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Watauga High School Athletics Hall of Fame Class 2020

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The Watauga High School Athletic Department is excited to announce our Inaugural 2020 Hall of Fame Class.  Each year we can induct up to four athletes, two coaches, one team, and one special contributor.  The Watauga High School Athletic Hall of Fame exists to recognize and honor Watauga High School athletes, coaches, teams, and sports contributors for their achievements and/or contributions to the Watauga High School Athletic Department.  This year we are excited to induct the following members in to our Watauga Pioneer Athletics Hall of Fame:

Athletes:

Eric Breitenstein

Eric is a 2008 graduate of Watauga High School where he is currently a science teacher and assistant football coach. While at WHS Eric participated in Football, Wrestling, and Baseball with football being his primary sport.  Eric led Watauga High School’s Football team to back to back trips to the final four in 2006 and 2007.  Some of his high school football stats are listed below:

Defensive

•    646 Tackles (Solo/Assist)

•    29 Pass Breakups

•    5 Blocked Punts (1 TD)

•    3 Blocked PAT’s

•    9 Interceptions (1 TD)

•    17 Forced Fumbles (1TD)

Offensive

•    841 Carries for 6,151 Rushing Yards

•    8 Yards Per Carry average for Career

•    120.6 Yards Per Game Average in 51 Games

•    40 Receptions for 620 yards, 15.5yards average per catch, 2 Receiving TD’s

•    65 Rushing TD’s

•    75 TD’s total for career

•    3 Kickoff Returns for TD’s

On November 1st of 2013 Eric’s #2 Watauga High School Football jersey was retired and is currently displayed on the Carroll Leather Field House at Jack Groce Stadium.  

Eric attended Wofford College following his time at WHS and was eventually inducted into the Wofford Hall of Fame  in 2017.  Eric’s #7 jersey was also retired at Wofford on 9/24/19.  Eric was the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012.  He was just the fourth player in conference history to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons. As a three-time All-American, Eric holds five Wofford rushing records, two Southern Conference rushing records and one NCAA rushing record. Following his senior season, he finished third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award (Most Outstanding Offensive Player in all of FCS Football). He led the Southern Conference in rushing for the second straight season with 2,035 yards, a school record and the second most in conference history. He had 19 rushing touchdowns to lead the conference and was second in scoring with 114 points. During his junior year, his 1,474 rushing yards were the most in the conference and rank third in school history. In 2009, he started the first two games of the season with 187 yards and three touchdowns before a knee injury ended his season. He returned in 2010 with 13 starts and 1,639 yards, which was a school record as he earned All-America honors. As a freshman in 2008, he played in 10 games with two starts, rushing for 395 yards and two touchdowns and was named the team’s freshman of the year.

In May of 2020 Eric was inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame.  

Web Credit: https://woffordterriers.com/honors/hall-of-fame/eric-breitenstein/138

Brenda Taylor

Brenda is a 1997 graduate of Watauga High School. While at WHS Brenda was a standout for our cross country, swim, volleyball, and track field teams.  Some of her high school accolades can be found below:

High School

  • 1997 – Hall of Fame Award (Female Athlete of the Year)
  • Outdoor Track and Field- Team member on the 95,96,97 State Championship Team
    Individual State Champion- 100mH 95,96,97 300mH 95,96,97 and 4x400mRelay 97 
  • Indoor Track and Field –  Team member on the 97 State Championship Team
    Individual State Champion – 55mH, 1600mRelay
  • Cross Country – Team member on the 95 State Championship Team
  • Swimming – State Champion 200m Medley Relay
  • Volleyball – Team Member on the 96 State Runner-up Team

Following her time at WHS Brenda continued her academic and athletic career at Harvard University.  Some of her accolades while at Harvard Include:

  • 2001 Collegiate Women's Track and Field Athlete of the Year
  • NCAA Champion 400m Hurdles 2001
  • Inducted to the Harvard Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016
  • Twice a team captain
  • 7 time Ivy league Champion
  • ECAC all academic multiple seasons

Following her time at Harvard, Brenda would then go on to compete professionally. Some of her professional accolades include:

  • 2004 USA Olympian 
  • Finished 7th in the olympic finals in the 400m hurdles
  • In the 2003 World Championships she placed 3rd and 5th
  • In the 2001 USA Championships she placed 3rd

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay is a 1997 graduate of Watauga High School.  While at Watauga High School Lindsay was a standout athlete for our cross country, swim, volleyball, and track field teams.  Some of her high school accolades include:

