Wednesday, April 18, 2018

          Two highly-successful coaches and a well-respected wrestling official are headed to the “hall”.
Long-time John Marshall baseball coach Bob Montgomery and the late Jack Berger, who enjoyed success in both track and football at Shadyside, have been tabbed in the Coaches category while Steve Kish is this year’s honoree as an Official. They’ll be among the honorees at the 15th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 18 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
The OVAC “hall”, which is sponsored by the Robinson Auto Group, is on display at WesBanco Arena as part of the expansive OVAC Museum.
          Previously announced members of this year’s class were Ron White (OVAC Family), the late Earl Haberfield (OVAC Contributor), John Simonson (Media), Bob Plotz of Martins Ferry (1940s), Robert Pritchard of Wheeling and Geno Sessi of St. Clairsville (1950s); Don Osby of Steubenville and Bill Tucker of Weir (1960s); Ron Lee of Bellaire and Keith Vrotsos of Martins Ferry (1970s); Georgia Dawson of Bellaire and Ron Stephens of Linsly (1980s); Eric McGhee of Wheeling Central and Kelly Shields of Edison (1990s); and Zach Collaros of Steubenville and Adam Hoppel of Beaver Local (2000s).
          In two weeks, the five choices as “Legends of OVAC Schools” – honoring individuals who excelled either before the OVAC came into existence in 1943 or before their school joined the conference – will be revealed along with this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipient.
          Here’s a look at the latest selections:
          Bob Montgomery (Moundsville High School, Class of 1964). He was a fixture in the dugout for the Monarchs, serving 42 years as head baseball coach and amassing an impressive record of 869-345 which ranks second in OVAC history behind Magnolia’s Dave Cisar and third in West Virginia prep history behind John Lowery of Jefferson High and Cisar.
          Montgomery coached teams won 24 sectional titles; made the regional finals 13 times and reached the Class AAA State Tournament five times, highlighted by the 1985 state championship where JM beat Huntington East, 8-7, in the title game.
          His teams captured seven OVAC playoff championships, reaching the conference playoffs 25 times. The Monarchs also captured seven regular season crowns and five playoff titles in the Mountaineer League from 1976-86.
          Montgomery, who retired following the 2017 season, coached 35 all-state players and more than 70 who played college baseball including OVAC Hall of Famer Chris Jones. He is a member of the West Virginia Baseball Coaches Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association.
He was selected as the OVAC Baseball Coach of the Year three times and the West Virginia Coach of the Year five times. He also was honored as the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Co-Man of the Year (with Magnolia’s Cisar) at the 42nd Charity Awards Banquet in 2009.
          Montgomery also doubled as a respected basketball and baseball official.   A member of the Ohio Valley Board of Approved Basketball Officials and a two-term president, he’s been a referee since 1962, working more than 3,000 games including 29 state tournaments including 20 championship games in West Virginia and five tournaments/three title games in Ohio. He also officiated collegiate hoops in the West Virginia Conference.
          He began umpiring American Legion baseball in 1972 and has worked five West Virginia State Tournaments while also spending 20 years (1970-90) doing NCAA Division II and West Virginia Conference games including five tournaments.
          He was the first West Virginia resident inducted into the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame in 2008; was the 1989 Official of the Year honoree by the National Federation of Interscholastic Officials Association and received the Distinguished West Virginian Award in 2012.
           Montgomery, a three-sport athlete (football, baseball, basketball) at Moundsville High, graduated from West Liberty State College in 1969 and obtained his master’s degree in communications from West Virginia University in 1977.
          Jack Berger (Shadyside High School, Class of 1944). He founded Shadyside track in 1961 and was the architect of the OVAC’s all-time championship-winning boys’ track program, coaching the Tigers to their first seven OVAC titles (all in Class AA in a three-class format) from 1968-74 which started an OVAC record streak of 13 consecutive championships extended by his successor and former assistant Tom Vichich.
          He was also a co-founder of the Interstate Track League, guiding Shadyside to seven straight league titles and a record 46 consecutive dual meet victories.
          Berger led Shadyside to the school’s first Ohio Class A District title in 1971 and to the Shadyside Relays crowns in the first year of the event which he helped establish in 1972 and a runner-up finish in ’73; two Belmont County Relays championships and runner-up finishes in the district and regional meets.
          He also coached the Tigers’ football team from 1960-69, posting a 56-36-6 record. Shadyside won the OVAC Class A title in 1963 with a 7-1-2 record while other top record teams under Berger included 9-1 in 1968, 8-2 in 1966 and 7-3 in 1965.
          He was honored in Shadyside with “Jack Berger Day” on June 15, 1974.
          Steve Kish, Jr. (Bridgeport High School, Class of 1965).  His list of assignments during a 40-year career as a wrestling official is impressive, headed by 28 OHSAA State Tournaments; five WVSSAC State Tournaments and 30 OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournaments. He also worked the Medina Invitational 28 times and the Walsh Jesuit Tournament 20 times along with 10 Ohio Junior High School State Tournaments.
          Among his awards, Kish received the prestigious OVAC ‘Mr. Mat’ honor in 1989; was selected Ohio Official of the Year in 1997 and 2010; OVAC Official of the Year in 1997; and West Virginia Official of the Year in 1999.
          He was inducted into the Ohio Wrestling Officials Hall of Fame in 1999; the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame in 1999; the Medina Invitational Hall of Fame in 2003; and most recently into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame/Ohio Chapter in 2014.
          Kish, who retired as an official in 2014 but remains active as an OHSAA observer, currently serves as the coordinator of the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game’s 10-Year Reunion.
Kish graduated from West Liberty State College with a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education in 1970 and received a master’s degree in secondary education administration from West Virginia University in 1973.
          He retired after 43 years as an educator including 36 years as a school administrator. He taught English from 1969-76 and served as head wrestling coach at Martins Ferry for six years (1970-76). His dual meet record was 33-16-1 with no losing seasons and he coached 13 sectional champions, 10 district champions, 15 state qualifiers and two state place-winners. His teams won the 1970 and ‘73 district titles and he was named East District Coach of the Year in 1974.
          He was then assistant principal at Bellaire High School from 1976-78 and principal from 1978-90 before returning to Martins Ferry to serve as Superintendent of Schools from 1990-99. Since that time, he has served as Muskingum County At-Risk Coordinator for four years, assistant principal of Zanesville High School for five years; assistant principal at West Muskingum High School for two years and as principal at West Muskingum Middle School for two years. He retired in 2012, but spent five months as interim principal at Woodsfield Elementary School in 2014.
Among his education-related offices were president of the Belmont-Harrison Principal’s Association; president of the Belmont-Harrison Superintendent’s Association; member of the OVAC Executive Board and a past OVAC president (1982-83 and 1983-84); member of the Ohio Network: Training and Assistance for Schools and Communities (ONTASC) Executive Board; and president of the Ohio Valley Wrestling Officials Association.

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