Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winners Bios

ABOUT THE AWARD

Beginning in 1992 with the recognition of Byron Fike and Dr. Allan C. Jackson, and with the exception of two years when no award was given, the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame annually has honored senior athletes and their accomplishments. Since 2001, the SCSHOF Senior Athlete Award has borne the name of Phil Dietrich, retired Beacon Journal sports-writer. 

Dietrich was born March 1, 1907. He graduated from Akron’s Sacred Heart Academy in 1921 and Akron South High in 1925. He attended the University of Akron (1925-30), then graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 1931. 

He wrote sports for the Akron Times-Press and the Akron Beacon Journal until his retirement in 1970. Along the way he wrote the histories of longtime Akron St. Vincent High School coach Eddie Wentz (“E.P.W. :Ever Patient Worker”), the Goodyear Silent football teams (“The Silent Men”), and the 1923-41 South Akron Awnings football team (“ The Suncheaters”). 

One of his most in-depth research efforts resulted in the book “Down Payments, Professional Football 1896-1930 As Viewed From the Summit,” the story of pro football in Akron. The book captured in great detail the various sandlot, semi-pro and professional football teams that have represented Akron and local environs all the way back to the 19th century. 

Dietrich’s diligence paid off for readers of the Press-Times and Beacon sports pages for four decades and his hard work resulted in many awards. In 1968, Dietrich received the Kent State University Service Award and one year later shared the Akron Dapper Dan Man of the Year Award with Barberton native and major league baseball catcher Hal Naragon. 

In 1974, the SCSHOF presented Dietrich with the Andy Palich Meritorious Service Award. Five years later he received the prestigious John S. Knight award from Knight-Ridder. The University of Akron presented Dietrich with its Meritorious Service Award for Athletics in 1981. 

With Dietrich’s writings so synonymous with stories of athletes who dot the histories of the Akron area’s various sports, it is quite fitting that the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame’s Senior Athlete Award bears his name. He is an honorary life member of the SCSHOF committee, serving the organization for 28 years from 1962 to 1990. Dietrich died on September 5, 2005. He was 98.

  • Connie Gardner

           2019

The 2019 recipient of the Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award has a long and storied career as a distance runner and ultra-marathon runner. Connie Gardner began running in Columbus, Ohio where she was a member of the Olentangy High School Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Following graduation she attended the University of Massachusetts where she was a member of the women’s rowing team. Gardner ran her fi rst marathon at the age of 17 and has continued to pile up thousands of miles during her extensive running career. She is an 11-time USA Track and Field National Champion and a former USATF Masters Ultra-runner of the Year and during one stretch she won three national titles in three consecutive months, including a 100-mile trail championship, a 24-hour road championship and a 50-mile road championship. At an age when most athletes are content to watch from the sidelines, Gardner continues to run and compete at a high level. And we aren’t just talking about going out for a morning jog. She races in 24-hour ultra-marathon events as well as 50 and 100 mile events against competitors less than half her age. Since turning 50 she has fi nished in the top 25 overall in more than 35 races and has placed in the top-10 in her age group more than 40 times. During that stretch she has won age group titles more than 20 times and fi nished in the top fi ve in her age group in more than 30 races. In February of this year she was the top female fi nisher and placed seventh overall in the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival 100 mile event in Henderson, Nevada. She followed that up with a top-fi ve fi nish at the 50K Super Bull Trail Championships in March and logged a second place (7th overall) fi nish in the Burning River 100 Mile event in July. In August she was the top female fi nisher (12th overall) at the Six Days In The Dome event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she logged an incredible 420.2 miles. Gardner continues to enjoy running and competing and is also a coach at Akron’s Archbishop Hoban High School. She is a sales associate with Second Sole and resides in Akron.

