The Barton Community College Athletic Department inducted five individuals to its Sports Hall of Fame this past Saturday afternoon at the Kirkman Activity Center on Barton’s campus. Established in 2000, the 2014 inductee class of L.T. and Sheila Fleske, Hyleas Fountain, Leevan Sands, and Susan (Sundahl) Ryan joined fifty-one previous inductees to the prestigious Sports Hall of Fame.
Longtime contributors to Barton Athletics, the Fleskes will be joined in the 2014 induction class by former women’s basketball player Sundahl-Ryan and track and field Olympian athletes Fountain and Sands.
Master of ceremonies and Barton Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs led an hour-long induction ceremony in front of Cougar supporters. With each inductee being presented to the crowd, memories and insight behind the lives were shared prior to the inductee’s acceptance speeches.
Barton’s Dean of Student Services Angie Maddy began the inductee introduction portion of the ceremony expressing being humbled by the accomplishments and impact made on Barton by all the inductees. As the then Director of the Trio Student Support Services program at Barton, Maddy reflected on how involvement in the program changed Hyleas Fountain’s two-year experience at Barton.
“Each Barton student will make a mark and carry of piece of Barton with them wherever they go,” said Maddy. “Some impacts will be very public while others are more quietly, but each student is important to each and every one of us at Barton.”
Fountain etched her name throughout the indoor and outdoor Barton record books, as well as, made her mark on national records and achievements. Fountain set the NJCAA National Indoor Meet record in 2001 for the High Jump 5 Alive clearing 5’7 1/3”. Putting together one of the most decorated single season in Barton history, Fountain’s sophomore season brought five individual national championships, set four event records in the Heptathlon, and earned the “Female Field Athlete of the Meet” at both the indoor and outdoor NJCAA National Championships.
Arriving to Barton from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Fountain almost didn’t even make it to the track as she became very homesick her first two weeks at Barton.
“The student support services involvement was truly an amazing experience, including helping me get my driver’s license,” Fountain joked. “I also had an amazing “Adopt a Barton Student” family in the Holinde family (Gerard and Marilyn) which reassured me that people here cared and looked out for me.”
Continuing her illustrious collegiate career at the University of Georgia, Fountain became a 2-time NCAA Indoor Champion and a 2-time NCAA Outdoor Champion. Fountain left Georgia having set the school record in five events and owning the Southeastern Conference record in the Pentathlon.
Breaking records and earning multiple championships, Fountain is only the second American to win an Olympic medal in the heptathlon, earning a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the Olympic trials she set a personal best in points (6667), broke three records, and set five personal bests in the seven heptathlon events. Despite years of competing through injuries, Fountain again earned the national honor of competing for the United States in the 2012 London Olympics and has her sights set on the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“This is a great place that will have your best interest to make sure you get to where you need to be in life,” Fountain said. “Life is what you make it. If you really want to succeed you will. If you don’t then you won’t. I’d like to thank Barton County for helping me to believe in myself academically and on the track.”
“Barton is not what created Leevan,” Barton cross country coach Parker Cowles said as he introduced the 3-time Olympian. “Rather he (Leevan) is an example of what you can do when you take advantage and really use the opportunities this institution can offer.”
Sands achieved excellence on the track at each level of competition throughout his career. Dominant on the track for the Cougars, Sands is a multiple record holder, national champion, and 3-time Olympian athlete competing for his home country of the Bahamas.
“His longevity in the sport is a testament to his dedication and willingness to work hard,” Cowles said. “I’m proud to introduce a man who embodies the character dedication and determination that I really work to instill into the athletes I work with every day.”
From 2000-2002 Sands was a member of the storied Cougar Track and Field team that took the nation by storm capturing both the indoor and outdoor NJCAA National Championships. Earning the elite distinction of “Male Field Athlete of the Meet” in the 2002 NJCAA National Indoor Championships, Sands dominated 2002 winning both the indoor and outdoor championships in both the long and triple jumps. In the 2002 outdoor championship Sands sailed to a national meet and school record 57-05.00 (17.50m) in helping Barton win its fifth of eight straight national outdoor championships.
“My coaches (Lance Brauman and Lyles Lashley) were amazing and great coaches,” Sands said. “Coach Brauman knew how to bring out the fire in me. I appreciate that and helped me jump to the national and school record.”
In the record setting jump, Sands trailed teammate LeJuan Simon’s 57-1.00 (17.39m) jump in the standings. In addition to Bauman’s inspirational message, Sands also credited the competition of teammate and friend to push him to greatness.
“I had a great experience here and would also like to thank my speech teacher (Kay Robinson),” Sands said in reflection of his most memorable experiences at Barton. “We had one-minute speeches every day. What it did was prepare me for moments like this, so I’d like to thank her.”
