Class of 2017
Bob Altenhof, (United) Class of 1976– and a 1981 graduate of Geneva College. Bob earned his Masters Degree in Counseling from Malone College in 1997. During his tenure at West Branch that spanned from 1981 to 2014, Bob wore many hats. He began as a high school English teacher and after 17 years in the classroom moved on to counsel Middle School and High School students for another 16 years. Aside from his mentoring students inside the walls of the school buildings, Bob also made an impact in the athletic arena. During his 29 years as a part of the West Branch football program, Bob was an assistant for the first undefeated team and a part of the first OHSAA playoff appearance in school history. He was the Defensive Coordinator in the OHSAA playoffs 7 years, was a part of two undefeated seasons, 5 conference championships, 2 regional championships, and the 1994 state championship. Warrior football went 93-17 in the decade of the 90s and he started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle Group at West Branch. He then went on to serve 5 years at West Branch’s Head Football Coach. Bob also served 8 seasons as an assistant track coach and 4 seasons as the head boys’ track team where he was selected as NBC Coach of the Year in 1994, had 7 boys qualify for the state meet, 5 of whom placed and earned All-Ohio honors. During his 21 seasons as the head girls’ track coach, Bob had a career record of 131-34-5, was selected as NBC Coach of the Year 9 times, won 9 consecutive conference championships, and won 61 consecutive league dual meets. He was named District Coach of the Year in 2003 and won the Regional Championship as a team in 2002 and 2003. Bob had athletes compete in the State Meet in 19 of his 21 season (32 total Girls) 18 of whom placed, earning All-Ohio honors and a total of 47 medals. He had athletes place in the State Meet in 12 consecutive seasons and coached 7 state champions. Bob is currently an in school suspension supervisor, substitute teacher, and coach at Southeast High School. He and his wife Andrea have 3 children: Bobby, Billy, and Angela, all West Branch graduates.
Megan (Cingcade) Hartman, Class of 2003– and a 2009 graduate of Ohio Northern University where she earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy. During her time at West Branch, Megan participated in swimming, track, and cross country. She was a District Qualifier in two events in swimming her freshmen and sophomore year. Megan was a 4 year letter winner in cross country, a 3 time 1st team all conference selection, and a 3 time state qualifier. During her senior year of cross country, Megan was a District Champion, a Regional Runner Up, and a State qualifier. She was selected as the Vindicator All Star Performer of the Year and received the OHSAA Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award. Academically, Megan earned the President’s Education Award and was the Valedictorian of her class. After graduation from West Branch, she competed for two years at Ohio Northern on the cross country and track teams. In 2007, she ran in the Columbus marathon and qualified for the Boston marathon. Megan is currently the pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Kent, Ohio. She and her husband, Andrew, are the parents of two daughters, Danielle and Hannah, and currently live in Aurora.
Lynn Grove, Class of 1969– and a 1973 graduate of Mount Union. He began his teaching career at West Branch in the Fall of 1973 and retired in 2010. During his 37 years teaching math, Lynn was awarded the Martha Holden Jennings Award, was named as a Who’s Who American Teacher of the year and was selected as an honored educator 18 times. Aside from his teaching duties, Lynn also dedicated many years to coaching at West Branch. He was on the basketball staff, at various levels, for 25 years. He was part of the baseball program for 17 years, 10 of those as the head coach where his teams earned 4 sectional titles and 2 district titles with an overall record of 173-95. Lynn was also the head golf coach for 37 years. During his tenure, he went 501-79, was selected as NBC Coach of the Year 8 times, earned 7 NBC Championships, had his team qualify for Regionals 16 times, and had his team qualify for State 4 times. Lynn is currently tutoring students at Lisbon High School. He and his wife Jeanne are the proud parents of four children, Jeff, Jerrod, Justin, and Jessica, all of whom are West Branch graduates.
Robert L. Kirksey II, Class of 1965– where he participated in football and track. He was elected by the student body as West Branch’s first Warrior Chief and was voted most friendly in the senior class. Upon graduation from West Branch, he attended Central State University before he enlisted in the Army where he served in Vietnam. After his service, Robert returned to Central State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in History. He then began working at CSU in the Upward Bound program which helped high school students in the Dayton area by tutoring and mentoring them to finish high school or become ready for college. Robert spent time in Washington, DC where he worked as a computer programmer for the United States Navy. He retired from Andrews Air Force base as a computer programmer and returned to the Alliance area in 2012. Robert is one of ten children, nine of whom graduated from West Branch. He and his wife, Shirley, have three children; Robin R Kirksey, Robert L Kirksey III, and Scott B Kirksey and numerous grandchildren.
