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NKY Sports Hall of Fame names new inductees; former Highlands coach Dale Mueller to speak

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

Dale Mueller, who posted a 250-36 won-loss record and led Highlands High School’s football teams to 11 state championships in 20 years will serve as guest speaker when the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame inducts five new members, Wednesday, March 15th.

Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame President, Joe Brennan, made the announcement. The induction ceremony and meeting will commence at 1 p.m. at the Gardens of Park Hills (1622 Dixie Highway) – and it is free and open to the public.

Dale Mueller

Mueller has a 309-67 career record in 29 seasons as a head coach, including a 48-12 mark in six seasons at Cincinnati Withrow and an 11-19 record in three years at Cincinnati Sycamore. He took over the Highlands program in 1994.

A Highlands graduate in 1973, Mueller was a two-sport athlete and team captain for the baseball and football teams. He earned a total of seven varsity letters and was named All-State his senior year in both sports.

Upon graduation he attended Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) and was a three-year catcher on the Big Red baseball team. He earned his degree in secondary education at Xavier University.

Under Mueller’s leadership, Highlands ended their seasons ranked nationally eight times, finishing as high as third in the USA Today Prep Poll in 2009.

The inductees:

Ken Rump – A 1965 graduate of Holy Cross High School, he was a big part of the 1965 Regional Championship basketball team that finished state runners-up. He led that team in scoring and rebounding and received a scholarship to Villa Madonna – now Thomas More University.

As a coach, he served as an assistant at Newport Catholic (1973) when they won the Ninth Region crown and qualified for the state tournament.

Suzy Wera – A graduate of Seaholm High School (Birmingham, Mich.) – she was captain and Most Valuable Player in basketball as well as Field Hockey and was No. 1 singles in tennis. She also participated in volleyball.

She as drafted by the New Jersey Gems in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL). The Gems survived from 1978-79 and 1980-81.
She joined the Beechwood School System and in 2012 was named the first female Athletic Director in school history.

She compiled a record of 171-82-4 coaching the boys golf team, 18 seasons. They were Ninth Region runners-up once and copped 11 Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference (NKAC championships and qualified for the state tournament, six times.

For 22 seasons, she coached the boys tennis team with a career mark of 232-79-1. They were Ninth Region runners-up three times; won 11 NKAC championships and qualified six times for the state tournament.

As Beechwood Athletic Director, she added elementary basketball, volleyball – added boys and girls cross-country and boys and girls bowling, archery and boys soccer.

She is responsible for the formation of the Beechwood Athletic Hall of Fame.

Michelle Dougherty – The 1997 Dayton (Ky.) High School graduate was a sprinter and mid-distance runner from 1993-97. She went to the state track meet each year while helping her team to four state runners-up finishes and one state championship.

Dayton set a school record in the 4×100 an the 4×400 relay in 1993 – she was the first recipient of the school’s Newcomer Award. She earned the Golden Baton Award at the Bellevue Invitational as the top performer with three gold medals and a one silver. In Division II Girls’ track, she earned NKAC Most Outstanding.

She earned a scholarship to Danville Community College and ran both cross-country and track – indoor and outdoor.

Currently, she competes in obstacle course races, winning her age group and placing in the Top 25 overall with up to 200-800 runners.
She released her own fitness magazine in January, 2022, while serving as an elite personal trainer and sports nutrition coach.

Phil Uhlman – A 1980 Conner High School graduate, Uhlman starred in baseball and basketball. He led Conner to the 33rd District Title in both 1979 and 1980 in basketball. He was voted to the All-Tournament teams both years.

In 1980, he was also voted to the All-Ninth-Region Team and received the prestigious Dave Cowens Award while being placed on the All-Sectional squad.

In 1979, he was part of a co-no-hitter in the baseball Regional Finals which propelled Conner to the State Tournament. He was named All-District and All-Region in 1979.

He attended Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina – and later transferred to Eastern Kentucky University to finish his collegiate career.

Tom New — The 1983 Highlands High School graduate was a starting guard on two consecutive State Championship teams – 1981 and 1982.

He coached at the Ft. Thomas Jr. League Level – this started a 40-year love affair with coaching. He became Director of the Junior League and also worked as a high school basketball official for 12 years.

He later was appointed assistant basketball coach at his alma mater – Highlands for five seasons.

The Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame holds monthly induction ceremonies – September through June – on the third Wednesday of the month (1 pm) at The Gardens of Park Hills (1622 Dixie Highway, Park Hills). Meetings are free and open to the public.

Further information on the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame may be found at: nkyshof.org.

The Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame was formed October, 1982 to recognize and honor individuals for outstanding athletic achievements and overall contributions to the sports scene in Northern Kentucky.

Categories to include: Team Sports, Managers, Coaches, Umpires, Sponsors, League or Tournament Managers, Park Owners, Media Members and Sporting Goods Owners.

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