Three to join Lions Sports Hall of Fame

Two athletes from the mid-1990s who received Division I college scholarships and the most successful soccer coach in New Richmond High School history will be inducted into the New Richmond Lions Sports Hall of Fame on January 25.

Joining the Hall of Fame as 2014 inductees will be 1995 graduate and cross country star Jason (Jay) Penry, 1996 graduate and two-sport star in basketball and baseball John Duncan Jr. and 9-time conference soccer coach of the year Denny Hopewell.

Jason (Jay) Penry

Jay Penry
Jay Penry, who ran both track and cross country at Wake Forest University where he obtained bachelor and master degrees in biology, is currently a professor at Oregon State University where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise and Sports Sciences degree in 2008. His lecture courses at Oregon State include Anatomical Kinesiology, Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, and Motor Learning and Control.

Penry graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1999 from Wake Forest where he was named a Mullen School from 1996-99 and named to the Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society.

The valedictorian of his 1995 high school class, Penry was the Division II regional and district champion and state runner-up in the 3200-meter run and was the district champion at 1600 meters. He received all-conference and all-Cincinnati honors in track and was a four-time all-conference runner in cross country.

“Jay was a true scholar athlete,” said former New Richmond High School track coach Warren McConnell.
“Jay does nothing half-way,” said New Richmond classmate Todd Young. “He has been able to take the very qualities that made him successful in sports and use them in other parts of his life.”

John Duncan Jr.

John Duncan Jr.
John Duncan Jr. attended Wright State University on a baseball scholarship after an outstanding career at New Richmond High School. He joins his father, John Duncan Sr., and younger brother, David Duncan, as a member of the Lions Sports Hall of Fame.

In baseball, Duncan was a three-time Southern Buckeye Conference all-star and was named to the all-Cincinnati team his senior year after leading the Cincinnati metro area in wins (8) and strikeouts (114). He ranks 4th career wins (18) and strikeouts (218) and 3rd all-time in strikeouts per seven innings (10.0).

"Johnny was the starting and winning pitcher for my first game as a high school coach," said Lions baseball coach Brian Benzinger. "He struck out 18 batters in 7 innings on the JV on opening day. I remember telling Greg Hawkins, the varsity coach, that Johnny needed to be pitching on the varsity. He was called up immediately and became the varsity's number 1 pitcher that season. "

In basketball, Duncan ranks second at New Richmond in career scoring with 1241 points. He was named first team all-SBAAC three times and all-city his junior and senior year when he led the city in scoring with a 25.8 average. He was named to the second-team all-district and third-team all-state teams as a senior.

Duncan was the first New Richmond athlete to be awarded SBAAC Player of the Year in two sports, two years in a row.

"To this day, Johnny still comes to our practices and pitches to our varsity hitters each season whenever we are about to face a tough lefty," added Benzinger. "He really cares about our program and is very supportive to our current players. That means so much to me as a coach to have one of New Richmond's best give back to the program."

Denny Hopewell

Denny Hopewell
Denny Hopewell, who served as the New Richmond High School in-school suspension monitor from 1998 until his retirement after the 2012 school year, coached boys soccer from 1998 to 2004 and girls soccer from 2005 to 2006 and was named Southern Buckeye Conference coach of the year nine times.

“Denny took a program that was in turmoil, cleaned it up and made it the dominant force in the SBAAC,” said New Richmond teacher Bill Harris who followed Hopewell as boys’ varsity soccer coach. “He developed players who were disciplined, hard-working and team oriented.”

Hopewell, who retired from the Madeira police department, brought more than 20 years of coaching experience with him to New Richmond. He coached the Cincinnati Southeast District girls select team The Cardinals for more than 20 years and also coached at Madeira and Indian Hill.

“When I came to New Richmond they told me that if I won three games everyone would be happy,” said Hopewell, who moved to New Richmond in 2000. “We ended up going 8-4 that first year and won the league title.”

Hopewell went on to win league title in every year he coached except for his final season when his girls finished second.

“It was a challenge because there was no select soccer program feeding New Richmond.,” said Hopewell. “I was lucky because I had some kids who wanted to win but just didn't know how but were willing to put in the work needed to become winners.”

Penry, Duncan and Hopewell will be inducted at the annual Hall of Fame banquet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the high school cafeteria following the 4 p.m. boys’ varsity basketball game against Bethel. Banquet tickets are $15and are available at the high school.

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