  • 1997 Hall Of Fame Award (Female Athlete of the Year)
  • Team Member on the Outdoor Track and Field 95,96,97 State Championship Team
    Individual State Champion – 1600m Relay
    State Runner-up – High Jump 96,97 100mH 
  • Runner-up in High Jump at the United States Junior Championship (18 and under)
  • Team Member United States Pan-Am Championship Team in 97
    Bronze Medalist – High Jump 97
  • Indoor Track & Field
    Team Member on the 97 State Championship Team
    Individual State Champion – High Jump 95,97 and the 1600m Relay in 97

Following her time at Watauga High School Lindsay went on to continue her academic and athletic career at Brown University.  The following excerpt from the Brown University Athletic Webpage highlights her illustrious career at Brown:

“In a dominant era of Brown University track and field, Lindsay Taylor emerged as one of the greatest all-around female athletes on College Hill. A specialist in the pentathlon and heptathlon, with extraordinary skills in several other events, Taylor rewrote the Brown record books repeatedly from the start of her freshman year until her graduation.  A captain of the women’s team during the 2000-2001 seasons, Taylor’s dedication to the sport set her apart. As Anne Rothenberg, an assistant coach during Taylor’s senior year, said, “She eats, breathes and sleeps track.” 

Taylor was a member of the US Junior National Track and Field team as a high jumper before she ever competed in a Brown uniform. She also combined with her twin sister, Brenda, a track and field standout at Harvard, to lead her high school team to four consecutive state championships. Taylor competed for the Bears with the same level of excellence, winning 10 Heptagonal titles over the course of her career.  Taylor won the pentathlon, a one-day test of athletic ability in hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 800-meter run, during each of her four Heptagonal Indoor Championships. Every one of her winning performances broke the meet record, as well as the Brown University school record. 

A repeat NCAA Track and Field Championship qualifier in the high jump, pentathlon and heptathlon, Taylor finished in 13th place in the heptathlon in the spring of her junior year. During her senior season, she was the second-ranked pent-athlete and hept-athlete in college athletics. She was named to the All-Ivy team in multiple events for both indoor and outdoor track during each of her four collegiate seasons, and she was also named to the All-East team for four consecutive years. A Mechanical Engineering concentrator, Taylor also earned a spot on the Academic All-Ivy Team as a junior. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Marjorie Brown Smith Award, given at Brown’s Annual All Sports Banquet to the outstanding female varsity athlete of the year.

Taylor currently holds six varsity track and field records at Brown, claiming the top marks in the 100-meter hurdles (13.85), the outdoor high jump (5’10.5”), the heptathlon (5,504 points), the indoor high jump (5’10”), the pentathlon (4,053 points), and the indoor 4×200 relay (1:42.02). Solidifying her athletic versatility, she also remains in Brown’s top ten in nine other events. On the indoor list, she ranks third in 55m hurdles, second in the long jump, seventh in the triple jump, and holds five of the top six performances in the 4×200 relay. For outdoor events, she ranks sixth in the 100 meter dash, seventh in the 200 meter dash, second in the long jump, ninth in the triple jump and holds three of the top 10 performances in the 4×100 relay.”

Web Credit: https://brownbears.com/honors/hall-of-fame/lindsay-a-taylor/68

Danny Triplett

Danny is a 1979 graduate of Watauga High School.  While at WHS Danny participated in Football, Basketball, and Track and Field. Football was his primary sport.  Some of his high school accolades can be found below:

  • Member of the 1978 State Championship Football Team
  • Won the Golden Helmet award in Asheville, NC.
  • Selected to play in the 1978 Shrine Bowl
  • 1978 Asheville Citizen Times Lineman of the Year
  • In football he was all-conference, all-state and all-american.
  • On November 1st of 2013 Danny’s #82 Watauga High School Football jersey was retired and is currently displayed on the Carroll Leather Field House at Jack Groce Stadium.  

Following his time at Watauga High Danny went on to play collegiate football at Clemson University. Some of Danny’s collegiate football accolades are listed below:

  • Starter on Clemson 1981 Clemson Football Team
  • Member of the the 1981 National Championship Clemson Football Team that defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl

Following his career at Clemson University Danny was drafted in the 11th Round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. 

