Allen County sports heroes


By Jim Naveau - The Lima News



Joe Bowers, photographed in 1967.

Joe Bowers, photographed in 1967.


The Lima News archives

Joe Morrison

Joe Morrison


The Lima News archives

Steve Arlin, photographed in 1966.


The Lima News archives

Aaron Hutchins


The Lima News archives

Bob Arnzen


The Lima News archives

Dorothy Edwards


The Lima News archives

Gary Moeller


The Lima News archives

Greg Simpson, photographed in the early 1990s.


The Lima News archives

William White, photographed in 1992.


The Lima News archives

Jim Lynch


The Lima News archives

Halloran Park, photographed sometime after 1939.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Satchel Paige signs autographs after an appearance in Lima.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig appeared at Halloran Park in 1926.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

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Sports has been a big part of the history of Allen County. Here are some the athletes, coaches and personalities who have helped make sports what it is today in Allen County:

• Ann (Stechschulte) Alyanak. She won the 800 meters, the 1,600 meters and the high jump in the state track meet for Bluffton, won the Big Ten 10,000 meters at Purdue in 2001 and has qualified for the Olympic trials in the marathon three times.

• Bruce Andrews. Andrews was a 6-2 post player who played like he was 6-8. He led Lima Senior to the boys basketball state tournament in 1982.

• Jim Andrews. Before averaging more than 20 points a game at Kentucky as a junior and senior, the 6-11 Andrews scored 33 points a game at Bath as a senior in 1969 in his only season there. He played for the Indiana Pacers and in Italy and Sweden.

• Steve Arlin. A Shawnee High School graduate, Arlin was Ohio State’s No. 1 pitcher when it won the NCAA College World Series in 1966. He pitched 5½ seasons with the San Diego Padres and half a season with the Cleveland Indians.

• Bob Arnzen. Delphos St. John’s legendary boys basketball coach had 676 wins in 43 years. The Blue Jays won the 1983 state championship and went to the state tournament four other times in his career. He also was head football coach at St. John’s in 1955 and coached baseball and cross country.

• Tom Barrington. The 1962 Lima Senior graduate lived out a youthful dream when he played fullback at Ohio State. He played six seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.

• Chrissy Billiter. Billiter was first-team All-Ohio and scored 1,875 points in her basketball career at Elida.

• John Boose Jr. No one won more Lima Men’s City Golf Championships. He won five in a row from 1930-1934, then came back to win another in 1938.

• Joe Bowers. The Lima Senior baseball coaching legend had a career record of 268-64. The Spartans went to the state baseball tournament five years in a row in the early 1960s and won a state championship in 1964.

• Lisa Bradley. She is the career scoring leader at Bath in girls basketball with 2,015 points. She was first-team All-Ohio as a senior in 1983 and scored 1,192 points at the University of Illinois.

• William Bratton. Bratton rushed for 1,862 yards on Lima Senior’s 1996 state championship football team. He gained 1,300 yards in 29 games at the University of Toledo despite suffering from sickle thalessima, a form of sickle cell anemia.

• Bruce Burden. Most people probably know Burden for his skills on the golf course, including two Lima city championships. But he also played four years of college basketball at Kent State and averaged 10.2 points a game in three varsity seasons.

• Jamar Butler. The Shawnee graduate was Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 2004. He scored 2,412 points in his career and was a starter for 3½ years at Ohio State.

• Dave Cheney. He was a starter on Ohio State’s offensive line in 1969 and 1970 and was first-team All-Big Ten in 1970. From junior high until he graduated from Ohio State, his teams lost only eight games in nine years.

• Matt Closson and Tony Closson. The brothers from Delphos Jefferson both signed with Ohio State in the 1980s, but a knee injury kept Matt from playing for the Buckeyes.

• Bud Collins. The longtime network sportscaster was born in Lima.