  • Rob McCarty

           2018​

Our 2018 Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award recipient, Rob McCarty, then aged 52, stood at the gold medal, pinnacle of the medalists’ podium after winning his age group gold medals in the 800-meter run and the 1500-meter run, with times of 2:12.66 and 4:35.05, respectively, during the 2013 National Senior Games, in Cleveland, Ohio. These performances currently stand at 7th and 8th among the National Senior Games’ best performances in the 30 history of the National Senior Games in his 50–54 age group in the 800 meter and 1500-meter runs, respectively. The beginning of this awesome McCarty story may be found in the sports annals of Walsh Jesuit High School. During the late1970s, Rob ran cross-country and track for the Warriors of Walsh. His track events included the 800 meter run, the 1600 meter run, and the 1600-meter relay. Following high school, the demands of college, law school, and family and professional obligations exhausted his days and running was displaced from his repertoire of daily activities for nearly 25 years. With the camaraderie and encouragement of old friends, McCarty, in his mid-40s, returned to running. With a group of similar aged guys and gals, known as the “Canal Rats,” Rob began to train four to fi ve days per week. The competitive spirits of the Canal Rats were sharpened with competitive adventures into the Akron Marathon. McCarty also trained his body for solo, endurance necessary for running the Road Runners Akron Marathon and completion of the JFK 50-mile race in Maryland. McCarty had conditioned his body into a “True Running Machine.” By 2011, he had achieved an 18th USA ranking in the1500 meter run at the USA Masters Outdoors Nationals in Berea, Ohio. In July 2012, during the Ohio Senior Olympics State Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, McCarty raced to two additionally signifi cant ranking. He stood at 23rd in the USA in the 1500-meter run and 34th in the USA in the 800-meter run. During the Indoor Season, before the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland, Rob placed his name in the record books again fi nishing the Indoor Mile at the Kent State University Tune-Up and the USATF Masters Championships in Landover, MD with times of 4:52.18 and 4:57.06, respectively. The 4:52 fi nish was the 8th fasted indoor mile for his age group in the country that year. After placing on his trophy wall the Gold Medals of the 2013 National Senior Games, McCarty continues to maintain his national rankings. Running in the Indoor Miles in 2015 and 2016 at the Akron Invitational in Akron, Ohio with times of 5:05.90 and 5:06.61, respectively. These times gave him a 20th World ranking in 2015 and 19th World ranking for 2016 for his age group. In the last 12 years, he has also been competing in scores of road races. His fastest mile was on the road in the Circle City Mile in Tallmadge in 2012, when he ran the road mile in 4:40. His fastest 5k race was 17:20 at the 2012 Natatorium 5k. His fastest 10k was 38:58 at the 2012 Jim Klett 10K race. And, his fastest half marathon was in 2012 at Kiawah Island, where he ran 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 22 minutes, and 29 seconds. Rob is the captain of the Canal Rats fi ve-man masters (all runners over 40 years old) relay team that has won its division at the Akron Marathon Relay six times, including one overall win. He has run 16 marathons, including three Boston Marathons. Rob has also put in respectable performances in several triathlons. Rob continues to run and compete on the track and on the road. In June of this year, in the Ohio Senior Games, he earned a gold medal in the 800 meter run and a silver medal in the 1500 meter run. In the Ohio Senior Games since 2012, he has earned a total of seven gold medals and two silver medals. During the week, Rob McCarty serves as the Chief Magistrate of the Summit County Juvenile Court. Rob has also been involved in the community. His community service has included serving as board member for Catholic Social Services of Summit County and Summit Housing Development Corporation, as a parish council member for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and as a tutor for Project LEARN. He is also proud to have coached youth cross country for the combined teams of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls. Rob and his wife, Susie, have been married for 30 years, and they are the proud parents of their adult children, Collen, Caroline, and Kevin.

  • Eugene Smith
    Golf, Bowling 2016
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

After eleven consecutive strikes, Gene was on the verge of his second 300 game of the series - an amazing bowling feat. Unfortunately, the perfect game fell by the wayside after the ten pin failed to topple. But, for the 62-year-old bowler, it became part of the 825 series he chalked up that night at the Colonial Village Lanes. In more than 40 years of bowling it marked Gene's first 800-plus series and Beacon Journal sportswriter Tom Gaffney labeled it a "career milestone." Ten years later, at age 72, the outstanding athleticism was evident again - this time on the golf course. Chippewa Country Club was the scene where Gene shot two PGA certified holes-in-one during the 2001 golf season. Golf aces were no stranger to Smith with his first hole-in-one coming in 1968 on the 17th hole at Elms Country Club in Massillon. In nationwide competition in the 2005 Pittsburgh National Senior Games, Smith tied at 19th place in his 75-79 age group. It all began at the age of nine in College Park, Georgia, where Gene worked as a caddy. Since he did not have any clubs, he practiced using a stick and a discarded two iron. After his service in the Army, he moved to Akron, working at General Tire, subsequently returing from Babcock and Wilcox in 1987. Gene gained recognition for both his golf and bowling in the industrial leagues and the local golf courses. His 63 low score at Good Park was tied but not broken over his 40-plus year playing career. The Akron District Golfing Association's refusal of his 1947 membership request because he was an African-American was an obstacle to his golfing career. Yet, Smith gained local, state and regional exposure playing with the Cleveland Chippers, an affiliate of the Negro National Golfers Association. Smith was the first African-American to compete in the Pro-Am prior to the Rubber City Open at Firestone Country Club. He teams with pro Billy Casper and partnered with many sports luminaries throughout his career. Smith conducted golf clinics for kids, a template for the national First Tee program. He served as an assistant golf coach at Buchtel High School and at times unofficial head coach.

  • Keith Williams
    Swimming, Track & Field, Basketball, Softball 2015
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​An all-around athlete beginning in his prep years at Akron East High School, Williams lettered in track and field, baseball and swimming as a junior and senior. He held the East High shot put record in 1959 and set the District mark of 52 feet that same year. His competitive juices continued to flow after graduation as he continued to challenge his athleticism throughout his adult life. In his early 20’s, the thrill of auto racing was in his blood. He loved the muscle cars of the 50’s, racing a '57 Chevy Corvette. Williams recalls barely beating the well known Arlen Vanke at Dragway 42 in Salem Ohio before he quit auto racing in 1970. He dominated in age-group Senior Olympic competitions in the long jump, triple jump and shot put in local, state, regional and national meets winning many honors. Senior competitions use five-year increments to classify its members. Throughout his senior competitions in track & field events he has won over 150 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. However, it was through the Akron Silver League Masters that Williams found his most successful sport, softball. He excelled, playing various outfield positions, with major emphasis on left field. From the time Williams entered senior activities at age 50, he has been a member of five National Softball Championship teams from five different states—Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Georgia. This occured because his athletic ability and fame spread across the senior circuits and traveling teams sought him out. He was voted the best defensive player in the World Championship games in Phoenix Arizona in 1999 at age 59. In the Akron Silver League he has been voted on the All-Star team 21 straight years. He has won two homerun contests and been runnerup twice in the Silver League. He was inducted into the Ohio Senior Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009. At 74 Williams is still competing.

