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Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame to induct 4 in 64th Annual Ceremony

Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame (Courtesy Image)
Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame (Courtesy Image)
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Amarillo native Steve McFarland, who spent a half-century in the sport of diving as a national champion, coach, television analyst and administrator, Becky Boxwell McIlraith, one of Amarillo’s first outstanding volleyball players and Texas Tech’s first three-time All-Southwest Conference women’s athlete, the late Elmer Tarbox, a legendary Tech football player from the small Panhandle town of Higgins, and Pampa basketball player Wayne Kreis, who later was a standout at TCU, comprise the 2022 HOF class.

Tarbox will be the 193rd member followed by McFarland, McIlraith and Kreis that will bring to a total of 196 inducted into the shrine whose first inductee in 1959 was 1936 Olympic basketball gold medalist Joe Fortenberry of Happy.

They will be honored, along with coaches and athletes of the year from 2021-2022 in 11 sports, and five special award winners, at 2 p.m. on June 12 at the Amarillo Civic Center’s Grand Plaza room. There is no admission charge and a free catered reception is scheduled during and following the ceremonies.

A press conference, with the inductees, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, June 11 at the Kids, Inc. Warehouse, 2201 E. 27th Avenue. Kids, Inc. is in its ninth year as the corporate sponsor of the Hall of Fame.

The ceremonies, traditionally held in mid-February, were postponed in 2021 to June because of the COVID pandemic and Hall of Fame officials decided to keep the June date a permanent one.

As the 193rd inductee, Tarbox grew up in tiny Higgins in the northeast Panhandle in the late 1920s and 1930s. He saw part of one football game in his life when he enrolled at Texas Tech in 1935. Despite that, he went on to become one of the best Red Raider football players in school history and later a decorated World War II pilot, state representative in the Texas legislature and successful businessman.

Tarbox was an exceptional two-way player at halfback and cornerback. As a senior in 1938, Tarbox led the country in yards per catch while also finishing seventh in rushing yards and 10th in receiving yards. But it was on defense where he shined. His 11 interceptions that senior year are still a Tech single-season record 84 years later, and his 17 career interceptions are second all-time. Tarbox was named the co-outstanding player of the 1939 Cotton Bowl and the All-College Texas Football Player of the Year.

He was drafted 18th overall by the Cleveland Browns but didn’t opt for the NFL. He later served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps in World War II. In 1966, he was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives where he served for 10 years.

Tarbox received the ultimate football honor at Tech in 2021 when he was inducted into the Ring of Honor and his name enshrined at Jones Stadium. Tarbox died at age 71 in 1987 of Parkinson’s Disease which he lived with for more than 20 years.

McFarland, the 194th inductee, began tumbling and performing on the trampoline as a young boy at the Maverick Club and Nard’s Gymnastics in Amarillo. He also began to spend part of his summers learning the sport of diving at Dick’s Swim Gym in Phoenix.

After graduation from Alamo Catholic in 1969, McFarland went to the University of Texas. When the NCAA dropped the sports of trampoline, he transferred to the University of Miami to focus on diving. Among his highlights were two AAU national championships in platform diving in 1973 and 1974 and two bronze medals at the World University Games in 1974. He was also sixth in the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials.

McFarland soon began coaching. He became head coach of the Hurricanes from 1978-1984 where he coached four All-Americans. Among his divers were 1976 Olympic gold medalist Phil Boggs, and four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis considered the greatest diver in U.S. history.

McFarland became a recognizable television voice in diving. He worked for 17 years for various networks, highlighted by coverage of the 1988 and 1992 Olympics for NBC. He transitioned to a diving judge in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. McFarland has been vice-president and president of USA Diving, and last year retired as CEO and chairman of Duraflex International Corp. He and his wife Beth have two grown sons. They live in Lake St. Louis, Mo.

As the 195th member, McIlraith was among the first group of outstanding volleyball players from Amarillo in the early 1980s. She would eventually not only make history in the Amarillo ISD, but also at Texas Tech.

As Becky Boxwell, she helped set a foundation of a program that would go on to win 10 state championships. As seniors in 1983, they were known across the city as The Wall. They won their first 38 matches without a loss before an upset in the regional finals.

