By RICK PETERSON
Topeka West will induct five former Charger athletes, one coach, one special contributor and one team into the Topeka West Athletics Hall of Fame Thursday night.
Former West athletes Tony Barry, Jeff Benson, Misty Caryl Lingerfelt, Katie Freund Niemann and Daniel Heflin will be inducted Thursday as well as the late Bill Allen, a former Charger coach. Rome Mitchell will be inducted as a special contributor while the 1967 West girls gymnastics team will be inducted as a team.
A reception in the Topeka West Leadership Studies room will be held for the inductees at 6 p.m., followed at 7 by the induction ceremony in the Topeka West Auditorium. Admission is free to both of events.
The inductees will be also introduced at halftime of Friday's Homecoming football game against Hayden at Hummer Sports Park (7 p.m. kickoff).
Those chosen for induction in 2021 are:
TONY BARRY -- A 1982 West graduate, Barry participated in football and basketball for the Chargers. He was a two-year letter-winner in both football and basketball and was named second-team All-City and second-team All-I-70 League as a senior in football. He was named All-I-70 League as a senior in basketball. Barry currently resides in Topeka and is very active at Christ the King parish and CASA in Topeka.
JEFF BENSON – Bencon, a 1986 West graduate, starred in tennis for the Chargers. Benson was the Class 6A state singles champion and was undefeated and named a Prince High School All-American in 1986. He played college tennis for four years at Iowa State and was named team captain in '90. Benson has been a USPTA certified elite professional since '91 and was named Iowa USPTA tennis professional of the year in '04. He is currently the Director of Tennis at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and is a member of the Topeka Tennis Association Hall of Fame.
MISTY CARYL LINGERFELT – Caryl Lingerfelt, who graduated in 1994, ran cross country for two years and played basketball for three years at West. She was named first-team All-City, first-team All-I-70 League and third-team All-State. Caryl Lingerfelt was part of the 25-0 6A state championship team in 1994. She continued playing basketball at Washburn University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Caryl Lingerfelt is currently an assistant principal at Royal Palm Beach High School in Florida.
KATIE FREUND NIEMANN -- A 2002 West graduate, Freund Niemann played golf all four years for the Chargers. She was on Topeka West’s first girls golf team in 1998. Freund Niemann finished sixth her sophomore year, fifth her junior year and 11thher senior year in the 5A-6A state golf tournament. In her sophomore, junior and senior years she was in the top 10 in all of her regular season tournaments. Freund Niemann is currently the Director of Clinical Services in Andover and is very active in her church in El Dorado.
DANIEL HEFLIN -- Heflin, a 2003 West graduate, earned 10 varsity letters -- four in football, two in basketball and four in baseball. Heflin was the starting first baseman on the '03 state championship baseball team and was named first-team All-State and All-City in baseball. He was the starting quarterback for the 2002 state runner-up football team and received All-City honorable mention. Heflin also started on the third-place state basketball team in '03.
COACH BILL ALLEN -- Allen, who will be inducted posthumously, coached at Topeka West from 1972-1975. He coached boys gymnastics, leading the Chargers to fifth-place finishes in the state tournament in 1972-73 and '73-'74. Allen was a football assistant from '72-'75 and a track assistant from '72-'75, coaching the pole-vaulters. Allen passed away from complications due to COVID-19 earlier this year.
SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR ROME MITCHELL – Mitchell was the associate principal at Topeka West from 1974 to '84 where he was a strong proponent of Charger athletics. After his time at Topeka West, Mitchell was promoted to a district level administrator and during his tenure at the district level pushed for lights on the Topeka West soccer field.
1967 GIRLS GYMNASTICS TEAM – In 1967 the Topeka West girls gymnastics completed an undefeated season. The Chargers won the city championship for four consecutive years. Coached by Shelly Ford and Mary Starbuck, team members were Kathy Biege, Elaine Scott, Cindy Schmidt, Rita Thomas, Marilyn Boon, Bobette Webster, Pat Edinger, Dona Clark, Alice Reinking, Jill Brubaker, Barbi Murrow, Norie Haines, Cindy Schoonover, Jane Wilkinson and Paula Brittian.