There's much to see here and learn about our Hall of Fame members. We hope you enjoy our site and you take the time to see our exhibits in person the next time you are in Columbus, Kansas.
The mission of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame is to recognize outstanding individuals and team achievement formally, as well as to preserve the heritage and tradition of the Columbus Sports Programs the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame is established to pay tribute, to give deserved recognition and to enhance the Columbus tradition by honoring former athletes, coaches, teams, or contributors to sports.
A. The recipient shall have resided in the boundaries of U.S.D. #493.
B. The recipients shall have distinguished themselves as an athlete, coach,
team or contributor to athletics.
C. An individual's accomplishments may have occurred while residing in
Columbus or upon leaving Columbus.
D. Primary consideration will be given to those individuals and teams who earned state and national honors or recognition in their sport or area of contribution.
E. Then nominees shall not be currently active in the category for which he/she is being nominated.
Nominations are taken from October 1 through November 15 annually.
Please see our official nomination form on this webpage. Completed forms can be dropped off at the Columbus Board of Education offices by the deadline or emailed to: email@example.com
CAMPAIGN FOR THE HALL OF FAME
The Columbus Sports Hall of Fame relies on donations from anyone who is interested in the celebration of sports and sports achievements in the Columbus area. Several individuals, over the years, have donated money to help provide the awards for the inductees and for the exhibits that are placed in the Columbus Museum.
Anyone interested in donating money to the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame should make checks payable directly to the Columbus Community Foundation. Individual and corporate support is appreciated and is tax deductible.
HOW TO DONATE TO THE SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Levels of Support: Platinum Club Members $ 100 per year
Gold Club Members $ 75 per year
Red Club Members $ 50 per year
Titan Club Members $ 25 per year
Please make checks payable to:
Columbus Community Foundation
PO Box 47
Columbus, KS 66725
PH: (620) 429-3107
The Columbus Sports Hall of Fame Committee members are individuals who have spent a substantial number of years in the Columbus area, or attended Columbus schools, or have played a significant role in the Columbus area as a civic or community member. Columbus Hall of Fame Committee members have a very good perspective of the community and the history of sports in the Columbus area.
Columbus Sports Hall of Fame Nomination Form (forms accepted October 1 thru November 15 - Annually)
Fred Keys attended Columbus High School from 1942 to 1946 where he was a member of the 1945 Titan football team. The Double A Division gridiron Titan’s were ranked #1 in the state, by some accounts, after their outstanding undefeated season and being named SEK champs. Fred was solely responsible for the inception of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame. In the early days of the Hall of Fame, Fred was the spokesperson for the award and recognition program. In addition, over the years Fred was the Sports Hall of Fame’s biggest supporter and he was a financial supporter. He researched and compiled a wealth of information on the original class of inductees. Subsequently he was always willing to help in any way he could in the nomination and selection of inductees. He remained an active member of the Hall of Committee the rest of life. In addition, Fred was a Golden Gloves Boxing Champ as a youth, and he was instrumental in promoting handball in Tulsa at the YMCA, where he won several handball tournaments at the local, masters, state and regional levels. Fred graduated from Tulsa University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business in 1958 and he served honorably in the United States Navy. In 1963 he was Named “Who’s Who” In Tulsa, OK. Fred was employed by Babcock and Wilcox and Vincent Supply Co. as a sales manager. Fred and his wife Margaret had three sons, Michael, Peter, Phillip and two daughters, Sandra and Penny. According to Mike Keys, Fred’s son, “Fred wanted to honor those who had been forgotten but possessed and displayed exceptional athletic skills in their day. Those who were overlooked by defeat, health or hard times. Those who deserved recognition by their sports accomplishments.”
Class of 1998 Bud Bull (Athlete)
Dr. Donald Cooper (Contributor)
James R. “Rube” Ferns (Athlete)
Bennie Lee (Athlete)
Neil Ridley (Athlete)
Class of 1999 Dennis McComack (Athlete)
Jon White (Athlete)
Class of 2000 Brad Bigando (Athlete)
P.W. Churchill (Athlete)
Charlene Woodward (Athlete)
Class of 2001 Glen Callow (Contributor)
Randy Roark (Athlete)
Bob Skahan (Athlete)
Class of 2002 Jill Simpson (Athlete)
Class of 2003 Lana (Bower) Birt (Athlete)
Class of 2004 Shannon (Flanagan) Justice (Athlete)
Class of 2005 Clay Christiansen (Athlete)
No Inductees in 2006, 2007, or 2008
Class of 2009 Richard Jones (Athlete/Coach)
Class of 2010 Austin DeVoe (Athlete)
Marc Eddington (Athlete)
Class of 2011 Michael O’Malley (Athlete)
Class of 2012 Sunny (York) Pierce (Athlete)
Class of 2013 Ken Jones (Athlete/Coach)
Class of 2014 Skip Hale (Athlete)
CCCHS 1945 Football Team (Team)
Class of 2015 David Dill (Athlete)
Danny Langerot, Jr. (Athlete)
Steve Siebuhr (Athlete)
Class of 2016 Don Ligon (Athlete)
1968 Columbus Football Team (Team)
Class of 2017 Chet Douthit (Athlete)
Joe Ristau (Athlete)
C.E. Starkweather (Athlete)
Class of 2018 Columbus Rocketts (Team)
Kerry Sachetta (Athlete)
Class of 2019 Anita McColm (Athlete)
Deann Sarwinski (Coach)
Class of 2020 Tom Correll (Athlete)
Cheryl Gleason (Athlete/Contributor)
William “Cody” Moore (Athlete)
Class of 2021 Rocky Overman (Athlete)
Rick Langerot (Coach/Athlete)
1985-86 Titan Girls 400 M Relay Team (Team)
Class of 2022 Fred Keys (Contributor)
Bennie Joel Edmondson (Athlete)
L.Dee Murdock (Athlete)
Shannon (Rhinehart) Neill (Athlete)
L.Dee Murdock attended Columbus High School from 1991 through 1995 where he led the Titans in scoring and rebounds on the basketball team. L.Dee was named to both the All SEK Basketball Team and the 4A All State Basketball Teamin 1994 and 1995. In 1995 after averaging 30 points and 14 rebounds, per game, L.Dee was named All State All-Classes, and Honorable Mention All USA on the USA Today All America Team. In 1995, L.Dee set a school record scoring 43 points against Parsons. During high school L.Dee had seven games with 40 points or more. He chose the University of Missouri over several other Division I colleges to continue his collegiate basketball career. As a sophomore at MU, he was named player of the game during the Big 12 Tournament against Texas, and later that year he was named All Big 8 Academic Honorable Mention. LDee also made a game tying basket against #1 ranked Kansas that same year in double overtime. After his sophomore year, L.Dee transferred to Illinois State. At Illinois State, he was named Missouri Valley Player of the Week in January 1999 after averaging 19 points and almost 9 rebounds per game. However, a knee injury ended his year in January. At the time L.Dee was the 2nd leading rebounder and 8thleading scorer in the Missouri Valley Conference. As a senior, L.Dee was averaging 13.6 points per game and 7.4 rebounds when a second consecutive basketball season ended with a knee injury. In 2000, L.Dee graduated from Illinois State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. After college L.Dee played on several semi-pro teams overseas. L.Dee toured and played basketball in China against the Chinese National Team where he faced Yao Ming. In 2002, L.Dee played in a USA League in St. Joseph, MO and he finished up his career playing in Israel. L.Dee received his real estate license in 2001, and he is currently a co-partner with his sister in the SkyZone Topeka Trampoline Park and Airport Landing, and The Docks Apartments in Joplin. L.Dee and his wife Miranda, have four children: Easton Murdock, Anistyn Murdock, Joseph DeGraffenreid, and Dakota DeGraffenreid. The family resides in Webb City, MO.