• Jim Conrad. He scored more than 1,000 points at Perry and nearly 2,000 at Ohio Northern, where he was a first-team All-American in NCAA Division III men’s basketball.

• Larry Cox. The former major league catcher and Chicago Cubs coach began life in Bluffton, went to Ottawa-Glandorf High School and later lived in Lima.

• Tim Crockett. He won four Lima City Men’s Golf Championships and might have won five if the 1982 tournament hadn’t been canceled. He was an All-American at Arkansas when the Razorbacks finished sixth in the NCAA tournament in 1985.

• Connie Day. He pitched from 1920-1932 in the Negro Leagues. He was born in Lima in 1897.

• Elbert Dubenion. Sixty-five years after he arrived at Bluffton College in 1955, Dubenion remains the best athlete in school history. He gained 4,735 yards rushing in four years, then went on to become one of the top receivers in Buffalo Bills history. His 35 touchdown catches still rank fourth on the Bills career list.

• Dorothy Edwards. She played a big role in early days of girls athletics at Elida High School. She was the Western Buckeye League softball Coach of the Year five times and was WBL volleyball Coach of the Year twice.

• T.C. Ester. He was from Lima and pitched for the Birmingham Barons of the Negro Leagues in 1962 and 1963, a decade and a half after Jackie Robinson had played his first major league game in 1947.

• Mark Falk. Wrestling for Bluffton, Falk won state championships in back-to-back years in 1980 and 1981 in the 155-pound weight class and the 167-pound weight class. Bluffton won the small school team championship in 1981.

• Kevin Fell. The Lima Senior graduate led a huge turnaround in Delphos Jefferson’s football program as its coach from 1978-1987. The Wildcats had won two Northwest Conference championships in the 31 years before he arrived. They won six in his 10 seasons, had a 41-game regular-season winning streak and were state runner-up to Newark Catholic in 1985. Jefferson’s winning streak eventually reached 49 games. His brother, Mike, led turnarounds at Columbus Grove, Ada and Lima Senior.

• Dick Finn. Lima St. Rose won the 1951 Class B state championship with Finn on the mound for 10 of its 14 wins that season. He played baseball at Ohio State and was the Buckeyes’ head coach from 1975 to 1987.

• Joe Fisher. With the ability to score inside or outside, the 6-8 Fisher had 1,756 points in four seasons in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Lima Central Catholic High School. He played for the University of Dayton after LCC and had two of his best college games against UCLA and Notre Dame.

• Tim Goodwin. He played for his dad, Bill Goodwin, at Allen East. But what most people know him for what happened outside Allen County. His Marion Local football teams have won 11 state championships, including last year.

• John Guagenti. At the 2008 state track meet, he won the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash and ran on the winning 4x200 and 4x800 relays to lead Bluffton to the boys state championship.

• Shaun Guice. The Lima Senior graduate was an All-American high jumper at Purdue. He was a four-time Big Ten champion with a best jump of 7 feet, 5 inches.

• Fred Hattery. Barry Ruben. Tom Francis. Jim Martz. Steve Meyer. They are some of the people responsible for bringing the Lima Locos to Lima. Fans from Allen County and beyond have enjoyed summer college baseball since 1987.

• Phyllis Hill. She won 11 Lima Women’s City Golf Championships from 1964-1994. Two of those wins came in the 1960s, four in the 1970s, three in the 1980s and two in the 1990s.

• Angela Homan. The Spencerville runner was a state cross country champion in 1999 and 2001 and won the 3,200-meter run at the state track meet twice. In college she an All-American three times in cross country and twice in track at Auburn.

• William Howard. The Lima Senior running back played two seasons with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers after playing college football at Tennessee from 1984-1987.

• Aaron Hutchins. The LCC guard was Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 1994. He played in the state tournament as a sophomore, junior and senior and scored 1,439 points in college at Marquette.

• Herman Keiser. He was Lost Creek Country Club’s professional from 1950-1952 after winning The Masters by one shot over Ben Hogan in 1946.

