Chris "Beanie" Wells
Christopher "Beanie" Wells was well known for his football skills when he entered Garfield High School. His participation at age six in the Pee-Wee football programs had signaled to all who saw him play that he was ready for the next step - and he sure lived up to his reputation. At Garfield, the 6'1", 210 pound running back was one of the area's outstanding performers. He was named to the All-City squad three years in a row beginning with his sophomore year and made the All-District team also. Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel offered Beanie a scholarship and there was no hesitation of acceptance. In 2005 he packed up his clothes and belongings and headed for Columbus. He played three years for the Buckeyes, rushing for 576 yards as a freshman. His sophomore year turned out to be the best in his collegiate career as he rushed for 1,609 yards, averaging nearly six yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns. He set a personal record, rushing for 222 yards against archrival Michigan and was named to the first team All-Big Ten and second team All-America. Injuried hampered Beanie in his junior year. Although he missed three games, his teammates voted him as Most Valuable Player. During Wells' three years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship every year. Beanie opted to enter the NFL Draft in 2009 and was selected in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals. As a rookie, the 6'2", 230 pound Wells played in all 16 games for the Cardinals, racking up 793 yards and scoring seven touchdowns. His best year in the pros was 2011 when he eclipsed an 1,000 yard season (1,047) and averaged better than four yards per carry. His pro career ended in 2012 when Wells ruptured his Achilles tendon halfway through the season, forcing him to retire.
Track & Field 2016
Richard "Ric" Sayre loved to run and run he did. He was so active running marathons that the only answer he gave to how many was, "more than 250." Ric was one of Ohio's top marathon runners and was internationally known for his competitive nature. It was at the completion of a marathon run in 2011 in Oregon while talking with friends after the race that he collapsed and died. An autopsy showed he suffered some type of heart problem. He was 57. But, packed into those years was a true distance runner and elite competitor. In 1971 he graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School and attended two schools in Georgia before entering Walsh University in North Canton. He competed two years in cross country for the Cavaliers helping them to to win the Mid-Ohio Conference title in both seasons. Ric won the inaugural National Catholic Champions race, a cross country competition with more than 30 teams involved, and according to Ric's coach Dan McCallion, several Olympians were in the race. A two-time All-American, Sayre was one of only four men to qualify five times for the Olympic marathon trials. He participated in 54 major marathons, winning 13 of them. He moved to Oregon in 1981 and won the first Los Angeles Marathon in 1986. It was in Oregon where friends say Sayre dropped the "k" from his nickname Rick. He said it was extraneous and from then on it was Ric. In 1987, Sayre was the United State marathon champion and represented the U.S. in the Pan American Games. After his death, the National Catholic Champions race changed the name to the Ric Sayre 5K-8K Invitational. The co-ed race is hosted by Walsh University the first weekend in September. Ric was honored by his high school by being inducted into the Archbishop Hoban High School Hall of Fame.
Barto "Bart" Pignatelli was an All-City tackle for North High School in both his junior and senior years (1950-51), tipping the scales at 200lbs. He also was selected for the All-Ohio squad his senior year and was named the Vikings Most Valuable Player. Legendary coach Ara Parseghian recognized outstanding talent and offered Bart a scholarship to Miami University. After his graduation in 1951 he packed his bags and headed for Oxford, Ohio, where he earned four letters on the football field. In his first two years on the gridiron the RedHawks were undefeated, winning the Mid-American Conference title and beating two Big Ten team - Indiana and Northwestern - in his sophomore year. In the game against the Hoosiers, another Akrontie and Hall of Fame member Bob Wallace ('02) scored the only touchdown of the game, scampering 25 yards after hauling in a pass. At the completion of his sophomore year, Bart dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army during the last days of the Korean War. After his tour of duty he returned to Miami University. He didn't miss a beat with his football skills and joined the football team again at his tackle position. Upon graduation in 1956, he began his teaching career in the Akron school system. Followed naturally that an athlete of his caliber would enter the coaching ranks, his coaching career spanned two decades. First as an assistant coach for Hower High School, then he went to the head coaching position at Central High School. As his final stop, he returned to his alma mater, North High School. As the Vikings head coach he led the team to its first playoff appearance since his high school days.