Mark Wilson, Class of 1974– and a 1976 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University where he was a member of the golf team. Mark began his career in golf course management prior to his graduation from West Branch at Westville Lake Country Club. Between 1971 and 1988 he worked for 7 different courses/country clubs perfecting his craft. In 1988, Mark took over as the Golf Course Superintendent at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Valhalla is rated as a top golf course in Kentucky and one of the top 100 courses rated by Golf Digest. In his 22 years as superintendent, Mark and Valhalla hosted several major tournaments including the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championship, the 2002 National Club Professional Championship, the 2004 Senior PGA Championship, and the 2008 Ryder Cup. He also served as a Ryder Cup consultant in 2012. After retiring from Valhalla, Mark became the owner of Superintendents’ Choice Sod where he is an adviser, supplier, and consultant of turf, sod, and fertilizers to golf courses. He also serves as a West Region Park Manager at Louisville Metro Parks. He and his wife Laura have three children: Dane, Graham, and Brigid and currently reside in Louisville, Kentucky.
Class of 2018
Justin Burton, Class of 1999– and a 2003 graduate of Mount Union. At West Branch, Justin was a three year letter winner and three time All-Conference selection in football. He was named Defensive MVP of the NBC and Regional Championship teams his senior year. He set 8 school records during his football career at West Branch, 6 of which still stand today: QB sacks in a game, season, career and QB pressures in a game, season, and career. He was also a two year letter winner and two year All-Conference selection in basketball and an All-Conference selection in Track. After West Branch, Justin continued his academic and football careers at Mount Union. There he was a three year letter winner and was a member of four straight OAC and three straight National Championships. While in college, his teams had a record of 54-1 and Justin was named Defensive MVP of the 2002 National Championship Stagg Bowl. He and his wife Dana live in Homeworth with their two children, Lara and Cade.
Sue Deas, (Western Reserve) Class of 1971– and a 1975 graduate of Mount Union. She also earned her Master’s Degree from Ashland. Sue began her teaching career at West Branch in 1975. She served as the school’s head girls’ basketball coach for 6 years and also the head girls’ track coach. In 1976, she started the West Branch Volleyball team and coached for 31 years before retiring in 2007. During her time as West Branch’s Volleyball coach she amassed numerous awards and accolades. She earned 21 Coach of the Year honors at various levels. her teams won two NBC Championships, 21 Sectional Titles, and 8 District Runner Up or Championship Titles. In 1987, Sue coached the State All-Star match and was names Coach of the Year for the State of Ohio. She was a member of numerous coaching organizations and was named to the Mount Union M Club Hall of Fame in 2007. Sue was inducted into the State Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005. She and her husband Douglas have two children, Kyle and Ashley, and four grandchildren.
Rick Mulinix, Class of 1997– and a 2001 graduate of Mount Union. At West Branch, Rick was a two year letter winner in basketball and a three year letter winner in baseball. He was a two time 1st Team All-Conference selection in baseball and was named NBC Player of the Year in 1997. He broke the career and single season home run records and was named 1st Team All-Ohio as a catcher. Following West Branch, Rick continued his baseball career at YSU before transferring and finishing his career at Mount Union. At Mount, he was a three time 1st Team All-OAC selection. He broke 10 school records. He still holds Mount records for career batting average, and career and single season stolen bases. He was named an NCAA All-American catcher in 2001. Rick continued to play baseball for 18 seasons with the Canton Stallions where he was a part of 3 National Championships. He was inducted into the National Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Canton Amateur Sports’ Hall of Fame in 2017. Rick has been coaching baseball for the past 17 years. He is currently a teacher at Leetonia Exempted Village School District. Rick and his wife Angie have two children, Boston and Hayden and live in Beloit.
Marcia (Riesen) Phillis, Class of 1988– and a 1993 graduate of Hannah E. Mullins School of Practical Nursing. In 1996 she obtained her RN at Sharon Regional School of Nursing. While at West Branch, Marcia lettered in 4 different sports. She is the third member of her family to enter the West Branch Hall of Fame following her two brothers. Marcia is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve. After serving 8 years, she was honorably discharged in August of 1997. Marcia is currently involved in nursing research. She spent the majority of her career in Labor and Delivery. Marcia is a member of First Christian Church and if the mother of four children: David, Daniel, Julie, and Jennifer.
John R. Yaggi, Class of 1963– Following graduation, John worked as a general laborer and truck driver for T and W Forge for 43 years. He was a member of the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association, the Mile Branch Grange, and the Columbiana County Farm Bureau. He is also a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. John is a lifetime member of Bethel United Church of Christ where he served as both Elder and Deacon. John has been a lifelong supporter of West Branch Athletics. He is the unspoken leader of the “Let’s Go Green” chant and never misses an opportunity to cheer on the Warriors. John and his wife Beverly live in Alliance and are the proud parents of four children: Margie, Jennifer, John, and Abby, all of whom are West Branch graduates.
