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Watauga High School Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2021

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 8:21 am

The Watauga High School Athletic Department is excited to announce our 2021 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 into our Watauga Pioneer Athletics Hall of Fame:


Ricky Brookshire

Ricky is a 2000 graduate of Watauga High School. He participated in cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field. In 2000 Ricky was the North Carolina Gatorade Athlete of the year. He was a three time All American in the three listed sports. In 1999 and 2000 he was the 4A MVP of the state Track and Field Championships. During his high school career he was an 8 time state champion. While in high school he sat all time records in the following events:

  • Indoor Track 2 Mile State Record at 9:10 @ Nike National Meet
  • Outdoor Track 1 Mile at 4:08
  • Outdoor Track 1600 Meters at 4:06
  • Outdoor Track 3200 Meters at 9:06
  • Outdoor Track 5000 Meters at 14:46
  • Outdoor Track 4×800 Meter Relay at 7:49

Ricky won numerous conference and regional championships. He was a two time Footlocker Cross Country National Finalist in 1997 and 1999. He set numerous cross country court records. In 1998 he won “The Bear” which is a race to the top of Grandfather Mountain and was the youngest to ever win. Ricky went on to attend NC State University and was a four time ACC Champion. He was part of three cross country team championships in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and the individual outdoor track ACC 5000 meter champion in 2003. In 2003 he was the recipient of the NC State “Will to Win” award. He was first team ACC four times and had a third place individual finish at the ACC cross country championships in 2002.

April Cook

April is a 1983 graduate of Watauga High School. She participated in volleyball, basketball, and track and field with track and field being her primary sport. In 1983 she was a 400 meter state champion and high jump state champion. She still holds the 3A state meet high jump record. She was the 400 meter 3A state record holder for 36 years. In 1983 she was runner up in the 100 meter hurdles. Following her time at WHS she continued her athletic career at the University of Texas. In 1985 while at Texas she was an All-American and five time conference champion. Also while atTexas she holds the school record in the 4×800 meter relay.

Joe Critcher

Joe is a 1979 graduate of Watauga High School. While at Watauga Joe participated in football, wrestling, and baseball. He was all conference in all three sports. Joe was a member of the Watauga High 1978 North Carolina State 3A State Championship Football Team. In 1979 he was the most valuable baseball player at WHS.
Following high school Joe went on to play college baseball at Southeastern Community College in 1980 and 1981. In 1981 he was voted Most Improved Player. Following his time at Southeastern Community College he went to play college baseball at St Andrews College in 1982 and 1983 where he lettered both years. Joe was the Head Baseball Coach at Hoke County in 1990 and won the 4A North Carolina State Baseball Championship. He was the Head Baseball Coach at St Andrews College in 2000 and won the Carolina Virginia Conference Championship. Joe collected over 100 wins as Head Coach at Hoke High School, St Andrews College, and Scotland Post 50 Legion Baseball Team. Joe is a member of the Watauga County Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2007 and a member of the Hoke County High School Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Jonathan Greene

Jonathan is a 2005 graduate of Watauga High School. He participated in football and baseball with baseball being his primary sport. He was a member of the Watauga Baseball program from 2000-2004. Jonathan was a Northwestern 4A All Conference catcher and pitcher. He was also a running back on Watauga’s football team. In Jonathan’s senior year at Watauga, he hit a staggering .561 with 46 hits (19 being doubles) and 38 RBI’s with a school record 11 home runs. Following high school Jonathan went on to play baseball at Western Carolina University where he was a preseason All American and All Southern Conference athlete. At Western Carolina Jonathan hit .331 with 14 home runs and 57 RBI’s in 2007. Jonathan was an 8th Round draft pick in the Major League Baseball draft of 2007 by the Texas Rangers. He played 5 years of minor league baseball reaching the double A level. In a career of 509 games, Jonathan hit 83 home runs and had 326 RBI’s.


