Six athletes to be inducted in Gladstone Hall

GLADSTONE – Athletes from three decades and a coach whose career spanned the same three decades have been selected to the Gladstone Athletic Hall of Fame.

Inductees include Shari (Ahola) Byerly and Larry Luft from the 1980s, Steve Petr and Andy Wiltzius from the 1970s and Tom Vanlerberghe from the 1960s, along with long-time coach Bob Richards.

The 2004 state champion Gladstone softball team of manager Gerry Smith will also be recognized. The Braves defeated Niles Brandywine 2-1 for the Division 3 title, the first of three Gladstone softball state champions (2009 and 2014).

The fourth annual induction banquet is Oct. 18 at the Terrace Bay Inn. Tickets will be available soon at Gladstone High School and from committee members.

Byerly was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and is also in the University of Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame.

The 1982 GHS female athlete of the year, Byerly was a standout in skiing, cross country and track. She was a three-time All-American skier and helped Wyoming win the NCAA ski championship in 1985. She was Wyoming’s top female athlete in 1986, competed in the World University Games in Cortina, Italy, was the Junior National slalom champion in 1981 and won the slalom and giant slalom titles at the 1983 Junior Olympics. She skied on the women’s professional tour in 1987-88.

Luft was a three-time Upper Peninsula champion in wrestling, compiled a 73-match winning streak and pinned every opponent in his senior season, finishing with a 96-17-3 career record. He was an All-U.P. Dream Team football guard in 1987. He wrestled at Central Michigan University and had a 74-38 career record, placing second (1991) and third (1992) at 167 pounds in the Mid-American Conference. He was team captain in 1991 and 1992.

Petr was a four-year football letterman for the Braves at linebacker and was All-U.P. in 1974. The 1975 GHS grad then played football for four years at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, helping the Pointers win the Wisconsin State University Conference crown and a berth in the NAIA playoffs, where they finished third. He was a WSUC first-team selection and all-district choice and led UWSP with 214 tackles.

Vanlerberghe earned 10 varsity letters in football, basketball and track before graduating from Gladstone in 1963. In basketball he earned Great Lakes Conference and All-U.P. all-star honors and was second team all-state as a senior. He was also a GLC football all-star. He set a school pole vault record in 1963. He has coached in Little League and has officiated football and basketball games in high school and officiated Special Olympics for 31 years. He spent a year in Vietnam with the U.S. Army.

Wiltzius, an assistant football coach at Kingsford High School since 1988, earned eight varsity letters in football, basketball and track. He was a Great Northern Conference football all-star in 1978 and 1979 and was All-U.P. in 1979, when he was Gladstone’s MVP. He was Gladstone’s jayvee football coach in 1985 and a varsity assistant in 1986. In his 26 years with Kingsford, the Flivvers are 222-66 with 21 playoff appearances, and won the Class B state title in 1993. The Flivvers were second in 1990, 1992 and 1996.

Richards coached basketball, baseball, track and football at Gladstone from 1965-85. He was 25-3 as jayvee football coach and 31-12 as varsity football coach, winning U.P. Class A-B team of the year in 1971. His 1969 track team won the U.P. Class A-B title. He died in 2007.