Walton standout is Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year

Former soccer standout Holden Fender, center, is one of seven people who will be inducted next week as part of the inaugural class in Walton’s sports hall of fame.

After nearly a half-century of athletic success, Walton High School created a hall of fame to celebrate its most prominent sports figures.

The inaugural class of eight — Lee Anne Case, coach Ed Dudley, Holden Fender, coach Lee Gower, Keith Grunewald, Dr. Hugh McLeod III, Alena Palmquist and Leslie Suder — will be honored during the Raiders’ basketball games against Harrison on Jan. 21, and then have their induction ceremony the following day.

With the school, which opened in 1976, having competed in athletics for 46 years, the selection committee had a large pool of potential candidates to choose from.

To be considered for the hall, candidates must meet certain criteria.

A student-athlete must have graduated at least seven years prior to induction, while a team must have won a state championship. A coach or administrator is eligible after serving for at least 20 years of total service, or a minimum of seven years with a three-year separation from their service.

A supporter of the athletic program can get inducted after 20 years of contributions. Posthumous coaches, administrators and contributors can be nominated at any time, while a deceased student can be nominated after the graduation of their senior class.

School, state or national records are also taken into consideration, as well as the length, as well as impact of affiliation to the athletic program and community, along with sportsmanship, leadership, citizenship and character.

The Walton hall of fame’s inaugural class qualifies in every area.

Case (1983-86) was a cross country and track and field state champion in 1985. She won the title in the 1,600-meter run, was named an All-American and has held the state record in the 3,200-meter run for more than 30 years.

Dudley coached the Walton football team for 13 years (1995-2008), leading the Raiders to five region championships, the state playoffs nine times and the state semifinals twice in 2004 and 2007.

Fender (2009-12) was captain of the soccer team and helped the Raiders win a state championship in 2011. He was honored as the Cobb County Player of the Year and Georgia Player of the Year in 2012.

Gower coached the cross country from 1976-85. He led the boys team to five consecutive state championships (1980-1984), while also coaching the girls to four (1978-1981).

Grunwald (1986-1990) was one of the three-sport athletes, achieving all-state/all-region in football, basketball and baseball. As well as an All-American in baseball and football. Was a three-year starter at North Carolina and drafted in the second round by the Detroit Tigers in 1990, and then the 12th round by the Colorado Rockies in 1993.

Founder of Walton Sports Medicine, McLeod was the team doctor for the athletic department for 29 years beginning with the 1981-82 school year. Along with his financial support, he was a well respected orthopedic physician in the community.

Palmquist (1980-84) was a nine-time state champion distance runner. She won three cross country titles and track and field championships in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. She was named a three-time high school All-American.

Suder achieved many honors for girls soccer and basketball. She was a four-year starter (1983-87) and MVP in soccer, as well as a member of the under-19 U.S. women’s national team in 1986.

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