Coach Lan O’Laughlin

Coach Lan O’Laughlin moved to Boone in August of 1979, beginning a 24-year teaching and coaching career at Watauga High School. He served as both the men’s and women's swimming coach for his entire career at WHS. He also served as the men's cross country coach for 10 years and began the women's cross-country program. Lan was also awarded the Northwestern 4-A Conference “Coach of the Year” numerous times during his 24-year coaching career, most recently in 2001 – 2002. More details in regards to Lan’s coaching career can be found below:

Watauga High School Coach from 1979 – 2003

Women’s and Men’s Track Coach from 1982 – 1985

Men’s Cross Country Coach from 1980 – 1989

  • Conference Champions: 1980, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988
  • Sectional Champions: 1981
  • 9th in State in 1987
  • 11th in State in 1988
  • Conference Coach of the Year in 1981, 1985, 1986

Women’s Cross Country Coach from 1981 – 1989

  • Started program in 1981
  • Conference Champions in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989
  • Sectional Champions in 1982, 1983, and 1985
  • 3rd in the state in 1982
  • 5th in the state in 1983
  • 4th in the state in 1987 and 1989
  • State Champions in 1985
  • Conference Coach of the Year in 1985, 1986, 1989

Men’s Swimming Coach from 1979 – 2003

  • Conference Champions in 2001
  • 11th in the state in 1982
  • 18th in the state in 1985
  • Coached one individual State Champion

Women’s Swimming Coach from 1979 – 2003

  • Conference Champions: 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002
  • 8th in state in 1985
  • State Champion 200 Yard Freestyle Relay in 1997

Swimming Conference Coach of the Year: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999

Over the years Lan became more than just a teacher or a coach to many young adults growing up in this community. As one former swimmer stated, Lan became a “role model, an idol, and an extra parent” to him and many other students and swimmers. In recognition of his achievements and personal sacrifices, Watauga High School set up the “Lan O'Loughlin Personal Achievement Award” to be given out each year to a deserving student. The award honors the qualities of personal effort, dedication, commitment, and self-sacrifice, recognizing the importance of these attributes in all aspects of a person's life.

Coach Leigh Wallace

Coach Leigh Wallace served as a cross country, track and field, and women’s lacrosse coach at Watauga High School. Some significant stats from her ten years of coaching track and cross-country are as follows (she coached these teams from the 1993 cross-country season through the 2003 track season):


  • Boys and girls cross-country teams never lost a NW4A Conference Championship during Leigh's coaching career.
  • Watauga boys cross-country teams were Regional Champions for six straight years (1993 – 1998, and achieved a perfect score in the 1995 Regional Championship)
  • Watauga girls cross-country teams were Regional Champions from 1993 to 1998, and finished second in 1999
  • Watauga boys cross-country teams were State Champions three times (1994, 1996, and 1999)
  • Watauga boys cross-country teams were State Runners Up three times (1995 on a tie-breaker, 1997, and 1998).
  • Watauga girls cross-country team was State Champions in 1995.
  • Watauga girls cross-country teams were State Runners Up three times (1997, 1998, and 1999).
  • The Watauga girls cross-country team finished fourth at the State Championship in 1994 (only 5 points out of first place).
  • Four times in Leigh's ten-year tenure, Watauga had all seven of its runners earn All-Conference
  • In 1995, all seven members of Watauga's boys' team won All-Region honors
  • On five occasions, Watauga had multiple All-State runners in boys cross-country
  • Watauga girls cross-country never had less than 5 All-Conference runners in Leigh's ten years as coach except in 1993, her first year of coaching, when they had three.
  • Only once in the ten years Leigh coached did Watauga have less than three girls earn All-Region
  • Watauga girls cross-country had at least one All-State runner every year of Leigh's coaching tenure except 2000
  • Leigh coached two boys, Joe Lion and Ricky Brookshire, to the Footlocker National Championship, where they earned All-American honors


  • Leigh's distance runners spearheaded the outdoor track program that saw Watauga win nine NW4A Conference Championships in her ten-year tenure.
  • Leigh coached Watauga boys distance runners to 33 individual Conference Championships, 16 individual Regional Championships, and 9 individual State Championships
  • Leigh coached Watauga girls distance runners to 35 individual conference championships, 10 individual Regional Championships, and 5 individual State Championships

Additionally, Leigh was selected to organize and coach Watauga's very first girls Lacrosse team in 2011. Although she had never played Lacrosse, nor even seen a game, she developed a competitive team before her death in 2012. Coach Leigh Wallace was best known for her perseverance, strong work ethic, and passion for helping young people! In 2012 the WCS Board of Education voted to name The Lacrosse Field at Watauga High School in Coach Leigh Wallace’s honor.