Bennie “Joel” Edmondson attended Columbus Unified High School from 1968 to 1972 where he earned three varsity letters each in both football and wrestling. Joel was named All SEK in football, and he won the SEK league championship in wrestling, at 167 pounds, his senior year. After graduating from CUHS in 1972, Joel earned a football scholarship at Coffeyville Community College where he played linebacker and he graduated with his Associate Degree in 1974. Next, Joel enrolled at Emporia State University to continue his football career and participate in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). He was forced to choose to play college football or compete in collegiate rodeo – and he chose the latter. During his college rodeo career, he was a Top-Six finisher in the Central Plains Region in Bareback Riding. And he completed a bachelor’s degree at Emporia State in 1976. After college he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA), where he forged an outstanding rodeo career. In 1978 he finished third in the Rookie of the Year competition in steer wrestling. In 1982, Joel won the PRCA Pro Tour Series, and in 1983 he won the title of World Champion Steer Wrestler. In 1983 Bennie performed for President Ronald Reagan. During his professional rodeo career, he was a National Rodeo Qualifier in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1988. In 1984 Joel survived a plane crash and was able to come back to competition. In 1988, Joel was the runner-up to the National Steer Wrestler Champion in a very close competition. He was also a National Circuit Finals Champion Steer Wrestler, a five time Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo Steer Wrestling Champion, and twelve time Prairie Circuit qualifier. From 1984 through 2013 Joel taught steer wrestling in the US and Canada. Joel and his wife Sharyl live in Eureka, KS. The couple has three daughters, Tonya, Holly and Paige.
Shannon Rhinehart Neill attended CUHS from 1995 through 1999, where she excelled on the Titan girls golf team. She lettered four straight years in golf. As a freshman, Shannon placed 2nd at regionals and 6th at the Kansas State Golf Tournament, while the Titan girls golf team won state. As a sophomore, Shannon won first place in three tournaments and placed 1st at regionals and 2nd at the Kansas State Golf Tournament, while the Titan girls golf team was the runner-up. In her junior year, Shannon won five tournaments and tied for 1st in two other tournaments - losing scorecard playoffs. She tied for 1st at regionals then placed 3rd at the Kansas State Golf Tournament, with the Titan girls team finishing as the runner-up again. In Shannon’s senior year, she won six tournaments, placed 1st at regionals, and was the 1998 Kansas State Champion along with a 1st place team finish at the Kansas State Golf Tournament. In 1998, Shannon set the CUHS school record for shooting an even-par, 37, at the Fredonia Golf Tournament. Shannon was also champion of the 1997 Kansas District Optimist International Jr. Golf Championship, and she played in four women’s amateur tournaments, with a 5th place finish in one tournament. Shannon received a golf scholarship to play for Newman University, where she was team captain all four years. As a freshman, she qualified for the NAIA National Tournament as an individual and won 1st place in a tournament in York, NE. Shannon led Newman University to nationals her senior year, with the team placing 8th and Shannon placing 30th in the NAIA National Championship. She earned a degree in business management in 2003 from Newman University, and later she earned her Master of Arts in teaching from Missouri State University. Shannon was the runner-up for Miss Columbus in 1998. Shannon continues her influence on the sport by coaching the Joplin High School girls golf team. She also helps with Joplin’s Jr. Golf Program and has volunteered to help coach the Joplin High School boys golf team. Shannon is a teacher in the Joplin School District. Shannon and her husband, Shawn, live in Joplin, MO, with their son, Crosby.
The 1985 and 1986 Titan Girls 400 Meter Relay Teams dominated the Southeast Kansas League and Class 4A for two consecutive years, competing against a 64 team field on their way to two state titles. The 1985 400 Meter Relay Team consisted of Denise McDown, Lori Maxwell, Dee Dee Jeffery, Alycia Riker, and Lanna Bower over the course of the track season. The CUHS Girls 400 Meter Relay Team tied the Kansas State record in 1985 while placing first in the state meet. The relay team was undefeated in 1985 as they helped the entire Titan Girls Track Team finish 3rd at Regionals and 3rd at the Kansas State Track Meet. The 1986 400 Meter Relay Team consisted of Denise McDown, Lori Maxwell, Julie Daugherty and Lanna Bower. The 1986 relay team lost only one race in 1986; however, they saved their very best for their last race in Wichita at the Kansas State Track Meet. The 1986 relay team set the state record, a record that stood for fourteen years, in their last race with a time of 50.0 seconds. And their efforts helped the entire Titan Girls Track Team finish as Regional Runner-Up and a 3rd Place finish at the 1986 Kansas State Track Meet. The 1985 and 1986 400 Meter Relay teams set four meet records, including the Kansas State record, and they broke the CUHS school record five times. The 1985 and 1986 relay teams were anchored by Lanna Bower who won numerous state championships and she is a Columbus Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Both relay teams were coached by assistant coach DeAnn Sarwinski, Columbus Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, and head coach John Marietta who was named the Kansas State 4A Girls Track Coach of the Year in 1986.
Rick Langerot attended CUHS from 1968 to 1972 where he lettered four years for the Titan wresting team. As a sophomore he finished 3rd in the District Tournament, and as a senior he placed 1st in the District and Regional Tournaments. After high school Rick attended Ft. Scott Junior College where he was credited as the driving force behind the wrestling program’s origin. Because of Rick’s efforts Ft Scott Junior College began their wrestling program during his sophomore year. Again, Rick excelled as he finished 1st in two JUCO tournaments and 3rd place in another, and he was awarded The Most Persistent Wrestler. Rick finished his college studies at Pittsburg State University where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in pre-law in 1976 and a bachelor of science degree in education in 1977. After college Rick started coaching at Fort Scott High School. During his time as a head coach, Rick started the Fort Scott junior high wrestling program. In 1989 Rick left Ft Scott to start a new wrestling program at Mulvane High School. He continued coaching there for the next 31 years. In 1993 he was named the Kansas Wrestling Officials Association 4A Coach of the Year. At Mulvane, Rick started their Jr. High wrestling program and most recently their girl’s wrestling program. In his career, he established five wrestling programs. Rick’s decorated coaching career includes 7 league championships, 357 dual wins, 62 state medalists, 172 state qualifiers, 8 state champions, 37 All-State First Team Academic awards, and he coached in 43 consecutive state championships. In addition, Rick’s 2001-02 wrestling team took 3rd place in Class 5. In 2019, he was inducted into the Fort Scott Wrestling Hall of Fame for his work at Fort Scott High School, Fort Scott Community College and for his commitment to the betterment of the sport of wrestling. The Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association named him Coach of the Year in 2019, and they inducted Rick into their Hall of Fame in 2020. Rick and his wife Irene live in Peck, KS. The couple have two sons, Nathan and Nicholas, and five grandchildren.
Rocky Overman attended CUHS from 1974 to 1978 where he was a two sport letterman for the Titans. He was a three year starter and letter winner for the Titan football team where he played linebacker, tight end, and running back. As a wrestler Rocky won two varsity letters for the Titans and was a state qualifier his junior year at 167 lbs. and senior year at 185 lbs. In football he led the Titan defense and still holds the single season record for tackles with 149 in 1977. As a junior he was named All SEK Honorable Mention at tight end, and as a senior at linebacker and running back. Rocky earned a football scholarship at Coffeyville Community College where he started for two years for the Red Ravens. As a freshman he helped lead the Red Ravens to a Jayhawk Conference Championship while massing 68 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. As a sophomore Rocky won several team awards on defense as Coffeyville tied for a conference championship. He then earned a scholarship at Missouri Southern State College where he started for two years at defensive end for the Lions. As a junior he was named District 16 Player of the Week with five quarterback sacks, and later he was named Honorable Mention All-District. As a senior at MSSC, he had an outstanding campaign while earning 1st Team All-CSIC and 1st Team District 16 honors. Rocky earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management in 1983 from MSSC; and, he has served on the Columbus Community Foundation Board and the Columbus Community Field Board. Rocky is the owner and general manager of Faulkner Grain, Inc. He lives in Columbus with his wife Pam (Schoech) Overman. They have four daughters Libby, Samantha, Maddy, and Katie, and seven grandchildren.
