Up until 1991 Chagrin had won only one team state title, which had been 20 years prior with the boys cross country team. However, a group of young women would not only bring another state championship home, they would set the foundation for a program that has been revered throughout the state these past 25 years. Coming off a 6th place finish at the 1990 OHSAA State Cross Country Championship, the girls coach Pete Olah and boys coach Dave Kirk would set up a challenging season and some grueling practices. The varsity squad consisted of Seniors Elizabeth “Tiggy” Hopkins, Amy Michel, and Sarah McGuire; Juniors Courtney Michel, Jennifer Priem, Lori Fisher, and Kerry Schoelch; Sophomores Marie Irvin, Beth Wurster, and Christie Grano; and freshmen Casey Abley and Cortney DeGross. This line-up dominated throughout the fall and in Columbus. They placed 1st at Wadsworth, Cunra, & Sim Erich Invitationals, 2nd at Malone College, and 3rd at Kirtland. In addition, they were undefeated in non-league meets and were co-champions of the CVC with Twinsburg. At the 14th OHSAA Girls Cross Country Championships, the Lady Tigers amassed 90 points easily outdistancing runner-up Findlay Liberty Benton who had 120. Of the 17 teams and 161 runners, Courtney Michel would lead pace for the Tigers finishing 19th overall. Although they would lose three key seniors, they would go on to finish as runners-up in 1992. As of 2016, the Lady Tigers cross country team has made it to the state championships 11 times in the 39 year history of OHSAA girls cross country. Since 1982 there was only a five year stretch when the OHSAA fielded just two divisions compared to three. This period was from 1989-93, which makes the Lady Tigers success during this time even more impressive.
Pete Olah was the Head Varsity Cross Country and Track Coach from 1988 – 2000, a period which saw our women’s program come to be a dominant force in Ohio. The team broke out in 1990 at the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships with a 6th place finish. The following year the runners would easily outdistance the competition and earn Chagrin its first team title in 20 years. In 1992, the Tigers returned to Columbus and finished as Runners-Up. Over his 22 seasons his teams earned 3 district championships, 3 district runner-up finishes, and 4 CVC titles. Individually Pete helped to guide 189 Regional Qualifiers, 36 State qualifiers, and 20 State placers. With the success came many honors including being selected CVC Coach of the Year four times (1991 – 1994), Geauga Times Leader Geauga County Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year (1990), Geauga Times Leader Coach of the Year (1991), Ohio Association Of Track and Cross Country Coaches District 2 Coach of the Year (Girls Cross Country in 1991). Pete was also an integral part of the wrestling program in his role as Assistant Varsity Coach during the 1980s & 1990s. The program produced a Regional Runner-Up team finish, over 20 state qualifiers including 9 placers and 2 runners-up. In addition, Pete had a distinguished career as an industrial arts teacher for 34 years at Chagrin.
Dave Kirk laid at lasting impact to a generation at Chagrin both in the classroom as an English teacher and as coach to our Tiger runners. He led the Track and Field program from 1990-2014 and Boys Cross Country Team from 1990-2010. Under his tenure, 80 athletes earned All-Ohio recognition and 19 athletes qualified to the National Championships. His teams also won a State Championship and two State Runners-up titles. Additionally, Dave has played an integral role in the writing, organization, and implementation of the “Ohio Plan” as it is referred to by the United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Division which has become a national model for other states looking to provide opportunities for disabled athletes to compete in track & field. He was inducted into the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2012, He continues to volunteer his time to the Department of Defense Warrior Games and has worked with both the Marine Corps and the Army in hosting this event that promotes the successful recovery and reintegration of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans through adaptive sports competition. A published author, including an article in Olympic Coach, Dave has presented at the USOC National Leadership Conference as well as participated in the National High Performance Summit held by the USOC at the University of Illinois.
