A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
*Dr. William Grana was a pioneer in sports medicine, doing extensive research on artificial knee ligaments. He founded the state's first sports medicine facility, the Oklahoma Center for Athletes, in 1983. Before moving to Tucson, Ariz., in 2000, where Grana would become the University of Arizona College of Medicine's first chief of orthopedic surgery, he served as team physician or consultant for several high school, university and professional sports teams in Oklahoma. Grana was also a physician for U.S. teams at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The Air Force veteran and former Harvard football star died of cancer on Feb. 1 at age 70.
*Known for having a flicking left and a sharpshooting right, Kenneth Keel was a successful amateur boxer. He was a 147-pound welterweight for the Oklahoma City Boxing Club in the 1940s. Keel also boxed while in the Army, serving in Occupied Japan and the Korean War. He later coached track and football for the Blanchard and Putnam City schools. Keel retired as a teacher/coach after 27 years, and then raised cattle in Stratford. He died at age 86.
*Yukon resident Jim Southworth once served as the chaplain and kickers/punters coach for the TCU football team. Southworth was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' director for north central Texas for 13 years. A Church of the Nazarene pastor for 25 years. Southworth died recently at age 72.
*Pauline Buntin, the matriarch of the Buntin racing family of Oklahoma City, died at age 87. The Buntins raced stock cars at defunct State Fair Speedway and continue to do so at tracks around Oklahoma. A family obituary said one of Pauline's favorite pastimes was watching her sons and grandsons race.
*Accomplished golfer John Geresi was a groundskeeper at the Karsten Creek Course in Stillwater. He died at age 76 of brain cancer. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native excelled at soccer as a youngster, leading his high school team to the New York City championship. Geresi also played semipro soccer for the Danish Athletic Club. A fan of the New York Yankees and Oklahoma State sports.
*Longtime Sallisaw High School coach Ronnie Asbill died recently after a brief illness. He spent 40 years as a head or assistant coach at Sallisaw, which was also his alma mater. Asbill spent the 1988 through 1995 seasons as head football coach, guiding the Black Diamonds to five Class 4A playoff appearances. The 1990 team finished 10-4 and reached the state finals. Asbill also coached wrestling and golf.
*Robert Foster Sr. of Del City was retired from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. He was an avid bowler who was in two leagues up until his death at age 78.
*Matt Van Horn excelled in track and field, setting the pole vault record at Etta Dale Junior High in El Reno. He continued the sport in high school while living in Nashville, Ark. Employed by the Community Action Agency, which gave troubled youth the opportunity to work on homes in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. The Oklahoma City resident died at age 48.
*Clarence Avery quarterbacked Lawton High for two seasons, including a 7-3 team in 1948. He went on to play at Cameron Junior College, but his career was cut short by a knee injury. Avery was a combat veteran of the Korean conflict. He returned to Lawton afterward and operated several businesses. He died recently at age 82.
*James Colpitt was a football player and wrestler at Collinsville High School and Kemper Military Academy (Mo.). Colpitt won 12 wrestling tournaments one season at Kemper, only losing in the national junior college final. He was an outdoorsman who liked to hunt birds and fish. As a youngster, Colpitt raised and showed Poland China hogs, winning several national awards. The World War II veteran was a rancher and an independent oil and gas producer. He died Tuesday at age 90.
Oklahoma City continues to monopolize the Central Hockey League — and the city has been out of the Double-A circuit for almost four years.
The CHL announced its second Hall of Fame class, and four of the five inductees have Oklahoma City Blazers ties. Coach Doug Sauter, defenseman Hardy Sauter, forward Doug Lawrence and administrator Brad Lund will be inducted during the league's awards banquet in May. The fifth inductee is former commissioner Tom Berry.
The inaugural CHL Hall of Fame class, in 2012, was led by all-time scorer Joe Burton of Oklahoma City. Of the eight total Hall of Famers, five have ties to the Blazers franchise.
Here's a look at the 2013 Blazers class:
*Doug Sauter coached Oklahoma City to a 544-291-83 record — a .638 winning percentage — and two championships in 14 seasons.
*Hardy Sauter, Doug Sauter's nephew, was an eight-time All-Star and collected 100 points in a single season three times.
*Lawrence was known the most for playing with the Tulsa Oilers. But the CHL's career assist (684) and penalty-minute (2,109) king spent the 1995-96 season with the Blazers, helping Oklahoma City win its first hockey championship since the 1960s.
*Lund spent the 1992-2008 seasons as the franchise's president and chief executive officer. The Blazers averaged 10 sellouts per season at either the Cox Center or State Fair Arena. The Blazers led the Central League in average attendance for 16 consecutive seasons and often ranked among the top three attendance leaders in all of minor-pro hockey.
*Cameron University inducted Lester “Bear” Jensen into its Hall of Fame. Jensen served as the Aggies' football coach from 1964-73 and baseball coach from 1975-84. He spent 17 years as the school's athletic director, overseeing such projects as completion of the football stadium and baseball field. Jensen was AD as Cameron transitioned from a junior college to four-year university.
*Four Oklahoma State runners finished the mile in under 4 minutes at the recent Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. Tom Farrell (3 minutes, 58.20 seconds), Kirubel Erassa (3:58.24), Fabian Clarkson (3:59.47) and Shane Moskowitz (3:59.48) had Cowboys coach Dave Smith saying: “It was unbelievable and really impressive.” The winner of the race? Not Farrell. It was Patrick Casey of Oklahoma, who finished in 3:56.28.
*Central Oklahoma softball slugger Kacie Edwards set the school's career home run record during the Bronchos' 15-4 rout of Eastern New Mexico on Friday. Edwards, the 2012 NCAA Division II Player of the Year, hit career No. 35 during her first at bat of the season. She shared the previous record with Alley Roberts. Edwards added No. 36 later in the game.
World champion teams in the four major sports 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
MLB: Florida Marlins: Mark Redman, 14 wins
NBA: San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, 23.3 ppg
NFL: New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Super Bowl MVP
NHL: New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur, stud then, stud now
MLB: Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter, World Series hero
NBA: Chicago Bulls: MJ.
NFL: Dallas Cowboys: The Triplets
NHL: Montreal Canadiens: The Yankees of hockey
MLB: Baltimore Orioles: Tippy Martinez, 21 saves
NBA: Philadelphia 76ers: Say, hey, Dr. J.
NFL: Los Angeles Raiders: LA had two teams in '83.
NHL: New York Islanders: Dynasty