- INSIDE ATHLETICS
In 1973 and 1974, Conway High School won back-to-back class AAA basketball state titles. Going for the three-peat in 1975, the Wampus Cats came up short in the championship game to Fayetteville 48-46. But that 1975 squad was young, and virtually the entire team would be returning for the following season. And what a season it was. They won everything that came their way. They won the inaugural College of the Ozarks Invitational Tournament. They won the UCA Invitational, for the third year in a row. They won the AAA-West conference. They won the AAA state championship, defeating Blytheville 75-51. The Wampus Cats beat their opponents by an average of almost 25 points per game. Playing in front of a packed house at UCA’s Farris Center, Conway would face undefeated Holly Grove for the overall championship. The game was never in question, and with most of Conway’s starters sitting out the fourth quarter, the Cats easily prevailed 75-67 to cap a perfect season. The class AAA Wampus Cats became the first non-AAAA team to win the overall. Officials had to clear the court of jubilant Conway fans after the game for the trophy presentation. The 1976 senior class went 88-5 throughout their high school career: 28-1 in 1974 as sophomores, 24-4 in 1975 as juniors, and of course 36-0 in 1976. After the overall final, coach Joe Graham was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat, “If we are not the best team that ever played in this state, we’re among them.” Decades later, when the topic of the greatest Arkansas prep basketball teams come up, the 1976 Conway Wampus Cats are still right there at the top of that list.
A native of Arizona, Boucher made his way to Conway to play baseball at the University of Central Arkansas. He was a three-time All-AIC performer for the Bears from 1978 to 1980. Boucher began coaching football and basketball at Conway Junior High in 1982. He then started the Conway High School baseball program in 1985 and coached it for 36 seasons before retiring in 2020. Boucher finished with an overall record of 700-268, good for a winning percentage of 72.3%. He never had a losing season. His 1989 squad went 25-5 and won the class AAA state championship over Watson Chapel. Boucher was named the state’s coach of the year by both the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette. In a 1989 newspaper article, fellow 2022 WCSHOF inductee Michael Wiley said of his coach, “If I were to pick between playing for Coach Boucher or Whitey Herzog, I’d pick Coach Boucher in a heartbeat. I love him that much.” Boucher’s 2011 Wampus Cats finished 25-7 and captured the 7A state title, defeating Bryant. In addition to the two state championships, his Cats finished as state runner-up seven times. They won 18 conference championships and made 30 state playoff appearances, including 29 consecutive. Boucher was one of the founders of the state All-Star baseball game, serving as one of the head coaches in the inaugural contest in 1991. He served many years on the All-Star game organizational committee and coached in the game a total of nine times. Boucher was also named Teacher of the Year at CHS in 2006. He was the 2008-09 recipient of the Buddy Harding Award, presented annually to a UCA alumnus for Arkansas high school coaching excellence.
Fulmer won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1954. As a junior, he was high-point man when the Wampus Cats won the 1953 Class A state track championship. Fulmer won the 220-yard dash, broad jump, and was part of the 440-yard relay winner. In 1954, the Cats repeated as Class A champs, with Fulmer again high-point man, winning the 100, 220, broad jump, and anchoring the winning 440 and 880 relays. He was named Outstanding Athlete at the 1954 Mid-South Relays in Memphis, where he set meet records in the 100 and the broad jump. His best time in the 100-yard dash was 9.9 seconds. Fulmer had an offer to play football for coach Darrell Royal at Mississippi State, but came back home to Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, where he played football and ran track. He led the Bears to the 1956 AIC track title, again as high-point man, setting a school record in the 220. Fulmer began his coaching career at Jacksonville before returning to Conway where he coached the Wampus Cats to a cross country state championship in 1965. In 1967, Fulmer was named head football coach and athletic director. During his four years on the gridiron, the Wampus Cats went 32-11-2 (73.7%) and won the Class AA state title in 1967, finishing 10-1. He served as AD until 1977, overseeing the construction of John McConnell Stadium and the development of girls’ athletics in the Conway public school system. Fulmer has been inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Hammons won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1977. A 6’ 3” forward, Hammons could jump out of the gym. He was the only junior starter on the 1976 overall state championship team that went 36-0. He scored 11 points in the 75-51 victory over Blytheville in the class AAA title game. Hammons was named all-state in 1977 and played in the Arkansas high school all-star game as a senior. During his senior year in track, he high jumped 6’ 10” which was one of the best marks in Arkansas high school history at the time. Hammons went on to Hendrix College where he was a four-year letterman in both basketball and track. There, he reunited with several of his former Wampus Cat teammates to help the Warriors capture the 1980 Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference basketball title, the school’s first since 1931. Well known for his jumping and dunking ability, he was named All-AIC and All-NAIA District 17 in 1981 as a senior, when he helped Hendrix repeat as AIC champs. Hammons was also All-AIC in track for three years. As a freshman, he set the school and conference high jump record, leaping an amazing 7’ 0” in 1978. Hammons became just the second Arkansan ever to clear 7’ 0” in the high jump. He qualified for the NAIA national meet, where finished third to earn All-American honors. He was also an NAIA track All-American as a senior in 1981, when he jumped a career best of 7’ 3/4”. He later served one year as assistant basketball coach at Hendrix. Hammons has been inducted into the Hendrix Sports Hall of Honor.
