Members of the Mahomet-Seymour Education Foundation’s 2018 Hall of Fame class will be inducted prior to Friday night’s homecoming game at Frank Dutton Field.
The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s class includes four former athletes, a musician and a scientist who pushed limits, making a lasting impact.
James Kroner: Lifetime Achievement Award
Sometimes the impact that we make on the world is something that is applauded.
As a 1939 graduate of Mahomet High School, James Kroner heard applause from the stands as he participated in basketball and track.
Kroner went on to the University of Illinois to earn his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and accolades as he became the first Mahomet High School graduate to be named to the Bronze Tablet at the University of Illinois.
But, maybe, for James Kroner, his early life’s work was not something he wanted attention to be drawn to.
In June of 1943, the month after he graduated from the UI, Kroner was recruited by the U.S. Government to begin work on the Manhattan Project, the research and development that led to the development of the first nuclear bomb, at the University of Chicago.
His son, Fred Kroner, former Editor of the Mahomet Citizen, wrote last October that his father said, “For the longest time, we didn’t know what was going to come from our research. We weren’t told what our research was being used for.”
Growing up thinking his father was just a farmer, Fred was surprised to learn that his dad had a life before his rural life in Mahomet.
Fred Kroner wrote the majority of questions he had about his father’s lifetime were often left unanswered.
Even after a phone call from Dr. Glenn Seaborg, a Nobel Prize-winning Chemist who was a supervisor on the Manhattan project, James’ lips continued to stay sealed.
According to Fred, James said, “We had to sign confidentiality agreements. I couldn’t even talk to your mother about what I did at work
“We couldn’t even talk with the person in the next office about our research.”
It was only when Fred’s son, Devin, did an internet search on his grandfather’s name, that the pair learned about James’ contribution to the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II.
In July of 1945, James was one of 67 scientists working on the Manhattan Project to sign Szilárd Petition, which was sent to President Truman.
The scientists wrote, “we recommend that before this weapon be used without restriction in the present conflict, its powers should be adequately described and demonstrated, and the Japanese nation should be given the opportunity to consider the consequences of further refusal to surrender. We feel this course of action will heighten the effectiveness of the weapon in this war and will be of tremendous effect in the prevention of future wars.”
In Fred Kroner’s article in the Citizen, he said that the letter did not end his father’s involvement in the Manhattan Project, though.
James Kroner continued to live and work in Oak Ridge, Tenn. where he studied uranium/plutonium isotopes to “develop ways to isolate them so they were usable.”
This work continued for six months after the first nuclear bomb was dropped.
Fred said that while his father would be uncomfortable with the spotlight on him during the Hall of Fame induction, he is confident that his father would make two points.
“The first is not to accept everything you are told, but to question, do independent research and corroborate information before reaching a conclusion or rushing to judgment,” Fred said.
“So often people may have an agenda and may interpret events in a manner to suit their purpose or belief. Take the time to study, make sure of the facts and then reach a decision based on what you know rather than what you are told.
“The second is to recognize that no matter what a person does, he or she never does it alone. There is always someone else who deserves a part of the credit.
“This is true of scientists. A discovery might be made, but only after other experiments have been conducted to eliminate other possibilities and narrow down the field.”
A sportswriter for more than 50 years, Fred has seen this play out in other areas, too.
“This is true of athletes. A baseball player may hit a home run, but he didn’t make the bat that he used or the weight equipment that helped him build his strength.
“This is true of farmers. A productive crop may be harvested, but the farmer did not make the equipment required to plant or harvest, nor did he create the seed.
“It is true for everyone.
“Sometimes it may be obvious that you are part of a team when several people combine on an idea to be implemented in the workforce. However, whatever path we choose for ourselves, whatever our profession is, nobody alone is entirely responsible for any given outcome.”
The Kroner family will receive the crowd’s applause on James’ behalf at the Hall of Fame ceremony as they accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday night at the high school track.
“It is an honor and a privilege for the entire Kroner family to have one of its own recognized in the second year of the Mahomet-Seymour Schools Foundation Hall of Fame,” Fred said.
An accomplished trumpet player, Brian Haag moved from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Mahomet during his eighth-grade year.
Opportunities like marching, concert and jazz bands alongside swing choir and Madrigals kept Haag busy.
According to his band and choir instructors, Dick and Janet Watkins, his level of musicianship raised the bar in what excellence could sound like at the High School level.
Throughout his career, Haag received recognition for his talents winning first place in his solo and ensemble performances at the high school level.
During his time at Mahomet-Seymour, Haag helped the Mahomet-Seymour Marching Band set new standards as they won Grand Champions at every contest from 1988 to 1997.
He continued to perform in college as a scholarship member of the Marching Illini. He became the section leader of the Marching Illini Trumpeters and was featured as the trumpet soloist for the band.
Haag now resides in the Netherlands where he is involved with the design and building of software professional traders.
Mahomet-Seymour Junior High School’s first IESA state champion was 65-pound Rob Porter.
