December 22, 2014

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Track and Cross Country: Lorain County Hall of Fame to induct 5 stars, 1 legendary coach Thursday

Elyria graduate Jerry Klyop, shown vaulting while at Villanova, will be inducted into the Lorain County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame on Thursday, along with five others. PHOTO PROVIDED

Elyria graduate Jerry Klyop, shown vaulting while at Villanova, will be inducted into the Lorain County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame on Thursday, along with five others. PHOTO PROVIDED

The sixth induction class for the Lorain County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame brings something special to the table. Two of the six enshrinees have a distance background. One specialized in sprints, one in middle distance and another in pole vault. The last is a longtime coach.

Each made fantastic achievements in their careers.

They are to be recognized Thursday in a 20-minute ceremony starting at 4:45 p.m. at Midview’s Ed Adelsberg Stadium. The ceremony will be held between prelims and finals at the Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association Invitational.

The class of six includes five all-state athletes and a legendary coach: middle-distance runner Clarence Bowman, distance runner Tom Schoemig, pole vaulter Jerry Klyop, sprinter Rodney Moore, distance runner Colleen (Byrne) Breyer and coach Jim Reynolds.

Clarence Bowman

Clarence Bowman

Clarence Bowman

Seventy-five years ago Bowman won the second of his back-to-back state titles in the 880-yard run. He’s the only Lorain County boy to accomplish the feat for that distance, which has been competed as the 800 meters since 1980. In winning the 1939 championship as a student at Oberlin High School, he ran 2:02.0 on a cinder track.

Bowman was All-Ohio six times, twice in the open 880 and four times as a member of the mile relay.

Born April 21, 1920, in Cleveland, Bowman grew up during the Great Depression. His senior year coincided with the end of a remarkable 15-year run by the Oberlin track program. Ten times, the team placed in the top 10 from 1925-39.

He never forgot how he was drawn to the 880, relaying the story at age 84 in an article that appeared in The Chronicle on May 4, 2004.

“It took me awhile to adjust to track,” Bowman said. “I didn’t realize the physical exertion it demanded until I got into it.

“I knew I wasn’t a sprinter. I was satisfied to stay with the 880 and didn’t have the desire for any others.”

The big-time atmosphere of Ohio State’s Horseshoe was a memory that stayed with Bowman.

“It was quite a feeling being in that big stadium,” he said. “It was a very thrilling experience.”

He died at age 90 on Dec. 2, 2010, in Normal, Ill.

Tom Schoemig

Tom Schoemig

Tom Schoemig

Schoemig is Amherst’s only mile/1,600-meter state champion for boys and was a stellar distance threat.

The 1965 Class AA state mile winner triumphed in a meet-record 4:18.1. Schoemig was second for the 880-yard run his junior year in ’64 (1:56.5). He was seventh for cross country as the Comets’ No. 1 runner for the 1962 Class AA state championship team.

Schoemig enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation and was a Vietnam veteran. He moved to Arizona in 1973 and graduated from Arizona State University.

Schoemig was a retired construction equipment mechanic; member of American Legion Post 26 in Mesa, Ariz.; past Commander of American Legion Post 39 in Gilbert, Ariz.; and life member of the VFW post 1662 in Amherst.

“Tom loved to run,” said Jane Dean, Schoemig’s sister. “He enjoyed the self-accomplishment. It motivated him. The team aspect was special to him. He enjoyed running into his 40s until he ruptured his Achilles playing basketball. He was committed to his passions and continued to be very active in the American Legion.”

He died of complications from lung surgery at age 65 on Aug. 11, 2011, in Mesa.

Jerry Klyop

Jerry Klyop

Jerry Klyop

A three-time All-Ohio pole vaulter, Elyria High’s Klyop was the 1968 Class AA state champion with a meet-record 15 feet, 1¾ inches. He was also the state record-holder (15-3). He finished second in 1967 and fourth in ’66.

Klyop was a three-time Buckeye Conference winner and record-holder. He held vault titles and meet records at the Sandusky Relays, West Tech Relays and Berea Relays. Klyop was eighth at the prestigious Golden West Classic, the nation’s elite track meet for high school athletes.

“I first got hooked on pole vaulting in fifth grade,” Klyop said. “There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood that were jumping, too. A lot of kids do football and basketball, but we were doing pole vault, too. It was probably about 10 kids. We all had pits in our yards. We’d go to the different yards and have meets. A bunch of us just liked to do things that were thrilling.”

It was either bamboo or steel poles back then. Fiberglass poles didn’t come until his freshman year at Elyria. Pits from that era were much more primitive, especially the backyard pits made of sawdust or grass clippings. The worst injury he sustained was a fractured tailbone his sophomore year at a meet.

“It was a more interesting time than nowadays because we didn’t have any clue of what we were doing,” said Klyop, a 1980 inductee of the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame. “It was kind of fun experimenting with different things. Chuck Decker (1937 Elyria state champ) was a big influence on us. I met (1956 Olympic gold medalist) Bob Richards at the high school national meet.