• Robert King. The former Lima Central High School student won the gold medal in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam with a jump of 6-feet, 4⅜ inches. He graduated from Stanford and Northwestern University’s medical school and was an obstetrician-gynecologist in the San Francisco area for many years.

• Alan Kingsberry and Ralph Marshall. Lima had two other Olympians besides King. Kingsberry competed in cycling in the 1976 Olympics, and Marshall was in the pistol shooting competition in 1936.

• Gene Klaus. After starting for three seasons at Delphos St. John’s, Klaus started for three years during a run of some of the best basketball seasons ever at the University of Dayton, including UD’s 1967 NCAA runner-up team.

• Brad Komminsk. The Shawnee High School graduate was the fourth overall pick in the 1979 amateur baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves. He played for six teams in a nine-year major league career.

• Bill Lange. After playing for Lima St. Rose and the University of Dayton, Lange played six years in the NFL as an offensive lineman.

• Lila Leech. She was the winner of the first Lima Women’s City Golf Championship in 1940.

• Grace Luginbuhl. With an above-average fastball and an unhittable change-up, Luginbuhl was 26-1 with 353 strikeouts and batted .500 when Bath won the 2001 Division II softball state championship. She was first-team All-Ohio as a junior and senior. She was the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year as a junior and as a senior at Cleveland State.

• Demond Lyles. Lyles might be remembered forever for his nine 3-pointers in Lima Senior’s state championship game against Lakota in 1992.

• Jim Lynch. An LCC grad, Lynch was an All-American linebacker at Notre Dame, where he started for three seasons. He started 14 seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs, including their victory in the 1970 Super Bowl. His brother Tom was the starting center for the Naval Academy when Roger Staubach was its quarterback.

• Dick Mast. A Bluffton native, Mast turned pro in 1972 and has played on the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour, various mini-tours and overseas tours. His best PGA finish was second in the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1992.

• Dakota Mathias. Mathias is Elida’s career scoring leader with 1,906 points and was Division II Co-Player of the Year in basketball as a senior. He scored 1,140 points in four seasons at Purdue and is one of Boilermakers’ all-time leaders in 3-point shots.

• Caity Matter. She scored 2,274 points from 1997-2000 at Bluffton, was Division III Player of the Year as a junior and senior, and led the Pirates to a state runner-up finish in 2000. She scored 1,523 points at Ohio State. She was a two-time state champion in the shot put and discus at Bluffton.

• Reggie McAdams. He was Division II Co-Player of the Year in basketball and was first-team all-state in football at Elida, where he scored 1,721 points. He played basketball at the University of Akron and scored 975 points in his career.

• Jim Mertz. Born in Lima in 1916, Mertz had a 5-7 record with a 4.63 earned run average for the Washington Senators in 1943.

• Jeff Miller. After leading Shawnee to the boys state basketball tournament in 1965, Miller signed with Ohio State. He averaged 14.7 points a game as a sophomore for the Buckeyes. But after a knee injury in practice before his junior season, he never played again in college.

• Gary Moeller. The Lima Senior graduate was a football captain at Ohio State. He was a long-time assistant coach at the University of Michigan and head coach at Illinois and at Michigan, where his teams had a 44-13-3 overall record.

• Jerome Moenter. Moenter began competing against older players before he had a driver’s license and was still winning Lima city championships when he was almost 50 years old. He and Chris England won a state doubles championship at Shawnee in 1987, and Moenter went on to play at the University of Toledo.

• Joe Morrison. The Lima South graduate played 14 years with the New York Giants as a versatile athlete who was used as both a running back and a receiver. He also became a college football coach, most notably at South Carolina.

• Ron Niekamp. Niekamp’s teams won everywhere he coached — Parkway, Ottawa-Glandorf, Lima Senior and the University of Findlay, where the Oilers won a national championship in 2009.

