Three Hillsboro High School graduates were among those who joined the Greenville College Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 21, for their efforts as part of the men's track team in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Those teams were coached by HHS graduate Brian Patton, and assisted by alum Mike Harwood. HHS graduate Shane Cress, now of Litchfield, was an athlete on that team. Shawn Andrews, now of Hillsboro, was also an assistant coach for the Panthers during that span .
The men's track and field teams accumulated five national championships and one national invitational title in just three seasons, and also won numerous events and set personal and school records.
Patton, who remains the head coach for the program, along with his coaching staff, received both regional and national "Coach of the Year" awards throughout those seasons. Assistant coaches for the program included Tom Broomfield, Bob Johnson, Jeff Boele, Shawn Andrews, Rachelle Klopfenstein, Mike Harwood and Matt Labertew. Harwood also assisted Patton when he was the track coach at Hillsboro Junior High School.
In 2001 the men’s track and field team won the NCCAA indoor national invitational and followed that with the NCCAA outdoor national championship. It was the first national championship in history for any Greenville College sports team.
In May, 2001, at Cedarville, OH, 27 NCCAA teams participated in the largest national gathering to that date. While it took a total team effort to score 173 points, the Panthers brought three championships home with Shane Cress winning the 200-meter dash, Carlos Leonard earning the long jump title, and a victorious 4-by-100 meter relay team. Stephen Troup, the previous year’s top point scorer, added 19 points, placing in his three throwing events. By the end, the Greenville College crew set five Greenville College records, 18 season best performances, and 14 lifetime bests.
After winning the previous two NCCAA indoor invitationals, the men took the indoor championship in convincing fashion, outscoring runner-up Malone 171 to 125.
Three months later the men found themselves defending their title and capturing their second straight outdoor championship with five first-place finishes, five second-place finishes, and seven third-place finishes. The team accumulated 197 points, beating second place Taylor University by 72 points and setting the national record for most points scored and largest margin of victory. The previous record was 179 points, 18 points short of the new standard set by the Panthers of Greenville College.
Once again, the coaches were again honored as “Coaching Staff of the Year” for the indoor and outdoor competitions.
They successfully defended their NCCAA indoor and outdoor track and field championships in February and May of 2003. The coaches were again the NCCAA indoor and outdoor staff of the year.
Greenville College's host of qualifiers for the NCAA Division III outdoor championships included nine student-athletes in seven individual events and two relays. At the opening banquet, the NCAA gave Coach Brian Patton the 2003 Regional Coach of the Year award for the Midwest, one of the eight nationwide awards. Patton was selected by the head coaches from the region.
Their finish still stands as the best NCAA placement by a Greenville College team in any sport.