By Dedra Cordle
The latest class inducted into the Grove City High School Athletic Hall of Fame were record breakers and record setters. They were multi-sport athletes whose accomplishments in their respective sport were only eclipsed by their accomplishments in the classroom. They are and were, said hall of fame committee chair Tom Rutan, another example of the gold standard set at the school and in the community.
“These were exceptional athletes, exceptional students and they all are exceptional people,” said Rutan.
The induction ceremony took place at Grove City High School on Dec. 30. There, the committee welcomed nine individuals into the Hall of Fame. Of the nine, seven were student athletes – one of which was honored with the Alumni Achievement Award – one was a coach and administrator and one was an athletic booster and former member on the South-Western City School board of education.
The former student-athletes honored during the ceremony were Sarah Cook, Dan Chinn, Jeri Keller Hartley, Joseph Hutcheson, Lori Patzer, Bill Rodeheffer and Amy Wheeler.
Cook, of the class of 1997, was noted by Rutan as being a “dominated force” on the basketball court.
The four-time 1st Team All-OCC student athlete is in the record books as a 1,000 point scorer with a 55 percent field goal average. As a sophomore, Cook was selected as the OCC Division Player of the Year, and throughout her career was selected as a 1st and 2nd Team All-District Player.
In her junior and senior years at Grove City, Cook, who went on to earn a basketball scholarship at the University of Toledo, was selected as the team Captain and MVP.
Chinn, a 1976 graduate, joined his brother Mike into the Hall of Fame.
As a wrestler who lettered all four years, Chinn was a four-time league champion, a three-time sectional champion and a four-time district qualifier winning that title three times.
Rutan said that Chinn is the only wrestler in the school’s history to place in the top three at the state meet three years in a row.
In 1975, he helped lead the wrestling team to a 3rd place finish at the state meet, the highest team finish in school history.
Keller Hartley, class of 1999, was described as an outstanding three-sport athlete, earning a total of nine varsity letters – three in volleyball, two in basketball and four in softball.
In the latter sport, she set multiple school records and is the only player to ever hit for the cycle. Her softball team was also the OCC Champions all four of her playing years. The team also were the district champions in 1997 and 1998, and the district runners-up in 1996.
During her senior year, Keller Hartley, who went on to play softball at Butler University, was named the OCC Scholar Athlete for softball.
Patzer, class of 1984, is considered one of the “finest athletes ever to wear the Crimson and Blue.”
Throughout her athletic career, Patzer earned a total of 12 varsity letters from her participation in soccer, basketball and softball. In her senior year, she was the leading scorer in central Ohio with 36 goals; and in softball she earned All-OCC, All-District and was named to the 2nd team All-State as her team won the State Championship in 1983.
Later in her professional career, she came back to Grove City where she served as a varsity assistant coach in soccer and softball.
Keller Hartley, who was one of Patzer’s pupils, called her an inspiration.
Rodeheffer, said Rutan, is “quite possibly the best distance runner” in the school’s history.
“He was undefeated in dual and triangular meets his senior year, setting records in both the mile (4.25) and two mile (9.19) runs,” he said.
The twice selected Runner-of-the-Year went on to compete and study at Oregon State University before injuries derailed his track career.
Wheeler, an ’88 graduate, was a four-sport athlete who competed in cross country, tennis, track and field and swimming. In doing so, she earned 13 varsity letters, more than any other athlete in the history of Grove City High School.
The National Honor Society student was a four-time state qualifier in swimming, setting several school records and some of them are still standing to this day.
After graduation, Wheeler qualified for the first World Triathlon Championship in France and was named to the 1989 Triathlon Today All-American team.
Hutcheson, who was also honored with the Alumni Achievement Award, graduated in 1990 and was a three-sport athlete who participated in baseball, basketball and football where he was an All-Ohio placekicker on the 1989 team.
Rutan said he was selected for the Alumni Achievement Award for his military service.
Upon graduation, Hutcheson earned an appointment to the United State Naval Academy and in 1995 was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. through the Platoon Leaders Course.
After serving tours in Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan flying F-18 aircrafts, he was selected for NFO-to Pilot transition training in 2002 and then was designated as a Naval Aviator in 2004.
In 2011, Hutcheson transferred to the Pentagon where he served as Joint Strike Fighter Transition Task Force Lead.
Hutcheson, who was not present for the ceremony, has been awarded the Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medal.
His father, Ron Hutcheson, accepted the award on his behalf and read a letter which commended the school for instilling work ethic values which he carried throughout his life.
Lehr, a former football coach, teacher and school administrator, was honored for his commitment to the school and the community, as well as his passion for the Special Olympics and his volunteerism for hospice care.
Lehr thanked the committee for the selection and spoke fondly about his time at the school in various capacities.
Leasure, a former board of education member, was nominated to the hall of fame for his “tireless work as a booster.”
Rutan said without his efforts as the chair of the school operating levy in 1994, the district would have seen massive cuts to its athletics and extracurricular activities.
“That levy essentially saved athletics for our district,” said Rutan.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rutan asked the community to nominate student athletes or school supporters who they feel are worthy of the hall of fame. To view the qualifications and to nominate an individual, visit www.gchsgreyhounds.com.