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Meet the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Thad Matta Pointing

From an Ohio State release.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – This fall, 10 new members will be inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. The group includes Boyd Cherry (football), Justin Fry (baseball), Jim Foster (women’s basketball coach), AJ Hawk (football), Stan Lyons (men’s track and field), Thad Matta (men’s basketball coach), Mike Nugent (football), Andrew Pierce (men’s track and field), Natalie Spooner (women’s ice hockey) and RJ Umberger (men’s ice hockey).

The Class of 2019 will be officially inducted at a dinner Sept. 6 in the Ohio Union and introduced to the public at halftime of the Ohio State home football game vs. Cincinnati Sept. 7. Tickets will go on sale for the dinner this summer, with registration information to be released at a later date.

The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame was created in 1977 and has inducted 436 athletes, coaches and administrators through 2018.

Boyd, Hawk and Nugent will bring the number of inductees for football to 126 and Matta will be the 40th member of the men’s basketball program to be enshrined. Lyons and Pierce will bring the total of men’s track and field inductees to 35. Men’s ice hockey will now have seven inductees with the addition of Umberger and Spooner will be the third women’s ice hockey player enshrined. Fry will be the 23rd baseball Buckeye in the hall of fame and Foster will be the 14th member of the women’s basketball program to be inducted.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Boyd Cherry
Football 1912-14 
Boyd Cherry, a Columbus, Ohio, native, was a three-year football letterman – 1912-14 – who played on the first Big Ten Conference (then called the Western Conference) football team in school history in 1913. Ohio State was admitted into the Western Conference in 1912, but couldn’t compete until 1913. The 1912 Ohio State team, of which Cherry was a part, won the last Ohio Athletic Conference championship in school history.

One year after that historical first season of conference play in 1913, Cherry, an end, earned the first All-America honor for the Ohio State football program while helping the Buckeyes to a 5-2 season and a 2-2 record in the conference. He earned the distinction of being the first Ohio State all-conference player in 1914, as well. Ohio State was 15-7-1 in Cherry’s time with the program. Cherry was also a three-year letterman in basketball and a member of the baseball program (1913-15), serving as team captain for both teams as a senior. He graduated in 1915.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Jim Foster
Women’s Basketball Coach 2002-13
Jim Foster coached 11 seasons at Ohio State from 2002-13. He put the women’s basketball program back on the map, making the NCAA Tournament in 10 of his 11 seasons. Foster and the Buckeyes also enjoyed a run of six consecutive Big Ten Championships and four Big Ten Tournament titles. His .772 winning percentage (279-82) is the highest of any women’s basketball coach in school history.

Foster helped develop some of the best players in the program’s history. Jessica Davenport (2004-07) was the program’s first three-time All-American. She scored 2,303 points and grabbed 1,094 career rebounds. Jantel Lavender was also a three-time All-American and became the first player, male or female, in the Power 5 conferences to be named conference player of the year four times. Samantha Prahalis was a four-time All-Big Ten point guard. She scored more than 2,000 career points and still holds the Big Ten record with 901 assists which is 11th in NCAA history.

Foster, a Pennsylvania native, also coached at Saint Joseph’s, Vanderbilt and Chattanooga where he amassed 903 career wins which currently ranks seventh in NCAA history. He is the only coach to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament. Foster was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2013 and in 2018, after 40 years on the bench, he announced his retirement.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Justin Fry
Baseball 1996-99
Lettering all four years at Ohio State from 1996-99, Justin Fry holds the Ohio State career records for wins (36), innings pitched (419.2) and strikeouts (382). He was named a First Team All-American and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year in 1999 after posting an 11-2 record with a 3.70 ERA. He was the 1997 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year after a 10-3 campaign.

He is one of only three Buckeyes to post double-digit win totals in multiple seasons after winning 10 in 1997, earning him Second Team All-America honors. Fry struck out over 100 batters three consecutive seasons (101 in 1997, 113 in 1998, 104 in 1999) and tossed 24 complete games in his career, which is third-most in school history. He was selected in the 26th round of the MLB Draft and played three seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

Ohio State Buckeyes

AJ Hawk
Football 2002-05
Two-time All-American AJ Hawk is one of the great football players and linebackers in school history. A four-year letterman, Hawk ended his standout career as the fifth-leading tackler in school history with 394 total tackles, including a nearly 20-year high 141 tackles during a consensus All-America junior season in 2004. Hawk’s statistics also position him 11th in school history with 41 tackles-for-loss and 17th with 15 quarterback sacks. He was a three-time All-Big Ten performer.

Hawk capped his career by being named the Lombardi Award winner as a senior in 2005 and a unanimous All-American after leading the Buckeyes in tackles for a third consecutive season with 121, including 16.5 tackles-for-loss. He was also named the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year and he was the Defensive MVP in the Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame.

A team co-captain in 2005, Hawk played in all 14 games during Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season and in 51 games altogether. He was on Big Ten championship teams in 2002 and 2005 and his Buckeye teams were 4-0 in bowl games and 3-1 vs. Michigan.

Hawk, from Centerville, Ohio, was a first-round NFL Draft pick, No. 5 overall, of the Green Bay Packers. He played nine years with the organization and led the team in tackles five times. Including 16 games in 2015 with Cincinnati, Hawk played in 158 NFL games and recorded 947 tackles.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Stan Lyons
Men’s Track and Field 1956-58
Stan Lyons, a true embodiment of a champion, enters the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame with an incredible legacy. Lyons wore the Scarlet and Gray from 1956-58 and was a four-time Big Ten pole vault champion, winning in both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 1957 and 1958. During his last year at Ohio State, Lyons won the pole vault national championship in a four-way tie with a championship height of 14”4’.