• Tom Nomina. After graduating from Delphos St. John’s in 1959 he played at Miami (Ohio) and was drafted by the Denver Broncos. He played six years in the NFL on the defensive line with the Broncos and Miami Dolphins.

• Justin O’Neal. The Shawnee High School graduate won state titles in singles as a freshman, junior and senior to become one of only three tennis players to do that in Ohio, along with Tony Trabert and Clark Graaebner. He was an All-American at the University of Florida.

• James Patton. The Allen East graduate played tight end at Miami (Ohio) from 1989-1992 and has been an assistant coach at Miami, Rhode Island, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Eastern Michigan.

• Jennifer Phillips. She led Elida to the 1997 Division II state title and was named the state Division II Player of the Year that season. She finished with 1,328 points at Elida. She scored 1,607 points at Xavier.

• Paul Ponzuric. He was the coach of Elida’s 1945 football team, which won the school’s first league championship in football, but more notably did it by going undefeated and outscoring its opponents 377-0.

• Seraph Pope. The legendary Central High School football coach was a motivator and an innovator who had a 55-34-3 record at Central, including a 10-0 season in 1946.

• Amy Prichard. She was first-team All-Ohio on the first two girls basketball all-state teams selected in Ohio in 1978 and 1979. In college at Northwestern University, she scored 1,533 points. She was Ohio University’s women’s basketball head coach for six years.

• Gretchen Prichard. The long-time Bath girls basketball coach had 440 career wins, a state championship team in 1987 and a state runner-up team in 1996.

• Rick Rumer. He finished what he started when Elida won the 1976 Class AA baseball state championship, throwing six consecutive complete games, including a no-hitter in the state semifinals. Then he got the win in relief in the Bulldogs’ 4-3 victory over Orrville in the state championship game.

• Leonard Rush. Lima Senior won the 1996 Division I state football championship and qualified for the playoffs six times in Rush’s 17 seasons as coach.

• Dan Sadlier. In 1963, Sadlier was a skinny 5-10 sophomore JV basketball player at Lima Central Catholic. Four years later he was 6-6 and in the starting lineup against Lew Alcindor, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was known then, when the University of Dayton played UCLA in the NCAA championship game.

• Tom Sawyer. As the team owner, he brought the Ohio Mixers of the Continental Basketball Association to Lima for the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons.

• Neil Schmidt. He quit Bluffton High School after his junior year to join the Navy during World War II and returned two years later to become All-Ohio in football and basketball. He went on to play both those sports at Purdue and led the Big Ten in receiving with 23 catches in 1950.

• Bob Seggerson. Seggerson’s Lima Central Catholic boys basketball teams won 518 games in 32 seasons. Six seasons ended at the state tournament, including a state championship in 2010 in his final game as a coach.

• Bill Sharp. The Lima Senior graduate had a four-year major league baseball career from 1973-1976 with the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers with a .255 career batting average.

• Greg Simpson. Simpson was Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 1991 and 1992. He scored 2,346 points in his career at Lima Senior and played at Ohio State and West Virginia in college.

• Xavier Simpson. He was Ohio’s 2016 Mr. Basketball. His 65 points that year against Fremont Ross is a Lima Senior record. He is No. 2 on Michigan’s career assist list.

• Larry Smith and Jim Young. The two Van Wert natives were ultra-successful coaches at Shawnee High School in the 1960s before becoming college coaches. Smith was head coach at Tulane, Arizona, USC and Missouri. Young was head coach at Arizona, Purdue and Army.

• Madinah Slaise. She scored 1,047 points at Lima Senior and 1,849 points at the University of Cincinnati before being selected in the second round of the 2000 WNBA draft.

• George Sowards. He won the first Lima Men’s City Golf Championship in 1925.

• Clay Tucker. He was the definition of a late bloomer, going from a 5-9, 140-pound freshman to a 6-4, 180-pound senior at Perry High School. He averaged 16 points a game as a junior and senior at Perry, then emerged as a star at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he scored 1,788 points in his career. He played professionally in the top leagues in Spain and Italy.