  • Gail Hackett
    Golf 2014
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

HACKETT BECOMES JUST THE FOURTH FEMALE GOLFER TO BE RECOGNIZED BY THE SUMMIT COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME. ALTHOUGH SHE WAS A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GOLFER LONG BEFORE SHE BECAME A “SENIOR” ATHLETE - SHE ACTUALLY STARTED PLAYING WHEN SHE WAS JUST NINE YEARS OLD AND WON HER FIRST TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE AGE OF 21 - GAIL HACKETT CLAIMS THAT HER COMPETITIVE JUICES REALLY BEGAN TO FLOW WHEN SHE REACHED THE AGE OF 50.

INSPIRED BY HER MOTHER, HELEN KLIPPERT – WHO WAS ALSO AN AVID GOLFER, HACKETT WAS A NATURAL AND LOVED THE GAME FOR ITS RECREATIONAL VALUE AND THE CAMARADERIE THE SPORT PROVIDED. ENJOYMENT OF THE GAME DIDN’T CAUSE HER TO LOSE HER COMPETITIVE EDGE – IN FACT, QUITE THE OPPOSITE – DURING THE NEXT FOUR DECADES SHE WON 21 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS AT CONGRESS LAKE COUNTRY CLUB AND A PAIR OF AKRON DISTRICT GOLF ASSOCIATION TITLES. SHE ALSO ACQUIRED THE TITLE – “THE LEGEND OF STARK COUNTY” AS A TESTAMENT TO HER WINNING SEVEN STARK COUNTY WOMEN’S AMATEUR GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES.

HER GOLFING CAREER WAS FAR FROM SLOWING DOWN HOWEVER, AFTER TURNING FIFTY SHE PLAYED IN HER FIRST SENIOR EVENT - THE 2004 OHIO SENIOR GOLF ASSOCIATION TOURNAMENT – SHE WON. SHE ADDED TWO MORE OHIO SENIOR GOLF TITLES TO HER RESUME, CAPTURING THE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2012 AND AGAIN THIS PAST SUMMER. IN ANOTHER FIRST - SHE CAPTURED THE 2005 OHIO SENIOR WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL GOLF ASSOCIATION TOURNAMENT BY WINNING A SUDDEN-DEATH PLAYOFF WITH LOCAL GOLF STANDOUT PAT MILTON. SHE HAS SINCE WON FOUR MORE “OSWIGA” CHAMPIONSHIPS – BRINGING HOME THE TITLE IN 2008, 2011, 2013 AND 2014.

  • Kenneth H. Thompson
    Track & Field 2013
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

It’s too bad that Hall of Fame track coach Tom Evans didn’t get a chance to coach Ken Thompson when he was an electrical engineering student at The University of Akron. Perhaps Evans could have tapped into Thompson’s interest in long distance running to the benefit of the Zip's track program. As it turned out, Thompson, a 1956 UA graduate, waited until he was 50 before launching a career of running in marathons, ultra marathons and any other long distance running event he could find.

Thompson has run in at least 180 marathons, including three in each of our 50 states and on all seven continents. In some circles Thompson might be considered “crazy” for he has ran 80 miles on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, pulling a sled with survival gear in February with the wind chill at a minus 65 degrees. He has run 157 miles across Death Valley in temperature of 123 degrees, melting four pairs of shoes in the process. He has ran 100 miles in Nepal to the base camp of Mount Everest, did a six-day run across the Sahara Desert and has climbed 20,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro and the next morning ran a marathon with Kenyans and Tanzanians.

Arriving on a Russian Icebreaker, Thompson has run in the only marathon ever organized on Antarctica, did another on the Great Wall of China and in the “longest” marathon in Bordeaux, France. Why is it the longest? “Because of all the wine served along the course, caused the runners to weave back and forth along the trail,” said a smiling Thompson.

  • William "Ski" Lawler
    Baseball, Football 2012
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

Akron East High School was the place where Ski Lawler honed his athletic skills in both football and his favorite sport baseball. His outstanding performance on the gridiron and the ball field earned his induction into the East High Hall of Fame.

Upon his graduation in 1963, he enlisted in the U.S Army. After infantry basic training, his first assignment sent him overseas to Hawaii where he spent his entire three year commitment. He had thoughts of reenlisting, however the scuttlebutt was his unit was headed for Vietnam which was heating up at the time and he chose to return to civilian life. He considers it one of the best decisions of his life.

After his discharge, Lawler went to work for Goodyear Aerospace where his athletic prowess in the company’s recreational league earned him the Litchfield Award for Athlete of the Year in 1971. His interest in athletics led to a position with the Urban League as its recreation director, a position he held for ten years before leaving for Akron Children’s Hospital. He is looking forward to next year when he will retire after 31 years at the hospital.

Ski’s interest in athletics led him to become a basketball official and for two decades was one of the tops in the area. Ten times he was selected by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to officiate the state basketball championship. One of his officiating highlights was being on the floor at LeBron James’ first television appearance on ESPN in his senior year.

During these years, he also became active in senior competitions. Playing shortstop or third base for the Ohio Lone Stars, a traveling senior softball team, he garnered numerous all state and all tournament awards. Ski was twice named Senior World Series most valuable player. Knee surgery has slowed him up slightly, however he continues to compete in the Senior’s Silver League in the 60-65 age bracket. Ski will be heading to Phoenix, Arizona this month for another appearance in the Senior World Series. For his skills on the diamond, he was inducted into the Akron Softball Hall of Fame.

