LaRosa's High School Hall of Fame adds six

Posted at 3:08 AM, Dec 25, 2015

CINCINNATI – Arguably Cincinnati's  best girls basketball player, a four-time, undefeated state diving champion, a Kentucky Mr. Football, a versatile 12-letter winner and two leading members of a state swimming dynasty are the newest inductees into the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame.

They are, respectively:

Mel Thomas, Basketball, Mount Notre Dame (2004)

Emily Hunter Taylor, Diving, Indian Hill  (2003)

Jared Lorenzen, Football and Basketball, Highlands (1999)

Rodney Geier, Football, Basketball and Tennis Cincinnati Country Day (1971)

Jayme Cramer, Swimming, St. Xavier (2001)

Coach Jim Brower, Swimming, St. Xavier (1988-94, 1998-2015)

The six will be officially inducted  in ceremonies in June, 2016. Now in its 41st year,  the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame has honored 257 athletes and coaches since its founding in 1975. It is the oldest and one of the only halls of fame of its kind in the country.

Mel Thomas

The basketball great  led Mount Notre Dame to a perfect 28-0 record,  the Ohio Division I state title and the mythical national championship  by U.S. Student Sports Magazine in 2004. Thomas averaged 20.4 points, 4 rebounds and 5.4 assists as a senior.  Thomas was named Ohio’s Miss Basketball and  a McDonald’s All-American. She  finished as the school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,037 points.

A prized recruit, Thomas signed with then-defending NCAA  champion  Connecticut, scored 1,098 points in her career and was team captain from 2006 to 2008.

She was a member of the USA gold-medal  team at the 2007 Pan-Am Games.

Thomas lives in South Florida. where she is the Marketing/Digital Marketing Coordinator for CONRIC PR.

Emily Hunter Taylor

Hunter joined Andrea Farley (tennis) and Willie Wineberg (wrestling) as only the third Southwestern Ohio athlete to win four straight individual state championships,  and she won every meet she ever competed in for Indian Hill.

After Hunter captured her first Ohio Division II state diving title with a record-setting performance of 395.15 points, she went on to re-write her own record three more times before setting her ultimate mark of 463.75 points as a senior. It was the first time in Ohio history that any diver had won four straight state titles.

She was a four-time High School All-American and was also named the High School Sportswoman of the Year by the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Sports Foundation.

Hunter continued her diving career at the University of Georgia, where she was a key member of the Bulldogs’ women’s NCAA Division I championship team in 2004-05.  She still holds the UGA women’s platform diving record with 264.20 set in 2007.

Hunter Taylor  lives in New York City, where she is Senior Merchant at J.Crew Corporate.

Jared Lorenzen and Rodney Geier.

Jared Lorenzen

Lorenzen has accomplished something no other athlete in Greater Cincinnati sports has ever done – winning his high school state football championship and a Super Bowl ring. An overpowering presence at quarterback at Highlands then at the University of Kentucky, Lorenzen was a backup QB on the 2008 New York Giants Super Bowl team.

Lorenzen led the Bluebirds to Class AAA state titles in 1996 and 1998 and posted a 41-2 career record. His senior season was incredible as he passed for 3,393 yards (168-for-271, 62 percent) and 45 touchdowns on top of rushing for 904 yards and 15 more TDs.  He was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 1998, a three-time All-American and finished  with 6,822 yards passing and 89 TD passes.

Lorenzen was also an accomplished basketball player and  a member of the Bluebirds’ 1997 Sweet Sixteen runner-up team. He was a first-team all-state selection in 1999 and was twice named to the Kentucky All-State Tournament team. 

In football, Lorenzen continued his dominance in college at UK where, as a four-year starter, he held six NCAA passing records, four Southeastern Conference passing records and 11 Wildcat marks. He ranks first in UK history in total offense with 10,637 yards, passing yards (10,354), career completions (862) and touchdown passes (78).

In the NFL, Lorenzen was a backup quarterback for three seasons with the Giants.

Lorenzen lives in Lexington, Kentucky,  where he is a Strategic Account Manager for ProSource. He has two children, Taylar and Tayden.

Rodney Geier

You have to be a pretty special athlete to be a four-year letterman in three different sports in high school, and Rodney Geier was just that at Cincinnati Country Day School.

A star in football, basketball and tennis, Geier was among the city’s best during his career. As a senior, the running back led the Indians to their second-straight 9-0 record and a No. 7 ranking in the state in Class A. Geier led the state in scoring (216) with 31 touchdowns. He scored six touchdowns in one game that year and five touchdowns in two others. He rushed for 1,891 yards in 219 carries for a remarkable 8.6 yards-per-carry.

Geier was also featured that season in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd.” His athletic prowess continued in basketball as he was the city’s third-leading scorer as a senior. In tennis, he teamed up with Addison Lanier to win the Ohio Class A state doubles title in 1971.  

Geier continued his football career at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he was the starting tailback in 1973 and 1974.

He went on to study at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine, and graduated in 1988 from the UC Department of Radiation Oncology. He practices with Oncology Hematology Care in Cincinnati. He and his wife, Vallie Comisar Geier, have three children, Dr. Natalie Geier (Cohen), Emily Vollmer and Vallie Tapke, and three grandchildren.


Jayme Cramer and Jim Brower


Jayme Cramer

Cramer easily ranks among the top three swimmers to ever compete for the hallowed St. Xavier program. Cramer won 10 state titles – five individual and five as a member of a relay team.   His senior season was so remarkable, he was named the national High School Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine. His times in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 200 and 400 medley relays ranked No. 1 in the nation that year.

Among the four state titles he won in 2001, his performance in the 100-yard backstroke ranks among the best in national high school history. Cramer turned in a blistering 47.65 - only .15 second off the national prep record. His time still stands as an state and Canton Natatorium pool record. It was the third straight year he set state and pool records in that event.

Cramer’s collegiate career at Stanford was equally stellar. He won two NCAA national titles  and was  a 20-time NCAA All-American, Cramer set three Stanford relay records and broke multiple Pac-10 meet and conference marks. He was the Stanford team captain from 2003-2005.

As an amateur, Cramer won the gold medal in the World Championship in the 800 free relay in both 2005 and 2007. He won a gold and bronze   in the 2003 Pan Am Games.  

Cramer and his wife, Kate, live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he is CFO/COO and head coach of Crawfish Aquatics. They have three children, Lucy Grace, Molly and Leland.

Coach Jim Brower

St. Xavier swimming coach Jim Brower won more titles than any other Ohio coach in any sport. Let that sink in for a moment. While the St. X swimming dynasty was already established, Brower took it to a new level, leading the Aquabombers to 21 state titles in 23 years.   When he retired in June of 2015, the Aquabombers had won 15 of the last 16 state swimming championships.

Brower was named the National High School Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 2004. He was Ohio Coach of the Year seven times.

Brower’s   teams were  acknowledged by Swimming World Magazine as the national champions in 1992 and 2001. In both cases, the Aquabombers featured perhaps their two greatest swimmers in LaRosa’s Hall of Fame inductees Joey Hudepohl (1992) and Jayme Cramer (2001). Hudepohl went on to win an Olympic gold medal, while Cramer won two NCAA Championships.

Brower was a state champion in his own right as well, having won the 100-yard breaststroke at the Ohio state meet in 1982 as a member of the Canton Glenoak team. He went on to swim at the University of Cincinnati.

Brower still teaches in the math department at St. Xavier, where he has worked for more than 25 years.