A 1999 Gatorade Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year in the state of Florida, the Bahamas born Sands went on to Auburn University and has earned distinction worldwide in multiple championships. A Bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Sands set the Bahamian triple jump record of 57-08.51 (17.59m).
“I’m very appreciative of my time here and this is quite an honor,” Sands concluded. “I’m very proud to be back here and want to thank you for inviting me. Go Cougars.”
Susan (Sundahl) Ryan
A 2004 Barton Hall of Fame inductee, Kevin Sundahl shared with the crowd a story to portray the shooting legend his sister was at Barton.
“One day in between the girls’ and guys’ practices, Susan and Tony Hobson (2006 Barton Sports Hall of Fame inductee and current Head Women’s Basketball coach at Fort Hays State University) were challenged to a game of H-O-R-S-E,” Sundahl recalled. “The game went for over an hour so they had to change the game to P-I-G. She was that good and a pure shooter. She averaged a lot of points and I’d hate to imagine how many she would have had if there would have been a three-point line in those days.”
In Sundahl’s freshman season, she averaged 15.3 points and five rebounds per game then topped that with a region leading 17.3 points per game while averaging six rebounds and three assists sophomore season.
“I’d like to thank the inventor of the three-point line, but I can’t,” joked Sundahl. “He came along too late for me.”
Playing at the collegiate level in what was probably Sundahl’s second best sport next to softball, the McPherson, Kansas, native twice earned All-Region VI honors and became the first All-American in the history of women’s basketball at Barton.
“I’d like to thank Barton County for the greatest honor of my life,” Sundahl said. “Being named an All-American was a great thrill but this is even better.”
As a sophomore, Sundahl helped lead the Lady Cougars to a 10-0 start to the season and a first-ever national ranking, entering the poll at No. 16. Sundahl credits many for her and the team’s success, including her coach, Don Calvert.
“Each day at practice we would joke which girl he’d make cry that day,” Sundahl recalled. “He worked us that hard. But he was the best coach you could ask for and one of the main reasons I could achieve what I did.”
Leading the region in scoring her sophomore season, Sundahl was also selected to play in the East-West All-Star game. The Lady Cougars finished 21-6 on the season having been upset in the region semifinals.
Sundahl also shared memories of her father, E.B. Sundahl, for urging her to continue playing basketball and help heal the disappointment of leaving Barton.
“Barton County and you have been good for one another,” Sundahl read from a letter her father gave her after her last Barton game. “It’s been a great two years that we can look back with pleasure always. You couldn’t have found a better environment to play in than Barton County Community College.”
Concluding her acceptance speech with her father’s words in mind, Sundahl said, “He was so right. I can’t tell you what the school meant to me then but I can tell you what it means now. This is such a special honor and I can’t thank you enough and tell you how much it means to me and always will.”
L.T. and Sheila Fleske
“If the Fleskes are going to do it then it’s worth doing at the highest level,” said Chuck Pike, longtime family friend as he presented the Fleskes.
A staple in the Barton community for over thirty-years, Dr. L.T. and Sheila Fleske have been positive examples of giving back to their community. Their anonymous generosity to Barton Community College is of no exception as the Fleskes have been instrumental in many projects allowing Barton Athletics to reach higher levels of excellence throughout their time in Great Bend.
“Two qualities have enabled the Fleskes to accomplish great things,” said Pike. “Teamwork and passion for excellence. Each brings strengths to the team and each has a passion for excellence whether it’s in their professional or personal lives.”
An orthopedic surgeon for the Central Kansas Orthopedic Group in Great Bend, Kansas, L.T. has served countless patients in his thirty-plus years of practice while Sheila is an active member of P.E.O. International encouraging and supporting women to reach self-defined goals and aspirations.
“Their gracious support through the years has always been under the condition of anonymity,” Pike said. “Today I want to personally thank them on behalf of my family, sons Jeff and Jon who both attended Barton, past, present, and future students of Barton, for your years of contribution to an institution you have a passion for.”
In one of the Fleske’s rare publicly known contributions, the Fleskes were instrumental in the installation of a new gym floor which appropriately was named “L.T. and Sheila Fleske Court” in the fall of 2012. Their contribution made the project possible as basketball and volleyball teams now have a state-of-the-art performance surface for training and game competition.
The inductees were again honored and recognized between the women’s and men’s basketball games later that evening versus Cloud County Community College.
More regarding the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees and Barton
Athletics can be found here.
Description: 2014 Barton Sports Hall of Fame Inductees following the induction ceremony Saturday, February 8, 2014 in the Kirkman Activity Center on the campus of Barton Community College in Great Bend, KS. (Pictured l to r: Hyleas Fountain, Leevan Sands, Susan (Sundahl) Ryan, Sheila Fleske, and L.T. Fleske).
Photo by: Todd Moore, Barton Sports Information Director.