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The West Plains High School cross country program, McCluer South-Berkeley High School track and field program, and University of Central Missouri coaches Kip Janvrin and Kirk Pedersen will be among the 21 honorees inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Springfield on Sunday.
Also being inducted is Mark Fisher, who was a successful high school basketball coach before becoming the Springfield Public Schools and is currently Drury University athletic director. Fisher also coached the Stanberry High Schools girls to a 1982 track and field state championship title. Two of the seven Sandbothe siblings from Washington Missouri. Robin and Lori Sandbothe went on to college basketball scholarships, but bother were All-Stater performers for Washington High School in track and field.
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (MSHOF) opened its facility doors in 1994 in Springfield, though its website says it’s been honoring inductees since the first one was enshrined in 1951. Every January the MSHOF holds an enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, and in recent years has added additional ceremonies around the state to honor individuals, teams, programs and businesses with Missouri connections that excelled, supported, and sponsored athletics.
Sunday’s activities include a morning reception at 11:00 a.m. at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, followed by a 4:00 p.m. reception at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center with Dinner and enshrinement ceremonies following right after at 5:00 p.m. Tickets had been sold out, but a waiting list was announced this week. The phone number for questions or inquiry is 417-889-3100.
This class of inductees includes former professional athletes or coaches like Lafayette High School (Wildwood, MO.), Missouri State University, and MLB baseball standout Ryan Howard, former Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals World Series winning pitcher Jeff Suppan, former Raymore-Peculiar, Mizzou, and NFL tight end Chase Coffman, former Kansas City Chiefs receiver Carlos Carson, former Joplin Parkwood High School and University of Tennessee football and baseball standout Alan Cockrell, who played and coached baseball in the major leagues.
Other inductees include former Kansas City Chiefs Head Team Physician Cris Barnthouse, outdoor conservation ambassador and outdoor media production company Drury Outdoors, The Sandbothe Family of Washington that includes seven siblings who earned college athletic scholarships, shotgun sports champion Troy Major, golfer Joyce Mahoney, former Harrisonville High and University of Kansas quarterback Kelly Donohoe who has coached Blue Spring High School to seven state football championship games and four state titles, former West Plains, Hartville, and Ozark High School boys basketball coach Steve Hunter, Jefferson City/Columbia market’s CBS affiliate KRCG TV Sports Director Rod Smith, and senior triathlon champion Ray Wageman will be honored posthumously. Also being honored is the Heart of America Beverage Company with the Founders Award and entrepreneur and developer Bryan Magers with the President’s Award.
West Plains Zizzers Cross Country
The West Plains boys cross country program was started by Joe Bill Dixon in 1978 in the south-central Missouri town. Bill Sharp coached the ladies until Dixon took over the reins of both the boys and girls program in 1984. Dixon quickly built a winner that became a dynasty, and one of the county’s best programs. After a sixth-place finish in its first season, the West Plains boys stopped Lindbergh’s streak of state titles at five with a two-point victory in the state’s largest division: Class 4A.
Dixon and many of his former athletes who have joined him coaching the Zizzers, have guided West Plains to jaw-dropping success. The West Plains boys have made it to state each of their 41 seasons, have won 13 state championships, and been runners-up 12 times. The Zizzers have racked up 35 Top-4 finish State trophies. Let that sink in for a minute. Thirty-five state trophies in 41 years on the guys side.
On the lady’s side, West Plains has qualified for the state meet 38 times in 41 years, winning 12 state championships, taken second nine times and earning 24 state trophies. The Lady Zizzers scored just 32 points in winning the 2002 Class 4 State title, 27 points to capture the 2003 Class 4 title. Then, in 2004, in their first year of a six-year stretch in Class 3, the West Plains Lady Zizzers totaled a perfect score of 15, individually placing 1st thru 5th. They had a 1-5 split of just 35-seconds. Dixon has shared coaching titles and responsibilities with many coaches over the years including Ramona Talburt, Marvin Hatley, and Alicia Anderson-Gunter to name a few.
West Plains athletes have captured 11 individual state cross country titles. They are Chris Zinn (1981-83), Jon Hatley (1985), Lisa Brown (1993), Sean Carlson (1993-1994), Jason Sandfort (2000), Jennifer Harper (2004), and Brittani Johnson (2005-2006). The program has produced several high school All-Americans and many athletes that have gone on to great collegiate success. The Zizzers have combined for five Foot Locker Cross Country High School National Championship competitors. Chris Zinn placed 5th in 1983 at Foot Locker, while Jon Hatley placed 7th in 1985, Lisa Brown 8th in 1991, Jason Sandfort 30th in 2000, and Josh Harper 16th in 2002.
