Rogers 1977 Undefeated Girls Track Team Added to School’s
Hall of Fame
Sojourner’s Truth Staff
In 1977, the Rogers High
School Girls’ Track Team won it all. They won every
invitational, every dual track meet and every competition
leading to the AAA State Championship. Then they won the
championship itself, earning the first state title for
Rogers High School in any sport.
Seven members of the team
went to the state meet – seniors Jane Guilford and Karen
Lebens; junior Robin Wilson; sophomores Cindy Davis and
Yolanda Johnson and freshmen Sheila Gibson and Sherri Perry
– under the guidance of Coaches Bev and Ron Martin.
This year, the team was
finally recognized by the school and inducted into the Hall
of Fame, along with Alvin Stephens II, football and
wrestling coach; Kelli (McCarthy) Ratcliffe, class of 1985,
for volleyball and basketball; Larry Olszewki, class of
1965, for football; Rashod Johnson, class of 1994, for
basketball and Byron Rhodes, class of 1967 for wrestling.
For senior Guilford, the
1977 was the capstone to a brilliant high school career –
she would later be inducted as an individual into the Rogers
Hall of Fame and the City of Toledo Hall of Fame.
However, for freshman
Gibson, the 1977 championship was just the beginning of her
stellar athletic accomplishments. Gibson, and teammates, won
the 1600-meter relay championship at the state meet again in
her senior year after earning runner-up trophies in her
sophomore and junior years.
Gibson anchored that 1980
relay team, joined in the first three legs by Sherri Perry,
Mary Butler and Celena Wiliams –
of 3:55.8 broke the state record and was held for more than
10 years. As an individual and as a team member, she
never loss in dual or invitational meets or in district or
The 1977 State Champions Women's Track team with Coach Bev
and Ron Martin
Sherri Perry Sheila Gibson
Stan Joplin and his wife who was a member of the 1977 State
Champion Track Team pictured along with Rogers Hall of Fame
and Western Michigan Hall of Famer Kenny Cunningham
Gibson was a city champion
in seven different events over the course of her four-year
high school career.
She went on to Bowling
Green State University on a four-year track scholarship and
later competed on the European tour where she blended her
love of dancing, modeling and athletics. Gibson continued
her love of dancing and become an acclaimed choreographer.
She is the artistic director of Positive Force Cristian
School of Dance here in Toledo.
Of all those adventures,
the ones she speaks of most fondly are the ones she had with
her Rogers teammates and coaches.
“We were like a small
community, like a family – we considered ourselves to be
sisters,” she recalls. And the parents – at least when they
were away from home – were the Martins, their coaches. Their
“We were like their
daughters – they taught us humility, compassion and respect.
It was an honor to be on that team back then.”
Like Guilford, Gibson also
has been inducted as an individual into the Rogers Hall of
Fame (2004) and the City Hall of Fame (2016). This spring
she is scheduled to be inducted into the African American
Legacy Projects Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to the 1977
seven state championship team members, an additional three
team members, 10 in all, participated in the City League
Championships – Janet Bade, Karen Stephens and Pam Wise –
and were crowned champions in the 12-team league meet. In
addition to those 10, Kim Penn, Katrina Coleman and Chris
Dunbar were part of the Rams Relays Champions.