Tom Correll attended CUHS from 1963 to 1967 where he was a three sport letterman for the Titans. He was a three year starter for the Titan football team where he played linebacker and he led the team in tackles and was awarded Best Defensive Player his senior year. Tom’s success on the football field earned him Honorable Mention ALL-SEK as a junior, and ALL- SEK First Team Linebacker as a senior. And he was a versatile football player as he played on both on offense and defense. During his senior campaign, Tom helped the Titans to an SEK League Championship and a Coal Bucket victory over rival Pittsburg. Tom also played basketball for the Titans and he competed on the Titan track team where he also earned varsity letters. After high school Tom earned the opportunity to play collegiate football at Baker University in Baldwin, KS. Tom was a four year starter for the Wildcats calling the defensive signals all four years while leading the team in tackles. In 1968, as a sophomore, Tom was named All Conference Honorable Mention as a defensive player. And as a junior in 1969 and as a senior in 1970, Tom was named the Kansas College Athletics Conference (KCAC) - Northern Division All Conference linebacker. During his senior season he led the team in tackles, as Baker lead the league in total defense. Tom graduated from Baker University in 1971 with a degree in Business Administration. He began a successful business named Poli-Tron in Pittsburg, KS and later co-owned the company until his retirement in 2009. Tom and his wife Jan live in Pittsburg, Kansas. They have two daughters Kim (Correll) Scripsick and Kelly (Correll) Aman.
Cheryl Gleason attended CUHS from 1968 to 1972 where she played tennis for the Titans. Cheryl competed as a one sport athlete in this pre-Title IX era when there were limited opportunities for females in athletics. She was very successful in the lone high school sport available, finishing 1st as a junior in doubles at the Regionals, 2nd in singles at Regionals as a senior, and capped off her HS tennis career by finishing 3rd in singles at the KSHSAA Class 3-1A state tournament. Cheryl also played for the Columbus Rockette’s softball team. After high school she attended Southwestern College in Winfield, KS. As a Moundbuilder, Cheryl played volleyball and tennis for four years and basketball for three years. She had a very successful collegiate career in basketball as holding the college’s free throw record for numerous years and played on the KCAC championship tennis team in 1975. Cheryl’s athletic accomplishments as a talented multi-sport athlete were recognized in 2018 by her induction into the Southwestern College Sports Hall of Fame. As a contributor, Cheryl’s dedication and talent matched her athletic accomplishments. Her longtime association and service to volleyball in Kansas earned her induction in 2015 into the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame, as well as earning her USA Volleyball’s Robert L. Lindsay Meritorious Achievement Award in 2016. Cheryl served on the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) volleyball rules writing committee for 8 years (4 as the committee chair). She was awarded the NHFS Citation in 2015. Cheryl has served the student-athletes of Kansas as Assistant Executive Director of the Kansas High School Activities Association since 1989. She has been dedicated to student leadership since age 18 with her continuous service and now State Director of the program of the Kays and Kayettes. Cheryl earned a bachelor of science degree from Southwestern College in 1976, and a master degree from Pittsburg State University in 1986. She resides in Topeka, KS.
Cody Moore attended CUHS from 2004 to 2008 where he lettered and excelled in both football and wrestling for the Titans. In 2005, Cody was recognized as an All-Area Wrestler by the Joplin Globe, and in 2006 he was ranked 4th in the state of Kansas as a heavyweight wrestler. He finished his high school wrestling campaign in 2007 by earning his way on the Joplin Globe All-Area Wrestling Team, while also earning ALL-SEK First Team honors. Cody’s high school football career was also very memorable. He played on both the offensive and defensive line for the Titans. In both 2006 and 2007, he was selected to the Kansas 4A All State Football Team, and in 2007 he was named Joplin Globe All-Area Football Team as a lineman. In 2007 he helped the Titans earn a berth in state play-offs, and was one of only a few Titans, in the history of the football program to be named to the Kansas Shrine Bowl in 2008. After high school Cody attended Ft. Scott Community College where he became a starter on the offensive line. He earned All-Jayhawk League honors in 2009 while helping the Greyhounds finish as runner-up playing in the JUCO National Championship game. Cody then transferred to Pittsburg State University (PSU) where he switched from the offensive line to the defensive line. He played during the 2010 season for the Gorillas before becoming a defensive stalwart for the Gorillas. Cody was an integral part of the Gorillas 29th nationally ranked defense which helped the Gorillas win the 2011 Division II National Football Championship. He is the only Columbus Titan to play in two collegiate national championship football games. Cody earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studies with an Emphasis of Human Performance at Pittsburg State University in 2014. He now lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his girlfriend, Katye, and their two dogs.
Anita McColm attended CUHS from 1975 to 1979 where she played in basketball 4 years, track 4 years, and tennis 2 years. Anita played for Coach Deann Sarwinski’s Lady Titans for four years. During Anita’s sophomore, junior, and senior campaigns the Lady Titans amassed an outstanding 54 wins and 9 loss record, while winning or sharing the SEK League title three times. With Anita playing point guard the Lady Titans won the sub-state tourney in 1977 and qualified for the state basketball tournament. Anita was a trailblazer in Columbus women’s sports as far back as junior high where she tried out for the boy’s team. She made the team and she played in many games for the Wildcats. In high school track and field Anita placed 2nd in the state softball throw in 1977, and her junior year she qualified for state in the discus and placed 7th. While at Pittsburg State University, Anita excelled in many track and field meets and at national level competitions. She earned a track scholarship during her junior and senior years after walking on to the team as a freshman. Anita set several PSU track and field records in the javelin, discus, and shot put. She placed in the top four, three times in the javelin at CSIC Conference meets. She also competed for PSU at the National Championships three times. In addition, Anita was the first woman in PSU history to earn four letters in track and field. During the summers Anita enjoyed playing softball. She started playing softball as early as elementary school and played well into her late 30s, stopping because of injuries. During her softball career she played on several teams that won league and tourney championships. She currently serves as an elementary physical education teacher in the Columbus School District. And Anita has been a member of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee since its second year in existence. Finally, Anita’s love for sports has been passed on to many Columbus athletes as she has coached several different sports for more than 23 years.
Deann was an outstanding coach at Columbus Unified High School from 1969 till 1998. Deann attended Hutchison Junior College and later completed her undergraduate degree in education at Pittsburg State University (PSU). She also earned a masters degree in physical education 1976 at PSU. In the late 1960s opportunities for girls in high school sports were non-existent. Deann started the first girls, and boys, tennis teams in at CUHS as a volunteer coach until the school eventually adopted the programs permanently. Prior to Title IX there were very few if any opportunities in Kansas high schools for interscholastic competition for girls. In 1974, Deann became the first 5 on 5 girls basketball coach in Columbus school history. The first year the Lady Titans played six games and competed in the sub state tourney. The next decade for girl’s basketball in Columbus under Coach Sarwinski’s leadership was outstanding. The fledging program amassed 122 win and 66 loss 65% win percentage over the next ten seasons. During her tenure the Lady Titans won or shared the SEK League Championship three times, they won the sub-state championship twice and lost in the sub-state finals three times. Also, Coach Sarwinski lead the Lady Titans to the Girls State Basketball Tourney in 1977 and again in 1983. Her basketball players also amassed numerous accolades and college scholarships. She coached two first team All State performers and over a dozen All SEK performers in girl’s basketball, and at least four of her players went on to play in college. Deann also coached girl’s tennis and four of her female netters qualified for state competition, with one placing 3rd in state in singles. Deann continued to coach new sports in Columbus guiding the Lady Titan volleyball from 1997-1999 the second year of the program’s existence. Several of her players we recognized as All SEK performers as well. Finally, Coach Sarwinski coached the first girl’s track and field team at CUHS and she later assisted John Marietta and Ed Schuberger as an assistant coach for several years. She had no less than nine state qualifiers in events she specialized in coaching. Deann Sarwinski’s greatest attributes in coaching were her desire to instill a sense of dedication, pride, and tradition in her players. Deann lives in Columbus with her husband Michael and they have three children, Mike, Beau, and Brandy along with 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
The Columbus Rocketts Fastpitch Softball Team was founded in 1961. With the inspiration, motivation, and hard work of teenagers Vivian Burch, Linda Boyes, and Nancy Hurst, and with the help of manager Louise Arlint the team was formed. The founders recruited players and organized the team to represent Columbus. They had the help of their fathers and mothers with fundraising activities, and several local businesses. At the time there were no organized team sports for girls in high school and very few (if any) opportunities in the community for girls to play sports. The Rockett’s inaugural season was in 1961 and was over ten full years before Title IX was signed into law. Title IX was enacted to ensure that federally funded education programs and/or activities existed regardless of sex. The Rocketts team first played on the Columbus Bombers baseball field, as well as several other venues including cow pastures. They even allowed other teams to share players in order to play games if necessary. The Rocketts were an Amateur Softball Association sanctioned team and they played in the SEK Women/Girls Fast Pitch Softball League. Eventually they raised enough money to have their own uniforms, as well as their own field with a scoreboard lights by 1962. In fact, the original Rocketts field is still in use today. By 1962 the Rocketts began to experience success as they won several games, including the regional championship and eventually they finished 3rd in the state tournament in Great Bend, KS. In 1964 the Rocketts again qualified for the state tournament this time they placed second in the state after a thrilling 10-9 loss in the championship game. The 1965 season was capped off by another state tournament appearance and 3rd place finish in Clay Center, KS. The team won many trophies over the years and sportsmanship was always at a premium for the girls as they were recognized several times for their classy play. The team was in existence till 1971 and they helped “bridge the opportunity gap” for young girls to be able to compete and represent Columbus like their male counterparts.
