Editor’s note: The Catoctin Banner, in cooperation with Dave Ammenheuser, wrote this story.
It has been almost 40 years since John Campbell, Duane Gigeous, Dennis Grandstaff, Larry Martinez, and Mark Williard stood together on the Catoctin High School basketball court.
They were members of the 1979-80 Catoctin boys’ basketball team that finished with a 14-8 record, which snapped a streak of several losing seasons. A year later, the 1980-81 Cougars posted a school-best 20-3 record and became the only Catoctin boys’ basketball team to advance to the state semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House. The Cougars lost to Mount Hebron in overtime.
In January 2020, those five, plus many of their 1979-80 and 1980-81 teammates, coaches, cheerleaders, and statisticians plan to reunite at the school for the first time in almost four decades.
“We grew up in a special place at a special time,” said Williard, who now lives in Irving, Texas. “The community really rallied around us, and I believe that support helped to drive our success. I attended Catoctin’s homecoming football game this year and am glad to see that the strong support remains. I’m really looking forward to getting the gang back together.”
Williard and Dave Ammenheuser, the statistician of the 1979-80 team, are coordinating the January 24-25 reunion.
“It’s been 40 years since we’ve all been together,” said Ammenheuser, now the sports editor of USA TODAY. “For several years, Mark and I have casually talked through social media about putting a reunion together. It’s great that it is going to happen.”
Ammenheuser is working with Catoctin Athletic Director Keith Bruck to make the reunion special. Catoctin hosts Williamsport on January 24. Starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be a reception during the junior varsity game. The 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams will then be introduced at halftime of the varsity game.
On January 25, there will be an alumni game for all former Cougars who played in the 1980s.
“We’re also planning a special outing on Friday night after the game,” said Williard, who is eyeing a post-game reunion/celebration at The Ott House Pub in Emmitsburg.
Williard and Ammenheuser have been busy tracking down former teammates and classmates. Social media has helped with that task. However, they are still attempting to locate two former teammates: Jim Hamilla, who played on the 1979-80 team, and Mark Hall, who played on the 1980-81 team. If anyone knows how to reach them, please reach out to Williard (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ammenheuser (DaveAmmenheuser@gmail.com).
With the exception of Hamilla and Hall and Paul Cisar (1979-80), who has a family event scheduled outside of the country, other teammates are expected to attend. They include Carroll Brown, M.J. Golibart, Ed Graff, Bob Gray, Michael Hill, George Kuhn, Duane Snyder, Mike Valentine, Campbell, Gigeous, Grandstaff, Martinez and Williard. Mike Stitely, a member of the 1980-81 team, died in December 1995. He will be represented by his son, Matt Stitely.
Former head coach Steve Lengkeek, who left Catoctin after the 1980-81 season and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, is looking forward to the reunion. Although he’s stayed in touch with some of his former players, he has not seen all of them in four decades.
“My wife, Carol, and I are really looking forward to seeing many athletes, students, and former staff who filled our lives during our time at Catoctin and left us with an abundance of lifelong memories,” said Lengkeek, who has officiated basketball games in the Wilmington area for 25 years. “It makes us very proud to see that so many have gone on to their own journey to excel and to leave so many positive marks on their own stories and that of others.”
He and Keith Delauter (Catoctin Class of 1976) have volunteered to officiate the alumni game on January 25.
Williard and Ammenheuser encourage former classmates, parents, school staff members, and the community to come out to the event.