Among the many college highlights for Zizzers alums are: Chris Zinn earning three All-American honors in cross country in NCAA Division I competition for Arkansas with 17th, 7th, and 5th-place finishes in 1985, ’87, and ’88. Zinn helped the Razorbacks to the 1986 and 1987 national team titles, as well as two other top-4 team trophies. Jason Sandfort was a rare four-time cross country All-American honoree at the NCAA Division I level, also competing for Arkansas. Sandfort placed 32nd at nationals in 2001, 31st in 2002, 24th in 2003, and 20th in 2004, helping the Razorbacks to two team trophies for legendary coach John McDonnell.
But if you know anything about Joe Bill Dixon and West Plains cross country, individual success takes a back seat to team success. The program is based on hard work, discipline, respect, and putting the team first. Everyone sacrifices for the greater good of the group. Besides state success the Zizzers have been a factor nationally. The 2002 Zizzer boys squad is the highest ever nationally ranked squad, finishing the season ranked second. The 2002 team scored just 47 points at the state meet, beating Tim Nixon’s 5th-ranked Liberty by six points, who finished the season ranked 8th nationally.
West Plains Alum Jon Ewing, who himself ran on two State Title teams for Dixon, including the first one in 1979, built his own powerhouse program at Kickapoo High School in the 1990’s. Ewing’s 1993 Kickapoo boys squad beat his coach and alma mater for the state title, with the Chiefs edging the Zizzers 61-76, as they put six in the top 40. Two years later Ewing’s Kickapoo boys won another title, putting three in the top 10, four in the top 20 and earning their own Top-10 national ranking.
Dixon was inducted in to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame himself in 2001. Both of his sons Greg and Chad were members of State Championship teams for the Zizzers with Chad being a two-time All-Stater. Greg coaches football and track and field at West Plains.
Berkeley/McCluer South Berkeley Track and Field
Just as Dixon built a dynasty at West Plains High School, Rod Staggs did the same with the boys and girls track and field program at Ferguson-Florissant School District’s Berkeley High School in North St. Louis County. The coaches and athletes that followed Staggs have kept the tradition going. The Bulldogs men and women have totaled 28 state titles between 1982 and 2017. Berkeley which last decade became known as McCluer South-Berkeley High School, has captured boys and girls state titles in the same years six times.
Berkeley has racked up 106 relay state titles. The boys have won 16 state titles, coming in 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2015. The girls captured state titles in 1982, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016, and 2017. The Lady Bulldogs have produced 94 individual state champions, 47 of the 106 state relay titles.
Keith Rhodes took over the girls head coaching duties in 2004 when Staggs left for Lindenwood University while Rod Marshall took over the boys head coaching reins. Rhodes moved on to athletic director duties and and Tara Dash was the girls head coach for two years, followed by current girls head coach Martise Scott. Tommie Dabney has guided the boys program as head coach since 2009. The Bulldogs have had some great coaching staffs over the years that included coaches Calvin Usery, Wasim Walker, Ronald King, Perry Williams, Todd Shelton, and Rodney Dotson to name just a few.
The state titles came in Class 3A through 1996, then they moved to 2A in 1997, which was renamed simply Class 2 in 2003. McCluer South-Berkeley moved back up to Class 3 in 2005 and have remained there since.
The state meet results and top All-Time state meet performance list is litered with Berkeley athletes and relays. The 2014 girls 47.19 is the 4×100-relay meet record. So is the 2007 girls 4×400 crew’s mark of 3:45.78.
Berkeley has produced many great athletes, including the most decorated one in state history, Alishea Usery. A 2008 graduate, Usery was a sprint superstar and high school All-American. She captured 16 individual and relay state titles. That’s a perfect 16 for 16 at the state meet, four gold medals each year for four years. She never lost a race final. She captured the 100, 200, and 400-meter dash state titles each of her four years, as well as the 4×400-meter relay four times. User’s was on the 4×400 squad that ran state meet record 3:45.78, which is more than 2-seconds faster than the second fastest.
Usery and her twin sister Ashley went on to run at the University of Florida. Usery earned All-American honors but her college career was slowed with injury. Usery made at least one USA team, representing USA Track and field at the Pan-American Junior Games. Usery finished with state meet personal bests of 11.69 in the 100, 23.78 in the 200, and 53.55 in the 400-meters, the last of which still stands as the All-Class State Meet Record.
