Cyclones honor athletic elite

Twelve new members enter EHS Sports Hall of Fame
By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

  Legendary faces and their stories once again filled the halls before more local heroes were honored at their alma mater.
  All-State players, championship winning coaches and an unforgettable announcer were among the 12 men inducted into the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame during its fifth-annual ceremony at Treadway Gymnasium Wednesday night.
  Jim Presnell, Robert "Daylight" Fletcher, Jimmy Gass, Sam Bradshaw, Bill Wilkins, Worley Birchfield, Dan McCall, Bill Tetrick, John Goodwin, Lewis Gass, Pat Spurgeon and Tommy Jenkins' names were inscribed on this year's plaques, joining 50 other individuals and one team (1938 State Champion football squad) in receiving 'Betsy's highest athletic achievement.
  After an impressive rendition of our National Anthem by the EHS Coral Ensemble, the Elizabethton fight song and a cheer set the mood for the deserving night of recognition.
  Former Cyclone coach Roy Huskins paid tribute to the athletes that inspired many people over the years before offering the introduction to the new Hall of Fame class.
  Jim Presnell has been nothing less than a champion as an athlete and coach.
  He was the state discus champion at Elizabethton, and was a part of the 1974 National Championship track team at the University of Tennessee.
  He has coached 11 different state champions and has been honored five times as the conference coach of the year.
  Fletcher (deceased) was a four-year starter on the Cyclone football squad between 1943-46.
  He was an All-Conference and All-State player in 1946 before joining the ranks of the University of Mississippi football team. At Ole Miss, he was a three-year starter and received All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1946.
  Jimmy Gass was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Cyclones. He received All-Conference, All-East Tennessee and Honorable Mention All-State honors, and was the starting quarterback for his state in the Tennessee-Virginia All-Star game in 1955.
  Sam Bradshaw lettered in football, baseball and track at Elizabethton. He was a three-year starter at end on the gridiron and held the school record for pass receptions in a career.
  In baseball, he had a .342 batting average and was a part of the school-record holding 800 meter relay team in track.
  Bill Wilkins is best known as the "Voice of the Cyclones." For 24 years (1960-84), Wilkins manned the booth for WBEJ and livened up Elizabethton football throughout many homes in Carter County.
  Huskins recalled his "positive commentary and colorful playcalling" and called him a "goodwill ambassador for the Cyclones."
  Worley Birchfield was a three-year starter at guard for the Cyclone basketball team, leading the team in scoring during the 1963 and '64 seasons.
  The former All-Stater was also recognized as the Conference Player of the Year with All-East Tennessee honors during his senior season at Elizabethton.
  McCall (deceased) was a three-year starter at tailback for the Elizabethton football team. He received All-State and All-Southern honors during his senior year before a successful collegiate career with the Vanderbilt Commodores.
  In 1960, he was also invited to the Baltimore Colts tryout camp.
  Tetrick shined on the basketball court at Elizabethton as a three-year starter. He was the team's leading scorer and rebounder in 1962, earning MVP honors on that year's conference championship team.
  He also had a solid career at Davidson College, and led scoring for the Marine Corps squad. Later, he raced in the NASCAR Modified Series against Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.
  Goodwin earned All-State honors in football and basketball during his senior year at Elizabethton (1973).
  He was a three-year starter in both football and basketball, leading the conference in scoring on the hardwood. He later went on to a productive collegiate career for the Virginia Tech Hokie football squad.
  Known as "one of the most ferocious tacklers in Tennessee high school football," Lewis Gass earned his honors as a linebacker for the Cyclone squad from 1957-60.
  He was a four-year letterman, leading the squad in tackles in 1958-59 while earning All-State honors. He later went on to play college ball at Tennessee and Carson-Newman.
  Eight National Championships span the coaching career of Pat Spurgeon, who starred in football for the Cyclones during the mid 1940s.
  Spurgeon was an All-Conference player each of his four years (1944-47), earning All-State honors in 1947 before playing at Emory and Henry, where he was a three-year All-Conference player.
  After turning around two Tennessee high school programs in Cumberland County and Young High School, he got involved in the Georgia Southern program and won four National Championships, including the first team to go undefeated on a fifteen game schedule.
  He joined Jim Tressell at Youngstown State, winning three National crowns, and coaching the second team to go 15-0 in 1993.
  He moved to Ohio State with Tressell, and he was a part of the Buckeyes' 2003 National Championship squad. Last fall, he coached Marist School to a Class 4-A state tile in Georgia.
  "I've been very lucky," said Spurgeon. "All of this says that I've been associated with a lot of good men in my life."
  The induction of former Cyclone football coach, the late Tommy Jenkins drew a standing ovation across Treadway Gym.
  Huskins called Jenkins "the first good football player I ever coached."
  Jenkins was a three-year starter for the Cyclone football team and went on to have success at ETSU.
  He coached at Elizabethton for 22 years winning conference titles in 2000 and 2003, and earning Conference Coach of the Year honors in each of those years.
  Jenkins also had a successful reign coaching track at Elizabethton.