Kerry Sachetta attended CUHS from 1975 to 1979 where he earned a total of ten varsity letters in football (3), basketball (3) and track (4). He became one of the most highly decorated athletes in CUHS history. In football, he was an outstanding quarterback receiving All-SEK, All-Area,
4A All-State, All-State Top Eleven All-Classifications, and All-American Honorable Mention by Scholastic Coach Magazine. He led the state of Kansas in passing his junior and senior seasons, throwing a record 26 touchdown passes in 1978, and while setting state passing records. He played on the first team in Columbus to win a district playoff game, and was the first Titan to be selected to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl. In basketball, Kerry was one of the top players in the SEK League, scoring over 750 points in his career. He received All-SEK Honorable Mention honors in 1978 and was named First Team All-SEK in 1979, as well as All-State Honorable Mention in 1979. As a member of the 1977-78 CUHS basketball team, he competed in the state basketball tournament. In track, he placed in the shot put and relays winning over 30 medals in four years. He represented the Titans in the mile relay at the State Outdoor Track Meet. Completing his CUHS career, Kerry was highly recruited by several collegiate football programs. He was awarded a full football scholarship to Oklahoma State University, and he later earned a football scholarship to Pittsburg State University. His collegiate football career ended after three years due to injuries. Kerry earned his bachelors, masters, and specialist degrees in education from Pittsburg State University, and his doctorate from St. Louis University. He also served as an assistant football coach for CUHS from 1985-87. Kerry has served as a teacher and principal during his career in education, and he was the principal of Joplin High School as it recovered from the devastating 2011 tornado. He is currently Assistant Superintendent for Operations for Joplin Schools, and he serves as Chairman for the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame. Kerry and his wife Amber (CUHS Class of 1979) live in Joplin, MO and they have two sons, Gabe and Luke.
C.E. attended CUHS from 1969 to 1973 where he earned varsity letters in football and basketball and was named All-SEK after his junior football season, and honorable mention All-SEK after his senior football campaign. After high school, C.E. earned a football scholarship to attend Ft. Scott Junior College. While at Ft. Scott, C.E. was named All-Jayhawk Conference Defensive Lineman and he earned All-American Honorable Mention as a defensive standout. He transferred at mid-semester of his sophomore year to accept a football scholarship to attend Wichita State University. At WSU, C.E. played on the defensive line for two years for the Shockers football team. He completed a bachelor degree in Business Administration in 1980 at WSU. In 2006, C.E. was inducted into the Ft. Scott Greyhounds Sports Hall of Fame. He has worked for Pittcraft Printing in Pittsburg for most of his professional career. He was elected to the Board of Directors of Great Plains Federal Credit Union in Joplin, MO in 1989 and serves as Vice-Chairman. C.E. and his wife Sally live in Pittsburg, KS and they have one daughter Jana (Starkweather) Hickman, who teaches and coaches volleyball at Columbus High, and one grandson, Patrick.
Chet attended CUHS from 1964 to 1967 where he earned at total of eleven varsity letters in football, basketball, and track and field. Chet was named All-SEK League running back and defensive back after both his junior and senior seasons. During his senior year Chet was an important member of the Titan football team that won both the SEK League, and the Coal Bucket game against Pittsburg. As a senior, Chet won the Kansas State Indoor championship in the long jump, and he ran on mile relay team that finished 3rd at the indoor championships. At CUHS, he also set records in both 220-yard dash and long jump. After high school Chet accepted a scholarship to play football at Coffeyville Junior College and he earned 1st team All-Conference honors in both 1967 and 1968 as a defensive back. He later accepted a football scholarship to attend Arkansas State University where he moved to the offensive side of the ball. At Arkansas State he played an integral role on their undefeated 1970 team that won the national championship in their division. That same year Chet starred in the Pecan Bowl where he caught two touchdown passes in a win over Central Missouri State. Chet still ranks one of ASU’s all time receiving leaders, including a record 98-yard touchdown reception. He earned a bachelors of science degree in Animal Science from ASU in 1971. After college, Chet signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins and played part of the 1971 season before a career ending injury. He has been a professional fisherman for more than 30 years and has won eight fishing titles in his career. And he has operated a fishing guide business for 42 years and he resides in Clewiston, Florida. Chet has one son, Aaron Douthit.
Joe attended CUHS from 1969 to 1973 where he earned varsity letters in both football and wrestling in 1972 and 1973. For his junior and senior seasons he earned All-SEK honors in football, and was the SEK League heavyweight wrestling champion in 1973 on his way to a 3rd place finish in the Kansas State Wrestling Tournament. After high school Joe attended Ft. Scott Junior College on a football and wrestling scholarship. At Ft. Scott he lettered in both football and wrestling and in 1974 he earned all conference and All-American honors at offensive tackle for the Greyhound football team. He also was highly involved in student government at FSCC serving as student senate vice-president and assembly chairperson. After his playing days at Ft. Scott, Joe earned a football scholarship at Oklahoma State University. However, he opted to further his career at Missouri Southern State University. At MSSU Joe continued his success on the football field by earning All-CSIC and All-District honors after both his junior and senior season as an offensive tackle. And in 1977 was named an NAIA All-American as an offensive lineman, as well as earning his degree from MSSU. After college Joe attended the New Orleans Saints rookie camp. Joe once served as president of the brotherhood of oilers and fireman for the City of Joplin. And he later started in his own business in 1994, as well as serving as a Village Trustee for Airport Village, MO. In 1996, Joe was inducted into the Ft. Scott Junior College Sports Hall of Fame. Joe and his life partner Georgianna Krier reside in Airport Village, MO and the two have one daughter, Devyn.
Don attended CUHS from 1968 to 1972 and he earned a total of nine varsity letters in football, basketball, and track. He also played summer baseball. Considered a “natural” all-around athlete and hard worker Don was an all state, all-league performer, or league record holder in the three major sports at CUHS. Don was named 1st Team All-SEK Running Back in 1970 and 1971. He was named 2nd Team All State in 1971 by the Wichita Eagle Beacon after he gained over 1000 yards rushing his senior season. And he earned a football scholarship in 1972 from Ft. Scott Community College. As a basketball player he was a three-year letterman and was named All-SEK after the 1971-72 season after finishing second in the league in scoring. As a track and field athlete Don was a three-year letterman as he competed in the 120 and 180 yard hurdles where he consistently won medals. In addition, he won several medals in the medley and mile relays. He qualified for the state indoor track meet in 1971 and 1972 as well as the state outdoor meet in 1972. He is a member of the SEK League winning mile relay team in 1972 that broke the league record. Don’s participation on the mile and medley relay teams have resulted in school record times that remain to this day. As a baseball player, Don played Babe Ruth baseball and eventually for the Columbus American Legion and Columbus Bombers. He was an outstanding pitcher and was scouted by the Cleveland Indians. However, Don decided to pursue a career and he graduated from Pittsburg State University’s welding school. Don and his wife Bobbie reside in Ozark, MO. Their family includes daughter Heather (Ligon) White, and sons Don Ligon, Jr. and the late Thomas Ligon, and five grandchildren.