Coaches:

Coach Jack Groce

Coach Jack Groce was a longtime coach, teacher, athletic director, and administrator at Appalachian High School and Watauga High School. Some of Coach Groce’s accolades can be found below:

  • Graduate of Wilkesboro High School
  • Attended Appalachian State University to play Football
  • Named one of “100 Administrators to Remember” by the NCHSAA
  • Head Football Coach at Appalachian High from 1955-65
  • Running Backs Coach at Appalachian State from 1966-71 
  • Head Football Coach at Watauga High School from 1972-76
  • Served as a Golf Coach and Baseball Coach periodically at Appalachian High and Watauga High
  •  The 1962 Appalachian High Blue Devils finished the season 11-0 record and the 2-A state Region 3 championship with a 39-7 win over Murphy
  • Appalachian High School teams won back-to-back state 2-A Region championships in 1961-62
  • The 1962 team went undefeated
  • Inducted into the North Carolina Athletic Director’s Association  Hall of Fame in 1996
  • Inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame in 2001
  • Never experienced a losing season during 20-year career as a head football coach at Appalachian High (1955-65) and Watauga High (1972-76)
  • Overall Career Record as Head Football Coach was 134-22-4 
  • Served as athletic director and assistant principal at Watauga from 1977 to ’90
  • Spent two years as county athletic director (1991 – 1992)
  • Former president of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association
  • Served a four-year term on the NCHSAA Board of Directors
  • Watauga Stadium was named Jack Groce Stadium in 1998 to honor Coach Groce
  • Charter Member of the Appalachian State Hall of Fame Inducted in 1975

Coach Carter Lentz

Coach Carter Lentz is a longtime teacher and basketball coach at Blowing Rock High School and Watauga High School.  Some of his accolades can be found below:

  • Head Men’s Basketball Coach t Blowing Rock High School from 1949 – 1965
  • Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Watauga High School from 1965 – 1980
  • Overall Record was 552 – 360
  • Record as the Head Coach at WHS was 198 – 138
  • Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Blowing Rock High School from 1957 – 1963 with an overall record of 113 – 41
  • Served as assistant football coach at WHS 
  • Member of Watauga County Sports Hall of Fame since 2004
  • Watauga High School Gymnasium was named Lentz-Eggers gym after Coach Carter Lentz

Team:

1978 Football Team

  • Won the 3A NCHSAA Football State Championship on December 1st 1978 
  • 1st and only football state championship in Watauga High School history
  • Finished Season Undefeated with record of 13-0-1
  • Defeated Burlington Williams 33-28
  • Head Coach
    • Bill Mauldin
  • Assistant Coaches
    • Carter Lentz
    • Steve Breitenstein
    • Mike LeBel
    • Tom Pursley
    • Bill Peterson
    • Bill Eller
  • Team Members: 
    • Buford Fox, Nolan Brown, Todd Greene, Joe Critcher, Jim Flick, Chip Conn, Rusty Hicks, Tim Greene, Mark Trivette, Todd Harmon, Bert Lerch, David Stewart, Council Robbins, Tracy Little, Skip Smith, Jon Steinbrecher, Brett Murrelle, Dwaine Lowerance, Mike Shook, Robert Townsend, Jim Hill, Delmus Williams, Mike Ward, Ricky Pitts, Lindsey Dilly, Scott Eggers, David Taylor, Bill Greene, Dan Watson, Chris Pitts, Ricky Wilson, Eddie Reese, Dean Eggers, Bobby Dunnigan, Steve DeBell, Allan White, David Warren, Danny Triplett, Andy Callaway, Travis Wilson, Chris Jones, Mike Sutton, John White, Joe Miller, Mike Austin
  •  Schedule with Results:
    • Watauga 14 Avery 7
    • Watauga 14 McDowell 14
    • Watauga 28 Mitchell 7
    • Watauga 20 Freedom 7
    • Watauga 14 Wilkes Central 12
    • Watauga 7 Hibriten 0
    • Watauga 14 Alexander Central 6
    • Watauga 15 South Caldwell 14
    • Watauga 32 West Caldwell 7
    • Watauga 40 North Iredell 0
    • Watauga 16 Mt. Airy 8
    • Watauga 21 Thomasville 19
    • Watauga 10 Brevard 7
    • Watauga 33 Burlington Williams 28

Special Contributor:

Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly has been the voice of Pioneer Athletics since the Fall of 1996.  Through WATA radio Mike has broadcasted all varsity home and away football, basketball, and baseball games.  Mike’s first game that he ever broadcasted for WHS was a basketball game at Wilkes Central High School on December 6th 1996.  Mike has covered our coaches and athletes with the utmost professionalism and class over his 25  years covering WHS.  Mike has had a 39 year career in sports media coverage.  Mike is one of the most knowledgeable individuals you will find in regards to Watauga High School Athletics because of his passion and desire to do his job the right way while covering our teams, student-athletes, and coaches.  The contributions that Mike has made to our athletic department stem far beyond his years of service and he will always be “The Voice of the Pioneers!”      

Plans for Recognition

The Hall of Fame banquet and recognition of our inductees was originally scheduled to take place this fall.  Due to Covid 19 our banquet and recognition has been postponed until the Fall of 2021. 

Go Pioneers!

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