Over his four-year high school career, Porter accounted 89 victories and 17 losses, including his senior record which included 44 wins and two losses. During his junior year of high school, Porter, at 98 pounds placed third at the IHSA Class A State Championships. He went on to win the Individual Class A state title in 1984.
He continued to find success on the mats at Edinboro (Pa.) University as a four-year letter winner who was ranked nationally by Amateur Wrestling News. Porter qualified for the Division 1 National Championships in 1987 and 1989.
Then giving back to his alma mater, Porter returned to Mahomet-Seymour to teach math and coach wrestling until 2001. During his time, Porter’s teams amassed a win-loss record of 254-44-3, including placing third in the team IHSA State Wrestling Tournament in 1991, 1994,1997 and 2001.
Porter was awarded the USA Wrestling Distinguished coach award in 2001.
After leaving Mahomet-Seymour, Porter continued success in programs at Crook County High School in Prineville (Ore.) and at Naperville (Ill.) Central High School until 2015.
In 2011, Porter was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame.
Sharon (Farley) Goff
It was hard to catch Sharon Farley.
During her time at Mahomet-Seymour High School, Sharon set the school record in the 100-meters dash at 11.8 seconds. She also owns the second fastest time in the 200 meters at 25.0 seconds.
A member of the 1979 Girls Class A State Track Championship teams, Farley was on the 880-yard relay team that set a school and Class A State record at 1:45.7 and an 880 medley team that did the same at 1:51.4. In 1979, Farley also placed fifth in the 220-yard hurdles.
The team went on to repeat its victory at the Girls Class A State Track Championship in 1980. Farley won the 100 meters (12.7 seconds) and 200 meters (25.4).
In 1980, Sharon had the honor of competing in the Midwest Meet of Champions in the 100-meter dash and as a member of the 800 Medley that included the future three-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Women’s Track and Field, Jackie Joyner Kersee.
Farley went on to compete in track at Eastern Illinois University in the 400-meter hurdles and on numerous relays from 1981 to 1984.
While at Eastern Illinois University, Farley earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics & Family Services. In 1990 Sharon earned her Masters of School Counseling at Illinois State University and her Certification Administration Degree in 1996.
She taught in Clinton for five years before becoming a teacher and counselor at Olympia High School for 26 years. During that time, she coached girls’ track and field.
In 1999 she was named the Coach of the Year in the ITCCA South Division.
Not every honoree made their impact on Mahomet-Seymour during their teenage years.
Frank Dutton played out his athletic career at Homer High School where he participated in football and basketball.
Dutton continued on, playing football at Illinois State University from 1962-1965. He lettered as an offensive tackle from 1963-1965. In 1965-1966 he was the Illinois Interscholastic Athletic Association All-Conference Offensive Tackle.
After coaching for four years, Dutton was hired as the head football and track coach at MSHS in 1971. Under his leadership, the football team became the first team at MSHS to win a State Championship in 1977.
The 1982 and 1986 MSHS football teams made it to the State semifinals in Class 2A Football. Dutton also had three teams advance to the 2A State Quarterfinals.
His Mahomet-Seymour Boys’ Track Team placed third at state in 1980.. Under Dutton’s leadership, the boys’ track team also won four sectional titles.
Along with team accomplishments, Dutton also coached three Big Ten Scholarship Football players and eight NCAA Division 1AA scholarship players. His son, Doug, went on to sign as a free agent with the NFL’s Phoenix Cardinals.
On April 9th, 1994 Frank was inducted into the IHAFCA’s Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
The football field at MSHS is named in his honor.
Arguably one of the most accomplished basketball players at Mahomet-Seymour, Craig Buchanan set records that still stand today.
During the years of 1990-1993, Buchanan scored 1,653 points (second on the list today), made 240 two-point field goals (still first) and held a three-point average of 55% (still first).
Buchanan was a first team All-Conference player in 1992-93. He was named to the News-Gazette All-Area First Team as a Junior and Senior, All Area player of the year 1993, first team All-State in 1993 and finished in the top five for Mr. Basketball his senior year.
In 2018, Buchanan was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Buchanan went on to play Division 1 Basketball at Florida Atlantic University from 1995-1998 on a full basketball scholarship.
There he ranks first in career field goal made (582) and was the first men’s basketball player in FAU history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau (1,501). He is also listed among the program’s top rebounders with 422.
In 1994, Craig led the team in field goal percentage (.474), free throw percentage (.770) and three-point percentage (.400). He led FAU in scoring average his sophomore through senior seasons.
At FAU he was recognized as the freshman of the year in the TAAC conference and first-team All-Conference his Junior and Senior years. He was an Adidas collegiate honorable mention recipient his senior year. Craig was chosen for the FAU athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Upon completing his college career Craig was a first-round draftee by the West Palm Beach, Beach Dogs and played two seasons in the USBL professional Summer League for the Florida Sharks.