PYA Hall of Fame inducts 1950 track team and Christopher Koek

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
Basketball team captain Christopher Koek was inducted into the PYA Hall of Fame Sept. 24.

PENN YAN -- After cancelling the event last year due to COVID, the Penn Yan Academy Athletic Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony Friday, Sept. 24. Inducted were the HoF Class of 2021 as well as last year's inductees, who were never properly honored due to the event's cancellation. 

PYA Athletic Director Jon MacKerchar welcomed the inductees.

The event began with a welcome to attendees from Penn Yan Superintendent of Schools Howard Dennis and special recognitions made by PYA Athletic Director Jon MacKerchar. Attendees were then served a dinner in the Academy cafeteria served by members of the school's current Varsity teams. 

The awards were presented by Dave Garvey, who thanked Penn Yan Academy Librarian Aaron Mumby before introducing a couple of short films prepared by Mumby to honor the 2020 and 2021 HoF inductees. 

The 1950 PYA Track & Field team photo and line up.
Penn Yan Academy track team member James Wachob  reminisced about his teammates and coaches  in the short film created by PYA Librarian Aaron Mumby.
Harry Griffin of the 1950 Penn Yan Academy track team.

The first induction was the Class of 2020, which was a team award for the 1950 PYA Track and Field team. The 1950 team was undefeated in both Finger Lakes League competition as well as invitational competitions outside of the league. The team set and broke numerous school and league records and won the prestigious Geneva Kiwanis Relays by a 20-point margin in a competition that included schools from cities such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Elmira. The 1950 team still holds records in the 4 x 110 yard and 4 x 220 yard sprint relays 70 years after setting them.

Members of the 1950 PYA Track and Field team included: Les Alkenburg, Norman Ayers, Don Blaisdell, Ed Bolger, Frank Collin, Skip Ellis, Harry Griffin, Don Habberfield, Larry Hansen, George Havens,  Dwane Hawkings, Jamieson Johnstone, Richard Lamphier, R. Bruce LeClaire, David Lewis, Ed Mason (manager), Larry Mason (manager), Paul McDurfee, Floyd Paddock, Jerome Parsons, Paul Perez, Don Roe, Merwin Snyder, Bernie Vollard, David Wachob, and James Wachob. Coaches included James Kopp, Kenneth Diven and Thomas Waye. James Wachob featured largely in the short film about the team, reminiscing on his memories of his teammates and coaches. Wachob's remarks included the facts that the team included two future mayors of Penn Yan and that a majority of the members had served in Korea and Vietnam. 

Christopher Koek was presented with a carved commemorative piece of the old gym floor by his old coach Rob Grattan.

The 2021 Induction was awarded to 1998 PYA graduate Christopher Koek. Koek was honored by his former basketball coach Rob Grattan, who also submitted Koek for induction. Koek was a three-sport athlete at PYA, playing on the basketball, football, and baseball team, earning eight varsity letters.

Chris Koek was presented with his Hall of Fame Trophy by Athletic Director Jon MacKerchar.
Chris Koek directing some humorous remarks to his former coaches.

Koek was the 1998 recipient of the PYA Coaches' Trophy, which is the highest honor awarded to Penn Yan athletes each year. As a wide receiver for the football team, Koek set the record for most receptions in a season and was awarded the Ed Pond Football Award. Koek was also chosen to play in the prestigious Eddie Meath All-Star Football game. Koek was MVP of the 1998 Sectional Tournament in basketball in Penn Yan's only Championship season. After graduation, Koek played basketball at Alfred University before eventually moving south and becoming a school principal in Florida.

After the presentations had been made, Garvey made closing remarks before inviting all the attending inductees or their representatives to stand for a final recognition and a round of applause. The inductees were also invited to Penn Yan's homecoming football game, where they were announced and honored  on the field at halftime. 

The PYA Athletic Hall of Fame was created to recognize teams and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the school's athletic program and the history of Penn Yan sports as a whole.