“I really didn’t like the meets. I liked to jump. I’d rather jump 30-40 times a day. In a meet you don’t get to jump that much. You have to wait for everyone else to jump. I’ve always been that way. It’s funny, in racing I never really liked the races. I loved going fast in the race car and I loved qualifying and going as fast as you can without having to compete with someone directly. As a racer, I wasn’t that good of a racer. I didn’t like the wheel-to-wheel kind of stuff.”

He was rookie of the year in 1996 in the Formula Mazda Professional Race Car Series.

Rodney Moore

Rodney Moore

Rodney Moore

Elyria’s Moore was six-time All-Ohio in the late 1980s.

Twice he finished second at state in the 400 meters. Moore likely would have won a state title his senior year in 1988 if it weren’t for the dominance of Dayton Dunbar’s Chris Nelloms.

Nelloms ultimately won the 400 meters four times from 1987-90. Moore ran a county-record 47.19 at the 1988 state meet for second place. Nelloms won in a meet-record 45.80 and later broke his state record when he won for the fourth time (45.59).

In addition to three top-three finishes at state in the 400, Moore was All-Ohio as a member of the 400-meter relay (1985, ’86) and the 1,600 relay (1986). He was also a two-time state qualifier in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

His track career was far from over when he graduated from Elyria High.

Moore was a 17-time All-American for Lincoln University (Pa.) and won six national titles. He helped Lincoln to four NCAA team titles as an athlete, and two more as an assistant.

“The first thing that established my success in track was my faith in God,” he said. “Second, were special people God placed in my life. People like my mother, Anne Moore, who has always been that stern figure in my life. People like coach Tim Johnson, who was the father figure I needed in my life at that time. Coach was always the voice of reason. People like coaches Tom and Jackie Below were there to show me that there were limitless possibilities to where track could take me.

“People like coach Cyrus Jones (Lincoln University) were placed in my life to teach me that there is life after track, and he instilled the value of graduating from college. Other college coaches talked to me only about track, Coach Jones talked of graduating from college. My track career was more than rewarding for me. I have seen so many different parts of the world thanks to my track career.”

Colleen (Byrne) Beyer

Colleen (Byrne) Breyer

Colleen (Byrne) Beyer

The most accomplished distance runner in the history of the Avon Lake High School girls cross country and track programs, Breyer left a mark that won’t be duplicated anytime soon.

Byrne was All-Ohio six times — four in cross country and two in track. She was a top-10 finisher at the state cross country meet all four years and made the top five three times.

Byrne won eight Southwestern Conference titles, six in track and two in cross country. She set school records in the open 1,600 and open 3,200 and was a three-time state qualifier in the 1,600 and once for the 3,200. She was a member of the 3,200 relay (9:19.46) that still holds the Lorain County record.

She went on to enjoy a solid career at Vanderbilt University. Byrne was sixth at the 2002 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track Championships for the mile in a career-record 4:52.95. She was also sixth at the 2001 SEC Outdoor Track Championships for the 1,500 in 4:30.54. Byrne had a personal-record 4:29.91 in the semis.

“Learning from running in general the discipline of what you put into it is what you get out of it most of the time,” Byrne said. “That’s a pretty solid life lesson. It’s about being consistent, keeping things simple and always checking into yourself.

“It’s amazing how as an adult the times when I feel successful and when I’m managing my life because life gets a lot busier when you’re an adult. I really fall back on a lot of the habits I learned in high school. I always learned the sun came up another day. You’re always going to get to race again. That’s given me a very resilient mindset.”

Jim Reynolds

Jim Reynolds

Jim Reynolds

For 32 of his last 33 years of coaching, Jim Reynolds led the Avon High School boys and girls cross country program as well as the girls track program. The annual Avon Reynolds Relays were renamed in his honor in 2008.

The coaching landscape was much different when Reynolds stepped away from coaching in 2006. Except for the 1994-95 season, he had been at Avon since 1973.

Reynolds, 81, led the Avon track and cross country programs to three top-three finishes in the state. The 1979 and ’80 girls track teams were second in Class AA. The 1988 girls cross country team was third in Class A.

His teams won four regional titles, three in girls track (1978-80) and one in girls cross country (1988).

Reynolds originally applied to be varsity football coach at Avon in 1973. He was a top candidate, but Principal Roger McFrederick convinced him to take the track and cross country job instead.

“I’ve told my kids more than once that I’ve filled dresser drawers full of cards and letters,” Reynolds said. “I’ve got at least four scrapbooks full over cards plus a couple more I’m working on. I just couldn’t part with them.”

Coaching remains in his blood.

“I’ve had a couple assistant jobs since moving back down here to Ashland in 2008,” he said. “I’d love to have a head job right now just to show everybody that I’m not done. I can keep it going.”

Reynolds’ love and passion date to his days as an athlete.

He was starting offensive tackle at 139½ pounds his senior year in high school. He went to Ashland University weighing only 155 pounds, but played defensive end, nose guard and defensive tackle.

“I’ve always been highly competitive,” Reynolds said. “I just always had the chip on my shoulder. I hate for somebody to tell me I’m not big enough because when they tell me that they’re going to get their butt kicked. That’s the way I was and it’s carried through every sport.

“When I was in college I worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., then went to class and took a full load, then went to football practice. I graduated within four years. I slept four hours a day. I even ran track.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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