GEHS ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
The Gardner Edgerton Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 2000 for the purpose of paying tribute to outstanding individuals or teams who through their athletic achievements have brought honor to themselves, school, and community. There are four classifications of membership. An athlete, coach, varsity team, or a special contributor to the athletic program is eligible to be considered for membership. Persons from Edgerton High, Gardner High, and Gardner Edgerton High can be considered. Current members of the Hall of Fame are:
Duane McIntire, Class of 1955 (2000 Innagural Inductee)
Jeff Buckingham, Class of 1978 (2000 Inagural Inductee)
Mark Welch, Class of 1979 (2001 Inductee)
1995/96 Boys Basketball Team (2001 Inductees)
Leorange Watson, Jr., Class of 1968 (2001 Inductee)
Kermit Welch, Coach 1982-1994 (2001 Inductee)
Suzy Stephenson, Class of 1980 (2002 Inductee)
Ralph Snavely, Coach & Athletic Director, 1957-1995 (2002 Inductee)
George Buckingham, Class of 1979 (2003 Inductee)
Joe McNulty, High School & Middle School Coach, 1957-1986 (2005 Inductee, Special Award)
Eric Thompson, Class of 1997 (2005 Inductee)
Gayla Rothers Ward, Class of 1980 (2006 Inductee)
Danielle McNaney, Class of 2001 (2006 Inductee)
Kelly Hancock Gretencord, Class of 1990 (2007 Inductee)
Don Bechard, Coach 1992-1998 (2008 Inductee)
Ted Propst, Class of 1981 (2009 Inductee)
Boys Cross Country Team, 2003-2004 (2009 Inductee)
Gregg Plank, Class of 1981 (2010 Inductee)
Duane McIntire, Athlete, Class of 1955 - Inducted October 7, 2000
Duane McIntire, an inaugural inductee into the GEHS Hall of Fame, was an accomplished multi-sport athlete at Gardner High School. Duane was captain of the district champion basketball teams in 1954 and 1955. He also captained the undefeated 1954-55 football team while averaging 9.4 yards per carry as a halfback. Duane’s accomplishments in track and field, however, are unparalleled. Throughout his high school track and field career, Duane won six state championships and finished second four times in Kansas state meet events. Upon his graduation, Duane held seven school records in track and field including records the 100, 220, and 440-yard dashes, the shot put, and the discus events. After graduating from GHS, Duane competed in football and track at the University of Kansas and at Emporia State University. Duane remained in touch with interscholastic athletics throughout his professional career as a teacher and coach in Kansas.
Jeff Buckingham, Athlete, Class of 1978 - Inducted October 7, 2000
Jeff Buckingham, an inaugural inductee into the GEHS Hall of Fame, won four league championships and three state championships in the pole vault. Jeff set several school, state, and national age group records and ended his high school career with a world record vault for seventeen-year-olds at 17’ ¾”. Jeff also set the Kansas state record at 17’ ½” which still stood upon his induction into the GEHS hall of fame twenty-two years later. Upon graduation from GEHS, Jeff became a three-time Big Eight Conference champion, an NCAA record holder, and qualified for the Olympic Trials four times.
Mark Welch, Athlete, Class of 1979 - Inducted September 16, 2001
Mark Welch was one of the most accomplished basketball players in the history of Gardner Edgerton High School. By the end of his high school career, he held school records in five categories, including the season and career scoring records, career scoring average, single-game scoring record, and season free-throw percentage. He was named to the Kansas All-State Basketball Team in 1978 and 1979, and played in the prestigious Kansas-Illinois All-Star game. Mark continued his basketball career at Johnson Co. Community College and The University of Kansas. Mark also excelled in cross country, earning all-league honors in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. As a tennis player, Mark was a four-time league champion and ended his tennis career with a .822 winning percentage.
