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Alumni Hall of Fame
Athletic Achievement (2011)

John D. Kuenzel

John D. Kuenzel, a native of St. Marys, is a member of the Memorial High School Class of 1956. Mr. Kuenzel has notably distinguished himself as an outstanding athlete at the high school and collegiate levels.

While a student at Memorial High School, Kuenzel was a star athlete playing football, basketball and baseball. He was a four year letterman in all three sports. His sophomore season, John was the quarterback for the 1953 Western Buckeye League Championship Roughrider Football Team. This undefeated and Coach Jack Bickel led team is considered one of the best football teams in St. Marys history because they were tremendously talented and offensively and defensively balanced. Mr. Kuenzel earned Western Buckeye League All-League Offensive Honors for his performance in 1953.

In 1953, as a freshman reserve player in the basketball program, John Kuenzel scored the first basket in a game in the then new McBroom Gymnasium. In the 1955 and 1956 seasons, Kuenzelís junior and senior years, the Coach John Stuckey led Roughriders were undefeated in regular season play and captured the Western Buckeye League title. Both seasons the Roughriders made impressive runs in the state basketball tournament. He held the Roughrider Basketball Most Career Points Record with 951 points, until Damon Goodwin broke the record by the end of his senior season in 1982.

In the 1954 and 1956 seasons, Kuenzelís sophomore and senior years, the Roughrider baseball teams won the Western Buckeye League Championship. The 1954 team made it to regional play in the state playoffs.

After being recruited by Coach Woody Hayes to play football for The Ohio State University Buckeyes and being offered an opportunity to play minor league baseball for Major League Baseballís Detroit Tigers, John Kuenzel decided to accept an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mr. Kuenzel was also a star athlete at the Academy playing football, basketball and baseball. In 1958, his junior season, Quarterback John Kuenzel played a key role in leading the Falcons, in just their third season of play, to an undefeated season. The Kardiac Kids of the Rockies earned the right to play in the 1959 Cotton Bowl, where they tied the Bob Lilly led Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, who finished the season ranked in the top ten. This Falcon football team also finished the season ranked in the top ten and in 2001, was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame. Kuenzel lettered in football all four years he was at the Academy. He also received letters in basketball both his freshman and sophomore years fpr playing for the Falcons and Assistant Coach (and eventual Hall of Fame University of North Carolina Tar Heels Head Basketball Coach) Dean Smith.

The baseball diamond also yielded great success for the four year letterman. In 1957, his freshman season, Kuenzel won the N.C.A.A. Slugging Title. In two of his four seasons he batted over a 400 average and found himself in the top five in N.C.A.A. batting averages. In 1960, Mr. Kuenzel graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science Degree. After being approached about joining the minor league affiliates of either of Major League Baseballís Cleveland Indians or Pittsburgh Pirates, Kuenzel decided to join his fellow Academy graduates in pilot training. As a pilot, Mr. Kuenzel had his brushes with significant events in American history. In October 1962, out of Spain, he refueled jets that were on high alert as they kept track of Soviet Union activity during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1967, out of Thailand, he refueled jets headed to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. In 1980, Lieutenant Colonel John D. Kuenzel retired from the United States Air Force. Later in 1980, Lieutenant Colonel Kuenzel began working for the defense contractor known today as Lockheed Martin. He retired from Lockheed Martin in 1993. From 1993 to 2006, Mr. Kuenzel worked for Wells Fargo, formerly A.G. Edwards, as an Investment Broker. Today, he enjoys full retirement.

Despite his tremendous athletic success amidst a lifetime of great achievement, Mr. Kuenzel is quick to point to and heap praise upon the many great teammates, of equal or greater talent, at Memorial and the Academy that contributed to his or the teamís ultimate success. Humility in the midst of great success and achievement is a trademark of Roughrider greatness. To paraphrase Coach Stuckey, it is for Johnís all-around great athletic ability and tremendous achievement that John D. Kuenzel is inducted into the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame for Athletic Achievement.

The above text, in its entirety, is embossed on a St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Hall of Fame plaque permanently on display in Memorial High School.

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