The 1968 Columbus Titan football team is considered one of the most successful Columbus teams for a season because of their record, accomplishments in high school, and the successes of the players on the team. Lead by head coach Gary Watts and assistant coaches Ed Schuberger, Mike Weaver, and James Knox the Titans finished the 1968 season with 8 wins and 1 loss. Their record earned them an SEK Championship and a third straight Coal Bucket victory after a shutout of rival Pittsburg. The 1968 Titans racked up an impressive 244 points for the season while only allowing their opponents 84 points. Their stingy “Red Ant Gang” defense held opponents to less than 10 points per game. The leadership of the seniors was outstanding and after the season they earned several awards, in the pre-Kansas state play-off era. Five seniors earned All-SEK honors with one senior earning recognition as Kansas Elite Eleven for all classes. Four of the seniors went on the play college football, and later seven juniors and sophomores earned the opportunity to play in college after their senior year. Also the seniors of the 1968 team amassed a 22 win and 4 loss record over their three years of high school football. Their 3-year record is better than any senior class before them or since in the traditional “one division” SEK League. The 1968 team’s resume includes two league championships and three coal bucket victories with a dominating point total of 65-14 in three years versus Pittsburg. In the words of Coach Gary Watts, “winning isn’t everything, but second is so far behind you can’t recognize it” has resonated with the players then and now. The forty-two member team also boasts three current Columbus Sports Hall of Fame members.
Dave attended CUHS from 1967 to 1970 and he earned varsity letters in football, basketball, and track. He also played summer baseball. Dave was named 1st Team All SEK Defensive Back in 1968 and 1969 and he played on the Titans 1968 SEK Championship football team. Dave accepted a football scholarship in 1970 to Ft. Scott Community College where he was named All Conference Defensive Back in 1970 and in 1971. He led the conference in interceptions and tackles in 1971 and was also selected as 1st Team All American. He helped the Ft. Scott Greyhounds achieve a 21-1 record with a National Championship in 1970 and a runner up finish in 1971. Dave was selected as an Outstanding College Athlete of America and he accepted a football scholarship to Duke University in 1972. He played two years as defensive back and graduated from Duke with a degree in Psychology in 1974. Later, he went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Dave was commissioned through Air Force ROTC and served as a USAF Fighter Pilot for 20 years. He completed Air War College and retired in 1994 as a Lt. Colonel with many awards and decorations for his distinguished service. Dave was then hired as a pilot with Southwest Airlines. He is currently a Captain and has flown for Southwest over 20 years. During his 40 plus years of flying, he has accumulated over 18,000 flight hours in 22 different aircraft. Dave was inducted into the Ft Scott Community College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and in 2005 he was inducted into the N.J.C.A.A Football Hall of Fame. David and his wife Patty reside in Maysville, MO. They have a son Kyle and daughter Stacy, and two granddaughters.
Danny was an outstanding athlete at Columbus Unified High School in golf, wrestling, and football. He helped the Titan football team win the Lower Division SEK title in 1987 and he was named All SEK Defensive Back. Danny was also an outstanding wrestler at CUHS. He helped Columbus win SEK and Regional titles from 1986 though 1988 and he wrestled on the 1986 and 1987 state championship teams. He placed 3rd individually at Regionals from 1986 to 1988, and he placed 3rd at the Kansas State Wresting Tournament in both 1987 and 1988. In golf, as a freshman he won the SEK League Tournament Individual Championship and he was the first freshman to do so since 1927. Danny was named to the All SEK Golf Team all four years in high school, and he was a two time Kansas 4A Regional Golf Individual Champion in 1986 and 1987. In 1985, Danny led the Titans to a 3rd Place finish at the state golf tournament. And in 1987 Danny led the Titans to a 1st place Regional Golf Team title, and he was selected to represent Kansas in the Kansas/Nebraska Junior Cup matches in 1986. He went on to Pittsburg State University and played golf from 1989-1992. At PSU he garnered four individual tournament wins and was once named MIAA Player of the Week. Danny graduated from PSU in 1993. After college Danny continued his golf career in the four-state area. Danny won the Columbus Country Club Championship over eleven times, he was the 50th Anniversary Twin Hills Invitational Champion 2002, making him the first Twin Hills member to ever win this Championship, Joplin City Champion in 2002 and 2004, the Twin Hills Club Champion in 2003. In 2002 Danny was named the Joplin Michelob Player of the Year, and “Best of the Best” by the Joplin Globe. He has amassed over 45 individual tournament wins in his career and he was inducted into the Joplin Golf Hall of Fame in 2010. Danny and his wife Bev live in Columbus with their son, Jake and their daughter Taytum.
Steve was an outstanding three-sport letterman at Columbus Unified High School from 1977 to 1981. As a basketball player he was named All SEK at the guard position for the 1980-81 season and honorable mention the year before. He won several medals in track as a discus thrower. During the summers Steve played Babe Ruth baseball, and later played for the Columbus American Legion team. In football, as a quarterback, Steve was named All SEK in both 1979 and 1980. In 1979, he was Honorable Mention All State for class 4A and 2nd Team Tri-State All Star. He was named 1st Team All State in 1980 and selected to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl in 1981. Steve earned a scholarship to play football at Coffeyville Community College in 1981. He played for the Red Ravens for two years earning 2nd Team All Conference honors in 1982. He then earned a football scholarship at Pittsburg State University and was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Gorillas in 1983 and 1984. Steve was named All CSIC Honorable Mention Quarterback in 1983 and 2nd Team All CSIC Quarterback in 1984. He was also chosen as team captain for PSU in 1984. Steve graduated from Pittsburg State University in 1985 with a BS degree in Physical Education and a MS degree in Physical Education in 1988. He has been a teacher and football, basketball, and track coach since graduating from college. Steve and his wife Audrey live in Andover, KS. They have a son Ryan and daughter Lauren.
Skip was an outstanding athlete at Columbus Unified High School, Coffeyville Junior College, and Missouri Southern State College. He attended CUHS from 1967-1971 and earned varsity letters in football, basketball, and track and field. After high school Skip attended Coffeyville Junior College where he was a two year starter for the Red Ravens and a team captain. In his freshman season he lead the nation’s junior colleges in passing with 1936 yards as he helped Coffeyville return their program to respectability. After two years at Coffeyville, Skip accepted a football scholarship at the University of New Mexico but decided to continue his football career at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, MO. At MSSC Skip was a two-year starter for the Lions on the football team and was voted Most Valuable Offensive Player. Skip played baseball for MSSC for one season. He also played baseball the Columbus Bombers for his father Kenny Hale who formed and coached the team from 1961 till 1976. Skip earned the respect of his teammates and the respective programs at both Coffeyville JUCO and MSSC, as he was later named to the Athletic Hall of Fame at both institutions. After his playing days, Skip worked with his father Kenny Hale and has been involved in several business ventures. He also has coached high school football at both Columbus and Frontenac. While coaching at Columbus he was the quarterback coach for Kerry Sachetta who attended Oklahoma State University and Steve Seibuhr. He graduated from MSSC in 1975 with a degree in Business, and in 1994 he earned his teaching credentials from Pittsburg State University. He actively serves on the MSSU Lionbacker Steering Committee and is an avid supporter of Missouri Southern athletics. Skip and his wife Kandi reside in Frontenac with their son KW. He also has two daughters, Core Reid and Cassie Hale, and one granddaughter and a grandson.
