Although he is known in the region as one of the top track and field coaches in the sport’s history, Vern Hawkins was finally recognized in Cincinnati for his illustrious career.
On Aug. 2 at the original Montgomery Inn in Montgomery, Hawkins was honored as one of five people inducted into the 2015 class of the Greater Cincinnati Running Hall of Fame. Hawkins was joined by Mary Bowermaster, Emily Macleod, Chris Wineberg, and Andy Wolf in the Class of 2015.
Hawkins coached at Georgetown High School for 38 years, and from 1968-1972, he lead G-Men cross country teams to state meet finishes of second place, first place, second place, and sixth place, respectively.
He also had a number of runners make it to the state finals under his tutelage.
In 1968, Nick Tsanges and Gary White finished in second and fourth place, respectively. In 1969, despite winning a state title, no individual athletes finished in the top ten in the state.
Mike Bends finished in second place and Dan Lindsey finished in eighth place in 1970, and a year later, Mike Becraft finished in second place and Lindsey finished in 11th place to help lead the G-Men to a second-place finish overall.
Becraft repeated a year later to help lead the G-Men to a sixth-place finish, and in 1973, Becraft won the state title in cross country.
On the track and field side, Hawkins also found success in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ricky Brown was a three-time sprint champion led the G-Men to a second-place finish in the state in 1971, Becraft finished in second place in the one mile and two mile run for three years running, and Larry Gardner became state champion in the shot put in 1975.
In 1990, Ed Johnson, Seth Meranda, Tony Watson and Erik Anderson won the state title in the 4×800 while Josh Bowman, Kevin Grennan, Erik Anderson and Perry Jo Cahall finished in second place in the 4×800 at the state championships a year later. Grant Jones high jumped 6-feet 10-inches in 1996, good for third place in the state.
In addition to coaching the track and field and cross country teams, Hawkins coached boys and girls basketball. Hawkins was the head coach while Kelly Benintendi was in school, where she broke numerous records and scored 2,385 points in her career, still a school record.
Hawkins, an Anderson High School graduate, attended the University of Cincinnati and ran on the track and field and cross country teams while majoring in education. Midway through his career, Hawkins left college to join the Navy, serving for four years before returning to Cincinnati.
He taught physical education, health, first aid, and drivers education at Georgetown for 33 years, and he earned his Masters degree in Education from Xavier University as well.