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Class of 2021 inducted into Laurel High School Hall of Fame

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Pictured are the 2021 Laurel High School Hall of Fame inductees along with their families and other supporters who attended the ceremony on Saturday. From the left are Wayne Hackney, Monty Hoppel, Kelly Braswell, Brad Dantic, Autumn Strawbridge, Debra Wood, Kacey Strawbridge, Lennox Gardner, Tyson Gardner, Brittany Gardner, Vonda Temporal, Georgia Helterbran, Anna Temporal, Rich Helterbran, Ricky Temporal, Carl Fox, Gloria Fox, Lysa Fox, Steve Fox, Laurie Fox, Connie (Kellison) Cole, Tim Russell, Mark Elsen

Pictured are the 2021 Laurel High School Hall of Fame inductees along with their families and other supporters who attended the ceremony on Saturday. From the left are Wayne Hackney, Monty Hoppel, Kelly Braswell, Brad Dantic, Autumn Strawbridge, Debra Wood, Kacey Strawbridge, Lennox Gardner, Tyson Gardner, Brittany Gardner, Vonda Temporal, Georgia Helterbran, Anna Temporal, Rich Helterbran, Ricky Temporal, Carl Fox, Gloria Fox, Lysa Fox, Steve Fox, Laurie Fox, Connie (Kellison) Cole, Tim Russell, Mark Elsenpeter, Mike Michonovich and Tom Wilson. See more information and photos on p. 18.

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Lysa Fox was unable to attend the Hall of Fame Ceremony on Saturday. Lysa’s Laurel family members accepted the award on her behalf. Pictured from left are Lysa’s brother Steve Fox, father Carl Fox, mother Gloria Fox, great niece Lysa Fox, sister-in-law Laurie Fox and Laurel Rotary Club President Ryan Mayes. Outlook photos by Chris McConnell

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Rich Helterbran poses with his Hall of Fame plaque. Also, pictured from left are Helterbran’s granddaughter Anna Temporal, daughter Vonda Temporal, wife Georgia Helterbran, grandson Ricky Temporal and Laurel Rotary Club President Ryan Mayes.

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Brittany Gardner accepts the LHS Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of her father Mike Wood, who had passed away in 2000. Accompanying Gardner at the ceremony was her daughters Autumn Strawbridge, Kacey Strawbridge, mother Debra Wood, son Lennox Gardner and husband Tyson Gardner.

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The 1978, 1979 and 1980 Laurel High School State Champion Boys Track Teams were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Members of those teams that were able to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony are from the left: Tim Russell, Mark Elsenpeter, Monty Hoppel, Brad Dantic, Kelly Braswell, coach Wayne Hackney and coach Tom Wilson.

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2021 LHS Hall of Fame inductee Tom Wilson is presented with the Hall of Fame plaque from Laurel Rotary Club President Ryan Mayes while coach Wayne Hackney looks on.

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2021 Laurel High School Hall of Fame inductee Connie (Kellison) Cole poses with her plaque award and her high school track coach Mike Michunovich.

The 2021 Laurel High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony-cancelled this winter due to COVID–19 concerns–was held on Saturday, April 24th at the track meet at the Laurel Sports Complex.

Connie Kellison Cole (track), Lysa Fox (fine arts), Richard Helterbran (service), Tom Wilson (coaching) and Robert “Mike” Wood (track) were all inducted at a ceremony along with the 1978–1980 State Champion track teams.

The Laurel High School Hall of Fame was first introduced in 2019 as a collaboration between the Laurel Rotary Club and Laurel Schools administrators and staff. The Laurel High School Hall of Fame was established to honor LHS alumni and former and/or current staff for exceptional accomplishments in sports, academics, arts, community service and other areas of excellence. Including this year’s class, the LHS Hall of Fame now boasts 13 individuals and five State Championship Teams.

