All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
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Blair’s Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Leads by Example
Blair Academy

The Blair Academy athletics program is about far more than winning. Blair athletics cultivates skills that help student-athletes become community-minded leaders who embody integrity, humility, a strong work ethic and good sportsmanship. When many athletes leave the hilltop, they carry on those traditions in their sport to become leaders at the collegiate level and beyond. The Athletic Hall of Fame committee is proud to honor their legacy and announce the inductees for the Class of 2024: Joe Stanowicz ’41, the 1974 wrestling team, Lisa Garner ’77, Marissa Mezzanotte ’89, Jordan Bowers ’01 and Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81.

“Each member of this class has left an indelible impact on their respective teams and has become a source of inspiration for future generations at Blair Academy,” Athletic Director Paul Clavel ’88 said. “These exceptional leaders have instilled values of teamwork, discipline and perseverance.”

To recognize and celebrate the outstanding athletic achievements of its alumni and coaches, Blair established an Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. In order to be considered for Hall of Fame membership, nominees must have exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment during their time at Blair and have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Selection is based primarily on athletic accomplishments while a Blair student or coach, although subsequent achievement in athletics or other areas may be considered. Finally, alumni nominees become Hall-of-Fame eligible in the 10th year following their graduation, while coaches become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

Joe Stanowicz ’41

It took only one year on the hilltop for Joe Stanowicz to cement his legacy as an elite Blair athlete. The Hackettstown native quickly rose to prominence on the football field and wrestling mat. With Joe on the team, Blair held Peddie to a score of 13-0 during their rival football game, and Joe was the 1941 national prep heavyweight champion in wrestling. Affectionately known as a gentle giant by those closest to him, Joe achieved a milestone in Blair athletic history, becoming the first recipient of the title of “New Jersey’s Most Outstanding Athlete in Scholastic Ranks” in 1941. 

Joe continued his education, and athletic success, at the United States Military Academy. An offensive guard, Joe’s performance is credited with helping the Army Black Knights football team win the 1944 national championship. The team was undefeated that year and ranked first in the nation, outscoring their opponents by a total of 504 to 35. He was selected by the Football Writers Association of America, the International News Service and the United Press as a first-team player on the 1944 College Football All-America Team. His accomplishments continued on the mat for West Point as well. In 1944 and 1945, Joe earned the title of First Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champion, the first cadet at West Point to do so. Following graduation from the Academy, Joe served in the Army, including playing professional army football in Korea in 1946. His military career spanned two decades, culminating with his retirement as a Lt. Colonel in 1966. He passed away in 1999 and is buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

1974 Wrestling Team

The 1974 Blair wrestling team stands out as a pillar in the storied tradition of Buccaneers who have excelled on the mat. Winning the first of the 41 National Prep Championship titles for the School, the 1974 wrestling team ended its season with a 14-1 record, only losing to Lehigh University’s JV wrestling team. The team consisted of formidable talent with three individual National Prep Champions that year from the classes of 1976 and 1974—Randy Miller, class of 1976, and Bob Kehler and captain Mark Lieberman, class of 1974—and fell short of a fourth when Mike Sickles, class of 1974, lost in the finals. Mark was elected Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for the second straight season, and his accomplished wrestling career led to his induction in the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. In the NJ State Prep Tournament, Blair took home its third-consecutive title with the highest number of points ever scored and most individual champions at that time from the classes of 1976 and 1974, respectively: Randy Miller, Joseph Skutches, Bob Kehler, Mike Sickles, Pete Engelhardt, Mark Lieberman and Steve Caldwell. Expertly guiding the 1974 team was math and science teacher Tom Hutchinson, an inductee into the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021. Coach Hutch’s leadership was key to the team’s success, earning him national coach of the year accolades from Wrestling USA Magazine and the United States Wrestling Federation (now USA Wrestling). 

The 1974 wrestling team, as listed in the 1974 ACTA: Class of 1974: Steve Caldwell, Bob DeMartin, Pete Engelhardt, Bob Kehler, Mark Lieberman, Richard Metz, Mike Sickles and Joseph Skutches. Class of 1975: Jim Brown, Jules Fernandes and Park “Chip” Wollam. Class of 1976: Randy Miller. Class of 1977: Rene Chamorro, Billy Jonckheer and James “Kach” Kachidurian. Team coaches: Tom Hutchinson, Peter Amerman and Ralph Gish.

These tough Buccaneers secured an impressive collection of college victories after leaving the hilltop. Beyond Mark Lieberman’s achievements, Randy Miller was a D1 NCAA All-American at Clarion University. Steve Caldwell and Mike Sickles were D3 All-Americans at Montclair State University. Richard Metz at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Pete Engelhardt and Bob DeMartin at Syracuse University and James “Kach” Kachidurian at Wilkes University all wrestled successfully in college. That is eight college wrestlers from one team, leading to the inevitable conclusion that this Blair team was the start of something special.

Lisa Garner ’77

Winner of the William Zester Award for best female athlete at Blair, Lisa Garner amassed an impressive 11 varsity letters in field hockey, basketball and softball during her time on the hilltop. Her senior year, she captained the varsity field hockey and basketball teams and was named to the First Team All-Area. In prior years, she received Second Team All-Area and/or honorable mentions throughout and was also named Top Five All-Area in scoring. 