Tracee McCoy at Ellet High School flashed the promise of a future outstanding softball player. Playing shortstop, she led the team in hitting with a plus .400 average, was top in homeruns and slugging percentage and was instrumental in Ellet capturing the City Series softball title four consecutive years. They were regional champs four times and won the state title in her sophomore year. Tracee earned All-Ohio honors in her final three years at Ellet. Upon graduation in 1999, Tracee received a scholarship to the University of Akron and proceeded to make an immediate impact, being named the team's MVP offensive player in her freshman year. She also was named to the second unit of the Mid-American Conference tournament squad in her first collegiate year and was honored with first team laurels for the Great Lakes region. An injury slowed her down in her sophomore season, but she blossomed in her junior year, being named to the MAC first team, along with second unit honors for the Great Lakes region. Tracee's final year of collegiate competition proved to be the best. Named First Team All-MAC and Great Lakes region, she was her team's top offensive player, ranking in the top ten in eight UA hitting categories. The pros awaited her, and she joined the Akron Racers in 2004, playing three years before moving to the coaching ranks. She had two-year stints at Marshall University and her alma mater, Akron. Then she went to Twinsburg High School in 2007 and earned conference Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Since 2009 she has been coaching Ohio power travel teams and her 18 and under NEO Bulldogs squad finished 17th in the nation at the USA/American Softball Association national tournament.
Sometimes the early lessons learned in sports make a significant and lasting impact. Such is the case for Charlie Marquess who credits his time at Thornton Junior High and a simple phrase - "Forward ever, backwards never" - for shaping his athletic career. Those four words helped guide Marquess through his own playing career, which started in organized athletics as a member of the Akron Blues baseball team when he was a youngster, through high school, college and into his adult life as an athlete and a coach. Marquess starred in three sports at Akron's Central High School, earning All-City and All-District recognition in both football, where he was a defensive back, and baseball where he patrolled the outfield. He helped Central capture the 1963 City Series gridiron championship. Following graduation in 1964, his athletic prowess served him well as he moved on to the collegiate ranks for his hometown university where he earned two Varsity "A's" in football for hall of fame coach Gordon Larson ('76), served as team captain in 1967 and won the Doc Smith Defensive MVP award as a senior. Marquess also won four letters in baseball for the Zips. He got his coaching start as a member of John Cistone's ('82) staff at St. Vincent's and was also an assistant at Firestone High School. Marquess went on to serve as head football coach at Akron North from 1980-1990 and coached in three all-star games, including the Summit County and the Summit-Stark All-Star games. In addition, he coached softball at North for five seasons, earning City Series Coach of the Year honors in 1989. During that season his star player earned All-NEO honors and was named the City Series Player of the Year - she just happened to be his daughter Michelle. Marquess also competed in both fast and slow pitch softball for local and national teams winning the NEO Championship. He was inducted into the Greater Akron Softball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dru Joyce, II
Coaching can be a very rewarding occupation. It can lift you up to the highest levels of success and provide exhilarations that last a lifetime. Coaching can also be difficult and frustrating. For Dru Joyce, success and exhilaration have far outdistanced difficulty and frustration. Joyce has been the head boys basketball coach at Akron st. Vincent-St. Mary High School for 15 seasons, and the Irish have experienced much success under his tutelage. The pinnacle of that success was reached during the Irish's 2003 State Championship season when, led by LeBron James, they were also named USA Today's National Champions and Joyce was named National Coach of the Year. During a coaching career that has amassed 303 victories against just 93 losses, Joyce has continued to teach the game of basketball and life to his players. The Irish also captured OHSAA State Championships in 2009 and 2011, and along the way has won eight regional championships and 13 district titles. Joyce was named Ohio Division II Co-Coach of the Year in 2009 and was Akron Dapper Dan Club's Sports Person of the Year in 2010. He was also selected to serve as the Co-Head Coach of the McDonald's High School All-American Team in 2010. Born and raised in East Liverpool, Joyce played football and ran track for the Potters. He graduated from East Liverpool High School in 1973 before heading off to college at Ohio University where he earned a degree in business and economics. He and his family moved to Akron in 1984 and he retired from Con-Agra Foods in 2004 after 26 years of service. Since that time he has built a second career around basketball. In addition to his coaching duties, Joyce runs the King James Shooting Star Classic - one of the top travel team tournaments in the country and also is the director of the Northeast Ohio Basketball Association. He is also the author of the book, "Beyond Championships: A Playbook for Winning at Life," and continues to be active as a member of the House of the Lord Church where he serves as a trustee.