1995-96 Boys Basketball Team - Inducted September 16, 2001
The 1995-96 Boys Basketball Team, led by head coach Don Bechard, set the standard for GEHS basketball by winning the 1996 4-A State Basketball Tournament. The team finished with the best record in school history at 24-2. While winning Gardner Edgerton High School’s first state basketball championship, the team set numerous team records including points scored in a season, rebounds in a season, assists in a season, and most three-point goals in a season. Three members from the 1996 State Champion Basketball Team continued their basketball careers in college. Team members: Brett Bartmess, Logan Bond, Phil Burk, Brian Cordell, Aaron Eastland, Aaron Eaton, Jared Lard, Ryan Miller, Kevin (Jay) Pyle, Christopher Shaw, Eric Thompson, Ryan Vandenabeele, Head Coach Don Bechard, Asst. Coaches Pete Adams, Fred Thomas.
Leorange Watson Jr., Athlete, Class of 1968 - Inducted September 16, 2001
Leo Watson, a multi-sport hero at GEHS, was a standout football, basketball, and track athlete. He was also a member of the first African-American family to attend Gardner High School. As a football player, he held school records for pass receptions, receiving yards, and interceptions. As a four-year basketball letterman, Leo held school records in points scored in a game, rebounds, and steals, and was named to the 1968 All-State Basketball Team. Leo earned a basketball scholarship to Concordia Junior College. Leo was also a four-year track letterman. He held school records in the 880-yard run and the triple jump. Leo ended his high school career by winning the Most Inspirational Athlete Award, the school’s highest athletic honor.
Kermit Welch, Coach, 1972-1994 - Inducted September 16, 2001
Kermit Welch, who taught math at GEHS for thirty-two years, founded the boys and girls tennis programs at GEHS. Coach Welch is the first coach to be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. His career as a tennis coach spanned from the spring of 1972 to1994. Within that period Coach Welch’s teams amassed fifteen top-four finishes in either singles or doubles at the Kansas State Tennis Tournament, including two state champion doubles teams and one state champion singles player. Coach Welch was twice voted Kansas High School Tennis Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Kansas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Suzy Stevenson, Athlete, Class of 1980 - Inducted September 29, 2002
Suzy Stevenson, the first female athlete inducted into the Hall of Fame, re-wrote the GEHS record book in girls’ track. In her four years at GEHS, Suzy set school records in the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes as well as the long jump. She was also a member of the record-setting 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 meter relay teams. A twelve-time Frontier League champion and a four-time state champion, Suzy led the Trailblazer track team with a state record performance in the 400 meter dash in 1978. Suzy capped her high school career by winning the Most Inspirational Athlete award in 1980. She attended the University of Kansas where she competed in track and cheerleading.
Ralph Snavely, Coach/Athletic Director, 1957-1995 - Inducted September 29, 2002
Ralph Snavely spent his entire thirty-nine-year career as a math teacher and coach at Gardner and Gardner Edgerton High School. Upon his retirement from teaching and coaching in 1995, he had coached in 1,812 high school athletic contests. He earned his 300th win as a head basketball coach in 1995. Every GEHS boys’ basketball record was broken during his tenure as head coach. His team reached the state tournament in 1975 and finished 4th. Ralph also led the GEHS girls’ basketball team to its best record (21-2) in 1990. Coach Snavely worked with athletes in five different decades at Gardner and Gardner Edgerton High School.
George Buckingham, Athlete, Class of 1979 - Inducted October 5, 2003
George Buckingham, a world class pole-vaulter, helped establish a long-running tradition of excellence in vaulting at GEHS. George was the state pole-vaulting runner-up in 1978 and state champion in 1979. He also set the state record in class 4A pole vault. George won AAU national titles in 1975, 1977, and 1979. His vault of 16’ 8” was the best high school vaulting performance in the nation in 1979 and earned him Adidas High School All American honors. George continued his career at the University of Kansas where he was selected Most Valuable Track Athlete in 1982.
