In the annals of Clermont County and Williamsburg sports history, Kenny Craig is still in the running and at or near the forefront.
The 65-year old 1959 graduate of Williamsburg High School began running the fall of his freshman year of high school (1955-56).
“I just enjoy running so much,” said Craig, who was the Clermont County League 880-yard run champion three years. “It rained all three years at the league meet,” he said in recalling the days when the CCL track and field championships took place on Goshen High School’s cinder track that was located on the same site as the present all-weather track.
He began running as a ninth grade member of the ‘Burg varsity football team where he played very sparingly that year on the offensive line at left guard. He was a manager for the first Wildcat gridiron varsity team when he was in eighth grade (1954-55).
On May 23, 1959, he competed in the state championship 880-yard race. He earned second place to become the first Williamsburg High School athlete to place on the state level. His all-time personal best in the run was 2-minutes and 1.7-seconds which is the time he achieved in the state championship run. His talent was recognized by Miami (of Ohio) University where he was awarded a scholarship for track.
He still recalls his training route in high school. It began on Broadway Street, to Fifth Street, to McKeever Pike, to Schoolhouse Road, and then turn around on this road and retrace his steps. The distance was five miles.
At Wildcat High he was also a varsity letterman in basketball and volleyball. He earned most valuable player honors in football his junior and senior years when he played halfback on offense and cornerback on defense. Following his senior season on the gridiron, during which he served as team captain, his football jersey (number 13) was retired.
Craig's very successful running exploits continue to this day.
In the 2005 Senior Olympics he won the Ohio 800 and 400 meter runs and he was second in the 200. At the National Senior Olympics that took place in Pittsburgh, Pa., he placed 13th in the 800 (2:51.71) and 15th in the 400 (1:12.68). His first year of competition in the Senior Olympics was 2003.
In the 2006 Ohio Senior Olympics, Craig garnered the gold in the 800 in 2:53 in the 65-69 age group division. He also won the 400 and was second in the 200.
Today, the Afton resident still runs an impressive time of 2:51. He remains in great shape. In 1959 he was 5-feet, 8-inches and 159-pounds; 47 years later he is just a bit shorter and weighs 168.
Craig's love of running and competition has not waned an iota. He has qualified for the United States Nationals that will take place in June 2007 in Louisville, Ky. He credits running partners Gary Miller of Batavia and Frank Durkin of Marathon for helping him with his training.
"I've started training for a 10K race. In season I run six to eight miles at the (Clermont) county Y(MCA) and the Batavia High School track," Craig said. "During the off-season I do yoga, cycling, pilates, and play volleyball all at the Y."
The 42-years long railroad yard master who began with the Pennsylvania Railroad, plans to continue running "until my knees give out."
He and 17 other former Williamsburg Wildcats will be honored Jan. 27, when the first class of the Williamsburg High School Sports Hall of Fame will be inducted at a dinner ceremony in the new high school building. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a silent auction immediately followed by the dinner and induction ceremony. Former Cincinnati Bengal Jim Breech will be the guest speaker. Tickets are $10 per person or $100 per table. For more information, please call Williamsburg athletic director Ron Ogden (724-2211).
The remainder of the initial class of inductees includes, in addition to Craig, Royl Bohl (class of 1947), Herb Rowan (1956), Kenny Irvin (1965), Jim Sammons (1965), Phil Redrow (1968), Jim Vickers (1968), Dave Carter (1973), Chuck Hauck (1976), Greg Steward (1980), Donna Russell (1986), Brandon Malott (1993), coach J. W. Prewitt, coach Kenneth Osborne, Brenda Butts (1983), Tom Lefker (1985), Clayton Connor (1994), and Kady Dyer (1997).
Bohl, Rowan, Irvin, Sammons, Redrow, Vickers, Carter, Hauck, Steward, Russell, Malott, Prewitt, and Osborne are already members of the Clermont County Sports Hall of Fame.
Hauck, Russell, and Osborne were among the first class of inductees into the county hall. The Clermont County Sports Hall of Fame began on June 16, 1994.
Coincidentally, Craig's running partner Frank Durkin will be inducted into the Clermont Northeastern High School Sports Hall of Fame. Those ceremonies take place on Mar. 9.
Williamsburg now joins fellow Clermont County high schools Amelia, Batavia, Bethel-Tate, Clermont Northeastern/Owensville, Glen Este, Loveland, Milford, and New Richmond who honor their respective athletes will sports halls of fame.
Plans are underway to begin sports halls of fame at Felicity and Goshen high schools which would complete the nember of county high schools.
Hopefully someday an idea will emerge on how to organize and honor the athletes of Moscow High School. Its last graduating class was in 1959.
The area of the old Moscow School District is today included in the New Richmond Exempted Village School District.