50-year reunion brings athletes together

Published 11:36 pm Saturday, August 8, 2009

When the individual classes at Ironton High School line up their athletes, the class of 1959 can hold their own with the best.

A total of 11 athletes of the 1959 class attended their 50th reunion Friday and Saturday nights and managed to get together to swap stories.

Of the group attending were Phil Koerper, Dick Meyers, Craig Allen, Jim Woods, Richard Marting, Wally Dale, Lowell Murdock, Ron Kratzenberg, Jim Ross, Harold Wireman and Dick Plymale.

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In football, Allen and Kratzenberg were the ends, Meyers was the center and Plymale was the quarterback. Marting wasn’t able to play football but worked with the team.

“Murdock was the power lineman of the time. We won at Portsmouth 12-8 and he opened the hole near the goal line for Woody Hall who scored untouched,” said Plymale.

Hall went on to play at Ohio State.

Dale and Koerper played basketball along with Plymale and Kratzenberg. Ross, Wireman, Woods, Kratzenberg and Plymale all ran track.

Dale actually left Ironton before his senior year when his father was transferred to Florida. He played at Coral Gables High School where he averaged 23 points a game and got a scholarship to Florida State.

He was a two-year starter and captain of the team his senior year. In 1963, he helped Florida State hand Kentucky and Cotton Nash its first home loss in five years.

“Our head coach was Bud Kennedy and Hugh Durham was the assistant, but Durham did all the coaching,” said Dale.

Kratzenberg went on to coach basketball and golf at Indian Lakes High School in northern Ohio.

Koerper went into the Air Force and continued to play basketball in the service league. He was so impressive that he was given a scholarship to Florida Southern.

The most talented was Plymale who was named the Robert E. Griffith recipient as the best athlete in the class.

Earning a commission to West Point, Plymale became one of the top pole vaulters in the country and just missed setting a world record and earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

While competing at the Penn Relays, Plymale appeared to have his record jump but the crossbar fell as strong winds played havoc with vaulters all day.

Plymale went on to work army intelligence during the Vietnam War and later became an attorney. He spent nine years as legal counsel for the University of Kentucky overseeing all areas of business including athletics.