Katie Stancik Hanson 2007 enjoyed a stellar career running for the Tigers and at Allegheny College. She earned CVC MVP honors in cross country in 2003 & 2004, while also doing the same in track in 2006. She qualified for the OHSAA State Championship in cross country and track all four years, while being awarded All-Ohio status with her 18th place finish in 2005, which helped her team finish 3rd in the state in cross country. OHSAA All-District and All-Region honors were achieved all four years in both cross sports as well. In her junior year, her 4x800m relay team finished 5th at the OHSAA Indoor Track & Field State Championship Meet, while her senior year they took runner-up honors. In the spring, she ran the anchor leg of the 4x800m relay, which placed each of her four years with a 3rd place finish her senior year. Her classroom success earned her Academic All-Ohio honors in her last three years in both sports. Katie would additionally be recognized with the CVC Sportsmanship Award, Chagrin Falls 12 Sport Award, Plain Dealer Player of the Week, & News-Herald Player of the Week. In the winter, she would be a valuable member of the Lady Tigers Basketball Team. Katie would go on to Allegheny College where she was a 3 sport captain and 1st Team selection to the North Coast Athletic Conference in cross country, indoor track & field, & outdoor track & field. One of the many highlights of her collegiate career was her participation in the 2007 NCAA Division III National Championship in cross country. Recently Katie qualified and completed the 2017 Boston Marathon.
David helped to guide the resurgence of Chagrin football when he quarterbacked the Tigers to 28 wins, three playoff appearances, and three CVC titles in a three year span. He would complete his football career as the winningest quarterback in Chagrin history. He would also be the leader in passing yardage while throwing for over 1200 yards in each of his three seasons at the helm. His sophomore and senior years garnered selection as Honorable Mention All State, 1st Team Northeastern Ohio, and 1st Team Geauga County Touchdown Club in football. His success was also notable in basketball where he was a 4 year varsity starter. David would finish his hoops career in the 10 in points and assists at Chagrin. He was a two-year captain of the basketball squad, while he held the same honor during his senior season in football. David also earned 1st Team CVC honors his senior year and honorable mention in both his sophomore and junior years. Additionally David was selected in both sports with multiple Plain Dealer and News Herald player of the week awards.
The Chagrin baseball program has had a rich history and arguably one of the best that has donned the Tiger uniform is Matt Crawford. During his freshman year, he was brought on as a varsity starter, a role that he would not relinquish. Matt would find tremendous success at the plate, on the field, and on the mound. His greatest achievements came during his senior season where he helped lead the team to their best record, 26 – 3, and a regional finalist finish going 9 – 0 on the mound. During this 2001 season, he set the school record for hits in a season at 53 and runs batted in with 41. With this success came several honors including being a two-time 1st Team CVC member. Matt was selected All-Ohio and 1st Team News Herald. Additionally, he was a Plain Dealer All-Star, which at the time covered the best 10 players in northeastern Ohio. His career batting average of .478 is the highest in Chagrin history and he still holds the Chagrin record of 119 career hits. Matt’s .558 batting average his senior season is 2nd all-time in Chagrin history. Matt would continue his baseball career at Wright State University. He was a four-year varsity letter winning pitcher and co-captain of the team during his senior season. He was also selected Horizon League Pitcher of the Week.
Professional bowling was one of the leading sports in America in the 1960s & 1970s, which is when Harry Smith ‘49 was considered one of the most outstanding bowlers. He began his career in his teens competing throughout Cleveland. He would eventually perform with a team in Detroit followed by a move to St. Louis. Through this time his reputation grew to a point where his competitors called him “Tiger” due to his fierce competitiveness. Harry would go on to win 12 Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) titles and 3 American Bowling Congress (ABC) championships. His play earned him All-American status in 1959-60, 1962-63, and 1964-65. Over his career he bowled 12 sanctioned 300 games and had an 843 series. He would average 199 for 25 ABC tournament appearances. Bowler’s Journal International Magazine selected the 100 best bowlers of the 20th Century and placed Harry 37th on the list. His illustrious career would garner many honors from being a charter member of the PBA Hall of Fame, ABC Hall of Fame, and Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame to name just a few.