Turner was a versatile athlete who earned All-American honors in one sport as a high schooler and All-American honors in a different sport in college. Turner was one of the greatest high school pole vaulters in Arkansas history. His career best vault was 15’ 4”. As a Wampus Cat, he was named all-state twice, in 1982 and 1983, when he won the event at the AAAA state meet. As a senior in 1983, he vaulted 15’ 1.5” shattering the old Class AAAA record of 14’ 4”. He also won twice at the Meet of Champs, as a junior and a senior, winning in 1983 with a Meet of Champs record 15’ 2”. Turner was an All-American as a senior in 1983, when he was ranked in the Top 10 in the country. His senior year he also played football for the Cats. Turner originally signed a track scholarship to attend Arkansas State University, but he instead decided to stay home to play football at the University of Central Arkansas. He had a stellar career at UCA where he was a four-year letterman and three times named All-AIC. A safety, he ended his career as UCA’s career interception leader with 26. As a senior in 1986, Turner had five interceptions in one game, including an amazing four in one quarter. The five picks tied the school record set in 1951 by fellow WCSHOF inductee Ken Stephens. Turner played on UCA’s 1984 and 1985 NAIA national championship teams and was named NAIA All-American in 1985 and 1986. He signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986. Turner has been inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame.
Wiley was a gifted athlete who excelled at multiple sports at Conway High. He lettered in football and basketball, but it was on the diamond where he really made his mark. A lefty, he was one of the best pitchers in Arkansas high school history. He was a four-year letterman in baseball. Three times he was named all-conference, and twice was all-state. Wiley was named to the Super Sophomore team in 1987. In 1988, he was on the Arkansas Democrat’s All-Arkansas team. As a senior, Wiley had as good a year as any Wampus Cat ever had in any sport. He went 14-3, with a 0.86 ERA and 154 strikeouts in only 94.1 innings. He also hit .391 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs. He was named the 1989 Gatorade Player of the Year for Arkansas. He was also the Arkansas Democrat’s Player of the Year. The Cats finished 25-5 and won every tournament they entered that season. Wiley was named tournament MVP of the UCA Invitational and the Metro Invitational. But most importantly, he led the Wampus Cats to their first baseball state championship, as he had three wins and a save to earn MVP honors there as well. After shutting out LR Fair 4-0 in the semi-finals, pitching on one-days’ rest, Wiley shutout Watson Chapel 2-0, holding the defending state champs to three hits. Wiley also batted .587 during the state tournament. He was the first player to be drafted in the MLB Amateur Draft from Conway High School, selected in 1989 by the Baltimore Orioles. In two minor league seasons, Wiley went 10-6 with a 3.00 ERA before Tommy John surgery cut his career short.
Setzler won the Ruth Doyle Award for outstanding senior female athlete in 2010. Before that, she was one of the 2005-06 honorees for the annual 8th grade Marvin Delph Student-Athlete Award, for achievement in the classroom and on the field. As a freshman in 2006, Setzler won the state 7A individual cross country title. She finished runner-up in 2007, then won again as a senior in 2009. In 2009, she was 3200-meter champion at the state track meet. Four-times she was named all-state in both cross country and in track, and she qualified for the Arkansas cross country all-star meet all four years of high school. As a senior, she was named the 2009-10 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year for the state of Arkansas. On the links, Setzler earned all-state honors in twice, helping the Wampus Cat golf team to a state runner-up finish in 2009. She also was a member of the 2008 state champion basketball team. Setlzer continued her career at the University of Central Arkansas. She captured the Southland Conference steeplechase championship in 2013 with a time of 10:31.9 and again in 2014 clocking in at 10:20. Those victories qualified her for a spot in the NCAA D1 West Regionals. She was named All-SLC steeplechase in 2013 and 2014 and holds the UCA facility record in that event. In 2013, Setzler earned All-SLC honors in cross country, advancing to the NCAA cross country regionals that year. In 2014, she was named to the SLC All-Academic track team. Setzler is a Certified Personal Trainer and competes in road races and triathlons. In 2018, she represented the USA in the world triathlon championships in Australia.
Taylor worked in the Conway district for 35 years, putting together one of the most outstanding coaching resumes in Arkansas history. From 1990 to 1996, she led the Conway Junior High girls’ basketball program to a remarkable state record 140-game winning streak. She was also named Conway Junior High Teacher of the Year in 1995. In 1996, she took over as volleyball coach at Conway High and her Wampus Cats captured the school’s first volleyball state championship in 1998. Taylor took over the high school girls’ basketball program in 2000 and the success continued. She was named Arkansas Democrat girls’ basketball Coach of the Year in 2008 as her squad won the 7A state championship, again the program’s first. Overall, Taylor’s amassed career records of 234-36 in volleyball and 428-94 in basketball. Along the way she also coached the Conway golf teams, winning state titles with the girls in 2012 and 2016 and with the boys in 2002, 2008, 2011 and 2012. She was named Arkansas Preps Golf Coach of the Year in 2012. All told, she captured eight state championships to go along with 12 state runner-up finishes. Taylor’s teams also claimed 39 conference titles. She served as assistant athletic director for a decade until her retirement in 2020. In 2015, Taylor became the first female to be honored with the Elijah Pitts Award, presented annually to a Conway sportsperson for career achievement. A native of Cabot, Taylor lettered four years in tennis at Henderson State University, mostly playing No. 1 singles with the Reddies from 1981 to 1984. She was inducted into the Henderson State Hall of Honor in 2016.
