Cleveland Holds Long-Awaited Hall of Fame Ceremony


Clarion photo Anna Suydam

From left, Taylor Avritt, Yadnel Ayala, Nelson Franks, Julie Grahn Hicks, Josie Bocuzzi-Hall, Billy Heflinger, and AK Sitz Peterson recieve their plaques.

On Feb. 4, 2022, Cleveland held the most exciting Hall of Fame event in the 29 years since the Mel Krause CHS Athletic Hall of Fame was established.

This was the most exciting because of the anticipation caused by the postponement of the 2021 event due to COVID-19, which made everyone eager to celebrate our alumni.

The event was held between the girls basketball team’s 55-46 win over McDaniel, and the boys team’s 70-43 win, also over McDaniel, which only made the night more special.

The first graduate honored was Taylor Avritt, a 2020 inductee from the class of 2007, who wasn’t able to attend the 2020 ceremony. After moving to Portland in his junior year, Avritt had a big enough impact on the track and football teams to earn a Hall of Fame induction. Taylor was on the 4×100 relay team and competed in shot put, qualifying for the state track meet in his senior year. In football he was the state rushing leader in both the 5A and 6A OSAA classifications, and would go on to represent Cleveland at Division 3 Linfield College and later in the United Arab Emirates American Football League. Taylor Avritt’s induction was long overdue.

The first of three 2021 inductees was Yadnel Ayala, who graduated in 2013. Ayala competed in two sports for Cleveland, lettering in football for two years, and winning three consecutive PIL championships for the wrestling program. Ayala learned from legendary Warriors wrestling coach Jeff Zerba, and his connection to the school’s program grew even stronger after college when he came back as an assistant coach. For over a decade of contributions to the wrestling team that has filled up its championship banner in the gym, Yadnel Ayala deserves to be celebrated.

The next 2021 inductee was Nelson Franks, a 2010 graduate who competed in three programs for Cleveland. Franks excelled in baseball as a junior and senior, making all league first teams both years and putting up a remarkable .514 batting average as a senior. Franks managed to surpass those accomplishments in his high school football career, as he was voted to both the defensive and offensive all-league teams, as well as a Les Schwab bowl and a National Football Foundation honor to represent PIL as their scholar athlete. Franks represented Cleveland at Pacific Lutheran University, and later returned to volunteer as an assistant coach. Nelson Franks has received a well deserved Hall of Fame induction for his contributions to Warriors football, baseball, and basketball.

The final 2021 inductee played four sports at Cleveland and collected four varsity letters by the time she graduated in the 1994 class. Julie Grahn Hicks was on the varsity volleyball team for three years, and the varsity basketball team for four, earning all-city first team honors in both sports, and in her senior year on the basketball team, being the PIL’s leading scorer and MVP. Julie was also a three time letterwinner in softball, and in her senior year took second in the PIL and seventh in the state in javelin. Julie went on to win the Southern Athletic Association championship for javelin four times, representing Trinity University, and also placed three times in national tournaments. For an impressive career at Cleveland and beyond, Julie Grahn Hicks earned a Hall of Fame plaque.

The first 2022 inductee was Josie Boccuzzi-Hall, who graduated in the class of 1993. Boccuzzi-Hall was a rare 12 sport athlete, playing volleyball, basketball and softball all four years at Cleveland. Even rarer, she also earned all-league first team selections in each of those sports. Josie went on to play basketball and softball at Concordia University, and is now coaching youth volleyball and softball. Boccuzzi-Hall was the only 12 sport athlete in her class, and her commitment to all of those Cleveland athletic programs deserves to be honored.

Another 2022 inductee was Billy Hefflinger, a soccer, football, and baseball player who graduated in 1995. Hefflinger made all PIL teams in soccer and football, but went on to have an extensive baseball career after graduating from Cleveland. His career started with two seasons at the College of the Siskiyous, and really took off after he transferred to York College in Nebraska. At York, Hefflinger racked up accolades, including three conference all star teams and first team all American honors in his senior year. He went on to coach many sports at four different universities, including baseball where he earned a conference coach of the year. Billy is also an incredibly charitable person, with his efforts benefiting the Alzhimer’s Association, the United Way, Multiple Sclerosis campaigns, and a relief mission for Haitian families. Billy Hefflinger has represented Cleveland incredibly.

The final inductee of the ceremony was Anna-Kate (AK) Sitz Peterson, a 2000 graduate who played basketball, softball, golf, and soccer for the Warriors. She excelled at soccer, making all-league teams all four years including her senior year when she was voted the PIL Player of the Year and also made the All-State First Team. She also holds a record as the only soccer player ever selected by her teammates as the Most Outstanding Midfielder all four years. AK played two years of college soccer at Seattle Pacific University, and later won a gold medal at the 2013 World Masters Games in Torino, Italy. AK came back to teach science, health, and sports occupations in 10 years on the Cleveland staff, and also coached soccer, softball, and boys and girls golf along the way. For decades of contributions to Cleveland and its sports programs, AK Sitz Peterson is now a Hall of Famer.

This class and all of their contributions to Cleveland Warriors athletics finally got the overdue celebration they deserve, and Cleveland hopes to continue this tradition on a more normal schedule going forward.