Prep pulse: Centennial's Hall of Fame

Prep pulse: Centennial's Hall of Fame

Each Monday ahead of a new week of high school sports, preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS checks in with the latest from the local scene:

At high schools across The News-Gazette's coverage area, athletic hall of fames are a common enough occurrence. Add Centennial to the list of participants in that practice come Jan. 27, as the school will induct its first class to a new athletic Hall of Fame on that date at Savoy's Regent Ballroom.

Centennial athletic director Tony Millard said the idea has been in the works for roughly a year and a half. In Millard's three years at Centennial, he said multiple individuals have asked why the Chargers weren't immortalizing some of their greatest athletic talent.

"There's a lot of people in the area that are very supportive of this because Urbana has one, Champaign Central has one," Millard said. "People look at us as trying to be very similar and a little competitive athletically."

The timing was also perfect, Millard said, because Centennial is in the middle of its 50-year anniversary, marking a good point to take stock of Charger athletes who have come and gone. A nine-person selection committee made up of former coaches, athletes and students with Centennial ties decided on an 11-person induction group for the Hall's first class: Ben Beyers (Class of 1992, track and field); Bonnie Blair (1982, Olympic speedskater); Megan Bushue (2003, soccer); Mike Carroll (1980, football/basketball/track and field); U.S. Davidson (1973, basketball/track and field); Alan Dilley (1969, swimming); Jamie Fairbanks (1990, golf); Cindy Lawrence (1986, basketball/volleyball/track and field); Gia Lewis-Smallwood (1997, Olympic thrower/basketball/volleyball/track and field); Roger McClendon (1984, basketball/baseball); and Katherine Reutter (2006, Olympic speedskater).

"We don't feel like (the class size) is going to be typical," Millard said. "We felt like this class distinguished itself, and in the voting it played out that these 11 stood out."

The group will be introduced at halftime of a boys' basketball game against Peoria Notre Dame on Friday, Jan. 26, before the ceremony in Savoy at 6 p.m. the following night.

Millard said Blair and Reutter may have Winter Olympics duties in South Korea that may prevent them from attending, but added it sounds like everyone else will be able to make the ceremony.

"I've heard nothing but positives from people who have seen the information coming out," Millard said. "So as a committee, myself included, we are really excited about the opportunity to do this for the history of Centennial High School."