Crafton played halfback on the Conway High School football team, but it was on the hardwood where he earned his place in Wampus Cat history. After playing junior high ball at St. Joseph, Crafton moved across town to play for Conway High School. A great passer and playmaker, he paid immediate dividends for the Cats. As a sophomore, Crafton was named all-region 5AA and hit the game winning shot in the state AA quarterfinals. Conway fell in the semifinal game, but the best was yet to come, for Crafton and for the Cats. In 1973, Conway High was bumped up from Class AA to Class AAA, but the Wampus Cats won their first basketball state championship in school history, defeating Forrest City 50-42. Crafton was named all-state that season as a junior. In 1974, Conway High repeated at Class AAA state champs, going undefeated in the regular season. In the championship game, Crafton led the Wampus Cats with 30 points, as Conway defeated Hot Springs 74-72. During his senior season, the Arkansas Gazette called Crafton. “the Wampus Cats’ take-charge floor leader.” Crafton and the Cats wrapped up that season playing in the most famous high school basketball game in state history, the 1974 Overall finals, in front of a record crowd of 8,000 in Barton Coliseum, falling to Fort Smith Northside to finish the year at 28-1. Crafton was again named all-state, as well as to the Arkansas Gazette Super Team. Crafton originally signed with Arkansas Tech, but continued his basketball career at the University of Central Arkansas, lettering in 1976 and 1977.
Shepherd won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1993. Playing power forward, he led the AAAA Central in rebounding as a senior, earning all-conference honors in basketball. He also participated in track, competing in the high jump and sprint relays. As a sophomore in 1990, Shepherd took over at quarterback midway through the season and finished with more than 700 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns. The Arkansas Democrat named him quarterback on their Super Sophomore team. In 1991, Shepherd was the perfect fit to run new head coach Kenny Smith’s wing-t offense. At 6’ 0” and 170-pounds, Shepherd possessed the arm and the legs to pull off the new offense, as well as the mental and physical toughness. The 1991 team finished 8-3, breaking the decades-old school record for points scored in a season, amassing 323. As a senior, Shepherd led the 1992 squad to a 9-3 record, capturing the AAAA Central championship. He earned all-state football honors in 1992 and played in the 1993 all-star game. Houston Nutt recruited Shepherd to Murray State. He moved to free safety and started the very first game his freshman season. He switched to outside linebacker as a junior and was a 2nd-Team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection. As a senior in 1996, he was named a team captain. In both 1995 and 1996, Shepherd received the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Award, sponsored by Black Issues in Higher Education, based on academic excellence and campus and community service. Shepherd was named the 1997 Outstanding Senior Man at Murray State University, becoming the first African American and first football player to receive this distinction.
Stephens usually competed in up to six events for the Wampus Cat track team, and he was usually high point man, including at the 1948 Class A state meet. He played football on some of the earliest successful teams in Conway history, with both the 1946 and 1947 squads each winning 10 games. Stephens attended Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas. On the gridiron, he set a Bear record with five interceptions in one game. On the track, he won six of the possible eight hurdle races in the AIC state meet, taking the 120-yard highs each year and the 220-yard lows twice. In 1951 and 1952, Stephens earned NAIA All-American honors in the 120s, finishing runner-up both years at the national meet, the only two times he ever lost in the high hurdles. In 1952, Stephens got his first coaching job in Crossett, as assistant football coach and head track coach. He returned home to serve as head football coach at Conway High for two years, going 7-3-1 in 1958, and 7-3-2 in 1959. In 1963, Stephens was hired as head football coach at North Little Rock High School, and his Wildcats captured state championships in 1965, 1966, and 1970. Stephens returned home again to coach his other alma mater, UCA, from 1972-1981, where his Bears won four AIC titles and finished as the NAIA national runner-up in 1976. He was twice named AIC coach of the year. Stephens has been inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Owen won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1960. Coached by fellow Class of 2021 inductee Ken Stephens, Owen garnered all-state football honors as a guard in 1959 and played in the 1960 all-star game. But it was on the oval where Owen was the most outstanding. Coached by Bill Nutter, Owen led the Wampus Cats to the the 1960 AA state track championship, winning the 100-yard dash, 220-yard dash, and 180-yard low hurdles, while anchoring three winning relay teams: the 440-yard, the 880-yard, and the mile. Five of those six wins set AA state records. To make it even