Lenoir-Rhyne University will add five members to its Sports Hall Of Fame as Christi Cranford, Jackie Gebhart, Bill Johnson, Cory Morgan and Jody Petty make up the Class of 2017.
The Hall Of Fame induction ceremony will be part of Lenoir-Rhyne’s Homecoming Weekend and will take place in the P.E. Monroe Auditorium on LR’s campus at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, October 7, 2017.
The five will also be honored during Lenoir-Rhyne’s Football Game against Newberry, which begins at 2:00 p.m., at Moretz Stadium.
“This hall of fame class truly shows the quality and diversity we strive for as an institution when selecting new members,” said Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics Director Kim Pate. “All five honorees are well-deserving of this special recognition and represent an incredible tradition of excellence in our distinguished sports hall of fame.”
Cranford (Lenoir-Rhyne, 1991) was a three-sport standout – women’s basketball, softball and women’s tennis – and was one of the best all-around female student-athletes in school history.
In three years as a member of the women’s basketball team, Cranford totaled 1,013 points, 244 assists, 227 rebounds and 137 steals and was a two-year captain (1989-90 and 1990-91). In addition, she still holds the school record for career free throw percentage (.802) and finished in the top five in the nation with an 85.9 percentage from the charity stripe as a senior. On the diamond, she batted over .300 for her career and was a two-time First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference honoree (1990 and 1991).
In the classroom, Cranford earned numerous academic all-league honors and was either on the Dean’s List or President’s List each semester she was enrolled. In addition, she graduated Magna Cum Laude as a double major in Sports Management and Business Administration.
After graduation, Cranford completed more than 50 marathons – including 10 consecutive Boston Marathons – and finished an ironman distance triathlon. Currently, she also enjoys running ultra-marathon events and serves as a pace group leader in the running community.
Cranford, a Newton-Conover High School and Catawba County Sports Hall Of Fame honoree, is employed by Bank of America in its Information Technology sector.
Gebhart (Lenoir-Rhyne, 1995) was a four-time All-South Atlantic Conference Women’s Soccer honoree (1991-94) including three straight first-time selections (1992, 1993 and 1994). A three-time All-South Region pick (1992-94), she remains the school’s all-time leader in assists (33) to go along with 27 goals and 87 total points (fifth all-time in program history). She also captained the team for all four years and was a three-time team most valuable player.
Gebhart was part of the University of Maine’s Women’s Soccer Coaching staff for 15 years (1996-2004 as Assistant Coach and 2005-10 as Associate Head Coach). While residing in Maine, she also coached U-18 and U-16 Premier Club Teams with Blackbear United Football Club and led the squad to the state championship in 2005. In addition, she was also part of the Maine Olympic Development Program for three summers.
Johnson (Lenoir-Rhyne, 1959) lettered four years and was a two-year starter on the football team (1955-58) while helping lead the Bears to a 36-3-3 record and four straight North State Conference Championships. He was a two-time all-league selection and earned NAIA First-Team All-American honors by the Greensboro Daily News in 1958. He came to Lenoir-Rhyne after serving four years in the United States Air Force.
Johnson was also an outstanding baseball player, batting over .300 for his career and serving as co-captain. He also played three positions: first base, outfield and catcher.
After college, Johnson coached baseball and football and taught physical education at several high schools including Titusville (Fla.) and West Lincoln (N.C.) and Stilwell Junior High School in Jacksonville, Florida. He also worked in the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department and started a dog grooming school which capped off a successful 30-year run. Johnson will be honored posthumously after passing away recently.
Morgan (Lenoir-Rhyne, 2002) was a four-year starter for the Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Soccer Team (1998-01) and remains one of the best players in school history. He continues to hold five school records: career goals (43) and total points (103), season goals (19) and total points (41) in 2000 and matches played (76).
Morgan was a four-year All-South Atlantic Conference honoree – the only player in school history to accomplish the feat – and was an All-South Region selection and SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2000.
Morgan has taught physical education and coached soccer since graduation. He coached two years at St. Stephens High School (2012-13) where he was named league coach of the year (2012) and region co-coach of the year in 2013 and led the Indians to a pair of playoff berths. He also coached at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., led the team to four playoff berths, the 2015 region championship and a No. 19 national ranking.
Currently, Morgan is teaching P.E. at Burlingame Intermediate School in Burlingame, California, and coaching at the Burlingame Soccer Club.
Petty (Lenoir-Rhyne, 1991) played four years for the Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team (1988-91) and was instrumental in the renaissance of the program. He was a two-time All-South Atlantic Conference First-Team honoree (1989-90 and 1990-91) and was the 1990-91 SAC Player Of The Year.
Petty, a 1991 NAIA All-District honoree, led the Bears to the 1989-90 and 1990-91 SAC Regular Season Championships as LR compiled a 43-13 record and earned a pair of berths in the NAIA Playoffs those two seasons. He has 1,089 career points and ranks fourth in assists (459) and fifth in free throw percentage (.853) on the Bears’ all-time lists.
Petty played beach volleyball professionally for six years and worked throughout the world as a fashion model. In addition, he toured the country singing with various bands and currently resides in Staley, North Carolina.
Lenoir-Rhyne will be honoring this new class of Sports Hall of Fame members along with the other distinguished members in a new digital touchscreen Hall of Excellence display scheduled to be installed in the lobby of Shuford Memorial Gymnasium this fall. The Hall of Excellence display will also recognize Bears’ All-Americans, Academic All-American’s, the history of LR athletics, and other notable awards.