McNeese announces five-member class for 2019 sports hall of fame
LAKE CHARLES – Five former McNeese standouts have been selected to the McNeese Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019 – football’s Ronald Cherry and Chris Fontenot, track’s Samantha Chesson and Tom McGrath, and baseball’s Bill Simon – the committee announced on Monday.
The new inductees will be officially enshrined in a ceremony prior to the McNeese vs. Sam Houston State football game on Saturday, September 28, and will then be presented to the fans at halftime of the contest.
Cherry played a big part in the football program’s return to greatness in the early 1990s.
A consensus All-American as an offensive lineman in 1994 by the AFCA, AP, Walter Camp and Sports Network, Cherry helped lead the Cowboys to the 1993 Southland Conference championship and three straight FCS playoff appearances that resulted in the quarterfinal rounds from 1992-94.
Cherry earned first team all-conference and all-Louisiana honors in 1994 and was named McNeese’s Desmond Jones Athlete of the Year for the 1993-94 sport season. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, and also played with the Atlanta Falcons.
He was named to the Southland Conference’s 1990s All-Decade Team and a member of the McNeese Football 75th Anniversary Team.
Fontenot played for the Cowboys from 1994-97 and was a part of the 1995 and 1997 conference championship teams, including making an appearance in the 1995 FCS semifinals and 1997 FCS National Championship game.
A 1997 Walter Camp All-American, Fontenot continues to hold the title as the program’s all-time leading tight end receiver with 99 catches for 1,349 yards, as well as the single-season tight end record holder with 44 catches in 1997.
His 99 career receptions is ranked 11th among all receivers in school history while his 1,349 career receiving yards is ranked 14th.
His 4-yard catch on a 4th-and-1 late in a semifinal game against Delaware in 1997 kept the game-winning drive alive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Shonz LaFrenz with five seconds remaining to put McNeese into its first FCS national title game.
He’s a member of the McNeese Football 75th Anniversary Team.
Chesson was a 1998 and 2000 Southland Conference champion in the javelin event and a 1999 All-American after she finished in sixth place at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to become the first Cowgirl All-American in school history.
The Vinton native qualified for two NCAA meets (1997 and 1999). She won the gold medal at the 1998 conference meet with throw of 154-10 and then threw 164-5 to take first place at the 2000 conference meet.
In 1999, she broke her own school record with a throw of 169-5 at the NCAA Championships that led her to the all-American status. That record still holds today and is also ranked as the fourth-best throw in Southland Conference history.
She was named to the Southland Conference’s All-Time Women’s Outdoor Honor Roll in 2013 as part of the league’s 50th anniversary celebration.
McGrath was a four-time Southland Conference champion from 1988-91, capturing gold in the 5,000-meters in 1989 and 1991 and also in the 10,000-meter run in 1991. He was also the league’s individual cross country champion in 1988 by clocking a 25:06 in the race.
He helped lead the Cowboys to the 1989 Southland Conference Cross Country championship in the closest of margins by just one point over North Texas.
The Westmeath, Ireland native once held the school record in the 10,000-meters and continues to hold the fifth-fastest time in school history with a mark of 30:34.61 and was named the team’s MVP in 1989.
He’s been named to the Southland Conference All-Time Men’s Cross Country and Outdoor Honor Roll.
Simon played for the Cowboys from 1973-76 and was twice named to the All-Southland Conference first team (1973, 1975). He earned second team honors in 1976.
The infielder was named the team’s MVP in 1975 after he led the squad in hitting with a 3.66 batting average, a mark that continues to rank in the top 20 on the school’s single-season record list.
In 1974 he led the Cowboys in doubles and in 1976, topped the squad with 16 stolen bases, a single-season record that stood for several years.
He was named to the Southland Conference 1970s All-Decade Team in 2013 in connection with the celebration of the league’s 50th anniversary.
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