The inaugural dozen members of class of 2019 were inducted March 16th into the Wampus Cat Sports Hall of Fame.
The evening really could not have gone much better.
Almost 400 people packed into the high school cafeteria to celebrate some of the best in CHS history.
All 11 living honorees were in attendance, which is a requirement.
We want the inductees to be there to be able to fully enjoy their moment.
And also, because there are a lot of people who want to come see them.
One of inductees summed it up perfectly when he said the evening was really like a big reunion. Many others echoed that same thought.
The event brought together a bunch of family and old friends.
Tim Horton had gone to lunch earlier that day at Stoby’s with a group of his high school buddies.
J.B. Pendergraft sat at a table with his two daughters and his grandchildren.
Lawson Pilgrim had three tables of family who came in from near and far, including a brother from Chicago.
Several of Ernest Ruple’s family members surprised him when they showed up and sat at his table.
Julie Jiskra Seymour has lived in South Carolina for years, but her parents are still in Conway and she had been here all week with them.
Greg Lasker closed his speech by thanking his father and his uncles who had made him proud to represent the family name.
Inductees got to choose someone special to present their hall of fame plaque to them.
Marvin Delph and Henry Hawk chose their sons. Mike New selected his brother. Mike Nuehofel picked his mom.
All the inductees thanked all the right people in their acceptance speeches.
They mentioned their families, their coaches and their teammates.
Pendergraft joked that if the had blocked as hard for his backfield mate Danny Reed as Reed had blocked for him, then Reed would be the one up there being inducted.
We began the night by honoring the current student winners of the four major Conway High School athletic awards.
Emcee Jeff Matthews read a brief bio for each, then we had an inductee meet the kids on stage to present their awards.
Male Student-Athlete Award winner Kendon Moline was presented by Pilgrim, while female Student-Athlete Award Elizabeth Ablondi was presented by Horton.
Good fortune allowed us the have a pair of former NCAA All-Americans present to the outstanding male and female senior athletes.
Swimmer A.J. Mainord, winner of the Frank Robins Award, received his award from former Arkansas swimming star Mike Neuhofel.
Kate Freyaldenhoven, a track and cross-country standout, received her Ruth Doyle Award from former Rice track legend Jiskra.
The inductions started with Dandra Thomas, who passed away in 2003.
Her coach Janet Taylor introduced a touching video tribute that included some of her coaches and teammates.
Kenny Smith was our final honoree, and just as he did when he was coaching the Wampus Cats, he got everyone in the room fired up.
Reunion summed the night up perfectly. I think that is what this annual event will become for generations of Wampus Cats.