13 Persons Will Be Introduced At Halftime Of Spartan Vs. Benedictine Game
The Boardman Booster Club will hold its annual Hall of Fame ceremonies Fri., Sept. 23 thru Sun., Sept. 25. Inductees into the Hall of Fame will be recognized during halftime of the Cleveland Benedictine-Boardman game at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 23. There will be a social gathering for inductees on Sat., Sept. 24 at Cocca’s Pizza on Market St. and induction ceremonies will be held Sept. 25 at 5:15 p.m. at Waypoint in Canfield. 13 persons will be honored for their contributions to Boardman High School athletics.
Jenna Soccorsi McNulty (1998) Track/Field
A multi-sport athlete at BHS, Jenna Soccorsi emerged as both a soccer and track superstar before her graduation in 1998. She played varsity
soccer for three years, culminating her senior year as the team’s leading scorer, earning 1st Team All Steel Valley Conference, 1st Team All-District, and 2nd Team All-State South division. Besides playing JV basketball her junior year, Jenna ran track as a mid-distance runner but found her niche in the 300m hurdle race where she set a school record in her second contest which still stands, 24 years later. That final season she won the Poland Invitational in the 300m hurdles, was MVP at the County meet where she placed 1st in the 100m and 200m races, and was 1st at the SVC Meet in the 100m winning the 300m hurdles in SVC record time and ran for Team Ohio at the MidWest Meet of Champions. Jenna served as her class President, was student council Vice-president, and chosen Homecoming Queen before going on to play soccer and run track at Hillsdale College (Michigan) where she earned All-Conference honors in the 400m hurdles. After receiving her degree in 2002, Jenna spent several years in political fundraising for a variety of candidates and issues before focusing on raising her three children, Rocco, Clare, and Massimo, together with her husband, Chris McNulty. She volunteers as a youth coach for track and soccer
Ryan Bleggi (1996) – Tennis
A great tennis player and outstanding academic student, Ryan Bleggi represented Boardman High School at the State Tennis tournament three years in a row in the mid-1990s. He was named 1st Team All-Steel Valley Conference all four years that he played in high school, as well as being a District tournament qualifier. In 1994, the
U.S.T.A. ranked him 8th in the Midwestern Section for boys and 99th nation-wide. During his senior year, Ryan was selected as the school’s Physics Student of the Year and later went on to attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in accounting in 2000. His career led him to the real estate business in Florida, where he is currently a managing broker for John R. Wood Properties in Naples. He resides in nearby Estero with his wife, Kari, son, Bryan and daughter, Braelyn
Jim Conroy (1984) – Baseball
One of Boardman’s all-time successful pitchers, Jim began his stellar career at BHS with a record-setting 14 strikeouts in a big win over Chaney leading his team to the 1993 State Regional tournament and winning All-SVC honors the following year. In 1984 he was also named All-Tournament pitcher for U.S. National Amateur Baseball Federation Champions, led the Youngstown “B” League in strikeouts, and had a league-best 1.14 ERA being named to the All-NABF Tournament team. That senior season was highlighted by pitching a no-hitter against Cardinal Mooney and leading BHS in batting average, home runs as well as pitching wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Jim was awarded a baseball scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, earning two letters there before transferring to Kent State, where he earned two more. He led KSU a starting pitcher, selected in 1989 to 1st-Team All-Mid-American conference and was a member of the NCAA Collegiate Academic All-American team. Jim had 20 victories and saved four games during his college career, before being signed by the St. Louis Cardinals where he played in the the Florida Advanced-A League. Following his baseball endeavors, Jim has pursued a career in law enforcement, serving as a police officer who has received several commendations for bravery, skill and initiative in his duties, leading to working in animal welfare through community policing. He is a former board member of Animal Charity.
Donn Craig (1992) – Track & Cross Country
As a BHS student-athlete, Donn Craig earned eight varsity letters in track and cross country combined, making the All-Steel Valley Conference Team three years in each sport. In cross country, he also qualified for the State Meet three times as well as making All-Steel Valley Conference in as many years, leading teams that won the SVC and District titles. In track, Donn was a two-time SVC and three time District Champion in the 3200m run, and earned All-Ohio honors in 1991. He ran as a part ofthe 4 x 1600m relay team that set a school record, a mark that still stands to this day. He continued his running career at YSU, where he made All-MidContinent Conference in both track and XC, including winning the Conference championship in the 5000m run in 1997, and was later named YSU Male Athlete of the Year. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and has spent the last 22 years at the Miami County YMCA in Troy, Ohio, where he is currently serving as the branch Executive Director. Donn is also active in Kiwanis and serves as an OHSAA football and wrestling official and lives in Troy with his wife, Erin and their five children.
