The Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame is making up for lost time — as in events missed because of health and safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Class of 2020 — yes, 2020 — will be inducted on Monday night, May 16, at the 51st annual awards banquet. The induction class is four athletes — Sheryl Cohen, Marvin Lloyd, Eric Oetgen and Elijah "Sonny" Powell — as well as two citation honorees — Eddie Aenchbacher and Michael Lariscy. In addition, there are annual honors for the Lawton M. Calhoun Award for top high school player of the year to New Hampstead graduate Sam Brown; and the M.A. Spellman Special Award to Dale Critz Jr.
The event setting is the Alee Temple ballroom on 100 Eisenberg Drive. A reception will be held from 6 to 6:45 p.m., with dinner and awards beginning at 7.
Tickets are $25.00. For information, contact Earl Etheridge at 912-667-5484 or email email@example.com.
The Hall of Fame's virtual entity remains at gsahof.com, but the physical exhibition of those honored since the charter class of 1966 has moved down the Hall, so to say, from the Savannah Civic Center to an all-new display at the new Enmarket Arena.
Here are the accomplishments at a glance for those to be the latest enshrined in the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame.
Sheryl Cohen is one of the most decorated athletes in Savannah’s history, a weightlifter who has competed at the height of her sport for more than three decades. She earned the distinction of being a top international junior in high school when she won a gold medal at the Toronto Games and broke Georgia’s state record in the clean and jerk in 1990 at the Savannah Open. She was a national junior champion in 1991 and 1993, and she was placed on the Olympic Festival team both years.
While competing for Armstrong Atlantic State University, she won a collegiate national championship in 1996 and won the American Open the same year. Her competitive career continued as she earned a silver medal at the 1999 national championships and qualified for World Team trials in 2001.
During her career as a Masters competitor for athletes 35 and older, Cohen was a five-time national Masters champion, an American Masters record holder, a two-time Pan Am American Masters champion and a five-time World Masters qualifier.
At every stage of her athletic career, Cohen has excelled and distinguished herself as one of the best in the world in her sport. She joins two other members of the family — her husband Michael Cohen (Class of 1992) and her father-in-law Howard Cohen (Class of 1984) — as athletes in the Hall of Fame.
Elijah “Sonny” Powell
Elijah "Sonny" Powell was a dominant force on the basketball court at Tompkins and Jenkins high schools from 1968-72. His talents attracted interest from basketball powerhouses around the country, but he chose to stay home and play for Armstrong State College.
He was inducted into the Armstrong State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Jenkins High School Hall of Fame in 2017, and ranks in the top five in five Armstrong basketball categories. After graduating from high school, he was unanimously selected to the South All-Star team to participate in the North-South All-Star Basketball Game. His performance on the court during high school and college make Sonny Powell unquestionably one of the most talented and productive basketball players in Savannah’s history.
Eric Oetgen’s journey as a competitive sailor began at 10 and has lasted a lifetime. He competed in three Olympic sailing campaigns spanning from 1993 until 2004, both in a single-handed Laser sailboat and a single-handed Finn sailboat.
He was a silver medalist in the 1994 Goodwill Games in Russia, took sixth place in the U.S. Olympic trials in Savannah in 1996, fifth place in the trials in San Francisco in 2000 and third place in the trials in Fort Lauderdale in 2004. He is a five-time Southeastern champion in the Laser class, and he captured the 2015 Deep South Regatta in Savannah.
In 2018, Oetgen won the Sunfish Master World Championship in Panama City, racing the same boat class that started his competitive career. He was nominated for the U.S. Sailing Rolex Sailor of the Year following his world championship, and framed artwork honoring his victory hangs in the Savannah Yacht Club Quarter Deck. Both as competitive sailor and an ambassador for sailing, Oetgen has served as an inspiration for future generations of Savannah sailors.
Marvin Lloyd’s free throw propelled the Savannah High School basketball team to the 1972 Georgia High School Association 3A state championship, earning him a permanent place in Savannah’s athletic lore.
Lloyd was also an integral member of the 1971 Savannah High team that was Class 3A runner-up and was elected to play center on the Georgia South All-Star team after his senior season.
He played collegiate basketball at Lake City Community College in Florida, earning Most Valuable Player honors, and then took his talents to Jacksonville University, where he averaged 15 points per game during his senior season. Lloyd’s accomplishments and clutch performances make him an indelible piece of Savannah’s rich basketball history.
Eddie Aenchbacher’s leadership, vision and passion ensured the success of Armstrong Atlantic State University athletics during his decades of serving the institution a coach and athletic director.
During his 14 years as the school’s athletic director, AASU implemented three new women’s sports, reinstated men’s golf, developed four facility projects, won four NCAA Division II national championships, produced 11 Academic All-Americans and garnered two Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Awards.
Aenchbacher was named the Peach Belt Conference Women’s Coach of the Year in 1991 while coaching cross country, and was honored as the 2008-09 Under Armour Division II/SE Athletic Director of the Year. His ability to motivate, inspire, organize, hire and develop talent elevated the AASU athletic department to new heights.
Michael Lariscy’s devotion and contribution to sports in Savannah spanned more than 40 years, ranging from intramural fields to basketball courts, tennis courts, classrooms, golf courses and soccer fields.
As a referee, Lariscy served as a basketball official for more than 20 years, officiating three state tournament finals and serving as a state evaluator for the Georgia High School Athletic Association. As a coach, he finished with a record of 160-73 as Armstrong Athletic University’s men’s tennis coach and produced an NCAA Division II individual national champion.
He is a member of the Armstrong Sports Hall of Fame and received the Savannah Sports Council’s Award for Excellence for his contributions to AASU as a coach and the director of the sports medicine and athletic training internship program. His dedication to the success of others epitomizes the leadership and character required to make a lasting impact.
Lawton M. Calhoun Award
A senior in 2020 at New Hampstead High School, Sam Brown blew up during the 2019 football season, hauling in 40 catches for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns while also running for 308 yards and five touchdowns. He also totaled 69 tackles and four interceptions as a defensive back, returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
Brown accepted a football scholarship from West Virginia University and caught eight passes for 92 yards as a freshman, including three catches for 42 yards against Army in the 2021 Liberty Bowl. He transferred after two seasons to the University of Houston this year.
M.A. Spellman Award
Dale Critz Jr.
Dale Critz Jr.’s name will forever be linked to the Critz Tybee Run Fest, an event that has attracted thousands of runners and takes over Tybee Island on the first Saturday in February. The distance running event was established in 2009 and contributed nearly $600,000 to local charities in its first 11 years.
As a runner, Critz realized the special value the event held for Tybee and Savannah, giving Tybee and Savannah residents a health and wellness event to call their own each year. The unique format includes a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, a 2.8-mile beach run and a 1-mile run over the course of a weekend, adding up to the distance of a full marathon (26.2 miles) if participants choose to enter all of the races.
Critz’s foresight, commitment and generosity enabled the establishment of a running event that is unlike any other in the country.
The Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame was founded in 1965 to honor Savannah’s most distinguished athletes and leaders in the athletic community. The GSAHOF accepts nominations from the community and evaluates those nominations. Each year, the GSAHOF inducts four Athletes, two Citation recipients, the Lawton M. Calhoun Award recipient recognizing Savannah’s most outstanding high school athlete and the M.A. Spellman Special Award recipient.
Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor of the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NathanDominitz
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame 2020 induction class announced