Dick Barger became interested in bowling when he tagged along with his dad as a youngster to watch him bowl at Goodyear Lanes and followed that up by working there at the tender age of 12. He not only enjoyed bowling but became very proficient at the sport. He qualified for the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) in 1971 when he turned 20. He was named to the Beacon Journal All-Star team in 1972 and two years later captured his first Stark County Masters Championship. He chalked up his second Masters title in 1977. A major highlight of his bowling career occurred in 1975 when the top area kegler won the Ohio State Singles title with a 749 series. The competition is one of the largest in the Buckeye State and is held over thirteen weekends. Estimates range from 4,000 to 4,500 entries, for the three plus months of the tournament. Barger's high series of 845 in 1989 earned him the American Bowling Congress Merit Award. In 1992 Barger purchased the North Lanes and for the next decade managed the establishment before selling. The same year he bought the North Lanes the Tri County Bowling Association inducted Barger into is Hall of Fame for his bowling performance through the years. He continued his winning ways, joining with Tom Johns to capture the Akron Open doubles championship in consecutive years - 1993 and 1994. In his long and outstanding career he had four sanctioned 800 series and thirteen 300 games. The Tri County Bowling Association again honored him with an award presented to those who have contributed to the success of the sport. He has continued to practice and work at his game. In 2014, Barger joined the Senior PBA and placed 18th at the Elmira, N.Y., tourney before shoulder problems sidelined him. He is currently preparing to resume competition.
Track & Field 2015
A sensational high school performance in both track and cross country at Akron North set the stage for an outstanding three years at Ohio University. In 1963 at North—his first year running cross country—Tillman won both the city and district individual championships, leading the Vikings team to capture both crowns. One year later he repeated as individual champ in both contests. During his two year’s competing in cross country he was undefeated on the Goodyear Metropolitan Park two-mile course.
In track competition, he was 1963 city and district champ in the mile and half-mile. As a senior in '64 he repeated the performance and finished second in the mile at the state meet and third in the half-mile. At Ohio University he lettered in track and cross country in his first two years setting an OU indoor record in the 600 yard run with a time of 1:10. As a sophomore, Tillman is credited with pushing the nationally renouned Jim Ryun to a world record time in the 800 meters at the U.S. Track and Field National Meet in Terra Haute, Indiana. The Bobcats track coach reportedly said prior to the race that “Tillman was the fella Ryun had to catch.” And it turned out to be true. Tillman took the lead at the start clocking 52.5 seconds compared to Ryun’s 53.3 and led over the first half of the race. Ryun finally passed the tiring Tillman some 200 yards from the finish line as he blazed toward the record.
In 1966, Tillman received All-American honors in the half-mile at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Indiana University. He left OU to join the Marines where he represented the Corps in the 1968 Olympic trials in Los Angeles. After he left the Marines he joined Goodyear where he worked for nearly 24 years before deciding to complete his college education. He entered The University of Akron and earned a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education. He taught in the Akron School system, retiring in 2013.