GARY O'NEAL - FOOTBALL
Compiling an impressive record of 239 wins, 52 losses, and one tie during his 28-year tenure as Hardin-Central High School Head Football Coach from (1976-2003), O'Neal has 10 undefeated regular seasons under his belt. He also served as the Principle for 27 of his 28 years at the school. A 1996 inductee into the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Coach O'Neal is a three-time State Coach of the Year recipient. His two State runner-up trophies are rivaled only by his two State Championships, which his teams won in 1980 and 1987. Coach O'Neal ranks first in all-time number of wins among Missouri Class A football coaches and is number six on the all-time wins list among Missouri high school football coaches of all classes. Gary is currently retired from coaching, but still teaches part- time at Lexington High School.
1984 SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TEAM
The Southeast Missouri State University Men's Cross Country 1984 team had an unparallel season in September of '84 with the utter demolition of two Division I teams, Murray State and Arkansas State. Southeast scored a perfect 15 points. The next week they easily defeated a 19-team field in the SIU-Edwardsville Classic without their best runner even competing. In late September of '84 their next conquest came at their own SEMO Invitational when they put five runners in the top 10 to easily out distance a primarily Division II field of seven teams. Perhaps their most impressive performance, however, came at the Notre Dame Invitational in early October when they placed 2nd in the 19-team University Division, only seven points behind Notre Dame. In this meet Southeast easily defeated schools such as Ohio State and Michigan from the Big Ten Conference, and Bowling Green, Illinois State and Western Illinois from the Mid-American Conference. On November 17, 1984, the Southeast team capped a fairy tale season in Clinton, Mississippi (Mississippi College) by placing three runners in the top 10, scoring 87 points to Edinboro University's 129, and winning the National Championship. Mike Vanatta was the individual champion. This team not only distinguished a Missouri institution at the highest level, its roster was decidedly comprised of native Missourians from far and wide. Art Waddle is a native of Poplar Bluff, Joe Leuchtmann from St. Louis Ritenour High School; Joe Lackner is from St. Louis St. Mary's, Mike Bryne from Imperial (Fox High), Scott Laneman and Norm Kellar from St. Louis Pattonville, Jay Townsend from Neosho, and Larry Hennier from Independence (Truman High). Mike Vanatta, a Colorado native and the individual national champion on the squad, was coached at Colorado Springs Wasson High by Rex Miller, a 1957 SEMO All-American from tiny Oak Ridge, Missouri. The teams coach Fred Binggeli, a Fulton native, is a past U.S. Olympic Trials distance runner and member of the Missouri Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 1984, he was barely four years into a college coaching career.
1974 SOUTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY SOFTBALL TEAM
The Southwest Missouri State University Softball Team captured the heart and spirit of collegiate softball back in 1974 as it was crowned Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Division I National Champions. Coached by Kay Hunter, the team compiled a 19-4 record, and posted a 4-0 record in the Missouri AIAW Championship. It then went on to compete in the national meet in Omaha, Neb., where it won five straight games to claim SMS' first national championship by a women's athletic team. In their national tournament run, SMS beat Massachusetts 11-1, edged out Luther College of Iowa 1-0, escaped Eastern Illinois 9-8, beat Wayne State 8-5, and walloped Northern Colorado 14-7 to bring the title to Springfield. Five competitors from that team have been inducted into the SMS Athletics Hall of Fame. They include pitcher Cindy Henderson-Snead, catcher Karen Bethurem, pitcher Debbie Dace, infielder Glenda Bond and head coach Kay Hunter.
HILAND DAIRY - JOHN Q. HAMMONS FOUNDERS AWARD
Hiland Dairy began in Springfield, Missouri, in 1938 by two men, Mr. Putman and Mr. Carter, who used a gas-powered electric generator to facilitate the milking of a 50-cow herd. All sales at this time were conducted door-to-door to homes in the area. Hiland Dairy was one of about 40 such dairies that existed around Springfield in the late 1930s. In 1948, Hiland moved to a single, two-story brick building on old Route 66. Mr. Putman worked hard for many years and developed the business until 1979, when he sold the operation to Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. Hiland Dairy was now jointly owned by these two dairy farmer cooperatives. Since the late 1970s, Hiland has competed against the much larger Foremost Dairy. Today, Hiland is the only locally operated dairy due in large part to its single-minded commitment to quality. Hiland's stringent production standards exceed the toughest state and federal requirements, which help ensure the highest quality dairy products available. Currently, Hiland has eight manufacturing plants located in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In addition to these plants, 25 distribution sites are located around a six state area that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
SPORTS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS
The Missouri Sports Achievement Awards will be presented to Roger Wehrli (2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame), Al MacInnis (2007 Hockey Hall of Fame), Irl Robinson (2007 - 4th consecutive year as the Golf Clubmakers Association Missouri State Clubmaker of the Year and named Golf Clubmakers Association Top Ten Worldwide Clubmaker of the Year for the 2nd straight year), Larry O'Reilly (2007 - for completing a 4,409 mile bike ride across America in 72 days), Dan Schumacher (2007 Midwest Section PGA Professional Golfer of the Year Award), University of Missouri Football Team (2008 Cotton Bowl Champions), 2007 Lincoln University Women's Outdoor Track & Field Team (NCAA Division II National Champions), 2007 Lindenwood University Wrestling Team (NAIA National Champions), 2007 Missouri State University Men's Handball Team (National Collegiate Men's Handball Champions), 2007 Washington University Volleyball Team (NCAA Division III National Champions), 2007 EasyRiders Precision Drill Team (Two National Championships in the United States Equestrian Drill Competition), and the 2007 Milestone Christian Academy Boys Basketball Team (National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) Division III National Champions)
The Hall of Fame will also recognize a Special Olympics Missouri Hall of Fame inductee during its ceremony, which will be released at a later date. If you know of other teams that have won National Championships in 2007 or would like additional information please contact Andrea Porter at the Hall of Fame at (417) 889-3100.
Tickets for the Enshrinement are $150 each or $1,500 for a table of 10. Tickets are on sale now and available by calling (417) 889-3100; tickets are limited so reserve your seat today. An afternoon reception will kick-off the events on Sunday at the Hall of Fame from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The evening reception will get underway at 5:00 p.m. The ceremonies will start at 6:00 p.m. and will conclude at 9:00 p.m.
For additional information please contact Andrea Porter, director of marketing, at (417) 889-3100 or visit the Hall of Fame website at www.MoSportsHallOfFame.com
I am for sure going, if anyone is interested in joining me, please let me know so we can reserve our seats together, thanks