harder, Owen had to complete 12 races that day, as the prelims and finals were all run on the same day. At the 1960 Meet of Champs, Owen was a double winner, in the low hurdles and 880 relay, while finishing second in the 100 and third in the 220. Owen continued his career at Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, and never missed a beat. While a Bear, Owen helped the squad win four AIC track titles. He holds the UCA record in the 220-yard low hurdles, set in 1964. He also set the school mark as part of the mile medley relay in 1962. During his career at UCA, Owen was named All-AIC at least once each in the 100, 220, 440, 220 low hurdles, 440 relay, 880 relay, and mile relay. He was also an NAIA All-American in 1961. Owen has been inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Mabry’s first love as a youngster was golf, but when he grew to 6’5” and more than 240 pounds, he found great success on the gridiron. A massive offensive tackle, Mabry helped the Wampus Cats to a 10-1 record in 1967 and the 3AA-West Region title. That year, Conway finished as the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA. The following spring, Mabry won the discus at the AA state track meet. Mabry earned all-state football honors as a senior in 1967 and was named to the Arkansas Gazette Super Team. He also played in the 1968 all-star game. He was also named to the prestigious “All Southern” team following his senior year. Mabry continued his football career at the University of Arkansas. Freshmen were ineligible to play varsity in those days, but he was ready to go in 1969, lettering three years from 1969-1971 at tackle. Following Mabry’s senior year, Frank Broyles said, “In the last two years, Tom’s man never once tackled our passer. That’s a credit to his determination. Our only regret is that he was too good as a sophomore. He made our team. I’ve heard our coaches say it a hundred times, ‘Tom should have been redshirted: look how good he’d be next year.’” Mabry was a 1971 second-team All-SWC selection. During his Razorback career, he played in the Sugar Bowl and the Liberty Bowl. After his senior season, Mabry was selected to play in the North-South Shrine Game, the Coaches All-American Game, and the Hula Bowl. The New York Giants selected Mabry in the 8th round of NFL draft in 1972.
The 1963 Conway High football team was young, and finished with a 5-7 record against tough competition, dropping several close games. So, expectations were pretty high for the following season. Going into the fall of 1964, the school had pre-sold more season tickets for the upcoming campaign than ever before. Prior to the season, head coach Rex Lovell commented, “We thought our boys did real well last year considering our schedule, but we should do even better than we did last year. We have experience and our biggest team since I’ve been here, and they are a real fine group of hard-working athletes.” But no one could have known just how great this team would be. Solid on both sides of the ball, the Cats outscored their opponents by a cumulative total of 259-33. Of the 33 points given up by Conway, only one touchdown was scored against the first team defense. They easily won the Region 3-AA West championship, and were ranked among the top ten teams in the state all season. The key game came on October 30, when Conway was ranked No. 3. They traveled to Quigley Stadium to take on AAA powerhouse and No. 1 ranked Little Rock Central. Conway came home with a hard-fought 7-0 victory over the Tigers and took over the No. 1 spot. The Wampus Cats compiled a perfect 11-0 record and became the first AA school to finish with the No. 1 overall ranking. As a reward for the undefeated state championship season, Wampus Cat supporters raised money to send the team to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to watch the Arkansas Razorbacks beat Nebraska to secure the 1964 national title.
A native of Hope, Bright served in the Navy during World War II. He then graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, in 1949. Bright began his career at Conway Junior High School in 1949, coaching football, basketball and track. He was the first true junior high coach hired in the Conway school district, as back in those days, the high school coaches also had to cover the junior high teams. But Bright soon moved up to Conway High School, starting in 1951, to serve as the head coach for both football and track. On the gridiron, he coached for seven years, with a record of 46-28-1 (62.0%), with five winning seasons. His final team in 1957 went 10-1, capturing the class 3AA conference title. On the oval, his Wampus Cats won three track & field state championships, in 1953, 1954 and 1957. Bright took his coaching talents across town to UCA to lead the Bear track program from 1959 to 1965, and then the football team from 1965 to 1971. His teams won multiple AIC titles in both sports. Bright was known as a tough but fair coach and was beloved by his players. Those who played for him are honored to be called one of “Raymond’s boys.” He has been inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. After retirement, he was later elected to the Conway School District Board of Education. Bright passed away in 2008 at the age of 85.