Class of 2019
Bethany (Peterson) Baum, Class of 1999– and a 2007 graduate of the University of Akron. At West Branch, Bethany was a three year letter winner in volleyball and basketball. In volleyball, she was a 1st Team All-District and All-Conference selection. Upon graduation, she held three school records: most kills in a game, most blocks in a season, and most blocks in a career. In basketball, Bethany was a 1st Team All-District and All-Conference selection as well as 2nd Team All-Northeast Ohio selection. She was a member of the 1st Final Four team in girl’s basketball history and scored 26 points in the State Semi Final. At the time of graduation, Bethany held the records for highest shooting percentage in a season and a career. Her greatest athletic honor was to play along side her sister in both volleyball and basketball during her senior seasons. After West Branch, Bethany earned her degree at the University of Akron. She is the Senior Project Manager of Implementation for ADP where she oversees the migration of large clients to their Human Capital Management Software. She and her husband, Brian, reside in North Canton where her husband is the head football coach for the North Canton Hoover Vikings. They are the proud parents of two sons, Brian and Blaine.
Mike Helm, Class of 1977– and a 1986 graduate of Youngstown State University. He also earned his Master’s Degree in Education at Ashland University. Mike has worn many hats during his time at West Branch. As a student/athlete for the Warriors, participating in football and wrestling where he was a 1977 State Qualifier. Then Mike transitioned to and Elementary and Middle School math teacher. He spent 36 years as a wrestling coach, 15 of those as the Warriors head coach where he had a stellar dual record of 194 wins and 41 losses. Mike coached the team to 7 Northeastern Buckeye Conference titles, where he was named Coach of the Year 6 times, 12 EOWL Championships and 12 EOWL Coach of the Year awards. During his tenure, his teams were Sectional Champions 5 times, District Runners-Up once. He coached 43 individual Sectional Champions, 6 District Champions, 35 State Qualifiers, 20 State placers. Of those 20, 4 were State Runners-Up and 3 finished the season as State Champions. He was named the Division II Ohio High School Coach of the Year in 2012 and was inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018. Mike is currently the Warrior Academy Coordinator at West Branch High School. He and his wife Debbie live in Salem. He has 5 children: Kyle, Dana, Adam, Shane, and Stephanie and numerous grandchildren.
Cheryl (Davies) Ficco, Class of 2000– and a 2004 graduate of Muskingum University. She also earned her MBA from the University of Florida in 2010. As a student at West Branch, Cheryl was a three year letter winner in soccer and two year Captain. Her first letter was earned on the boys’ team prior to the start of the girls’ team. Upon graduation, Cheryl held records for goals scored in a game, assists in a season, points in a season, and team goals in a season. She was a 1st Team All-County and All-District selection her senior year while also being named to the Academic All-Ohio team. Upon graduation, Cheryl continued her academic and athletic career at Muskingum University. She was a four year starter and two year Captain for the Muskies. She finished her career second in career goals, assists, and points. She was inducted into the Muskingum Hall of Fame in 2014. Cheryl is currently the Lady Warriors Soccer coach at West Branch High School where she has been named Conference Coach of the Year for two straight seasons and led the team to two Conference Championships. She and her husband Ryan reside in Canton and are the proud parents of Luke and Max.
Matt Rycraft, Class of 2001– and a 2005 graduate of Youngstown State University. While at West Branch, Matt was a stand out in football and track. He was the Mahoning County Champion in the 400m and the Warrior Invitational MVP his senior year. In football, Matt’s accolades include: 2 time Most Valuable Back for West Branch, 2 time 1st Team All-Conference selection, and a 2 time Quad County 1st Team All-Star. During his senior season, Matt was the Most Valuable Player for West Branch and the Northeastern Buckeye Conference. he earned Player of the Year awards for the Salem News and the Northeast District. Matt was a 1st Team All-Ohio selection and was named the MVP of the Penn-Ohio game. He also held the record for most touchdown passes in a season with 6 against Southeast. After West Branch, Matt attended YSU where he was a three year letter winner. He set the school record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 152 yds vs Western Illinois. Matt and his wife Tia currently live in Virginia with their two children, Lance and Camryn, where Matt is the Director of Operations at the Volvo Group.
Tom Sanor, Class of 1999– and a 2003 graduate of Mount Union. During his time at West Branch, Tom was a member of the football, basketball, and track teams. He was a three year letter winner in football where he was a 1st Team All-Conference and All-District selection as well as Honorable Mention All-Ohio his senior year. He was a member of the Conference and Regional Championship teams in 1998 and finished with a career record of 27-6. At the time of graduation, Tom held school records for receptions in a game and touchdown receptions in a season. He was a three year letter winner in basketball. His senior season, Tom was co-captain, led the team in scoring, assists, steals, and free throw percentage while also being named Conference Player of the Year. Tom joined the track team his senior year, earning a letter, set the school record in the 4×200 relay, and won a Conference Championship. Tom is the Supervisor of Regional Operations for First Energy. He and his wife Lindsey live in Beloit with their two children, Jensen and Jaxon.