Athletic Association Class B state meet in the high jump. The next year, he claimed second in the pole vault, third in the high jump and fourth in the broad jump.
“It was all from his heart,” Clarkson’s nephew said. “What he did was what he wanted to do and when he made a decision to set a goal, he accomplished it. Growing up, I admired my uncle John, because whatever he decided to do, he finished it. He did it. He did it in sports, he did it in life and he passed that on to my brother, my two sisters and there’s nothing in life that you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it and work hard.”
• Lillie, who spent nearly three decades around track and cross country, was also posthumously inducted. He officiated the sports from 1977-2001 and received the Meritorious Award for 20 years of officiating. Lillie also spent more than a decade as an assistant coach to both sports.
“My dad would be very honored to receive this induction,” said Lillie’s son, Kevin. “His time was cut short … but he really enjoyed coaching and officiating because he loved the student-athletes and he loved the other coaches and officials that he worked with.”
• McCarthy McGee, a 1996 graduate of Harbor High School, was a two-time state qualifier. She claimed second in the Division II high jump in 1994 and took fifth two years later.
McCarthy McGee set a school record in the high jump in the second meet of her freshman season.
“I’d like to thank my parents for just being awesome and being at all of my meets and basketball games and flying up this afternoon from Florida to be here for the ceremony,” McCarthy McGee said. “Also to my six older siblings for never taking it easy on me, and then I eventually was able to run faster, jump higher and stuff their shots in basketball.”
• Puckrin, a 2012 Geneva graduate, owns a couple of county records and made a pair of trips down to Columbus in her career.
She first qualified for state in 2010 in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays. She finished as a state runner-up in 2011 in the long jump.
Puckrin still holds the county record in the long jump (18-6) and as a member of the 4x100 relay team (49.28). Her 4x200 relay record was broken last Friday by another quartet of Geneva runners.
“It’s wonderful,” Puckrin said of the ceremony. “I didn’t expect it to be this big of a deal, honestly. This is wonderful. I’d like to thank all my coaches.”
• Sidbeck, a 1952 Harbor graduate, competed in three state meets. He first reached state in the 1950 OHSAA Class B tournament as a mile runner and then made trips back down to Columbus each of the next two years. He was a two-time top-five finalist.
“I always tried to just out-run everybody,” Sidbeck said. “As far as a kick … I didn’t have that. I just tried to get way ahead so they couldn’t catch me at the end. … It’s just like everything else, whatever you put into it, that’s what you’re going to get out. It’s hard work.”
Four high school seniors received scholarships from the Ashtabula Distance Runners’ Club for their success on the track, in the classroom and in the community.
The two cross country winners were Justin Phares and Kaleigh Stell, both from Edgewood. Bailey Roberts, of Edgewood, and Terril Skinner, of Jefferson, received the track and field scholarships.