With women’s college athletic scholarships still in their infancy, McIlraith signed with Texas Tech. She would have three outstanding seasons from 1985-87. An annual team leader in kills and digs, McIlraith was Tech’s first three-time All-Southwest Conference women’s athlete in any sport and was the first Tech volleyball player in 1987 to be named to the NCAA’s all-region team. Her single-season mark for kills stood for nine years.

In 2005, McIlraith was inducted into Texas Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame. While at Tech, she met and later married Jay McIlraith. Residing in Amarillo for some time, they have two grown children.

Kreis, the 196th member, was elected for enshrinement through the veteran's committee which recognizes athletes and coaches whose careers concluded at least 50 years ago.

Kreis, a two-sport athlete at Pampa High School, was a two-year basketball starter for the Harvesters on the 1962 and 1963 basketball teams. He averaged a team-high 19.9 points a game on a 29-1 team in 1963 that included Randy Matson, Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the shot put, and Ken Hebert, All-America wide receiver at the University of Houston.

He signed to play basketball with TCU and would be a fixture for the Horned Frogs for three years. As a 5-foot-10 guard, Kreis averaged in double figures every year – 14.7, 15.7, and 13.8 points per game – from 1965 through 1967.

As a junior, he was named first-team All-Southwest Conference by the Dallas Morning News and TCU’s MVP. He finished with 1,002 career points over 68 games and is fifth all-time in free-throw accuracy at 81.2 percent.

Kreis earned a business administration degree at TCU, and in 1971, graduated from the University of Texas Law School. After a few years of law practice, he pivoted to a lifetime in the oil and gas business where he was an innovator and entrepreneur in oilfield technology. Kreis died on May 4, 2019, at age 74 in Fort Worth.

Full list of Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Honorees:

2022 PSHOF inductees:

  • 193rd inductee: Elmer Tarbox, Higgins/Texas Tech
  • 194th inductee: Steve McFarland, Amarillo/University of Miami
  • 195th inductee: Becky Boxwell McIlraith, Amarillo High School/Texas Tech
  • 196th inductee: Wayne Kreis, Pampa High School/TCU

Coaches of the Year:

  • Baseball: Cory Hamilton, Randall High School
  • Basketball: Boston Hudson, Clarendon High School
  • Cross Country: Chris Sumrall, Wellington High School
  • Football: Matt Lovorn, Stratford High School
  • Golf: Axel Ochoa, West Texas A&M
  • Soccer: Hugo Aguillon, Pampa High School
  • Softball: Scott Tankersley, Bushland High School
  • Tennis: Koby Otto, Amarillo High School
  • Track: Matt Stewart, West Texas A&M
  • Volleyball: Kendra Potts, West Texas A&M
  • Wrestling: Chris Allen, Caprock High School

Athletes of the Year:

  • Baseball: Adam Becker, West Texas A&M
  • Basketball: Brendan Hausen, Amarillo High School
  • Cross Country: Cameron McConnell, Randall High School
  • Football: Cody Rinne, Stratford High School
  • Golf: Eemeli Jarniven, West Texas A&M
  • Soccer: Jaime Carrillo, Palo Duro High School
  • Softball: Berkley Bradley, Canyon High School
  • Tennis: Eleanor Archer, Amarillo High School
  • Track (co): Macklynn Land, Panhandle High School; Brenen Thompson, Spearman High School
  • Volleyball: Chandler Vogel, West Texas A&M
  • Wrestling: Tatiana Garcia, Caprock High School

Special Achievement Awards:

  • Zayda Swoopes, West Texas A&M track and field athlete
  • Tyler Goodwin, Nazareth High School baseball coach
  • Jason Culpepper, 500th volleyball win, Bushland High School
  • Bob Schneider, Canyon/WTAMU, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
  • Bailey Maupin, Gruver basketball player named TABC girls player of the year

Super Team Award:

  • Unbeaten Gruver girls basketball team, Class 2A state champions

Big Play Award:

  • LaMarcus Peniger, Clarendon High School, 41 points in 2A state championship game, 33 in the second half, to lead Broncos to title

Dick Risenhoover Award:

  • Tucker Davidson, Tascosa High School/Atlanta Braves

Dee Henry Inspiration Award:

  • Camryn Armes, Gruver High School
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In addition, state and national individual and team champions will be recognized.

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