  • Carl Dimengo
    Bowling, Softball 2011
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​For more than 21 years has been involved with senior sports activities as a coach, manager and player. He has been one of the best salesmen in obtaining sponsors for the teams competing in senior competitions, especially Akron Silver Slo-Pitch League. His Silver League teams have captured the last four state titles. In national senior tourneys, his team took the Gold Medal in 2005 in Pittsburgh, then followed up that success with two consecutive Silver Medals in '07 in Louisville and '09 in San Francisco. Demonstrating his ability in other sports, Dimengo has garnered bowling crowns in both singles and doubles in Tri-County Senior Olympics competitions from 2004 through 2010.

  • Barb Farling
    Bowling 2010
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Won bowling gold medals in the National Senior Games Association in 2003, 2005 and 2007. In her career she has rolled a 300 game five times. On nine other occasions she has finished with a 299. She has more than 40 series above 700 with a high of 782. She was a member of the Ladies PBA for 10 years.

  • William Simmons
    Track & Field 2009
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Former East High standout has gained state, regional and national honors at Senior Olympics, Masters and U.S. Track & Field (USTF) events. Once held Masters indoor high jump record for 70-74 age group (4 feet, 4.25 inches). Captured gold medals in 65-69 age group at 1996 Ohio Senior Olympics in high jump, long jump and 100-meter run. A year later, won high jump, long jump, triple jump and 60-meter hurdles at Ontario Masters indoor championships; then won silvers in high jump and triple jump and bronze in 60 hurdles at USTF Nationals. In 1998, won all three jump events at USTF Midwest Regional Masters Indoor Championships.

  • Dan Hayes
    Official, Track & Field, Softball 2008
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​From the time he entered Central High School in 1938 until today, Dan Hayes has been involved with athletics in one way or another, except for a four year stint in the U.S. Air Corps in World War II. Track was his main competitive event in high school and at The University of Akron, running the dashes. After his graduation in 1950 from Akron, for the next 30 years he was with the Akron Public School system as a teacher, counselor, principal and administrator. During his education career, he was involved as a track official, receiving a 50 year service award in 2005. He is a Board member of the Tri-County Senior Olympics and the Ohio Senior Olympics as well as a charter member of the Silver League where he is a player/manager. He is also a member of the Brennan White Hat softball team which won the 70 plus state Senior Olympic title in 2004 and 2006 .

  • Paul Amadio
    Track & Field 2007
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​A Summit County resident since 1950, who did not begin to compete in running until he retired at age 62. In 20 years he participated in over 300 road races, winning consistently in his age group. At the 1987 National Senior Olympics Amadio finished first in the 1500 meter run for the 65-69 age group and at the ´93 Nationals he won the 10,000 meter run for the 70-74 age group. He also won the Ohio Senior Olympics gold medals in the 3-mile run in the 70-74 age category in 1991 and in the 1500 meter race in ´94 for the 75-79 age group.

  • Robert K. Gandee
    Administrator 2007
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Dr. Robert Gandee has been a major factor in the growth of the Senior Olympic program in Ohio. He and Ruth Faux established Akron as the home for the Ohio Senior Olympics State Finals from 1980 to 1987. As Dr. Gandee promoted the Senior Olympics around the state, influencing other cities to sponsor the event---and since then the Ohio State Finals have been held in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. This year the finals will be held in Youngstown. As a result of Dr. Gandee´s leadership and the work of the hundreds of volunteers he recruited, thousands of senior athletes have participated and earned recognition in archery, bowling, cycling, golf, tennis, horseshoes, racquetball, swimming, softball , track, and volleyball. In 2005 a popular addition was added to the competition---dancesport–, which feature a variety of ballroom dances. The national competition in Pittsburgh last year saw more than 100 Akron seniors compete.

  • Paul Denham
    Basketball 2006
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​A native Akronite, after graduating from Central High School in 1955 Denham moved out west to attend Hancock Junior College in Santa Marie, Calif. There he continued to play basketball, averaging 26 points per game. In his final year at Hancock, 1957, the team won the state and national basketball championships and Denham enrolled at Arizona State University. He was a baseball and basketball letterman at ASU. In basketball, he averaged 17 points per game, leading the team and conference in foul shooting as Arizona State won the league championship. After graduation, Denham began his teaching career and eleven years later went into coaching. When he was eligible for senior events he began to compete in basketball where he excelled. He continued his basketball prowess as a senior participant at numerous events on the West Coast and other venues in the U.S. His crowning achievement was in the Nike World Masters Games in Portland, Oregon in 1998. His five-man team captured the Gold Medal in basketball and one of the teams they beat was from Russia, Denham has won 50 gold medals in senior basketball competition and has a total of 150 golds from all of his senior events he has won. Denham passed away in 2004 at the age of 66.

