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Published: Wednesday, 12/3/2008

Holland man in Bedford High's Hall of Fame


TEMPERANCE - Running and Bedford Local Schools always have been a big part of Joe Caruso's life.

The aspects of education and athletics will come full circle with Mr. Caruso's induction into the Bedford High School Hall of Fame.

A drafting and design teacher at the high school, Mr. Caruso, who lives in Holland in Lucas County, began running competitively at age 13 after his family moved into the township from a Detroit suburb.

He got caught up in the excitement of the high school's successful cross country and track teams, and became a disciple of Steve Danforth, a state champion miler and 1968 Great Lakes League individual cross county champion.

Mr. Caruso, 55, said he was hooked on running and remained close to Mr. Danforth as he pursued running at Bowling Green State University.

The friendship with Mr. Danforth produced a meeting with BGSU track and field athlete and Olympic champion Dave Wottle.

"It wasn't so hard to get motivated back them. Steve lived like a mile from where we lived," Mr. Caruso said. "I had never dreamed that I would come back here to teach. I had the desire, but I never thought it would happen."

Mr. Caruso excelled in cross country and track at the high school. As a senior, he was third in the two-mile event in track and field at the state championships and was a top-five individual finisher at the cross country state meet.

Mr. Caruso continued his running career at Eastern Michigan University after graduating from high school in 1972. He taught emotionally impaired students at Adrian Public Schools before being hired at Bedford High School in 1991.

He estimates that he has completed 30 to 40 half marathons and as many as 18 marathons during his lengthy running career.

Mr. Caruso is still an active runner and runs 55 to 60 miles a week.

Also being inducted into the hall of fame are:

•Michelle (King) Andrews, a 1983 graduate and the high school's first female to letter in volleyball, basketball, and softball.

•Mary Linzie, a 1989 graduate who lettered in volleyball, basketball, and softball.

•Jennifer (West) Bringman, who graduated in 1992, was team captain, and lettered in volleyball, basketball, and softball.

• Kellie Nowak, a 1996 graduate who was captain of the volleyball squad as a junior and senior.

•Kevin Vogel, a 1987 graduate who was a two-time state champion in wrestling.

•Terry Banks, a 1979 graduate, will be inducted posthumously. Mr. Banks was killed in a traffic accident in the summer after graduating from Bedford, where he played football and basketball and ran track.

The seven graduates are the ninth class of inductees in the hall of fame and will bring its membership to 54 people.

The inductees will be introduced to the community at the Feb. 27 high school basketball game.

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