HALL OF FAME: Tahlequah to add seven hall of fame inductees in 2022 class

Byron Beers | Daily Press

Northeastern State football head coach JJ Eckert is one of seven former Tahlequah athletes/coaches to be inducted into the Tahlequah Athletics Hall of Fame. The banqet will be held Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Chota Conference Center.

Seven former Tahlequah High School athletes/coaches will be honored at the seventh annual Tahlequah Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Chota Conference Center.

The 2022 class includes Dusten Knight, JJ Eckert, Mike Sheets, Brynlee Dobbins, Justin Southerland, Todd Dilbeck and Bob Ed Culver.

The reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the banquet at 7 p.m. Individual tickets for the banquet are $50, and tables that include eight guests are $400. Table purchases get special recognition. For more information, contact Matt Cloud, 918-458-4154.

“This is our opportunity to get the community and businesses back on campus to show what we are accomplishing, and recognizing past athletes that excelled in the classroom and on the field,” said Tahlequah Athletic Director Matt Cloud in a press release.

Knight graduated from Tahlequah High School in 2009 and was a standout in baseball, football, wrestling and track. He was the 6A All-District selection in 2008 and 2009, and a Tahlequah High School Athlete of Year. Knight played college baseball at Connors State College and the University of Texas Pan Am. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2013 and made his Major League Baseball debut on Aug. 4, 2021.

Eckert, currently the football head coach at Northeastern State, competed in both football and golf for the Tigers and graduated in 1993. Eckert was a Oklahoma Coaches Association Football All-State selection in 1992 and earned the same honor in golf in 1993. He was a Tahlequah High School Athlete of the Year and earned a scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas. Eckert played on NSU’s 1994 NAIA National Championship team.

Sheets, a 1980 graduate, participated in football and wrestling and was named OCA All-State in wrestling in 1980. He was a two-time state champion on the mat and went on to Oklahoma State where he won a pair of national titles and was a four-time All-American. Sheets was an Olympic alternate for Team USA.

Dobbins graduated from Tahlequah in 2002 and excelled in basketball and golf where she was an OCA All-State selection in both sports. Dobbins was a three-time All-Metro Lakes Conference selection in basketball and a four-time selection in golf. She played on Tahlequah’s state runner-up basketball teams in 1999 and 2001 and was a regional champion in golf in 2001.

Southerland graduated from Tahlequah in 2000 and played football and baseball. He was a 1999 OCA Football All-State selection, an Oil Bowl participant in 2000 and the District 6A-4 Football Most Valuable Player in 1999. He listed as a Vype Magazine Tahlequah All-Time Best and holds school records for most passing yards in a game (391), season (2,826) and career (6,156).

Dilbeck is a former coach and athletic director at Tahlequah High School. Under his guidance, Tahlequah was Class 6A Academic State Football Champions in 1998, 1999 and 2000. He was the Region 3 Athletic Director of the Year in 1999 and led the Tigers to consecutive playoff appearances in football in 1999 and 2000. Dilbeck was named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017 and to the Choctaw Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021.

Culver graduated from Tahlequah in 1952 and competed in both tennis and basketball. He was a state champion in tennis in 1952 and the captain of the 1952 team that won state titles in singles and doubles. Culver was a four-year member of the National Honor Society. He was a captain of the NSU tennis team that won the first OIC Conference championship in 1955.

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