Coming off a Runner-Up finish in the 1970 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships in 1970, the boy’s cross country team would end up one place higher in 1971 when they scored 94 to outdistance Coshocton by 9. The finish would be the first team state title for Chagrin Falls. Although John Hurst never took a coaching course, when he arrived at CFHS in 1963, he was “appointed” cross country coach. It didn’t take long for the program to take off. The program was only in its 9th year in 1971, but had a 58-8 record in dual meets and in the previous 7 years in the CVC, Chagrin won 5 league championships and never finished below second. In 1971, the team finished 7-0 in dual meets. Not only did they have a perfect 7-0 dual meet record, they recorded the lowest score a team can accomplish twice, which is 15. That meant the top 5 runners finished 1st – 5th place. In the other meets, they never totaled over 20. They would win 4 large regular season meets that season – Warrensville, Gilmour, Chagrin, & CVC. The JV squad also had a tremendous season going 7 – 0 in dual meets and won three large meets – Gilmour, Chagrin, & CVC. Coach John Hurst ‘52 would later be a Chagrin Falls Schools Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 1995 inductee. Those that earned a varsity letter that season included Glenn Bomback ‘72, Mark Freemantle ‘72, David Hart ‘72, Mark Lodwick ‘72, Dan Miller ‘72 , Dwight Woodward ‘72, John Brandon ‘73, John Jackson ‘73, Todd Gardenier ‘73, Sam Narten ‘73, James Nelan ‘73, Rick Pamer ‘73, and Alan Streater ‘74.
Dr. Mario Gerhardt began the Varsity Boy’s Soccer Team in 1970 and is now in his 46th season as its Head Coach. He is the winningest boys high school soccer coach in Ohio with 504 wins entering the 2015 soccer season. The teams Mario has coached continue to have success in the postseason with one State Runner-Up finish (2003), 5 Final Four trips, 11 District titles, and 26 Sectional championships. His regular season includes 18 conference titles. He has coached 59 Academic All-Ohioans, 32 All-Ohioans, 11 Regional All-Americans, & 1 All-American. 45 of his players continued on to play varsity college soccer. He has also been recognized by his peers by being selected as the Ohio Coach of the Year 3 times, Greater Cleveland Coach of the Year 6 times, and Conference Coach of the Year 10 times. In 2004, he was selected as a NSCAA Regional Coach and was a finalist for National Coach of the Year. Mario has previously been inducted in the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame (1993) & Ohio North Youth Soccer Hall of Fame (2003). He has also been honored for with the NSCAA Robert W. Robinson High School Long-Time Service Award (2009), OSSCA Pinsenschaum Sportsmanship and Ethics Award (2010), and the OHSAA Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Award (1997-1998).
We have had a rich history of runners at Chagrin Falls and that tradition would continue when Chris entered CFHS. He would go on to earn 12 Varsity letters in cross country, hockey, and track. He accumulated many honors including 1st Team CVC all four years in cross country while finishing first in the CVC Invitational his junior year and 2nd place his senior year. On the ice Chris was a 4-year starter where he was selected to the Blue Division All-Star Team and was the team’s leading scorer his senior year. In the spring, Chris’ talents were evident on the track. During his sophomore – senior years in track, he garnered many 1st team All-CVC honors and was selected the CVC MVP in track in his senior year. In the postseason Chris finished 8th in the 1600M in his junior year earning All-Ohio honors and 12th place his senior year. He would take his talents to Butler University, a Division I program in Indiana. He would compete throughout his collegiate career in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. He was a member of the cross country team that was Horizon League Champions each of his four years and placed 4th at the NCAA Div. 1 Meet in 2004 and 25th in 2005. In indoor track, he earned 1st Place three of the years at the Horizon League Championships in the distance medley. Chris would also set Butler University’s 1000M record and also 4:10.88 mile at the Iowa State Classic. In outdoor track, he won the 1500M at the Horizon League Championships and was a NCAA Regional Qualifier (2005).