1996 Men’s Cross Country Team

  • Won the NCHSAA 4A Men’s Cross Country State Championship
  • 1996 team won all but two meets
  • Team finished 2nd at Wendy’s and Greensboro Invites behind Leesville Rd (both time less than 15pts) but would end up beating Leesville Rd in State Championship by 15 pts
  • Team had one perfect score
  • Team had 6 races that were 20 or under
  • Scored 25 or under in 8 of 11 meets
  • Team traveled to Asheville in May of 1997 for the WNC SportsBanquet that was held at the Grove Park Inn

Head Coach: Randy McDonough
Assistant Coaches: Leigh Wallace, George Trivette


  • Ryan Woods
  • Jody Corum
  • Joe Lion
  • Greg Horn
  • Jesse Lile
  • Jesse Pipes
  • Britt Marlowe
  • Joe Kitchens
  • David Stroupe
  • Luke Johnson
  • Ricky Brookshire

@Bunker Hill 8/29/1996:
Watauga 19 (1 [Woods CR], 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Bunker Hill 52
W Lincoln 81

@App State 9/3/1996:?
Watauga 20 (1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10)
Freedom 42
Alexander Central 90

Caldwell County Invitational 9/10/1996:
Watauga 25 (1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Freedom 61
E Rutherford 146

@Freedom 9/17/1996:
Watauga 17 (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
Freedom 61
Alexander Central 91

ASU Clash of Classes 9/21/1996 (cumulative time of top 5 runners across all 4 classes):
Watauga 52:00 (1, 2, 7 Sr Race; 1, 2, 4, 6 Jr Race; 5 So Race; 1, 2, 6, Fr Race)
E Meck 53:40
Mt Tabor 54:20

@Alexander Central 9/25/1996:
Watauga 15 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10)
Freedom 64
Alexander Central 109

Greensboro Invitational 9/28/1996:
Leesville Rd 56
Watauga 71 (4, 6, 19, 15, 26)

Wendy's Invitational 10/5/1996:
Leesville Rd 66
Watauga 73 (4, 5, 17, 22, 25)
Middle Country 107
E Mek 140

Appalachian Invitational 10/19/1996:
Watauga 22 (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10)

NW 4A Conference 10/31/1996:
Watauga 18 (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Freedom 51
Alexander Central 80

4A Western Regionals 11/9/1996:
Watauga 20 (1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9)
Freedom 61
Ashbrook 88

4A State Championships 11/16/1996:
Watauga 53
Ryan, 2, 15:40.2
Jody, 3, 15:40.5
Joe L, 11, 16:05.9
Greg, 19, 16:19.1
Jesse Lile, 32, 16:39.4
Britt, 35, 16:40.5
Leesville Road 68
E Meck 160

Special Contributor:

Coach Jack Roten

Coach Jack Roten was an assistant football coach at Watauga High School from 1984 – 1986 and was the Head Football Coach at Watauga High School from 1987 – 1995. Coach Roten was the Head Track Coach from 1984 – 1988 and the Throws Coach for the Track Team from 1994 – 2000. Coach Roten was the sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at WHS having started in 1987. He was a local and state Special Olympics Coach from 1987 – 1993. Coach Roten graduated from Appalachian High School in 1964 where he was a three year varsity running back on the football team, point guard on the basketball team, and sprinter on the track team. His senior year he was MVP in football and selected to the All-Western Regional Team as Appalachian High School won the Western State Championship. He was also MVP of the basketball and track teams. Coach Roten was conference champion in the 100 yard and 200 yard dashes and ran the 200 yard dash in the state meet. He is very well thought of by many for the service and contributions that he made to Watauga High School Athletics during his tenure.

Plans for Recognition

The 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes will be recognized at halftime of our home varsity football game on Friday 9/10/21. The game will be versus Burns High School and will be recognized as our “Hall of Fame” game. We will also recognize both 2020 and 2021 classes at our Hall of Fame “Night of Champions” dinner and banquet on Saturday 9/11/21. The “Night of Champions” dinner and banquet will be held at Watauga High School at 5:00 pm on Saturday 9/11/21. Ticket information for our banquet can be found on the Hall of Fame Info tab on our athletic web page in the coming weeks.

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