Joe McNulty, Special Award, Jr. High/Middle School Coach 1957-1986 - Inducted October 9, 2005
For a generation of young men and women in the Gardner Edgerton area, their first introduction to, and first memory of, interscholastic athletics involves Joe McNulty. For twenty nine years as a junior high and middle school coach with the Gardner Edgerton School District, Joe McNulty was among the first to shape and mold athletes in football, basketball, and track. In retirement Coach McNulty continued his support of middle school and high school athletics through his constant presence as a volunteer, worker, and supporter of U.S.D. #231 athletic programs. Coach McNulty has been associated with Gardner Edgerton High School Athletics for 49 years at the time of induction. Asked why he continued to support our youth and athletic programs, he said, “This has been my life, kids and athletics.”
Eric Thompson, Athlete, Class of 1997 - Inducted October 9, 2005
Eric Thompson was an outstanding three sport athlete at Gardner Edgerton High School. Eric earned varsity letters, in all four years, while competing in basketball and baseball at GEHS and lettered three years as a standout for the football team. He earned All-League and All-State honors in football, basketball, and baseball. Eric set multiple records while a GEHS athlete in all three sports. Known as a fierce competitor, Eric led his Trailblazer teams to the 1996 football playoffs, the 1996 state championship in basketball, and the 1997 state baseball tournament. Eric continued his baseball and basketball play at Barton County Community College where he was a starter for Barton’s nationally ranked basketball team. At the University of Kansas, Eric played baseball and won the Fireman of the Year Award as a pitcher.
Gayla Rothers Ward, Athlete, Class of 1980 - Inducted October 1, 2006
Gayla Rothers Ward competed for Gardner Edgerton High School as a letter winner 4 times for cross-country, 4 t imes for track, and twice in basketball during the late seventies. She established several school records and competed at the state level multiple times. Two records are still active at the time of induction: 1976 Girls Cross Country 2-mile time of 11:54 and the 1978 Girls Track 3200m time of 11:31.3. The 1600m record that was set in 1980 by Gayla with a time of 5:16.1, held strong for 25 years until eclipsed in 2005. Other school records included the 800m, and 4x400m. She was an original trailblazer for girl’s sports at Gardner Edgerton, pursuing her love of running as a pioneer in the sport of cross country. In absence of a girl’s only program, Gayla proved herself as a strong teammate and competed on the boy’s team as the first female cross country runner for the school. After graduation she continued her achievements at the collegiate level, representing Pittsburg State University as an NAIA Cross Country and Track All-American as well as an NAIA Academic All-American.
Danielle McNaney, Athlete, Class of 2001 - Inducted October 1, 2006
Danielle McNaney was an outstanding athlete at Gardner Edgerton High School. She earned varsity letters in vol leyball, basketball, and track. Dani was best known as a standout in track & field as she set five different records for the Gardner Edgerton Trailblazers. At the time of induction, Dani held school records for the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump, long jump, and triple jump. Danielle McNaney was able to capture honors at multiple venues of track and field. She set records at the Frontier League Meet, was a champion in high jump at the 2001 KU Relays, and went on to earn medals in four events at the KSHSAA State Meet and was the State Champion for the 300 hur dles in 2001. In addition to her many athletic accomplishments, Danielle McNaney graduated from GEHS ranked first academically in her class. She continued her post high school career at Liberty University, where she again set multiple records, was frequently ranked as one of the best heptathletes in the nation, and graduated with a perfect 4.0 academic GPA.
Kelly Hancock Gretencord, Athlete, Class of 1990 - Inducted October 7, 2007
Kelly (Hancock) Gretencord competed for Gardner Edgerton High School from 1986 through 1990. During her career she established several school and conference records and won many state individual event titles. Two of her school records were still active at the time of her induction: 100 Meter Dash (:12.32) and 200 Meter Dash (:25.37). When Kelly entered GEHS as a freshman, she immediately made her presence known throughout the state as a quality sprinter. She qualified in two events and placed second in the 200 at the State Championships. During her sophomore and junior years she was unbeatable in both of these races which included eighty (80) consecutive races without a defeat. This string of victories included conference, regional, and state championships, nine regional titles, and qualifying in thirteen events for state competition. Her state medals included four State Championship medals, four State Runner-up medals, two third place medals, and a fourth place medal. After graduation Kelly competed for Johnson County Community College for two years, establishing records both indoors and outdoors and placed at the Junior College National Championships. She finished her career with two years at Pittsburg State University and competed at the National Championships both years.