Another one of the Berkeley superstars was Michael Rodgers. Rodgers the brother of Usery, was a sprint star himself for the Bulldogs from 2000-2003. Like his sister would do after him four times, Rodgers captured the sprint triple with 100, 200, and 400-meter dash state titles as a senior in Class 2 in 2003. Rodgers followed Staggs to Lindenwood where he won multiple NAIA National titles and helped the Lions to two national team championships.
Rodgers finished up his college career at Oklahoma Baptist, then made the most of his opportunity to train with sprint coach Daryl Woodson in Texas after college. Rodgers became one of the top 60 and 100-meter sprinters in the world and his 9.85 100-meter dash personal record is the fifth fastest ever for an American. Rodgers and his 2015 World Relay Championships 4×100 squad share the American record with a 2012 US team with a 37.38 clocking.
Rodgers owns a World Indoor 60-meter dash silver medal and two World Outdoor Championship silver medals in the 4×100. Rodgers made the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams and competed in Rio in 2016 as the US men finished third in the 4×100 before being disqualified. Rodgers has placed 5th and 6th in the 100-meter dash at the World Outdoor Championships and won two USA 100-meter dash titles.
Lavar Miller was a jumping superstar for Berkeley. The 1996 graduate won eight Class 2 state titles in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump. His high school best was over 7-feet and he went on to earn NCAA Division I All-American honors at the University of Arkansas. He finished with a personal best of 7-4.25. Kianna Ruff ran the current 8th-fastest state meet 400-meter dash time with a 54.98 in 2009, a year after running the 6th-fastest 800-meter state meet time of 2:09.89. Ruff went on to 4×400-relay All-American honors and 800-meter success at the University of Tennessee.
Berkeley’s Dan Futrell was the 4A 800-meter state champion in the 1975 with a 1:54.1 clocking. Futrell went on to become an NCAA Division II National Champion at Truman State (Northeast Missouri State University) with Division II Top-10 All-time mark of 1:46.81. Futrell was inducted into the NCAA Division II Men’s Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1997.
Sadly, the Hall of Fame honor for the program comes just weeks before the final season for the McCluer South Berkeley program. In the fall, the Ferguson Florissant School District decided to close the high school next year and consolidate the three high schools in the district into two. McCluer High School and McCluer North High School will remain open.
University of Central Missouri’s Kirk Pedersen and Kip Janvrin
University of Central Missouri’s Kirk Pedersen and Kip Janvrin are in their 23rd year as co-head track and field coaches after serving as assistants for Les Stevens. Pedersen is in his 32nd year as head cross country coach for the Mules and Jennies while Janvrin is in his 30th year on the Central Missouri staff. The pair have built on the success of the program under Stevens with UCM being one of best and most consistent programs in the country and in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association, often the best and most competitive conferences in Division II.
The Iowa natives were college teammates at Simpson College in Indianola Iowa. Both were NCAA Division III National Champions with Pedersen claiming an 800-meter crown while Janvrin claimed three decathlon titles to go with a pole vault and 400-meter hurdles title.
Janvrin continued training for the decathlon while coaching and became one of the world’s best. Janvrin just missed making the 1996 USA Olympic Team with a fourth-place finish at the Olympic Trials. In 2000, Janvrin made the US Team for the Sydney Olympics with a 4:12.01 decathlon final event 1500-meters. Janvrin placed 21st at the Olympics and a year later won the USA National title.
Janvrin holds the world record for most career decathlon wins with 41 and is the American Record holder for most decathlons scoring over 8,000 points. Janvrin set the double decathlon world record in 2003, completing 20 events in two days. His 1996 personal record of 8,462 put him sixth on the US All-Time list, Janvrin set the World Masters decathlon record in 2005 in Spain, making him the highest scoring 40+ year old. At nearly age 43, Janvrin set the Drake Relays Masters 800-meter run record with a 1:53.87 clocking in 2007.
Janvrin’s has primarily coaches the sprints, hurdles, and multi-events at UCM. He has coached 24 National Champions to 43 titles as co-head coach, and most of those coming from his event groups. Janvrin guided Lindsay Lettow to four national titles in the pentathlon and heptathlon and to NCAA Division II national championship meet scoring records, as well as many other All-American honors in the jumps and hurdles.
Besides coaching many national champions and All-Americans, Janvrin has coached several USA Track and field squads including the 2012 Under-23 team at the North American, Central America, and Caribbean Championships, and the 2018 Thorpe Cup multi-event men. Janvrin has also welcomed many of the top decathletes to Warrensburg to coach them and train along them.