  • Peter W. Augsburger
    Football, Track & Field 2004
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​As a young man Pete Augsburger spurned offers from 12 professional football teams in 1954 – an unheard of proposition today – to enter the world of business. He knew he could earn more than the $3,000 annual salary pros were making at that time. His play at the University of Maryland as a tight end earned him Honorable Mention All-American honors and helped the team in two Gator Bowl wins. He lettered three years in football and two years in track, heaving both the shot put and discus. His experience in the shot would prove extremely helpful nearly 40 years later when Pete began his senior competition. Beginning in 1990, Pete has won 15 straight Ohio state senior titles in the shot put. His last title in the 70-74 age group was garnered at The University of Akron this past July and he isn’t ready to hang it up just yet. He will compete next June at the National Senior Olympic Games in Pittsburgh, the eighth time he will have been a competitor at the Nationals. Currently the 74 year-old is ranked fourth nationally in his age bracket in both indoor and outdoor shot put. In a recent Cincinnati Enquirer article Pete said, “I think it's fun, and I’m fortunate that I’m still able to do it. Shot put keeps me in shape and working out on a consistent basis.” He then added, “And I’m beating the age decline while I’m doing it.” His personal best in the senior events is just less than 41 feet with a 9-pound shot. Asked what he did with all his medals, Pete, who hopes to continue to add to his collection, said, “I parcel them out to my 17 grandchildren. Pete is retired and lives in the Cincinnati area with his wife, Nancy.

  • Thomas Labbe

       Track & Field 2003
       Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

"Start out slow. If you don't like running, try walking." That's the advice of Tom Labbe, has for seniors looking for a way to feel better. At 69, Labbe is still running and working out four or five times a week. After 43 years as a high school football official, Labbe, a former Akron firefighter-medic, can keep up the pace it takes to stay on top of the game. But officiating is just part of the regimen of staying in shape and keeping his competitive edge honed for senior events. Competition is a way of staying healthy and in shape, Labbe believes. In between track events there has been more that 14 years in Senior Silver League softball. But it's track and running that keeps Labbe on the go. Covering 16 years of competition, Labbe has more than 250 awards for his senior athletic prowess, including medals won in a few grueling biathlons (run, bike, run). He's won gold in the 100-meter dash, the 200 and 400 meter runs in various age groups at the Tri-County Senior Olympics, as well as at several Ohio Senior Olympic meets and gold in the 60-meter, 100, 200, 400 and 800 in the Ohio Police and Fire Games in Toledo, setting two state records in 2001. Labbe has qualified for and competed in four national Senior Olympics, but has not yet earned a medal - the biggest disappointment of his career. The former North High runner has been a member of the Summit Athletic Club, a road running group, for more than 18 years and received the club's Jim Klett Memorial Award in 1992 in recognition for actively promoting running for all ages in the Akron area.

  • Josephine Jereb Gregg
    Track & Field 2002
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​She may be small in stature, standing five foot and weighing a mere 100 pounds, but Josephine Gregg has been mighty when it comes to competing in the Senior Olympics. In fact, in 14 years of competition she has become the most decorated senior Olympian in Summit County history. Gregg did not begin competing until she was 76. At the insistence of her oldest daughter, Sandra Gallagher, Gregg signed up and won all three events she entered at The University of Akron Senior Olympic Regional in 1988. That qualified her for the state meet where in eight biennial events she has accumulated the enviable record of capturing 36 gold medals and one silver medal in the 37 events she entered. Those events were the 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500-meter runs and the 1500-meter race walk. Gregg's efforts at seven nationals has produced 28 medals, 13 gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals. In 1993 at the National Senior Olympics in Baton Rouge, LA, the then 81-year old Gregg set the world record in her age group with a time of 5:13.76 in the 800 meters. At the nationals in Tucson, AZ in 1997, she captured gold medals in all six events entered. Two years later at the nationals in Orlando, FL, she won five gold medals and a silver medal in the 1500-meter race walk. Tonight the 90-year old phenomenon becomes the second oldest individual to be honored in SCSHOF history. By five months and 12 days, a friend of Gregg's, Clayton Schlemmer, who received the Palich Award last year, is the oldest. Gregg, who credits dancing the polka for much of her success, is looking forward to competing in her eighth National Senior Olympics next summer in Virginia.

  • Jim Grove

           Baseball, Softball 2002

           Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

When it comes to Akron area senior softball and baseball players, there may not be a more adept athlete than Jim Grove. The 61-year-old has parlayed a playing career on the diamond to the pinnacle of his two sports. As shortstop for the Akron Silver Masters, Grove helped his team win 11 of 53 regional tournaments, participate in 21 national tournaments and capture the 1998 International Senior Softball Association (ISSA), the 2000 Senior Players Association (SPA) and the 2001 Independent Softball Association (ISA) national titles. Grove batted .739, was named Most Valuable Offensive Player and was named to the all-star team at the 2000 SPA Tournament and earned All-World first-team honors with at 2001 ISSA and the 2001 ISA with batting averages of .667 and .652, respectively. "On the spur of the moment, I decided in 2001 to try baseball again," Grove said. "I contacted Tom Giffen, President and Owner of Roy Hobbs Baseball, and he put me in touch with a team out of Minneapolis." With Grove batting .350 and at shortstop, the Minnesota Stars marched through the Classic Division (58+ years of age) to capture the Roy Hobbs World Series Championship in Ft. Myers, FL. Grove plans to reunite with his Minneapolis teammates when they defend their championship. Grove, who was born in New Kensington, PA and came to the Akron area at the age of 11, has been involved with athletics his whole life. He lettered in both basketball and baseball at Akron North High School and played softball and basketball in East Akron church leagues for many years, winning several championships including a state basketball title. For 20 years he coached sons, Jeff and Jason, in the West Akron Baseball League and he has served as chief statistician for The University of Akron football and basketball teams for 32 years. Grove, who plans to continue to compete as long as he is able, has played six years of softball and two years of basketball in the Akron Silver League and three years in the Greater Summit Senior Golf Association.