The 1945 Cherokee County Community High School (CCCHS) Titan football team, lead by head coach Dean George and assistant coach Russ Davee, is arguably the most accomplished and prolific football team to represent the Titans in school history. During the 1945 football season the Titans earned an undefeated record and a Southeast Kansas League Championship. Columbus was known as the “smallest Double A” school in the state at that time, but they broke the conference record in scoring and led the entire state of Kansas in scoring for the 1945 football season. They gained 3,346 on offense with their “single wing attack” and they scored an average of just over 40 points per game. And the Crimson and Gold defense allowed a meager nine touchdowns the entire season. The Titans outscored their opponents 362 to 58 for the season, and in one game they scored 73 points. CCCHS won the Coal Bucket by defeating Pittsburg 40-7. In addition, the Titans defeated the Joplin Eagles and Miami Wardogs on their way to staking claim to the best team in the Tri-State Area. Media outlets recognized the Titans accomplishments locally and statewide. The Joplin Globe called the Titans, “perhaps the best team ever in Four State District.” And they were ranked no lower than the third best team in the state by the Topeka Capital Journal in an era with no play-off system. The 38 member team also boasts three current members of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame, and Fred Keys who was integral in the start of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame.
Ken was an outstanding athlete at Columbus Unified High School, Baker University, and later an outstanding coach. He attended CUHS from 1962-1966 and earned three varsity letters each in football and wrestling, in addition he earned ALL SEK honors in football as a senior. Ken finished his senior wrestling campaign undefeated in the regular season and he finished second in the district. He earned a football scholarship at Baker University where he attended from 1966-1970. Ken was a four year starter at center and was named captain of the football team his senior year. He was named honorable mention ALL KCAC both his junior and senior year at Baker, and he was inducted into the Baker University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He began his coaching career at Baldwin High School as head wrestling coach, and eventually he returned home to coach the Titans as wrestling coach from 1976 to 1996. Ken’s 21-year wrestling coaching record in duals was 237 wins, 71 losses, and 2 ties. Under his leadership, Columbus won the state wrestling championship five times, finished runner-up five times, and twice placed third in the team competition. His teams won the SEK League 10 times and were regional champions 13 times. Ken coached 17 state individual wrestling champions and he was named Kansas High School Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1989 for all classes, and the 4A State Wrestling Coach of the Year four times. In 1990 he was named the National High School Athletic Coach of the Year in Region 5, and was inducted in the Kansas Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2007 Ken was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Ken also served in leadership positions for the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association. At Columbus he served as a teacher, counselor, and coach, and he finished his career by serving as the district’s superintendent. Ken and his wife Barbara, have one daughter Ellen Lewis, son-in-law Brad and three grandchildren Robert, Katherine, and Kenneth. The couple resides in Columbus, KS.
Sunny distinguished herself as an outstanding athlete at Columbus Unified High School from 1971-1975. Her high school basketball career was brief due to girls basketball just beginning in 1975, but Sunny was able to earn All-State honors, as recognized by the Wichita Eagle Beacon. Sunny earned a full scholarship at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to play basketball where she was a team leader in scoring and rebounding and she earned all conference honors. After earning an associates degree at NEO she accepted a basketball scholarship at Pittsburg State University, where she completed an outstanding collegiate career. At PSU she was a two-time All-Central States Intercollegiate Conference selection and she led the conference in scoring in 1978 with a 17 point per game average. In 1979 Sunny finished second in the conference in scoring on her way to become the leading scoring in PSU women’s basketball history with a 17.1 points per game average. After her playing days, she turned to coaching girl’s basketball at Girard High School from 1980 to 2006, and she continued to experience success. Sunny’s basketball teams averaged over 15 wins per season and she won over 300 games in her career, while winning five league championships and coaching numerous all-league and all state players. She also coached softball, track, cross country, and volleyball at Girard and she coached several successful volleyball teams. In 1994 Sunny was inducted into the Pittsburg State University Sports Hall of Fame for women’s basketball. Sunny and her husband John Pierce, have four children Timothy Pierce, Cody Pierce, Randi Pierce, and Nikki (Pierce) Webster. The couple resides in Girard, KS.
Michael distinguished himself as an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Columbus Unified High School from 1970-1974. During his high school sports career he achieved 1st Team All Southeast Kansas League honors in football, he started for three years on the basketball team, and he was a record setting track athlete. Michael was the starting quarterback at Columbus for three years winning All-SEK honors in his junior and senior seasons. One of the highlights of his high school career was defeating 2nd ranked Pittsburg with a thrilling game winning drive to secure the 1973 Coal Bucket victory. He also engineered a fourth quarter comeback against 5th ranked Ft. Scott and was named the Morning Sun Player of the Week for his efforts. Michael placed third in the state indoor track meet in both the 440 yard dash and 880 yard run as a junior, and he was a member of the mile relay and medley relay teams that set school records.
After high school Mike attended Ft. Scott Junior College and played football where he led the Greyhounds to a 7 win and 3 loss record during his sophomore year. One of his highlights at Ft. Scott was a 226 yard passing performance against NEO A&M Junior College. After completing his junior college career, Michael was recruited to play football by George Seifert (later the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers) at Cornell University. During his football career at Cornell, Michael was the back-up quarterback for the Ivy League school before his career ended with a knee injury. He completed his college education at Pittsburg State University in 1979 and is currently employed by the Whirlpool Corporation as a Senior Project Manager. Michael and his wife Kathy (the former Kathy Walkenshaw of Columbus) have two children Mary (O’Malley) Burnett and Daniel O’Malley. The couple now resides in Lee Summit, Missouri.
Marc distinguished himself as an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Columbus Unified High School from 1988-1992. During his high school sports career he achieved 1st Team All Southeast Kansas League honors in basketball, football, and baseball. In addition, Marc was named to the Joplin Globe All Area Baseball team as a 1st Team selection in 1992. After high school Marc attended Coffeyville Junior College and played baseball where he led the Red Ravens with a .351 battening average while helping the team win the Jayhawk East Division Championship. After junior college, Marc went on to play college sports at Pittsburg State University where he lettered and excelled in two sports. As a basketball player at PSU he was a two time 1st Team MIAA and All District selection. He broke the Gorilla’s basketball scoring record for a two-year career with 1090 points. In addition, while at PSU Marc played baseball and pitched Pitt State to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota State to help the Gorilla’s in their first NCAA Regional appearance. Marc majored in printing while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology from PSU in 1997. He was a two-sport letterman in college level and because of his scholarship, athletics, and involvement on campus, he was named Outstanding Senior Male Student at the Pittsburg State University graduation ceremonies in 1997. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pittsburg State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Marc and his wife Kami reside in Nixa, Missouri.
Austin distinguished himself as an outstanding athlete at Columbus Unified High School from 1997-2001. During his high school sports career he won multiple state championships in wrestling, and he placed 3rd at the Junior Nationals Freestyle Wrestling Championships and was named All American. Austin was named the Kansas State High School Wrestler of the Year in 2001 after he earned his third state title during the 2000-2001 wrestling campaign. He was the Kansas State Champion in his weight division in 1999, 2000, and 2001. In addition, he finished second in the Kansas State Wrestling Championships as a freshman in 1998. After high school Austin went on to earn four wrestling letters at the University of Missouri and in 2002 he was named the Outstanding Freshman Wrestler of the Year at Missouri University. As a Big XII wrestler he also qualified for the NCAA National Wrestling Championships. While at the University of Missouri, Austin won the Freestyle University National Championships and he was selected to travel to Bulgaria and Greece to wrestle in freestyle matches. Austin majored in parks and recreation management while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 2006. Since, leaving Missouri he has been instrumental in teaching wrestling to youngsters in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska in both camps and clinics. Currently he is the assistant wrestling coach at University of Northern Colorado, an NCAA Division I wrestling program.
