By Chris Chaney<
New Richmond High School inducted three new members into their Lions Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 25 following the boys’ varsity basketball team’s 100-63 victory over Bethel-Tate. Jason (Jay) Penry, John Duncan, Jr. and Denny Hopewell were honored at halftime of the contest.
The trio of inductees includes a pair of athletes whose accomplishments as Lions earned them Division I scholarships as well as the most successful soccer coach in New Richmond history.
Penry, a track and cross country standout at New Richmond, was also the valedictorian of his 1995 graduating class. Athletic accolades include being the Division II district and regional champion and state runner-up in the 3200-meter run as well as the 1600-meter run district champion. He was a four-time All-Conference cross country runner and received All-Conference and All-Cincinnati recognition on the track.
Penry went on to run at Wake Forest University where he continued to flex his academic prowess, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1999.
“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.”
Proving his testimonials, Penry earned his bachelors and masters degree in biology from Wake before earning a doctorate at Oregon State University where he currently lectures on anatomical kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and motor learning and control.
Duncan, Jr. was a three-time All-Southern Buckeye Conference baseball All-Star as a Lion. He was also named to the All-Cincinnati team following a senior season that saw the pitcher lead the city in wins (8) and strikeouts (114). Duncan’s 18 career wins and 218 strikeouts rank fourth all-time at New Richmond and his 10.0 strikeouts per seven innings mark is third best all-time.
“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. “
Duncan also played hoops for New Richmond, racking up 1,241 points, which ranks second in career scoring. A First Team All-Conference selection his junior and senior seasons, he was also named to the Second Team All-District and Third Team All-State teams as a senior, a season in which he led the city with a 25.8 points per game scoring average.
As a result of his performances on the diamond and hardwood, Duncan became the first New Richmond athlete to be named the SBC Player of the Year in two different sports two years in a row.
Duncan went on to study and compete at Wright State University on a baseball scholarship. He joined his father John Duncan, Sr. and younger brother, David Duncan, as members of the NRHS Lions Sports Hall of Fame.
Lastly, Hopewell, New Richmond’s boys’ soccer coach from 1998-2004 and girls’ soccer from 2005-2006, wraps up the 2014 Lions Sports Hall of Fame induction class.
Hopewell was named the SBC Coach of the Year nine times throughout his tenure and led his team to league titles all but once.
Hopewell came to New Richmond in 2000 after retiring from the Madeira police department. He brought 20 years of coaching experience during which he headed up Madeira, Indian Hill and a Southeast District select team, The Cardinals.
“Denny took a program that was in turmoil, cleaned it up and made it the dominant force in the SBAAC,” New Richmond teacher and Hopewell’s successor, Bill Harris said. “He developed players who were disciplined, hard-working and team oriented.”
“When I came to New Richmond they told me that if I won three games everyone would be happy,” Hopewell said “We ended up going 8-4 that first year and won the league title.
“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.”