  • Judy Carroll
    Track & Field 2001
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Carroll's recognition as recipient of Senior Athlete award could just as easily have been for her role-model status that she's established for countless senior athletes. Carroll began running in 1979 to relieve stress. "I was dealing with a lot of stress, and running seemed to help," Carroll said. To put it mildly, Carroll has done it all. She has competed in more than 20 marathons, and has on numerous occasions been the overall winner or first-place finisher in age-group competitions. In 1992 she earned Run Magazine's Female Grandmaster athlete award and she finished third in her age group in the 1995 Boston Marathon. In 1997 and '98, she finished second in the national cycling time trials. Carroll has recorded career best times of 19:42 in the 5K, 33:03 in the 5-mile run, 41:15 in the 10K, 64:58 in the 15K, 1:31:13 in the half-marathon and 3:21 in the marathon. She has competed internationally, winning the 1997 and '99 World Duathlon (running and cycling) in Spain and South Carolina, respectively, and finishing second in the 1998 event in Germany. Also in 1998 she won the overall Michigan Series Senior Athlete Award, the Grandmaster Ohio Series and was named Duathlon Master of the Year. She attained All-America status in 1995, '97 and '98. "I am deeply committed to promoting a fitness lifestyle to my over-40 peers, and I want to stress how it will add many quality years to one's life," Carroll said. The 59-year old Carroll, who resides in Kent, is manager of the Silver Pheasant Restaurant in Stow, and has five children, John, Jim, Joey, Candy and Nikki.

  • Peter Ostervich
    Coach 2000
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​A native of Pennsylvania, Peter Ostervich moved to Akron as a youngster and lived there until his death in 1992 at the age of 79. As a youth, Ostervich played sandlot baseball with a team from the Case Avenue area before going off to serve his country in World War II. He earned a Bronze Star for his heroics at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 before returning to Akron, where he worked as a supervisor at B.F. Goodrich for 38 years. His daughter, Mary Ann Eberly of Charlotte, NC, fondly remembers watching her father, a player/manager for several competitive BFG teams, in games at Summit Beach Park. After his retirement his interest in sports was renewed while competing in the Ohio Senior Olympics. Over the years he won numerous medals covering several events in the various age groups, setting records in the football throw for the 65-69 age group that stood for several years. His last win in state competition came in 1984 when he again bested all competitors in the football throw.

  • Robert G. Roush
    Powerlifting, Wrestling 1998
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​As a skinny 80-pound freshman athlete at Akron South High School in 1926, Bob Roush made a decision that changed his life. Not pleased with his physique, Roush began an exercise and weightlifting program that he would continue throughout his life. Four years and 80 more pounds later he could clean and jerk 260 pounds. In 1933, while competing at the World¹s Fair in Chicago, the 5-11, 175 pounder established a world¹s record for one arm pull-ups while holding a 30-pound weight in his other hand. A year later, Roush began a three-year career of professional wrestling - compiling a record of 155 wins and only six losses. He managed several local gymnasiums and weightlifting clubs before joining the police department at the B.F. Goodrich Company in 1939. After serving with the U.S. Army in Europe during WW II, Roush returned to Goodrich where he rose to chief of security before retiring in 1974. In 1965 he began competing and organizing athletic competition for seniors. When the Ohio Senior Olympics became a reality in 1981, Roush was ready to make his mark that would eventually qualify him for his induction tonight. Over the next 15 years, while competing in 21 different events in various age groups, Roush captured over 150 gold, silver and bronze medals in regional and state championships in Senior Olympics in Ohio and Florida. Not one to boast or show off, all of Roush¹s medal¹s have been donated to the Ohio Special Olympics for the physically impaired.

  • Larry C. Hall
    Track & Field 1997
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​A Barberton native and a former track and cross country star at Bowling Green State, Larry settled in Nashville, TN as a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt University in 1956. Perhaps it was when he served as cross country coach at Vanderbilt that he began thinking about competitive running. So at the age of 52 he began entering road races and winning. At age 60 he claimed a unique victory in the Runway Mile, a one-time event held on the new runway at the Nashville International Airport with an excellent time of five minutes, 30 seconds. Hall then began to focus on track competition and held age-group records for the 400, 800, and 1,500 meter races in the Tennesseee Sportsfest. In 1991 he earned All-Amerca honors for clocking a time of 2:36.4 in the 800 meter run for the 60-64 age-group at the U.S. Track & Field Masters meet in Naperville, IL. Another highlight came in the 1996 Tennessee Regional Senior Games when Hall placed in 11 events- all in one day. He was inducted into the Barberton Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

  • Joe Ungvary Sr.
    Golf 1996
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

Winning the 1993 United States Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship was the crowning sports achievement for Joe Ungvary, who 's 7-and-6 victory in the finals over Jerry Nelson at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., still stands as the record for largest margin of victory. At one time he was notching victories as a basketball coach but, golf was Joe's first love! He began playing as a youngster, nurturing his game as a caddy and watching watching good golfers while growing up in the Cleveland suburbs. Although Ungvary earned a basketball scholarship at Bowling Green State as an All-Ohio cager at Orange High School, he gave it up to earn three letters in golf before earning his degree in 1959. He spent the next 13 years coaching basketball, 11 in high school, including five as head coach at Cleveland John Adams, and two as an assistant at The University of Akron. Three of his John Adams teams reached the regional finals and he compiled a highly successful record of 89-23 for a .785 winning percentage. The 1970-72 UA teams were even more successful, going 46-11 to earn two NCAA Tournament berths and finished national runnerup in 1971-72. Meanwhile, Ungvary was becoming one of the state's top amateur golfers. He was a five-time winner of both the Cleveland Metropolitan and the Northeast Ohio Amateur. He was a two-time winner of the Stark County Amateur, was the Ohio Mid-Amateur Champion, Ohio Publinks Champion in 1986 and the 1995 Ohio Hall of Fame Senior Champion. Also one of his most memorable moments was winning a team event in Canton by firing a hole-in-one on the final hole of the tournament.