Julie Neiman Day (2004) – Bowling
In the burgeoning bowling program at BHS in the early 2000s, Julie Neiman emerged as theSpartans’ top girl bowler by lettering all four years, including the first Ohio High School Athletic Association (OSHAA) sanctioned season. She participated at the State Tournament making three appearances and contributing to the team’s 2nd place finish in 2003, 3rd place team finish in 2004, and was a part of the Team High Baker game score as the State winner in 2004. Julie capped off her prep career by winning the OSHAA Girls Individual State Championship in 2003, the same year she helped her team win the District with her individual high game of 290. She was also Boardman’s Homecoming Queen her senior year. Following graduation, Julie attended The Ohio State University before working her way into the medical health profession, spending 13 years with Cardinal Health. She and her husband, Adam Day reside in Greenford, Ohio where they are raising their two daughters, McKenna and Lyla.
Al Dohar – Coach – Contributor
Al Dohar, Boardman’s first official bowling coach for both boys and girls, has established a tradition and record of winning in the sport second to none in the area. In 2010, his girl’s team won the State Tournament, the first sanctioned team state title in BHS history. With twelve boys and ten girls teams making it to the District and Regional Championship level along his storied career, Coach Dohar also has coached three boy’s and two girl’s teams to AAC team titles, as well as four Federal League titles for boys and three F.L. titles for the girls. Individually, Al coached one State Champion (Julie Neiman) and one Runner-Up (Steve Sullivan). A graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, Al earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975 from Youngstown State University, with graduate work at Ashland University, teaching math at BHS until his retirement. He and his wife,Barbara (deceased) raised two children, Marie-Elizabeth and John, who both graduated from BHS with honors
Dan Gorski – Coach – Contributor
With 27 years of coaching at BHS, 16 as Head Basketball Coach, Dan Gorski ranks second (to Al Burns) in all-time wins with 169. This feat includes nine double-digit win seasons, four Steel Valley Conference Championships, and being recognized five times by the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association as Coach of the Year and was 2001 Ohio Boys Head Coach for the Ohio-Kentucky AllStar Game. His success as coach is without rival as 13 of his former players went on to play collegiately, nine continued on to coaching careers, and eight of his former athletes have been inducted into the Boardman Hall of Fame. Coach Gorski graduated from Ursuline High School in 1974, where he was a star player for Coach Frank Beck. He went on to play three years at Adrian College (and one year of varsity golf) before earning his degree in 1978 prior to his employment with the Boardman Schools where he served faithfully for 35 years. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Education from YSU in 1984, and served 21 years as the District I Director for the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association, receiving their Bob Arnzen Award in 2001 for 20 years of consecutive service. He is married to former BHS girls track coach and athletic director Denise Gorski, as they both continue to be active in supporting the Boardman High School athletic program.
Richard Kerens (1997) – Track/Field
Rich Kerens graduated from BHS in 1997 with four Steel Valley Conference Championships in the track and field discus event, the first time this had ever been done. His last two years saw him qualify as a State Finalist, finishing sixth in Columbus both years. He also set and held the school boys discus record in 11th grade (until it was later broken by Hall of Famer Corey Linsley). As a freshman, Rich competed with his friend and teammate Bart Smith, as they fought it out to set the freshman record, which Rich finally did. He also competed each summer throughout the country in the Junior Olympics. After graduation, Rich worked as a landscaper and field developer until he eventually became the owner of the Haley Company specializing in land and life management. He lives with his wife, Dottie and daughter, Haley in Burton, Ohio.
Al Miller – Contributor (Posthumous)
The quintessential “behind the scenes” team supporter, Al Miller spent 25 years quietly, consistently and generously supporting the BHS wrestling program. He began in 1996 by taking photographs at team matches and providing publicity and facilitating press coverage throughout each season and beyond. His passing last year was a sad blow to the program, and his support and encouragement over the years are greatly missed. Al served as General Sales Manager at Commercial Metal Framing for 40 years, following his graduation from Ursuline High School in 1967 and Youngstown State University in 1971. He leaves his wife, Rosalyn, who still lives at their residence on Oak Knoll Dr. in Boardman and is also survived by children, Al and Meredith.