Richard distinguished himself as an outstanding athlete while attending Columbus Unified High School from 1965-1969. A varsity letterman football, basketball and track, he was honored by being selected to the All-State Football Team in 1968. Richard attended Kansas University on a football scholarship becoming a varsity letterman. Upon graduation, Richard began an illustrious coaching career at Mulvane, KS. After a year as an assistant coach at Mulvane, he moved to Afton, OK taking them to their first playoff appearance in ten years. He then spent two years at Colcord, OK. leading them to the school’s most victorious in a two-year period at that time. Richard’s next stop was Vian, OK serving as Athletic Director as well as Head Football Coach. He had a 57-10 record while at Vian leading them to a five district championships and a trip to the state finals. He then moved to Jay, OK as Head Football Coach and Athletic Director where he had a record of 37-11 winning three District Championships, two Bi-District Championships and a trip to the State Semi-Finals. Richard then went to Broken Bow, OK. as the Head Football Coach and Athletic Director where his teams had a record of 86-19. During his tenure at Broken Bow, they won 7 District Championships, 2 State Runner-ups, and a State Championship. He followed Broken Bow with stops at Muldrow and Miami, OK. until retiring in 2004 to enjoy family and support his beloved Kansas Jayhawks. Richard ranks in the Top 10 among inactive coaches for total wins in Oklahoma and won 24 playoff games, the most in the 80’s decade of any Oklahoma coach. Richard served as an All-State Football Coach in 1985 and an Oil Bowl Coach in 1990 and has served as a speaker at numerous clinics and banquets. He now lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas with his wife Karen where he is a teacher at Union Christian Academy and serves as the Dean of Men.
Clay distinguished himself as an outstanding athlete while attending Columbus Unified High School from 1972-1976. A varsity letterman as a sophomore, junior, and senior in football, basketball, and track, he was a member of the last Columbus football team to win the Coal Bucket game against Pittsburg. Clay was the starting quarterback and safety as a junior and senior. Clay also was the starting center on the basketball team as a sophomore, junior, and senior and excelled in track throwing the discus, running the 110-yard high hurdles, and competing in the high jump. In 1975 Clay broke his father’s, Glen, discus record set in the 1940’s with a throw of 156’10”. Clay led the Columbus American Legion team to the state tournament in 1976 as a pitcher. His baseball success led to a scholarship at Kansas University where he played three years. The NY Mets drafted him in 1979. In 1980 Clay was drafted and signed with the NY Yankees. He began pitching in 1980 with the Class “A” League Champs, Oneonta, N.Y. In 1981 he pitched Class “A” ball in Florida, and moved up to “AA” ball in Nashville in 1982 where he was named Pitcher of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Star Team. In 1983 Clay was promoted to the Yankees “AAA” team in Columbus, Ohio and played winter ball in Puerto Rico making the All-Star Team. In 1984 and 1985 Clay earned a spot on the Yankees roster for parts of each season. In 1986 he was traded to Minnesota playing “AAA” ball in Portland and Toledo and was later traded to Houston playing “AAA” ball in Tuscan. Clay played his final season in Tuscan in 1987. During his final season Clay finished in the top five for lowest ERA in the league. Clay retired from baseball in 1988. Clay and his wife Karen reside in Merriam, Kansas.
Shannon distinguished herself as an outstanding track athlete while attending Columbus Unified High School from 1985-1989. She earned two state championships on the discus and placed third and second in the shot put her junior and senior years. During her four years in high school she won five regional championships and three-second place finishes is the discus and shot put as well as numerous regular season honors. At the conclusion of her senior year, Shannon was selected to the All Division High School Girls Track Team. Shannon also excelled in basketball earning All-SEK honors as a senior. Shannon was an outstanding student and student leader at CUHS being selected to the National Honor Society and serving as president of the Future Homemakers of America. Shannon continued her education and remarkable track career at Kansas State University. Shannon earned four varsity letters in track at KSU, qualifying for the NCAA Championships her senior year in the shot put, serving as captain of the track team, and participating in the 1992 Olympic trials. She was named a Phillips 66 Academic Athlete all for years. In addition to her degree from KSU, Shannon will complete a M.S. from the University of Nebraska in 2004 in Bio-Chemical Nutrition. Shannon is currently employed as a Clinical Cardiovascular Dietitian at St. John’s Regional Medical center in Joplin. She and her husband Jay reside on a farm in the Columbus area.
Lanna distinguished herself as an outstanding female track athlete while attending Columbus Unified High School from 1983-1987. Lanna earned a total of eight state championships in track. Six of the eight state championships were individual events and two of the championships were part of a relay team that held the state record for twelve years. Lanna also earned ten regional championship medals and fourteen medals in the Southeast Kansas League track meets. Lanna distinguished herself in the classroom as well with a 3.4 grade point average. In 1987 Lanna was selected as an Army Reserve National Scholar. Lanna’s track coach, John Marietta, describes Lanna as a great competitor and as a leader through her work ethic who met every challenge head on. Lanna graduated from Pittsburg State University in 1992 with a degree in Marketing. She currently resides in Lorena, Texas with her husband, Bill, and their children Sean and Micaela.
Jill distinguished herself as an outstanding female golfer while attending Columbus Unified High School from 1992-1996. Jill is the only four-time state golf champion in the state of Kansas (male or female) and only the ninth female in the nation to ever win four first place titles. Not only did she achieve personal recognition, she also led her teammates to three state team championships. While a Titan, Jill won 32 of 38 tournaments in which she competed. She was a regional champion for three of her four years in high school. As a senior at Columbus Unified High School, Jill was selected as Athlete of the Year by the Joplin TV station, KODE. Not only was Jill an outstanding athlete in high school, she also distinguished herself as a scholar and leader by being selected to the National Honor Society, honor roll, student council, and she was actively involved in the Catholic Youth Organization and FHA. Jill continued her career at the University of Kansas on a golf scholarship earning three letters of the University of Kansas Women’s golf team. Jill also earned the Jayhawk Scholar Athlete and Commissioner’s Honor Scholar Athlete awards eight times. In 1998-99, she was selected as the University of Kansas Women’s Golf Scholar Athlete. As a student at KU, Jill was actively involved in a number of community service projects.
Randy excelled as a wrestler while a student at CUHS from 1988-1992 and as a collegiate wrestler for Labette Community College and Missouri Valley College. As a wrestler for the Titans, Randy distinguished himself as a four time state placer earning three state championships and a fourth place finish. Also, while in high school Randy placed second in the Cadet National Tournament in Greco Roman wrestling. Randy crowed his career as a Titan being selected as the 4A Wrestler of the Year by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association. After graduating from CUHS, Randy went on to star for Labette Community College. At Labette, Randy was a two time All-American and selected as Wrestler of the Year twice for the Cardinals. Randy continued his education and wrestling career at Missouri Valley earning All-American status in his final two years of competition. In 1996 he had the record for most wins in a single season for Missouri Valley. Randy graduated form Missouri Valley in 1998 and embarked on a career in teaching and coaching. He currently is an assistant coach for the Lebanon Yellow Jackets, coaches the Lebanon Freestyle and Greco Roman programs, and serves as an assistant football coach in addition to teaching At Risk students. Randy and his wife Karie reside in Lebanon, Missouri.
Glen was instrumental in the development of the Columbus youth baseball program and community baseball and softball facilities. As a student at Mineral High School, Glen participated in football, baseball, and basketball, earning 1st Team Mo-Kan League honors in baseball and basketball. Glen’s proficiency in baseball led to a tryout with the Kansas City Blues in 1938. Upon his return from serving the country in World War II, Glen participated in various local baseball, softball, and basketball teams until the 1960’s. Glen was an integral part of organizing the Columbus Little League Program in 1954 and serving as an officer and manager in the early years of Little League Baseball. In 1955 Glen and three others formed the Columbus Community Field Association and leased property from Keith Reeves Post No. 3 American Legion to develop the fields used by the youth of Columbus today. Glen received the Chris Award and been recognized by the Columbus Little League Baseball Association for his contributions to the youth of Columbus. Glen and his wife, Florence, have two children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Bob excelled as an all around athlete in football, baseball, and track while a student at CCRHS from 1959-1963. As a senior in 1963 Bob earned First Team All State honors in football, baseball, and track in addition to numerous All-Southeast Kansas League honors. He also served as class president in 1961 and 1962, as well as president of the Kay Club in 1963. After graduating from CCRHS Bob went on to star for the Kansas Jayhawks as a quarterback and baseball player. Bob was elevated to the starting position as a sophomore after an exceptional performance coming off the bench against Wyoming. A highlight of Bob’s career as a Jayhawk was leading KU to last minute victory over Oklahoma University as a sophomore. Bob was a Pre Season All American Quarterback in 1966 and an All Big Eight Baseball Outfielder in 1966. In addition to his athletic success, Bob served as ambassador for Kansas University, and served on a number of boards of directors in the Lawrence, Kansas. In addition to his degree from KU, Bob has an MBA from University of Missouri, K.C., and Doctorate in Higher Education from KU. He is owner and executive of the Hall-Kimbrell Environmental Corporation and a real estate developer. Bob and his wife Patty have two children, Skip and Carrie.