  • William G. Carey

       Track & Field 1996
       Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

At the age of 51, Bill Carey began running and over the next 18 years became a world class senior and master athlete. In 1984, at the age of 57, Carey broke the National Senior Olympic 3,000 meter run record by 10 seconds. Three years later at the National Senior Olympics in St. Louis, MO, Carey earned gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. That effort qualified him for the World Games in Melbourne, Australia, the first of four World Games in which Carey has competed. In 1990 at the Tennessee Masters competition, he picked up gold medals in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meter races in the 60-65 age division. He dominated the Indianapolis Senior Classic in both 1992 and '93 with seven gold medals. In the Charleston, WV Senior Olympics Regional, Carey finished first in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs. In addition, Carey has run in Japan, Canada and all over the United Sates, including the Boston Marathon.

  • Dr. Syd Sude
    Swimming, Track & Field 1995
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

This senior athlete has turned the Canton Hall of Fame Regional Senior Olympics into his own personal showcase. A U.S. master’s swimmer since 1983, Syd Sude first gained attention in senior events in 1986 when he captured 11 of 12 events he entered in the Canton Regional while competing in the 65-70 year-old division. He not only won in his specialty, the freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke swimming events, the Akron optometrist was victorious in the discus, shot put, football and softball throws and basketball free throw shooting. In 1993 and ’94, while Sude was competing in the 75-79 year-old division, he again destroyed his competition in Canton. In ’93 he picked up 11 gold medals and was voted the most outstanding athlete of the meet. The following year he increased his gold medal count to 14 and qualified in 9 events for the Ohio Senior Olympics. A native of New Jersey, Sude came to Akron during World War II while serving in the U.S. Navy. He liked it so well that he stayed and played basketball at The University of Akron before earning his degree in optometry from Ohio State. In 1988 Sude was inducted into the Akron Jewish Center Hall of Fame.

  • Bill Bosshard
    Golf 1995
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Senior sporting events give athletes a chance to burst on the scene all over again. Such was the case for Copley’s Bill Bosshard in 1991. Playing in his first U.S. Senior Amateur golf Championship, Bosshard upstaged the game’s most elite players. From an original field of 1,100 entrants, Bosshard and 163 others advanced to the Senior Amateur Championship at Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, MI. His 162 score qualified Bill for match play where he sidelined five consecutive golfers. First he ousted Ric Jones of Canfield, 2 and 1. Then he disposed of Ken Garland of Memphis, TN, 3 and 2. In the quarter finals, Bosshard bested Thomas Watrous of Birmingham, MI, 4 and 3, and then advanced to the championship match by the same score over 1988 champion Clarence Moore of Winnsboro, SC. Facing co-medalist Morris Beecroft of Newport News, VA, Bosshard did not waiver as he captured the most prestigious title of his career with a 5 and 4 victory in the championship match. With the title came a 5-year exemption to USGA events and Golf Digest magazine’s No. 1 rated senior amateur for 1991. The Akron Dapper Dan Club also honored Bosshard by naming him Sports Person of the Year in 1992.

  • Karl H. Schmidt
    Golf 1995
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Golf was the game for Karl Schmidt. It was where he competed as an outstanding amateur player and worked as a volunteer organized of Akron professional tournaments. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur three times and seven time for the United States Golf Association Senior Amateur where he was a semi-finalist in competitor in 1976. He was a finalist in the Ohio Amateur twice and was low amateur in the Ohio Open. Locally, Schmidt captured the Fairlawn Country Club championship 12 times, at least once in each of five decades. He also captured the Sharon Golf Club championship twice and won the Lujan’s Championship of Champions in 1967. He won the Akron District Golf Association medal championship twice and was a finalist in Akron district match play three times. A life insurance and estate planning executive, Schmidt was a 1941 graduate of Ohio University and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for five and one-half years. He was one of the Akron area’s pioneer volunteers in organizing professional golf tournaments, including the Rubber City Open. He was tournament chairman of the 1962 American Golf Class at Firestone Country Club, an annual stop on the PGA Tour before the NEC World Series of Golf. He also served as president of the Akron District Golf Association. Mr. Schmidt died July 6, 1994 at the age of 76.