After his collegiate career, Lyons went on to coach track and field and cross country at Butler University for 30 seasons, where he led the Bulldogs to eight conference track and field titles and five league cross country crowns. The legendary coach received 13 Coach of the Year awards and was inducted into the Butler Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997. In honor of Lyons, Butler’s first outdoor home meet is now called the “Butler Stan Lyons Invitational.”

Ohio State Buckeyes

 Thad Matta
Men’s Basketball Coach 2005-17
Thad Matta led the Buckeyes to 337 wins from 2005-17, making him the all-time leader in victories among Ohio State’s 14 head coaches in the history of the program. By any measure, Matta put together one of the most memorable and productive coaching tenures in Big Ten and Ohio State history.

Along the way Matta’s Buckeyes appeared in two NCAA Final Fours (2007, 2012), posted three 30-win seasons, won four Big Ten Tournament titles, earned five Big Ten regular-season titles, made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, recorded 12 20-win seasons and guided Ohio State to 18 NCAA Tournament wins. These are just a few of the many accomplishments for the Ohio State record books accumulated during his historic tenure in Columbus.

Individually, Evan Turner claimed the Big Ten and National Player of the Year in 2010, Terence Dials was the league MVP in 2006, Greg Oden (2007) and Aaron Craft (2014) earned national defensive players of the year, four players were Big Ten Freshman of the Year award winners, five were named First Team All-Americans, seven were NBA First Round draft choices with 10 taken overall and 11 earned First Team All-Big Ten honors.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Mike Nugent
Football 2001-04
Mike Nugent rewrote the Ohio State football record books as a four-year kicker for the Buckeyes between 2001-04, during which time the team won a national championship in 2002 and went 40-11 overall. At the conclusion of his career he either owned or shared 22 school kicking and/or scoring records, including 16 records he still holds. Among the records: most career points (356), kicking points, single season field goals (28 in 2002) and career field goals (72) and 50-yard field goals in a season (five in 2004) and career (eight).

Nugent made 24 consecutive field goals at one point, another school record, and was named a consensus All-American in both 2002 and 2004, the first Ohio State kicker to be so honored. Voted a team captain as a senior in 2004, Nugent scored 120 points during Ohio State’s national championship season in 2002 and was 25-of-28 in field goals that year.

As a senior, Nugent was 24-of-27 in field goals, including a nation’s-best 5-of-6 from 50 yards or more, and was named the Lou Groza Award winner as the nation’s outstanding kicker. He nailed a career-long 55-yard field goal as time ran out in the 24-21 win over Marshall, and he became the first Ohio State kicker to ever be named team MVP.

Drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Nugent, from Centerville, Ohio, completed his 14th season in the NFL in 2018, with the Oakland Raiders.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Andrew Pierce
Men’s Track and Field 1998-01 
Andrew Pierce, a 400-meter dash specialist for Ohio State from 1998-2001, enters the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame with a hefty resume in hand. The Yellow Springs, Ohio, native is the Ohio State men’s track and field record holder in the indoor 400m dash, which he set at the 2001 Big Ten Championships. Pierce racked up eight Big Ten Championships and two Big Ten Athlete of the Year awards along with two B1G Athlete of the Championship honors. The team captain took it further and became a six time All-American, five of those in the 400m dash. Eighteen years later and Pierce’s accomplishments still hold up, as he maintains records in the indoor 400m dash and the indoor 600m run and holds the fastest 400m dash time in both Jesse Owens Stadium and French Field House.

After his career at Ohio State, his success continued on the international circuit. In 2001, he was crowned champion at the World Outdoor Championships in the 4×400-meter relay. Pierce found similar success later that year when he won two gold medals at the World University games, in both the 400m and in the 4x400m relay.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Natalie Spooner
Women’s Ice Hockey 2009-12
Natalie Spooner was a four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes and is one of the most decorated Buckeyes in program history. During her time in Columbus she lit the lamp 100 times, the only 100 goal scorer in team history, and tallied 163 points, the second-highest total for any Buckeye. Spooner earned All-America honors in 2012 and All-WCHA honors three times in her career.

After graduating in 2012 Spooner went on to win gold with her native Canada in the 2014 Olympics and silver in 2018. In addition to her Olympic accomplishments, Spooner has medaled eight times in World Championship competition and in 2014 she became the first woman to claim a gold medal and the Clarkson Cup in the same year.

Ohio State Buckeyes

RJ Umberger
Men’s Hockey 2001-03
RJ Umberger was a standout for the Ohio State men’s hockey team from 2001-03. He was a JOFA West Second Team All-American and Hobey Baker Award finalist while also earning First Team All-Central Collegiate Hockey Association honors in 2003. That season, he posted a career-high 26 goals, 27 assists and 53 points as the Buckeyes reached the NCAA Tournament.

In his three-year Ohio State career, Umberger recorded 129 points, with 58 goals and 71 assists in 112 games, and his 1.15 points per game average is second among all Buckeyes with 50-plus games played since 1990. He led the squad in assists and points each of his three years and was the team goal leader twice. The 2001 CCHA Rookie of the Year, Umberger won the Perani Cup, given to the player with the most three star of the game honors, three times for the Buckeyes.

Umberger is the highest NHL draft pick in program history, as he was selected 16th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2001. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native played in 779 NHL games between the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, with 392 points on 180 goals and 212 assists. A product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Umberger represented the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship in both 2001 and 2002, as well as at the 2006 IIHF World Championship.

A two-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Umberger completed his Ohio State business marketing degree during his professional career, graduating in June 2011. He received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for Ohio State in 2003.

[Photos courtesy]