Graham was an all-state guard at Greenbrier High School before playing basketball at Central Baptist College and at State College of Arkansas, now the University of Central Arkansas. He began his coaching career at Conway Junior High School in 1972, leading the Wampus Kittens for two seasons, going 41-7 with a pair of regional titles. His first season, they finished as 1973 state runner-up, the last year a junior high school state tournament was held. Then, at the tender age of 24 years old, Graham took over as the head basketball coach at Conway High School. His initial squad finished as the 1975 Class AAA state runner-up. The Arkansas Democrat named Graham as the state’s Coach of the Year for all classifications. His 1976 Wampus Cats would become one of the most celebrated basketball teams in state history, going 36-0 and capturing the AAA state championship. They then became the first non-AAAA school to win the state overall title. This time, the Arkansas Gazette named him as the state Coach of the Year. He retired following the 2000 season with a record of 447-263 (63.0%). His teams were conference champs nine times and made 19 trips to the state playoffs. In addition to 1975, his Cats finished as state runners-up in 1981 and 1995. Graham also had success as the coach of the CHS boys golf team, winning state titles in 1978 and 1982. Graham has been inducted into the Central Baptist College Sports Hall of Fame, the Faulkner County Sports Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Hargis won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1994. By the 1990’s, high school three-sport stars were few and far between, but Hargis excelled in football, basketball and baseball for the Wampus Cats. As a 9th grader, the Arkansas Democrat named him to its 1991 junior high All-Metro track & field team, having had success in the 400-meters and the high jump. In high school, he moved from the oval to the diamond, helping the Wampus Cat baseball team to state runner-up finishes in 1993 and 1994. A shortstop, center fielder and designated hitter, Hargis was named all-state and to the all-state tournament team in 1994. Baseball America listed him as the 54th best high school player in the country. On the gridiron, he shined on both sides of the ball. During his senior season of 1993, he intercepted 10 passes playing safety. Hargis won the Kelly Dunlap Award, presented to the outstanding defensive player in the homecoming game. Also playing quarterback, he led Conway to the AAAA-Central championship and a runner-up finish in the state title game. Hargis was named all-state, to the AP Super Team, and Friday Night Lights Arkansas Player of the Year. A shoulder injury in the football title game caused him to miss his senior season of basketball, but he did play in both the Arkansas high school football and baseball all-star games. Hargis continued his athletic career at the University of Central Arkansas. He lettered two years as a defensive back, leading the Bears in interceptions as a true freshman in 1994. He then went on to letter four-years on the baseball team.
In track, Kersey threw the shot put, but on the football field, he threw around opposing players. One high school coach was quoted as saying “that Kersey just doesn’t stay blocked. If you get him down, you better sit on top of him.” As a junior, Kersey was a key member of the Wampus Cats’ 1964 undefeated state championship football team. Following his senior season, he was named all-state and received honorable mention All-American accolades from Coach and Athlete magazine. Legendary Arkansas assistant coach Wilson Matthews spotted Kersey and recruited him to be a Razorback. Freshman were ineligible to play back in those days, but as a sophomore in 1968 he started at defensive tackle as the Hogs shared the Southwest Conference title, going 10-1 and winning the Sugar Bowl. Kersey was a three-year letterman at University of Arkansas from 1968-70. The Razorbacks went 28-5 during that time, one of the most prosperous stretches in program history. A 6’0”, 200-pounder, Kersey was described as “a real dynamo on defense - one of the quickest players in the league and an aggressive tackler.” His athleticism and versatility allowed him to play both tackle and end on the defensive front. As a junior in 1969, he played in the famous “Big Shootout” game of the century against the Texas Longhorns. He was named All-SWC that year at defensive end. Kersey was named to the University of Arkansas’ all-decade team of the 1960’s, a feat made even more impressive considering that decade was among the most successful period in Razorback history.
Maggio won the Ruth Doyle Award for outstanding senior female athlete in 2009. She was an all-state golfer at Conway High for four years, helping the Lady Cats win four conference championships. Maggio was the 7A state medalist in 2007 and won the state overall in 2006 and 2007. In 42 high school matches, she finished in first place 37 times and was runner-up in the other five events. Her coach Janet Taylor said, “She’s mentally the toughest kid I’ve ever been around, and I’ve coached basketball, volleyball and golf.” Maggio earned 2004, 2005 and 2006 Arkansas State Golf Association Junior Girls Player of the Year honors. She was the state junior stroke champion in 2004 and 2005, and the state junior match play champion in 2005 and 2006. Four-times she qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior Open, tying for ninth in both 2007 and 2008. She garnered All-American status from the American Junior Golf Association and was ranked No. 9 nationally by the AJGA in 2009. After beginning her collegiate career playing at LSU for two years, she transferred to Texas A&M, earning All-Big 12 honors as a junior when she won the 2012 Big 12 Championship. As an Aggie, Maggio posted a career 74.86 career stroke average. She was an SEC Academic Honor Roll selection in 2012-13. After graduation, she served as an assistant golf coach at Houston, Baylor and Florida State before returning to her college alma mater in 2018 as Director of Operations for the Texas A&M men’s and women’s golf programs.
As a sophomore, Sullivan was a starter on Conway’s 1974 AAA state championship squad. As a senior, he was a part of one of the greatest teams in state history. The 1976 Wampus Cats again captured the AAA state championship, and then won the school’s only Overall title, finishing the season a perfect 36-0. The Arkansas Democrat named Sullivan the state’s player of the year in 1976. Sullivan teamed with his childhood friend and fellow Wampus Cat Sports Hall of Fame inductee Lawson Pilgrim to post a record of 141-11 from the 7th through 12th grades. Sullivan was named all-state in 1975 and 1976 and played in the Arkansas high school all-star game as a senior. The 5’ 9” point guard never missed a game during his time at Conway High, scoring 1,192 points, good for an average of 12.8 per game. Hendrix College offered him a scholarship, where he was a four-year starter. Sullivan finished his Warrior career with 1,812 points, good for a 16.0 average. Sullivan could score when needed, but was also a gifted passer, leading the Warriors in assists all four years. He tallied 622 career assists, averaging 5.5 per game. He led the AIC in 1979. As a senior in 1980, he was named All-AIC, helping the Warriors win their first conference title since 1931. Also in 1980, Sullivan was honored as the recipient of the prestigious Neil Martin Arkansas Amateur Athlete of the Year award. Sullivan went on to play internationally for Athletes in Action. He has been inducted into the Hendrix Sports Hall of Honor.