• Fran Voll. Delphos St. John’s girls basketball team had a 74-1 record from 1977-1979 and won two state championships. When Voll, the Blue Jays coach, left to become Bowling Green State University’s women’s basketball coach a few years later, he had a 208-17 career record.

• Jimmy Walsh. Born in Lima in 1886, Walsh, a third baseman, had an overall batting average of .285 for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1910-1913.

• Travis Walton. Defense was the thing that stood out immediately about Walton at Lima Senior and later at Michigan State, where he was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 when MSU went to the Final Four.

• William White. After rushing for 1,444 yards as a senior at Lima Senior High School, White was a four-year starter at Ohio State as a defensive back. He played 11 years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons. He retired after playing in the 1999 Super Bowl with the Falcons.

• Vic Whiting and Todd Schulte were the coaches when Delphos St. John’s won a then-state record 57 football games in a row from 1996-2000. The Blue Jays won three state championships during the streak, which is now second all-time in Ohio to Ironton’s 58.

• Steve Williams. He was a high school teacher who is credited with organizing the first football game for high school players in Lima on Thanksgiving Day in 1894.

• Tammy Williams. Williams was the best player on Lima Senior’s 1989 girls basketball team which reached the state tournament semifinals. She was first-team All-Ohio as a senior and played at DePaul University.

• Madison Yingst. Her victory in the 300 hurdles at the 2017 state track meet was the first state championship by a Temple Christian athlete. She was a three-time state qualifier.

==

Many famous athletes, some notorious ones and at least one legendary sports entertainer who had no previous connections to Allen County have also passed through the county and added to its sports history.

Some of them are: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige, Jesse Owens, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Jim Thorpe, Buck O’Neil, Josh Gibson, Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Cris Carter, Keith Byars, Marvin Barnes, Tom Payne and the San Diego Chicken.

Joe Bowers, photographed in 1967.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_joe-bowers-1967.jpgJoe Bowers, photographed in 1967. The Lima News archives
Joe Morrison
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_joe-morrison.jpgJoe Morrison The Lima News archives
Steve Arlin, photographed in 1966.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_steve-arlin-1966.jpgSteve Arlin, photographed in 1966. The Lima News archives
Aaron Hutchins
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_aaron-hutchins.jpgAaron Hutchins The Lima News archives
Bob Arnzen
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_bob-arnzen.jpgBob Arnzen The Lima News archives
Dorothy Edwards
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_dorothy-edwards-1990.jpgDorothy Edwards The Lima News archives
Gary Moeller
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_gary-moeller.jpgGary Moeller The Lima News archives
Greg Simpson, photographed in the early 1990s.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_greg-simpson.jpgGreg Simpson, photographed in the early 1990s. The Lima News archives
William White, photographed in 1992.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_william-white-1992smaller.jpgWilliam White, photographed in 1992. The Lima News archives
Jim Lynch
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_jim-lynchsmaller.jpgJim Lynch The Lima News archives
Halloran Park, photographed sometime after 1939.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_Halloran-exterior-aft-1939.jpgHalloran Park, photographed sometime after 1939. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Satchel Paige signs autographs after an appearance in Lima.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_Paige_autograph.jpgSatchel Paige signs autographs after an appearance in Lima. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig appeared at Halloran Park in 1926.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_Ruth-Gehrig-Halloran-1926smaller.jpgBabe Ruth and Lou Gehrig appeared at Halloran Park in 1926. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
The Allen County Museum has an exhibit with sports items from the past.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_glovesmaller.jpgThe Allen County Museum has an exhibit with sports items from the past. Adrienne McGee Sterrett | The Lima News

By Jim Naveau

The Lima News

ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM

Read more about the 200th anniversary of Allen County at LimaOhio.com/tag/200.

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