Despite being moved from Friday to Saturday, the Kent City Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony did not disappoint with latest class of four individuals spanning 20 years. As always, the student-athletes led the ceremony, presenting details of each individual’s accomplishments to the audience in the High School Auditorium. Prior to introducing the Hall of Fame class of 2019 we took a moment to recognize the student-athletes from 2018 who earned All State honors. We had a very successful year with 13 student-athletes earning All State, some multiple times!
2018 Kent City All-State Student-Athletes
Front Row (L-R): Evan Jones (Wrestling & Track and Field), Whyatt Ellicott (Wrestling), Kenzie Bowers (Basketball), Zara Weber (Basketball), Fraser Wilson (Basketball & Track and Field), Eli Carlson (Basketball), Nick Flegel (Track and Field), Giovanni Weeks (Track and Field & Football), Lauren Freeland (Track and Field & Cross Country), and Brenden Geers (Football)
Not Pictured: Hunter Nelson (Track and Field), Abby Ignasiak (Cross Country), and Layla Martini (Cross Country)
2019 Kent City Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
Senior Evan Jones presented Jacob Thompson, who was the first wrestling state champion in school history at Kent City, as well as All-State in football for the O.K. Silver Champion and District Finalist 2001 squad. Jones commented that it was wrestlers like Jacob Thompson who help to motivate the current wrestlers when they enter the wrestling room each day for practice. Varsity Wrestling Coach Chad Kik also joined Evan on the stage to reminisce on the outstanding career of Jacob Thompson at Kent City. He talked about how prior to his state championship match, the lights went out at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Coach Kik also talked about how Jacob’s confidence helped him succeed. Finally, Coach Kik had a message from former varsity football coach, Steve Mclintock, who said no one outworked Jacob Thompson in the off-season, he was a beast in the weight room among other things.
Upon accepting his award, Jacob had some advice for current student-athletes. He talked about learning from failure is what has, and continues to drive him. Jacob mentioned he can still remember every match he lost in high school, and it was those matches that drove him get to where he finished in high school and where he is at today as a successful businessman.
Sophomore Kenzie Bowers presented Shannon Carlson, and first talked about how her (grandmother in particular) family was excited she was chosen to speak for her, as they recalled what an amazing student-athlete Shannon Carlson was at Kent City. Former softball coach, Bill Vanhorn also took to the stage to tell some stories about Shannon’s brilliance as a softball player and also how she was a bit of a prankster as well. He commented on how in all of his years of coaching softball, he does not think he has coached a better short stop considering what Carlson was able to do with both a bat, but also as a fielder. We also heard from former girls basketball coach Jackie (Thomas) Nickel via video from Virginia. Coach Thomas recalled the leadership Carlson brought to the teams, especially as she (Coach Thomas) was a young coach. Carlson set a pace in practice that would push her teammates to excel and often helped make in game decisions for the team.
Shannon and her brother Scott Carlson were in attendance to accept the award. Shannon was thankful for the honor.
Junior Eli Carlson and senior Brenden Geers presented Adam Anderson, one of the most successful basketball players to ever take to the court at Kent City High School. Both Carlson and Geers discussed the amazing resume that Anderson compiled both at Kent City and beyond. We also heard from Anderson’s former high school basketball coach, Roger Bearup via video, who talked about how it was not easy for Anderson in high school because of the pressures that are put on a student-athlete with his abilities. Coach Bearup applauded Anderson for his handling of all of the hype and his work ethic that only magnified his natural gifts. Anderson’s collegiate coach, Edgar Wilson, also took a moment to congratulate Adam for joining the Kent City Athletic Hall of Fame with his brother Cory and his success following his years at Ferris State University. Coach Wilson also recalled the “tough love” he gave Adam while he was competing at Ferris State University.
Adam was unable to attend the ceremony because he was traveling with his family. His nephew, Brenden Geers accepted the award on his behalf. Geers said that having an uncle like Adam has played a major role in his success as a student-athlete at Kent City.
Senior Lauren Freeland helped induct Alex Wilson into the Kent City Hall of Fame. Wilson earned all-state nine times (XC and Track) including three individual state championships in track and field. Freeland recalled how Wilson was there for her at the Cross Country State Finals, encouraging her through out the course (he is faster then nearly everyone there) and coaching her, even though he is not a coach for Kent City. We also saw some clips from his state champion 1600 meter race, heard from his high school track and field coach Jeff Wilson, his coach at Michigan State Walt Drenth, and Coach Jill Evers. Coach Wilson talked about how Alex was always willing to do what was best for the team, even though it sometime required a lot of running! Coach Drenth talked about how Alex is an avid scrapper and it was always interesting to see what he would bring back with him after a long run. He also mentioned that Wilson helped elevate Michigan State’s running program, leading them to the National Championships during his time there. Coach Jill Evers talked about how Wilson’s love for running has turned into a career for him and they still correspond over the happenings in the running world.
Alex was in attendance to accept the award and thank those who helped him get to where he is today. He was very thankful to grow up in Kent City and talked at length about how he misses the community. Currently the head cross country and track & field coach at Rochester College, Wilson uses many of the lessons he learned here in his current profession.