Bob Hollen has coached his share of talented athletes in his many years at Granville.
But it’s the ones who over-achieved that stick out in his mind over a stellar track and cross country career that spans 36 years in track and 27 years in cross country.
Hollen is one of eight coaches who will be inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame Friday at the Hilton in Easton.
“You see kids who other teachers talk about, who no one likes and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for,” Hollen said. “We get them, and they make it to the regional or state. Everyone can do it with really gifted kids. It’s some of the others you always remember.”
Ask Hollen some of the highlights over the years, and he mentions Carrie Brown, who won the state discus in 1979 and 1980, setting a Division II state record in the process.
“I even named my daughter after her,” Hollen said. “She wasn’t champion in only two meets in three years. She had such a great disposition, always with a smile on her face. She was not your typical discus thrower, only about 5-5, but got around the ring pretty fast.”
Other state champs included Mike McBride in the 1986 shot put and Kim Horning in the 2002 long jump and 400 relay. Annie Beecham was a three-time track and cross country All-Ohioan who went on to earn All-American honors in the 10-K at Ohio University.
“Kim went to the state four straight years in the long jump,” Hollen said. “She was coming off a fractured foot her senior year, but still made it back to the state.”
Hollen also coached several state runners-up, including Laura Reding in the 1986 high jump and 1987 high hurdles.
“She was probably the best all-around athlete I ever coached, boy or girl,” he said. “She had only been running the hurdles for three weeks and finished second in the state. She was second in the high jump to a girl who won four straight state titles. And she scored a lot in the relays.”
Combining track and cross country, Hollen’s teams won 36 Mid-State League and Licking County League titles, 19 district championships and 19 district runner-up finishes, three regional titles, 11 regional runners-up and numerous state appearances. The 2002 Granville girls were state runners-up in track.
“When I started out, I was the only coach, so at one point or another, I coached every event,” said Hollen, who focuses mostly on field events and relays now. “I’ve had, and still have, some great assistant coaches.” He’s also coaching reserve golf now.
“At last weekend’s indoor meet, I ran into three of my former athletes who are now coaching,” Hollen said. “Several of them are doing it now, and it’s really satisfying to see.”
Hollen will be inducted along with Wayne Clark, Kevin Keller, Gary White, Chuck Kyle, Angela Homan Thomas, John W. Scott and Doug Henwood.
“I know them all in some way, except Thomas,” he said. “A parent of one of our athletes nominated me. It’s kind of a surprise, and it’s pretty exciting.”