  • Harold W. Tschantz
    Track & Field 1994
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​He refers to himself as a “late bloomer.” While watching a Senior Olympic event at The University of Akron, Harold Tschantz told his wife of 60 years, Martha, “I can beat a lot of these guys.” It wasn’t an idle boast. In 1980, at the age of 69, Tschantz began one of the most successful senior athletic careers in Summit County history. Over the past 14 years, this Akron native who now resides in Cuyahoga Falls, has accumulated 142 medals. Tschantz has captured the gold medal at the Ohio Senior Olympics Championships in the discus eight times, the shot put seven times, the softball throw and bowling twice and the football throw once. His outstanding efforts have qualified him for all four National Senior Olympics Championships held in 1987, ’89, ’91 and ’93. Unprecedented in Summit County history, Harold has captured gold medals in his age bracket at all four Nationals – winning the discus three times and the shot put once. In addition, he also won a silver medal in the discus and bronze in the javelin. By virtue of his past accomplishments, Tschantz has already qualified to compete in the 1995 and ’97 National events. He attributes his success to a lifelong devotion to sports – golf, baseball, basketball and bowing – “for the pure pleasure of it.”

  • Olive Artz
    Golf 1993
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​In 1926, at the age of nine, Olive Hinkle started to play golf under the tutelage of her father, Robert Hinkle. Six years later, Ollie, as her many friends call her, won her first championship, the (first of five) Akron District Public Links Tourney. This past summer, Ollie, 76 years young, captured her fifth Akron District Women's Seniors title. In between that 61-year span, Ollie won close to 90 championships. For many years she held a monopoly on club honors at Firestone, Maplecrest and Breathnach. At one point, Ollie held the course records at all three courses with rounds of 70. Included among her championships are back-to-back wins of the Ohio State Women's Seniors Championships in 1973 and '74. Although she thought, "winning all those championships was really nice," the even that remains most memorable in her mind was her loss to one of her best friends, Betty Kirby, in the championship match of the 1958 Ohio Women's Championship Tournament. To this day, Ollie is very humble, attributing her success to luck and the strong support of friends and her husband, Harold Artz, now deceased. Ollie becomes only the second woman golfer to be inducted, preceded by her friend and adversary, Betty Kirby Peppard in 1970. Ollie's son, Gary, was a 1979 inductee and he and she become the first mother-son combination in the SCSHOF.

  • Gene Abdenour
    Track & Field 1993
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​Like most senior athletes, Gene Abdenour has refused to slow down with age. In fact, Abdenour actually has gotten faster as he has gotten older. In 1990, he ran the 200 meters in 32.0 seconds. That's 4.5 seconds faster than his time when he started in seniors’ competition in 1983. Abdenour has compiled a treasure chest of medals and ribbons as a senior competitor, but perhaps none of his performances has been more impressive that his showing in the 1988 U.S. Senior Athletic Games in West Palm Beach, FL. In that meet, Abdenour finished first in the 70-74 age group in the shot put, the 50-yard dash, the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash and the football throw. He is currently the Ohio Senior Olympics record holder in the 100 meters (15.2 seconds), 200 meters (33.8 seconds), and the discus (98 feet, 3 inches) in the 75-79 age group. Some of his other accomplishments in national competitions, all in the 70-74 age group, include: 1987 Senior National Olympics in St. Louis, 5th in the 100 meters and 5th in the shot put. 1989 Senior National Olympics in St. Louis, 6th place in the shot put and 7th in the discus. 1991 Senior Sports Festival in Seattle, WA, 1st place in the 100 meters and 200 meters and 2nd in the discus. 1991 Senior Sports Games in Los Angeles, 2nd place in the 100 and 200 meters dashes and 3rd in the shot put. He has won the 100 and 200 meter races at the Ohio Senior Olympics in 1988, '90 and '92.

  • Dr. Allan C. Jackson
    Track & Field 1992
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

​The Olympic Creed states. "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle." Allan Jackson, a chiropractor physician, embodies all that an Olympic competitor should be - albeit a Senior Olympian. Jackson, an Akron native began participating in the mater track program in 1981 at the age of 53 but, he has really been making his mark in the Senior Olympic since 1983. While participating in running events from the 50 meter to the 1500 meter runs, the 1500 meter to 3000 meter race walk and in the field events of shot put, discus, javelin, softball and football throw, high jump, Jackson has won numerous senior events. In 1987 he accumulated 58 medals - 36 of them first place medals. Four gold medals came in the Senior Olympic finals. Previously, he has qualified for the first National Senior Olympics in St. Louis. At St. Louis, Jackson was second in the 1500 meter race walk and fourth in the 400 meter run. Without a doubt the highlight of his ongoing track career came in the 1990 Southeastern Ohio Senior Olympics at Ohio U where Jackson competed in 16 events, placing first in 12 of those competitions and second in the remaining four.

  • Byron Fike
    Track & Field 1992
    Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award Winner

In 1975, at the age of 68, Bryon Fike decided he needed a hobby. The Gladly, West Virginia native had retired from a car sales job but, was in pretty good shape through a fitness program that involved 20 years in baseball and athletic competition in the Silver League. He attended a seminar where they talked about running, he gave it a try and caught the running fever. Fike won the first competitive race he entered. "I found out I was competitive with my peers," said Fike. "I had a hidden talent there that I never knew I had." Since he has been accumulating "gold" as fast as Fort Knox. The octogenarian who resides in Tallmadge has earned over 1300 medals and a national reputation. He has run in everything from the 60 yard dash to the two mile run. In the very first National Senior Olympics in St. Louis in 1987, Fike captures five gold medals - winning the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter runs as well as the 1500 meter race walk in the 75-79 age group. Another highlight was at the 1989 North American Masters track meter in Toronto, Canada where he won the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter runs and 1500 meter runs and the five kilometer race walk in the 80-84 age group. Fike has set numerous world records in the 400 and 3000 meter runs for the 80-84 group and six American records covering four events in the 75-84 age groups