Delph helped the Wampus Cats win state AAA basketball championships in 1973 and 1974. He was voted state tournament MVP both years. Delph attended the University of Arkansas, where he joined Sidney Moncrief and Ron Brewer as they became known as the famed “Triplets,” leading the Hogs to back-to-back Southwest Conference championships and the 1978 NCAA Final Four. While at Arkansas, Delph was known for his leaping ability, coolness under pressure and outstanding shooting skill from long range. He led the Razorbacks in scoring in 1976 and 1977. Sports Illustrated featured Delph in 1977, along with Larry Bird and Phil Ford, in an article titled “Hottest of the Hot Shots.” Delph finished his career at Arkansas as the school’s all-time leading scorer. His 1,742 points still rank seventh in that category, even though he played before the three-point line was adopted. Named second-team All-SWC in 1976, Delph earned first-team All-SWC honors in 1977 and 1978. He was also a Converse and Sporting News All-American in 1978. Delph was drafted into the NBA in 1978 by the Buffalo Braves and in 1979 by the Boston Celtics. However, he did not play in the NBA, opting to play internationally with Athletes in Action, a Christian-based team out of California. He has been inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, the SWC Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. In 1999, Delph was selected by Sports Illustrated as one of Arkansas’ 50 Greatest Sports Figures of the 20th Century.
Hawk won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1956. He was named all-state in football and basketball, as well as excelling at track for the Wampus Cats. Hawk was also an outstanding Golden Gloves amateur boxer. He continued his athletic career at the University of Central Arkansas, earning all All-AlC honors in both football and track. Hawk received the inaugural L.B. Jackman Award for outstanding player in UCA’s homecoming game. In 1959, he was named a football 1st team AP Little All-American. That year, he was nationally ranked in total offense and scoring. He was selected to play in the All-American Bowl in Tucson, Arizona. Hawk signed a contract with the Canadian Football League, but returned to Arkansas to start a coaching career that lasted two decades. As head coach at North Little Rock High School, he led them to a football state championship in 1972. Hawk has been a world-class distance runner for decades, in multiple events from 800 meters to 50 miles. He participated in ten straight Boston Marathons. He has won dozens of national titles over the years. In 1998, Hawk set a world record in the 60-64 age division when he ran a 5:13.38 in the 1,600 meters. His training and exercise programs have been nationally recognized, and he has served on the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. Hawk has been inducted into seven halls of fame, including the UCA Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
When Harold Horton took the UCA football job in 1982, Conway got one of the great coaches in Bear history. Conway also got his son Tim, then in junior high, who became one of the great athletes in Wampus Cat history. The younger Horton was a football and track star at CHS. He was named all-state tailback in 1984 and 1985. He was also a standout sprinter, setting the school record in the 100-meter dash in 1986. Horton is the only athlete in school history to win the Frank E. Robins Award, Kelly Dunlap Award, and Jim Case Award. When he graduated in 1986, he was offered a scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Horton was a four-year letterman from 1986-1989. He helped the Hogs to back-to-back Southwest Conference championships in 1988 and 1989. As a senior, he led the team in receptions and receiving yards, earning second-team All-SWC honors. In 1989, he was voted a team captain and was named the recipient of the Gordon Campbell Senior Spirit Award. Sure handed, Horton is fourth in Hog history with 78 career punt returns and fifth with 657 career punt return yards. He was also a two-time academic all-conference selection. Like his dad, Horton got into coaching, starting out with Appalachian State in 1990 before moving on to Air Force then Kansas State. In 2007, he returned to Arkansas where he served as running backs coach for the Razorbacks until 2012. Horton then went to Auburn and is now the running backs coach at Vanderbilt. Inducted into Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2021.
Jiskra became only the second female in school history to win the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1987. She was a three-time state cross country champion, and a two-time state champion in the 800-meters, 1,600 meters, and 3,200 meters. At the Meet of Champs, Jiskra won the 1,600 three consecutive years, setting the state record of 5:01.1 as a junior in 1986. She helped the Wampus Cats win the 1986 state cross country championship and state track and field titles in 1986 and 1987. She also played basketball and golf. As a high schooler, she traveled with Athletes in Action to China to compete in a 3-mile race, finishing 3rd among females. Jiskra received an athletic scholarship to Rice University. In 1991, she earned NCAA Division I All-American honors in the 10,000 meters, finishing 4th at the outdoor championships. She was also named an Academic All-American. Jiskra ran the 10,000 meters in the TAC Outdoor Championships in New York, qualifying for the 1991 Olympic Sports Festival. She placed 6th in the Olympic Sports Festival 10,000 meters in Los Angeles. Her senior year, Jiskra was the recipient of Joyce Pounds Hardy Award for most outstanding female athlete at Rice. She was also the recipient of the Fred J. and Florence Stancliff Award for academic achievement and outstanding track and field performance at Rice. She competed in the 1992 Olympic Trials in New Orleans in the 10,000 meters. Still competing, Jiskra was the Cat 2 Women’s South Carolina State Mountain Bike Champion in 2017 and age group Marathon Mountain Bike National Champion in 2018.