Justin Powell (2007) – Wrestling
One of Boardman’s all-time great wrestlers, Justin Powell graduated in 2007 with a plethora of records, including 84 career pins, 28 in one season, a career record of 127-27, with 43 wins in his senior year. From ninth grade onward, Justin succeeded in state competition at the Sectional, District, and State levels, placing third in the State Tournament as a junior and becoming the school’s second State Champion his senior year. He also placed 3rd his senior year in both the Beast of the East and Ironman National tournaments (the number one and two ranked tournaments in the country). That same year he helped his BHS team win the EOWL and Sectional Championships, finished third in the District tournament and 12th at State. Justin went on to be ranked nationally in wrestling at Ohio University before a medical issue shortened his career. He received his Bachelor degree there in 2011, and earned a Master’s degree in financial economics from YSU in 2014. He later went on to earn his law degree at Akron in 2018. He is currently a corporate and real estate attorney in the Cleveland area, living in Brecksville with his wife, Maria and son, Theodore.
Breanne Romeo Bovara (2007) Track & Field
Not arriving at BHS until her junior year, Breanne Romeo quickly made up for lost time by leading her team in points scored (198.5), winning the 400 meter dash and 4x200m relay at the County meet, placing second in the 400m at the Federal League meet, and winning the 400m at the District meet. She went on to qualify for the OHSAA State meet, where she placed seventh and earned All-Ohio honors. As a senior, Breanne was named Division-I Female Athlete of the Mahoning County meet and Federal League Female Athlete of the Year. She went on to win the 400m dash at the District meet breaking a school record which had stood for 25 years and place fifth in the Regional meet, which qualified her for State, where she placed third and again earned All-Ohio honors. Breanne competed at YSU after graduation, and earned the Horizon LeagueNewcomer of the Year award. She ran the second best ever time in the 400m dash at YSU and still holds a record there in the 4 x 400m relay. She received her degree in 2011, later enrolling in the Booth Executive Program at the University of Chicago, graduating in 2019. She is now Vice-President and Wealth Advisor for the Fifth Third Private Bank, as well as volunteering for the Karen Wellington Foundation for Living with Breast Cancer as part of their Executive Board. She and former track-teammate husband, Robert Bovara live in Cincinnati, Oh.
James Tracy (1996) – Football
Possessing a rare combination of speed and power, Jim Tracy was the Spartans’ go-to running back on some very strong BHS football teams in the mid-1990s. Jim collected 24 career touchdowns and 1,788 total yards, both in the top ten ever in Boardman football history. His senior year, in which his team made the State Regionals, he ran for 17 TD’s and 1,068 yards, both among the school’s best ever. He made 1st Team All- Steel Valley Conference and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. Attending Youngstown State University, Jim was a part of the 1997 national championship and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 2000 and then went on to pursue graduate studies at Tiffin, Northwestern, and Ohio State. Following in his father Lee’s footsteps, (BHS 1964 and the first Boardman police officer to ever earn a college degree), Jim went into law enforcement, becoming an Ohio State Highway Patrolman. He is presently Captain and Executive Officer for the Office of Field Operations and lives in Plain City, Ohio (home of Cincinnati Begals quarterback Joe Burrough) with his wife, Ashley his daughter, Elena and son, Ezra.
Mike Villagrana (2003) – Football
One highly athletic football lineman, Mike Villagrana became one of the great all-time BHS tight ends before continuing his football career with the West Virginia Unversity Mountaineers. ‘Villa’ led the Spartans to the state playoffs his junior year and was a big part in a great upset win his senior year against perennial state power Cleveland St. Ignatius. He was selected 1st Team All-Steel Valley Conference that season as well.Playing four years at WVU, Mike was on teams that won the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree there, he stayed on at WVU as a graduate assistant in pursuit of his Master’s Degree. Mike then moved into the player personnel side of college football, working at Penn State, Mississippi State where he served as director of recruiting and was the general manager at Marshall University, before recently taking the position of Senior Director of Player Personnel at Virginia Tech University. He and his wife, Tiffany, reside in Christiansburg, Va. with their son, Dominic and daughter, Camryn.
This article was republished with permission from the Boardman News.