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OSU wrestling coach John Smith headlines Oklahoma Hall of Fame 2020 class

From Olympic gold medals to college national championships as a competitor and coach, John Smith is one of Oklahoma’s most decorated sports figures.

On Thursday, the Del City native and Oklahoma State wrestling coach headlined the 93rd class of inductees into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Smith was one of eight inductees added to the current group of 706 members to receive the state’s most distinguished honor.

“We proudly continue our mission in honoring Oklahoma’s best and brightest with our state’s highest honor” said Shannon L. Rich, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Gaylord-Pickens Museum. “Since the first induction ceremony in 1928 the Oklahoma Hall of Fame has celebrated the inspiring stories of our native sons and daughters who committed their lives to overcome challenges for the betterment of Oklahoma, our nation and the world.”

In addition to Smith, the 2020 Oklahoma Hall of Fame honorees are: Calvin J. Anthony of Stillwater; Gary Batton of Clayton; Martha Burger of Oklahoma City; Charles Dennis “Denny” Cresap of Afton; Terry Stuart Forst of Waurika; Stephen M. Prescott, M.D., of Oklahoma City; and Francis Rooney of Tulsa.

Smith is the first wrestler to be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

“It feels strange being the first person inducted in the sport of wrestling,” Smith said. “I think there are a lot of people who paved that way, and hopefully, one day we might see them as well. I’m humbled to be the first. I’m not sure that I should be, but I’m definitely humbled.

“These things that you get at home have always been most valuable to me. This is home, and I think this is probably one of the greatest honors you could receive as a resident in the state of Oklahoma.”

In his decorated career, Smith has coached five NCAA championship teams, 134 All-Americans, 32 NCAA champions and multiple Cowboys who became Olympians. This past season — his 29th as OSU’s head coach — Smith reached yet another milestone, becoming the fifth-winningest coach in Division I history with a record of 439-65-6.

Smith’s entire coaching career has been at Oklahoma State, but his imprint on the sport spans the country. Eight of his former wrestlers coach NCAA Division I programs.

“Your impact is much greater as a coach,” Smith said. “Your imprint on people is so much greater, and it should be. Across the sport and in lives of others. That role becomes greater and greater and becomes more important each year.”

The 2020 class will be formally inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on Thursday, November 12th at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Norman Hotel and Conference Center.

Anthony has served as the Stillwater mayor, and in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Calvin J. Anthony Leadership Award was named in his honor by the National Community Pharmacists Association, for which he served as CEO.

Batton served as the executive director of health for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, during which time the first tribally-funded health facility in the United States was erected. Batton became the 47th Chief of the Nation in 2014. The Nation cares for its citizens through 144 different programs that provide opportunities for growth and prosperity.

Burger came to Oklahoma to attend OSU and has made the state her home. Her career evolved from accountant in the oil and gas industry to human resources and finance executive. For many years, she worked with her friend and mentor, Aubrey McClendon, turning his vision of a first-in-class corporate culture into reality, earning a place on Fortune Magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For”. In 2018, Burger was named the 18th — and first female — president of Oklahoma City University. Burger has been named OSU’s Philanthropist of the Year and was inducted into OCU’s Hall of Honor.

Born in Chicago, Cresap became an Oklahoman to attend OU in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army before marrying Gail Campbell. The couple purchased a small Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Bartlesville, Northeast Distributing Company, and later purchased the Budweiser distributorship in Oklahoma City, Premium Beers of Oklahoma, which grew it into one of the top 15 Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the United States. The family established the Cresap Family Foundation, which emphasizes areas of youth and families, health and wellness, education, arts and humanities, and animal welfare.

A fifth-generation Oklahoman, Forst was born in Oklahoma City. She became general manager of The Stuart Ranch, the family ranch she grew up on near Caddo, in 2001. Through innovative planning and hard work Forst and her family have built an award-winning equine program, cattle operation, and outfitting division. Forst served as the first female president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and as a member of the American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Council. She was honored with the Master Breeder Award by Oklahoma State University, was the first female to receive the Oklahoma Cattleman of the Year Award and inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Prescott joined the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in 2006. His successes include raising $100 million for the largest campus expansion in the foundation’s history, resulting in its Autoimmune Disease Institute’s recognition as one of ten Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence in the country by the National Institutes of Health; recruiting more than 40 scientists to help in the fight against a wide range of diseases, including the development of three FDA-approved drugs used worldwide; and most recently, a diagnostic test being used for the coronavirus. An author of more than 270 scientific articles, Prescott is a sought-after speaker and accomplished research scientist.

As president and CEO of the long-established Manhattan Construction, Rooney built the company into one of the largest privately-held construction firms in the nation, widely known for building high-profile, technically difficult mega-projects including AT&T Stadium, the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, the Chickasaw Nation’s Winstar Conference Center, Stephenson Cancer Center, and BOK Center. Rooney entered public service following a Presidential Appointment to the United States Department of State as Ambassador to the Holy See and currently is completing his final term as congressman from Florida’s 19th District.

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Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›

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