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Hornets’ Bender gets appointment to West Point

Coal Grove Hornets’ senior football standout Greg Bender signs an appointment to West Point Academy on Monday. Attending the signing ceremony are: seated from left, head coach Dave Lucas, Bender, and assistant coach Rick Barrett; standing from left, Greg’s mother Sharon Nance and his father Greg Bender. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

COAL GROVE — When West Point called, Greg Bender was more than ready to listen.

The Coal Grove Hornets’ senior All-Ohio fullback and linebacker accepted an appointment to West Point on Monday and will play football for the Black Knights.

“I’ve always had great respect for the military. I never really considered it until they knocked at my door,” said Bender.

“It’s something I can do that would be honorable. Academics have always been high on my list. When I went there the history was unreal.”

West Point doesn’t recruit by position, but they did hint that their plans were for him to play linebacker.

Bender knows it won’t be easy juggling military demands, school and athletics.

“It’s a challenge. It’s going to be hard, but anything worth having is hard. If I make it, I make it. If I don’t, I don’t,” said Bender. “I don’t plan to come home. Once I set my mind to something, I don’t quit.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Bender was a second team selection in Division V. Bender not only led the Hornets in tackles but he rushed 139 times for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games. He was first team all-district.

Bender was also first team All-Ohio Valley Conference.

Hornets’ head football coach Dave Lucas said he firmly believes Bender will succeed at West Point.

“He’s what they’re looking for. He has good character, he’s a good athlete and he has good parents. He’s a good athlete, but he no question he’s one of the best individuals they can get,” said Lucas.

“Everything he does he excels at. If they give him time, he’ll play football. He’s going to an academy that builds leadership and character. That’s what Greg has done four us the past four years.”

Bender also excels in track, something that wasn’t lost on the service academy. Bender was the Division III regional discus champion last year and runner-up in the shot put.

“They’re open to (track). I’ll have to compete for a spot,” said Bender. “They like guys who play football but also excel in track. They think they’re explosive.”

Bender is the son of Sharon Nance and Greg Bender.