After Blair, Lisa continued her field hockey dominance at Ithaca College. Since Blair had yet to establish a female lacrosse team during her tenure, she played softball for the Academy but went on to play varsity lacrosse at Ithaca. After the collegiate season ended, Lisa joined the North Jersey Lacrosse Club and was selected to the Second Team All-New Jersey Lacrosse Association and Third Team Mid-Atlantic/Central District to play in the United States Women’s National Lacrosse Association’s national championship.

After college, Lisa ventured into competitive swimming. As a member of the Coral Springs Masters Swim Club and Florida Gold Coast Masters Swim Team, she secured tenth place at the United States Masters Swimming National Championships in the women’s 200-meter freestyle relay and top 20 in the 1650- and 200-meter freestyle and the women’s 200 medley relay. She also contributed to the first-place finish of the mixed relay in the Swim Around Key West. A dedicated mentor for the last two decades, Lisa has utilized her swim talent to coach the next generation of swimmers at the Pine Crest School, Coral Springs Swim Club and the Sunrise Seahawks Swim Team.

Marissa Mezzanotte ’89

In her two years at Blair, Marissa Mezzanotte made her mark as a trailblazer for Blair girls’ basketball, becoming the first 1,000 point scorer in the history of the program. She ended her career on the hilltop with a total of 1,285 points, making her the 11th highest scorer in Warren County Girls’ Basketball history. With an all-time high of 37 points in one game—a single point shy of the single game scoring record—Marissa averaged an impressive 22 points and 15 rebounds per game her senior year.

Marissa continued to pursue basketball at Boston College from 1989 to 1993, culminating with her appointment as team captain her senior year. She earned the distinction of Big East Academic All-Star for her collegiate work on and off the court. In 2002, Marissa began working with the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Sport and Social Justice, traveling to more than 100 colleges and universities around the country to provide leadership training for student-athletes, student leaders, coaches and administrators on the issue of gender violence prevention and education. She has also worked with athletes, coaches and front office staff in the NBA and MLB. Marissa served as academic coordinator for men’s basketball at Providence College in Rhode Island and currently oversees the day-to-day operations of the athletic advising staff at the University of Rhode Island, ensuring advisees cement their own legacy of success.

Jordan Bowers ’01

As a three-sport athlete at Blair, Jordan Bowers was a force to be reckoned with, earning an impressive nine varsity letters in football, basketball and track. On the field, he starred as starting quarterback for three years, going undefeated against Peddie and leading his team to an overall record of 22-5, the most wins of any quarterback at Blair, and three straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and New Jersey prep “A” state championship titles. Jordan was named a two time All-MAPL and All-State quarterback, a two time New Jersey Prep Offensive Player of the Year and the two time recipient of the Brook Football Prize. As a senior, he was selected to play in the Governor’s Bowl for New Jersey as one of the top 50 high school football players in the state. 

Jordan’s accomplishments didn’t end on the football field. On the court, he served as a two-year starting point guard for the varsity basketball team, and he was named captain and Pender Track Award recipient his senior year for his efforts in track and field, reaching the finals for the 100- and 200-meter dash in the prep “A” state championship. For all Jordan’s athletic accomplishments, he earned the Robert Dalling Prize for the student who best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition at graduation. Jordan matriculated at the University of Rhode Island where he guided the team as quarterback for four years.

Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81

When the class of 1998 dedicated their yearbook to Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81, they described a man revered by his students and colleagues alike, who is the exemplary model of a Blair faculty member: fun, enthusiastic, venerable and phenomenally talented. Joining Blair’s history department in 1980, Marty lived on campus with his wife, Micheline, and his sons, David ’88 and Colin ’01 and coached 40 continuous years of cross country and more than thirty years of outdoor track distance runners. Under his leadership, the 1984 girls’ cross country team became the first at Blair to take home the state championship for their sport, and Marty was still there to cheer them on when they were inducted into the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame last year. Under his guidance, the boys’ cross country team went on a run of six-straight MAPL titles at the beginning of the millennium—and a seventh in 2010—and five New Jersey prep “A” state championships from 2000 to 2010. The boys’ cross country team recorded only two losing seasons in 40 years and garnered multiple team titles at Canterbury Invitationals, Newark Invitationals, The Shore Invitationals and NYC Prep School Invitationals (Meet of Eagles) over the years. 

Marty coached outdoor track distance runners from 1980 to 2013. During that time, he mentored many state and MAPL champions, including Jennifer (Helton) Piniaha ’81, Brad Bono, Mike Karolchyk ’90, Emily Ferguson ’95, Xavier de Boissezon ’00, Mike Kerrigan ’03, Jon Phillips ’03, Anna Hay ’04, Kiley Austin-Young ’06, Scott Chamberlin ’11, Kelvin Serem ’13, Becca Cooley ’14 and Eliza Lawless ’14.

Learn more about the Athletic Hall of Fame selection process and view bios of Athletic Hall of Fame inductees here. Suggest nominees for the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2025 here by December 31, 2024.

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