The LHS Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Lysa Fox

Fox was represented by her parents Carl and Gloria Fox along with her nieces and nephews. She is a 1984 graduate of Laurel High School. Fox excelled in choir and music and was a Laurelaire all four years of high school, as well as having the lead role in the school play “Anything Goes.” After high school (and college) Fox founded the Venture Theatre in Billings and was Youth Education Director and Artistic Director for 16 years. She has also performed as Patsy Cline more than 200 times and has several other acting, singing, dance and artistic credits to her resume. She also received numerous awards and recognitions from various councils, colleges, newspapers and magazines. Fox could not attend the ceremony because she was finishing the spring semester as the Head of Musical Theatre at Western Illinois University in Macome, Illinois.

Richard Helterbran

Helterbran is a 1961 Laurel High School graduate and is well known in the Laurel sports community for many acts of volunteerism and assistance to Laurel schools. Beginning in 1977, he served as a score keeper and timer for LHS football and wrestling. In the 2000s he started keeping clock for soccer and basketball. Helterbran operated the clocks at every Laurel playoff game/match for more than 30 years. In 2008, he received the Mildred Adams Award from the Montana High School Association. This top honor is given to school support staff in recognition of their assistance with student activities. This last year marked Helterbran’s 45th year serving LHS sports and activities. Thank you, Rich, for all you have done for Laurel schools.

Connie Kellison Cole

Cole is a 1978 graduate of Laurel High School. During her prep career, she excelled in athletics, including track and field. During her senior year at LHS, Cole won State Championships in the 100-yard dash, the 80- yard hurdles and the 110-yard hurdles. She also placed 2nd at State in the 220-yard dash and 3rd in the long jump. Cole was selected as the 1978 LHS girls track team’s Outstanding Runner and the Outstanding Jumper. She currently still holds the LHS record for the girls 100-meter dash. After high school, Cole attended Montana State University in Bozeman on a track scholarship where she competed for two years. Cole competed in the Pentathlon, which consisted of five events: the 100-meter hurdles, 880-meter run, shot put, high jump and long jump. As a freshman, she placed 3rd in the pentathlon at the National meet in Eugene, Oregon. Congratulations Connie on all your tremendous accomplishments.

Robert “Mike” Wood

Wood graduated from Laurel High School in 1978. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2000, and was represented by his daughter Brittany Gardner and his grandchildren. During his LHS career, Wood competed in many sports and excelled in track and basketball. He was an integral part of the 1978 Class A State Champion Track Team where he placed 1st in the 440-meter run and also ran legs on the State Champion and record setting mile and 440 relay teams. He also placed 2nd in the 220-yard dash and 3rd in the 100-yard dash. Wood was named the 1978 LHS boys track team’s Outstanding Runner.

Tom Wilson

Wilson served as head LHS boys track coach from 1972 to 1980. He helped guide the Laurel boys track teams to State Championships in 1978, 1979 and 1980. He was named the Montana Track Coach of the Year in 1979 and 1980. During his tenure, the Locomotives won five Divisional Track Championships. In addition to his accomplishments in coaching track, Wilson was the assistant boys basketball coach at Laurel High from 1967–1980. He was assistant to LHS Hall of Fame head boys basketball coach Don Peterson for 13 years. That program also had many successes including winning the Big 32 State Championship in 1969. Wilson had other stints as a little league baseball coach for 10 years and head coach of an American Legion Baseball team in Wyoming for five years. Wilson was a 1961 grad of Eastern Montana College. He had been an exceptional athlete during his high school and college days, when he excelled in football and baseball and received several honors.

1978–1980 State Championship Boy Track Teams

The dominate three-year run of State Championships had several members and contributors. The State Championship trophies that are featured in the main hall of Laurel High School list the following coaches as members of one or all the State Titles: Head Coach Tom Wilson, Assistant Coaches Wayne Hackney, Larry Wedel, Rick Ronan, Joe Russell, and Gary Pederson. Athletes listed on the trophies include: Mike Wood, Tim Russell, Paul Wagner, Tom Russell, Craig Hazen, Brad Dantic, Jeff Richmond, Steve Rodgers, Chad Bladow, Mark Elsenpeter, Rich Wallace, Kelly Braswell, Richie Helterbran, Monty Hoppell and Manager Robert Morrissey.

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