Lasker won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1982. As a junior, he led the Wampus Cats to the 1981 AAAA state track championship, taking first in the 100 and 220-yard dashes and as part of the mile relay. He later won the 100 at the Meet of Champs. As a senior, Lasker won four events at the state meet - the 100, 200 and 400 meters and as part of the 1,600-meter relay. He then won the 100 and 200 at the Meet of Champs. Lasker still holds Conway High School records in the 200 and 400 meters. He earned a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas where he was a four-year starter at safety for the Razorbacks from 1982-1985. As a freshman, he also did little fill-in work for John McDonnell’s track team, running a few 1600-meter relays. Back on the gridiron, Lasker was named a team captain as a senior and won the school’s Bruce Mitchell Award for toughness. He earned AlI-Southwest Conference honors and played in the East-West Shrine Game following his final season. He ranks seventh on the UA’s career interception return yards list with 155 and is tied for 12th in career interceptions with nine. The New York Giants selected him in the second round of the 1986 draft. He played three seasons in the NFL. In his rookie year, they won Super Bowl XXI under head coach Bill Parcells. Lasker was named to the Razorback's all-decade team of the 1980's and has been inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor.
Like many kids growing up in Conway, Neuhofel played a multitude of sports, but it was in the pool where he achieved a level of success that few can match. He began swimming with Bob Courtway and the Hendrix Aquakids at the relatively late age of 14. He also swam for the Little Rock Racquet Club Dolphins, travelling throughout the United States to compete. Standing 6’6”, Neuhofel became a high school All-American swimmer at Conway High and a four-time junior national champion. The Arkansas Gazette named him as the state’s 1985 high school swimmer of the year. That year he broke the state record in the 50-meter freestyle. After weighing several scholarship offers, Neuhofel signed to swim for the University of Arkansas. He became a ten-time All-American and was named the Razorback’s most valuable swimmer from 1986-1988. He also set the school record in the 50-meter freestyle. Nine times he was named All-Southwest Conference and was a two-time SWC champion. While specializing in the freestyle sprints, Neuhofel also excelled in the longer distances, medleys, and in relays. He was a member of the United States National Team from 1986-1988 and was internationally ranked in 1987 and 1988. He was a finalist at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials. Neuhofel won a gold medal at the National Sports Festival and a silver medal at 1987 PanAm Games in the 50-meter freestyle. After graduating from college, he later returned to Conway to coach the Aquakids for a time. Neuhofel has been inducted into the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame.
New won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1969. He quarterbacked the Wampus Cats to 20 wins over two seasons, going 10-1 in 1967 and 10-2 in 1968. The 1967 squad won the Region 3AA West conference championship. There were no playoffs back then, but the Arkansas Gazette ranked Conway High as the #1 team in Class AA. New was twice an all-state selection in football and played in the 1969 all-star game. He also earned All-American honors as a senior. New was an all-state basketball player and also ran track. As a senior, his teammates selected him as co-captain in both football and basketball. New was recruited by colleges from all over the country, but chose the University of Arkansas. Frank Broyles personally flew to Conway to sign him to a scholarship. As a freshman, New was moved to defensive back. Wanting to play quarterback, he transferred to the University of Central Arkansas where he lettered in 1971. New served as an assistant coach at Conway High from 1975-1979. He had a long and distinguished career as a football referee. From 1980-1992, he officiated high school games, including two state championships. In the college ranks, New worked the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference from 1983-1986 and the Southland Conference from 1987-1991. From 1992-2009, he worked as a back judge in the Southeastern Conference. He was selected to officiate the 2000 SEC Championship Game, as well as six bowl games. He still works as an SEC replay official. New has been inducted into the Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame.
Pendergraft won the Frank E. Robins Award for outstanding senior athlete in 1966. He was one of the best all-around athletes to ever come out of Conway High School. An all-state basketball player, he was also an outstanding sprinter on the track team. In football, he was a key member of the most celebrated team in Wampus Cat history. As a junior in 1964, Pendergraft was a two-way starter for the undefeated state champions. When Conway beat class AAA powerhouse and No. 1 ranked Little Rock Central 7-0 late in the season, Pendergraft scored the game’s only touchdown, going in on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. That victory propelled the Cats to their first state championship. Conway went a perfect 11-0 and won the 3AA conference title. There were no playoffs back then, but Conway became the first AA school to be ranked No. 1 overall at season’s end. Pendergraft was named all-state in 1964 and 1965 and played in the 1966 all-star football game as a senior. He originally signed with the University of Arkansas and played for their freshman team, the Shoats, in 1966. Pendegraft transferred to the University of Central Arkansas, where he lettered from 1968-1970. His versatility was further showcased at UCA. As a sophomore in 1968, he registered offensive statistics in rushing, passing and receiving. On defense, he intercepted a pass. On special teams, he logged punt return yards and kickoff return yards. He even punted once, for 48 yards. Pendergraft later served as a coach in the Conway School District.