Pedersen’s cross country squads have earned plenty of national success, including two Division II National men’s runner-up finishes in 1995 and 1997. Pedersen guided Alexandr Alexin to the 1996 individual national title. Pedersen coached Laban Sialo to one of the best distance career for the Mules, including the 2012 Indoor 5k title.
Pedersen led Kristin Anderson to two national titles in the indoor 5k and outdoor steeplechase. Under Pedersen’s tutelage, Anderson shocked the professionals at the 2007 USATF Outdoor Championships, taking third-place in her second post-collegiate year. Anderson went on to win the 2007 North American, Central American, Caribbean Championships Steeplechase and eventually earned a contract with Nike.
The team success at Central Missouri includes many MIAA conference titles, NCAA Division II top-10 finishes, and several NCAA team trophies. The Central Missouri women claimed the Indoor and Outdoor National team titles in 2005, while the men earned tied a school best third place national finish in 2010 at the outdoor meet. The pair have earned many conference, region, and national coach of the year honors.
While current Drury University Athletic Director Mark Fisher is being inducted for his basketball coaching and administrative accomplishments, he has some track and field success on his resume. Fisher coached basketball at Stanberry, Owensville, and Greenwood Laboratory School, before becoming the Springfield Public Schools athletic director in 2003. He is in his fourth year as athletic director at Drury. While at Stanberry High School, Fisher also coached the 1982 girls to a state championship.
Ray Wageman Triathlon
Ray Wageman completed 101 triathlons between the age of 58 and 83. He won 397 multi-sport events from 1980 to 2005 in local, state, regional, and world competitions. Wageman, the longtime district manager for the Springfield News and Press, won the World Championship for the 65 and over age group. Wageman set numerous records and has been honored or recognized by the U.S. Tri-Fed Association and USA Triathlon. Wageman passed away in 2014.
The Sandbothe Family of Washington
The Sandbothe family of Washington, Missouri has seven siblings, all of which earned college athletic scholarships. Robin Sandbothe went on to play basketball at several colleges but was also a state champion thrower for the Blue Jays. Robin captured the 1979 Class 3A discus title by nearly 20-feet with a 130-03 toss, which appears to have been a 3A State meet record that lasted for three years. Robin was a double champ in 1979 as she also claimed the shot-put crown with a 39-06.75 toss. In 1980, Robin took 3rd in Class 4A in the discus with a 124-11 toss.
Sister Lori went on to play basketball at the Moberly Area College and University of Missouri, but not before being a three-time All-State performer in track and field like Robin. Lori placed 3rd in Class 4A in the high jump in 1985 with a 5-4 jump. A year later Lori tied for 2nd in the high jump with a 5-2 clearance and added a 7th-place finish in the discus with a 111-01 toss. Lori and sister Lisa were both named Miss Show-Me Basketball as the top female high school player in the state and played together at Mizzou.
Mike Sandbothe was an All-State basketball player at Washington High School before a successful career at the University of Missouri from 1986-1989 where he finished in the school’s top-ten list in three different statistical categories. While there is no evidence of track and field participation for Mike, he is married to former Mizzou four-time All-American pentathlete and heptathlete Terri LeBlanc-Sandbothe, who qualified for the 1988 US Olympic Trials and is a Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee.
Rod Smith KRCG TV
The Naperville, Illinois native and Oral Roberts broadcast career took him to the CBS television affiliate KRCG for the Columbia, Jefferson City, Mid-Missouri market. Smith was hired as a weekend weather man in the 1980s while not knowing much about weather. He convinced management to include sports coverage on weekend broadcast. Smith eventually became the Sports Director and became known for his “Smithereens” segment showing highlights and off the wall and silly happenings in sports, as well as “Rod’s Big Ol’ Fish” featuring viewers latest fishing catches. Smith and his staff cover professional and collegiate sports in the region and state but have especially championed high school athletics. Sports segments regularly recognize the many women and men in administrative, coaching, and officiating roles in high schools around central Missouri.
Smith is very active in the community, working with many charities and organizations. In 2008, after 23 years at KRCG, new management let Smith go in what was seen as a cost cutting move. That didn’t go well and the public outcry for one of Mid-Missouri’s most beloved public figures was overwhelming. Several weeks later Smith received a new contract with a pay raise and didn’t have to come back to work until after several month summer break.
Smith carries a special place for many from in Mid-Missouri. From Moberly to Rolla, Sedalia to Owensville, and everywhere in between. This writer was lucky enough to shadow Smith for a day in eighth grade on the first day of Spring sports competition. Then, three and a half years later was lucky enough to be interviewed by him as he featured our nationally ranked cross country team that was trying shooting for a second straight undefeated, state championship season.