County HOF to induct 7

By Mark Huber -

The 2016 class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame will be inducted June 2 at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds.

The newest members will be Bill Huffman, Kurt Blohm, Gary Newsome, Dale Hillard and Jennifer Caldwell Iapichino, along with posthumous inductees Charles Murphy and Kroger Babb.

The induction ceremony will take place in conjunction with the presentation of the fifth annual Wilmington News Journal Clinton County Scholar-Athlete Award. The award winner will receive a $500 scholarship.

The Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame website is located at

Reservations are required and can be made in advance or at the door the night of the program. If paid in advance, the cost is $20. If paid at the door, the cost is $25.

Reservations are due Thursday, May 26. To make reservations, visit the News Journal at 761 S. Nelson Ave. in Wilmington or call 937-382-2574. All checks should be made payable to the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame.

To be eligible for the $500 award, student-athletes must be a senior; must participate in at least two varsity sports during senior year OR earn four varsity letters in a single sport during high school career; must be involved in community, school and/or church activities that reflect a sense of loyalty and citizenship; and must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

A panel organized by the News Journal judged each nominee based solely on the nomination form.​

Previous winners of the scholar-athlete award are Travis Jackson and Jordanne Finley in 2012, Colt Briggs in 2013, and Bayle Wolf and Logan Frederick in 2014.

Blohm is a 2002 Wilmington High School graduate who won the 2002 OHSAA Div. 1 100-yard backstroke championship. Blohm, who attended Hope College in Michigan, also was a NCAA Div. III national runnerup in the 50-yard freestyle.

The son of Ed and Jan Blohm, Kurt was a two-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Swimmer of the Year. He also earned NCAA Academic All-America honors as an athlete who had a top eight finish in an individual event as well as 3.5 grade point average.

Iapichino, a 2000 graduate of East Clinton High School, was a two-time state champion in track and field. She won the Div. II 300-meter hurdles in 1998 and then came back to win the Div. II 300-meter hurdles in 2000. She was fourth in the state meet in the 100-meter hurdles in 2000.

Iapichino missed the entire 1999 track and field season because of a knee injury.

She went on to a run track at Miami University in Oxford. The daughter of John and Sena Caldwell, Iapichino’s 60.27 seconds time in the 400-meter hurdles in 2003 still ranks No. 7 on the all-time Miami honor roll. She also is part of the 6th-, 7th- and 8th-best 4×400-meter relay times in Miami history.

A 1948 graduate of New Vienna High School, Huffman was a standout athlete in baseball, basketball and track/field for the Tigers. One member of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame called Huffman “the best all-around athlete ever at New Vienna.”

Huffman was a pitcher and leading hitter for the New Vienna baseball team. His best season came in the fall of 1946 when he struck out 63 batters in 37 innings on the mound. He pitched no fewer than two one-hitters and had a career high of 16 strikeouts in a single game. As a basketball player, Huffman was one of the best players at one of the county’s strongest programs. His senior year was the first year of coaching at NV for the legendary Tom Rudisill. That season, the Tigers won five tournament games before losing to Eaton.

Huffman was at his best, though, on the cinder track. New Vienna always seemed to be at the top of the county in track and field with Huffman leading the way in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and the broad jump. He still holds the New Vienna record in the 220-yard dash at 24.2 seconds. He shares the school’s all-time record in the 100 at 10.5 seconds with John Streber.

When he graduated, Huffman held the school’s broad jump record at 19-6 1/2 but that has since been broken. He qualified for the state track meet in the 100-yard dash his junior year. At the district meet that year, Huffman ran in three heats of the 100 on the same day, posting times of 10.7 in the preliminary heat, 10.5 in the semifinal heat and 10.6 in the final heat.

Newsome, a 1970 graduate of Blanchester High School, was the outstanding senior athlete in 1970 while playing football, basketball and baseball for the Wildcats. He went on to play three years of basketball and four years of baseball at Ohio Northern University. He was the top hitter and team MVP for the Polar Bears in 1974. Newsome played two seasons for the Hillsboro American Legion team, including the 1971 squad that was state runnerup.

Following his playing days, Newsome has coached tennis, wrestling, football, track/field, boys basketball and girls basketball at the high school level as well as baseball and football at the collegiate level. He has been an athletic director at the prep and college levels. He is currently the athletic director at Olivet Nazarene University as well as the commissioner of the Mid-States Football Association.

Newsome was the NAIA athletic director of the year in 2015 and has earned Southeast District football coach of the year honors five times.

Hillard, a 1967 graduate of Clinton-Massie High School, is believed to be the first Clinton County athlete to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team. He was selected by the Washington Senators in 1967.

A 1974 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Hillard earned nine varsity letters at Clinton-Massie, three in football, two in basketball and four in baseball. He earned All-Fort Ancient Valley Conference honors once in football and basketball and four times in baseball.

He was the MVP of the Falcons basketball team in 1967 and of the baseball team in 1966 and 1967. In 1967, Clinton-Massie advanced to the regional baseball tournament.

Murphy is a name connected to Wilmington as he funded the construction of the Murphy Theater downtown. He is, however, known in the ranks of professional sports as a former owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

In 1906 he is said to be the youngest owner of a big league team when he purchases the Cubs. He purchased controlling interest of the Cubs from Cincinnatian Charles P Taft, according to the Oct. 31, 1906 News Journal. Murphy also purchased Chicago ballpark on west side of town as well as the Philadelphia National League park. He was among four finalists (with Kenesaw Mountain Landis) for NL President post.

It was during Murphy’s tenure as owner that the Cubs last won the World Series. The Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers in 1908 for baseball’s championship.

Babb, a Wilmington High School graduate, was the long-time sports editor of the News Journal and was the first sports editor to have a “sports section” to cover local and national sports. He was a 1980 note in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for having traveled more than 30,000 miles to officiate basketball and football games during his career, which included officiating more than 1,000 football and 1,000 basketball games.

Babb later went to Hollywood and became involved in the movie industry for a number of years.

By Mark Huber

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.