Pilgrim was simply a winner on the basketball court. From the 7th through 12th grades, his teams went a combined 141-11. As a sophomore, he was a starter on Conway’s 1974 AAA state championship squad. As a senior, he was a part of one of the greatest teams in state history. The 1976 Wampus Cats captured the AAA state championship, with Pilgrim earning tournament MVP honors. The Cats then won the school’s only Overall title, finishing the season a perfect 36-0. Pilgrim was named all-state in 1975 and 1976 and played in the state high school all-star game as a senior. He signed a scholarship with the University of Arkansas, where he lettered as a freshman. Pilgrim then transferred back home to Hendrix College. After a redshirt year, he was ready to play for the Warriors. But the following season, he had tendonitis in both knees and was told that he would not be able to play. Though well under 100%, Pilgrim did play and was the hardest worker on the court, helping the Warriors to a runner-up finish in the AIC. Hendrix coach Cliff Garrison said Pilgrim was one of the greatest competitors he ever saw in his 41 years of coaching. The next two seasons with healthy legs, Pilgrim led Hendrix to back-to-back AIC crowns. Twice named All-AlC, he became only Hendrix player ever named first-team NAIA All-American in 1981. Pilgrim went on play internationally for Athletes in Action. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Hendrix Sports Hall of Honor. Inducted into Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2021.
Ruple was an all-state football player in 1962. He was also a standout on the track team where he set a school record in the discus while helping the Wampus Cats win the 1963 state championship. He accepted a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Freshmen were ineligible to play with the varsity in those days, but Ruple was a member of the team when the Razorbacks won the 1964 national championship. Ruple became a three-year letterman on the offensive line for the Hogs from 1965-1967. He helped the Razorbacks win the Southwest Conference title in 1965 and played in the 1966 Cotton Bowl. The 1967 Sports Illustrated college football preview issue stated, “The backs will all run behind Ernest Ruple, who is 6'5" and 252 pounds of tackle - the only big man in Broyles' camp. Ruple is a relic of the glorious era, just ended, when Arkansas was both big and fast.” That senior season, Ruple was a team captain and earned All-SWC honors. His outstanding play earned him invitations to the East-West Shrine Game and to the Senior Bowl. Pittsburgh drafted Ruple in the 2nd round of the 1968 NFL draft with the 36th overall selection. He played two seasons with the Steelers. Ruple later got into coaching. He returned to his alma mater as an assistant, and was named head football coach of the Wampus Cats in 1975. His 1976 squad finished 9-3, winning the AAAA West Conference title. His two-year record at Conway High was 15-8.
As a football player, Smith was a member of Conway High School’s 1964 state championship team and was a co-captain as a senior in 1966. He also played basketball for the Cats. He later played football at the University of Central Arkansas, where he lettered for the Bears as a lineman in 1970. Smith then began a coaching career that took him to stops in North Little Rock, Cabot and Magnolia. He retuned to his alma mater as an assistant football coach in 1984. Smith also served as head track & field coach for four years during this time, winning the AAAA-North conference title each season. His team captured the AAAA state championship in 1989 and finished as state runner-up twice. But Smith got his dream job in 1991 when he was named head football coach of the Conway High School Wampus Cats. He is the longest tenured coach in school history, serving 18 years from 1991-2008. His career record is 129-75, good for a winning percentage of 63.2. His 129 wins are the most in school history. That total represented almost one-quarter of all Wampus Cat football victories at the time. Smith had 12 winning seasons, six conference championships, and 13 playoff appearances. His 1993 squad finished as AAAAA state runner-up. He also coached in two All-Star football games. All told, Smith coached for 25 years at Conway High School. Few have ever been prouder to wear the blue and white. The annual Kenny Smith Wampus Cat Open golf tournament is named in his honor.
Thomas was a basketball, volleyball and track star at Conway High and was honored in 1994 with the inaugural Ruth Doyle Award for outstanding female senior athlete. Her 9th grade basketball team at Conway Junior High began the program’s remarkable 140-game winning streak. As a sophomore, she led the Lady Cats to their first state final appearance. As a junior, she set the single season scoring mark with 470 points and by the time she graduated, she had become the program’s career scorer leader with 1,279 points. Thomas was twice named all-state in basketball. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette named her the state’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1993. She also earned all-state honors in volleyball. Her versatility was further showcased in track & field, where she ran the 400, high jumped and threw the discus. After high school, Thomas signed to play basketball at Oral Roberts University. She spent a short time there before transferring back home to the University of Central Arkansas where she would play both basketball and volleyball for the Sugar Bears. On the hardwood, she was a first team All-Gulf South Conference West Division selection for the 1996-97 season. She was also named to the GSC All-Tournament team in 1997. She was selected as Conway High School's Beauty Review Queen in 1993 and participated in other pageants where she showcased her many talents. It was not unusual for her to sing the National Anthem at a game before she would play. She passed away in 2003 at age 27.