Don Bechard, Coach, 1992-2008 - Inducted September 2, 2008
Don Bechard, a Social Studies and Physical Education teacher, at GEHS for 16 years, is highly recognized in the GEHS community, the KC Metro area, and across the State of Kansas for his numerous accomplishments associated with his coaching. As Head Basketball Coach for GEHS, Don was responsible for 4 League Titles, 2 Sub-State Championships, and the 1996 Boys Basketball State Championship, the first in GEHS school history. Don amassed over 400 wins in his head coaching career and had a record of 216-140 at GEHS. As Head Volleyball Coach, Don led his teams to 5 League Titles, 3 Sub-State Championships, and a 4th Place State Finish in 2000. His coaching career came with great success as he established a career record of over 500 wins and a record of 209-99 at GEHS. Coach Bechard was responsible for establishing a climate of success for the Trailblazers and has influenced thousands through his career in the classroom, youth camps, and on the hardwood for basketball and volleyball. Recipient of the KBCA Coach of the year award in 1996, Don continued to receive numerous state awards and metro area honors for his coaching successes with basketball and volleyball, ending his accolades with the Don Jones Memorial Coaches Courage Award in 2007. Coach Bechard will forever be known for coaching GEHS to its first State Championship, but is more importantly known through out the community for his strong values, tireless work ethic, and commitment to GEHS and its students.
Ted Propst, Class of 1981 - Inducted September 27, 2009
Ted Propst was an outstanding three sport athlete at Gardner Edgerton High School. Ted earned varsity letters while competing in football, wrestling, and track. His most notable performance came in wrestling, where he was a three time state qualifier, earned a 3rd place medal in the 1980 State Tournament, and amassed an undefeated record his senior year to capture the school’s first Individual State Championship for wrestling in 1981. Ted also provided leadership on the field, playing football as a defensive lineman and fullback, and helped GEHS to capture its first Football District Title. Well respected by the coaching staff he was selected as the Most Inspirational Athlete his senior year. After high school, Ted was awarded an athletic scholarship to Wichita State University where he continued his education and competed in football.
Boys Cross Country Team 2003-04 - Inducted September 27, 2009
The 2003-04 Boys Cross Country Team set the standard for GEHS cross country by winning the 5A Boys State Cross Country Championship. The title was the first 5A State Championship for Gardner Edgerton High School and the first for the boys cross country team. The team finished with an outstanding average of in the 5k State Championship race at the Rim Rock Farms Cross Country Course in Lawrence, KS. While winning the state title for GEHS, the team also captured the 5A Regional Championship and multiple other titles at meets throughout the season. Their success and contribution to the sport continued after high school as five of the top seven runners went on to compete at the college level in cross country and/or track.
Team members and State Championship finish include: Aaron Ballew-2nd, Ronnie Lavoie-11th, Tolan Lichty-13th, Nate Thiesfeld-17th, Tim Haer-51st, Scott Brant-57th, Erik Watson-88th.
Alternates: Stephen Morrison, Wesley Schick, Billy Pelkey
Head Coach Larry Ward, Assistant Coach Gordan Thiesfeld
Gregg Plank, Class of 1981— Inducted September 26th, 2010
Gregg Plank was an outstanding three sport athlete at Gardner Edgerton High School. He earned All-League and All-State honors in football, All League and KC Metro honors in basketball, and earned varsity letters in track and field for the Trailblazers. He set multiple records for GEHS in both football and basketball. Known as a fierce competitor, Gregg excelled on the football field as a linebacker and offensive lineman, helping his team to capture two league titles. Gregg Plank continued his football career at Kansas State University, where he was a starter at offensive guard and a member of the first bowl team for the Wildcats.