Charlene distinguished herself as an outstanding woman’s softball player not only in the Columbus area, but also nationally. Many area sports followers consider her a pioneer in women’s athletics for this community. After playing for two years on a West Mineral team as a short stop, Charlene played professionally for the Phoenix A-1 Queens from 1952 to 1954 as a first baseman and catcher. Charlene joined the navy in 1958 where she served as the player/coach of the Philadelphia Naval Base team from 1958 to 1961 as a pitcher and catcher. She was selected to the All-Navy team all four years while in Philadelphia. Charlene attended high school in Columbus, Joplin and Phoenix. She was a student at Pittsburg State Teachers College for two years and completed a degree in Physical Therapy at Kansas University in 1958. She completed a Masters degree at Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1970. Charlene received numerous honors and awards as physical therapist and officer in the Navy. She retired from the Navy as a Full Commander in 1977. Charlene is an advocate and leader in promoting women’s athletics.
Brad Bigando distinguished himself as an athlete at Columbus High School from 1971-75 as an all-around athlete in the sports of football and basketball. As a Titan, Brad earned All-SEK honors in basketball in 1974 and 1975 and football in 1974. Brad’s athletic success continued at Fort Scott Community College where he earned all-conference honors as a wide receiver in 1975 and 1976. He was also distinguished as an Honorable Mention All-American in 1975 and 1976. Brad completed his athletic career at Missouri Southern State College where he was named all-conference wide receiver in 1977. Brad served as the general manager of the Olympic Fitness Center from 1979 to 1999. He currently is business manager of the Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club. Brad served on the Ozark Little League Board of Directors from 1993 to 1998, and has been the Sunday School Director at the Fellowship Baptist Church from 1996 to the present. Brad and his wife Cathy have daughter Katie, and a son, Jordan.
Paul W Churchill distinguished himself as an athlete at Cherokee County High School from 1943-46 in football, basketball and track. P.W. is considered by many observers of Columbus athletics to be among the most gifted all-around athletes in the Columbus area. Among his many achievements include all-state in basketball, all-SEK football and state champion in the pole vault and high jump. Perhaps is most crowning achievement as an athlete was winning the pole vault, high jump and broad jump in the Kansas Relays competing against not only the best athletes in Kansas but also the surrounding states. P.W. continued his involvement with Columbus athletics as a coach in little league baseball and was an active participant on local basketball team. Paul served his country in the Navy from 1952 to 1954. Returning from the military in 1954, P.W. married his wife of thirty-five years, Naomi, and began a career with Gulf Oil Corporation spending six and a half years in South Korea, Kuwait, and Arabia. Paul has three children, Sherry, Doug and Julie, five grandchildren. P.W. is an avid supporter of all Titan sports and area sports teams.
Dennis McComack achieved every athlete’s dream of representing his/her country in the Olympic Games. In 1972 Dennis was a member of the Olympic Archery Team in the Munich Olympics placing 11th. The following week Dennis competed in the World Field Archery Championships against the same competitors placing 2nd behind the Olympic gold medalists, a fellow American and good friend. Dennis attended Columbus High School from 1966-1970 where he excelled as an all around athlete participating in football, basketball, and track earning All-SEK Honors as a wide receiver in football. He received a degree in Biology from Pittsburg State University and achieved the rank of 2nd Lt. in the ROTC Program. He furthered his education with a master’s degree from Webster University in management. Dennis retired from the army as a Lieutenant Colonel after a very distinguished career in intelligence.
Jon White distinguished himself as an athlete at Columbus High School from 1989-93 in the sports of football and wrestling. Among his many achievements are the two-time selection to the All-SEK Football Team as a linebacker, Second Team All-Area Football Team, and Honorable Mention All-State Football Team, Wrestling State Runner-up as a junior, and State Champion as a senior. Jon also placed 5th in the National High School Tournament earning All-American status and placed 4th in the National Freestyle Tournament after his senior year. The Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association selected Jon as the 4A Senior Wrestler of the Year in 1993. Jon’s wrestling success continued at Missouri Valley College where he was their first 4 time All-American placing 7th as a freshman, 6th as a sophomore, 3rd as a junior, and earning the 190 lb. NAIA National Championship as a senior. While at Missouri Valley, Jon led the team to two National Championships, served as team captain for 3 years, was the Outstanding Freshman Wrestler, earned the most pins awarded 3 years, and was honored as the Outstanding Male College Athlete of the Year his senior year and selected the College Wrestler of the Year by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association in 1997. Jon graduated in 1997 with a degree in business.
Bud Bull distinguished himself as an athlete at Columbus High School from 1943-47 in the sports of basketball, football, baseball, and track and field. Among his many achievements were selection to the All-State Football Team, All-SEK Basketball Team and Captain, and leading basketball scorer in Kansas. Bud not only excelled as an athlete, he also was active in many school and community activities and achieved the distinction of Eagle Scout in Troop #74 in Columbus. Upon graduation from Columbus High School, Bud attended Kansas University where he was a three-year letterman in basketball and starting guard for the Jayhawks. Bud continued playing basketball while serving in the Navy as a player/coach on the 11th Naval District Championship teams in 1953 and 1954.
Dr. Cooper, team physician at Kansas State University (1957-60) and at Oklahoma State University (1960-present), he made significant contributions to the field of sports medicine during his career as a medical practitioner. Born and reared in Columbus, Dr. Cooper has received many honors and served on numerous committees relating to sports medicine. One of the most distinguished honors was his appointment by President Reagan to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports serving eight years and subsequently being reappointed for four years by President Bush. Dr. Cooper served as a team physician for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team and has served as chairman of many prominent national committees in the field of sports medicine.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1881, Rube’s family moved when he was eight years old to Scammon where he lived the rest of his life working as a miner and active member of the United Mine Workers. In 1895, at age 22, Rube went to New York during a miner’s strike to try boxing. His career as a boxer began at a boxing club where he was watching the fights. There turned out to be an opening on the card and Rube volunteered, knocking his opponent out in the first round. Rube remained in New York were he won 40 straight fights before winning the world welterweight championship on September 13, 1900 by defeating Eddie Connolly. He lost the championship to Matty Matthews on October 16, 1900, but reclaimed the title from Matthews on May 24, 1901. Rube lost the title to Joe Walcott on December 18, 1901 and retired from boxing, and he returned to Scammon.
Bennie excelled as an athlete in football, basketball, and track while a student at CCCHS from 1945 to 1949. During his years in high school Bennie earned a total of l0 letters: 4 in football and 3 each in basketball and track. All-SEK and Honorable Mention All-State honors were earned as well. After graduating from CCCHS Bennie went on to star for the NEO Golden Norseman’s first undefeated team at Miami followed by two successful seasons playing for the Wichita Stat Shockers. Bennie was a gifted baseball player as well, at one time overshadowing Oklahoma teammate Mickey Mantle on the playing field. Upon graduation Bennie embarked on a successful coaching career first at Derby High School where he was named Coach of the Year in 1962, and then as an assistant coach at the University of Kansas.
Neil Ridley had a distinguished athletic career at Columbus High School from 1942-46 in the sports of football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. Neil was selected to the All-State Football Team his senior year and was considered by many to be one of the nation’s best passers. In basketball Neil earned All-State Honors his junior and senior years leading the Titans to a fourth place finish in the state his senior year. He also excelled as a second baseman and shortstop in baseball and hurdler in track. An outstanding student leader in school, he served as class president, attended Boys State, and participated in the school play “Love Your Neighbor”. Upon graduation, Neil attended Tulsa University lettering in football and basketball, starring on the basketball team. Neil led the Hurricanes in scoring for three straight years, earned All-Missouri Valley honors and was selected as Honorable Mention All-American. Neil was inducted into the University of Tulsa Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.