Ricky Craven: Hampden Academy Hall of Famer

Balentine, Perry, Rawcliffe, Stephenson Join Inaugural Class

The Hampden Academy Athletic Hall of Fame Committee has released the final five names in its 11 person inaugural class. Among the inductees, former NASCAR driver and now network racing analyst Ricky Craven and longtime coach Dick Balentine.

Dick Balentine, teacher in RSU22 for 41 years and Varsity Girls and Boys Cross Country coach for 37 years (1979 – 2016).  During this period, his girls’ teams won 7 Conference Titles, 5 Regional Titles, and 1 State Championship.  His boys’ teams won 5 Conference Titles, and 3 Regional Titles.  Dick was named the 2003 State of Maine Class B Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year, KVAC Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year three times (2010, 2013, 2014), and KVAC Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year 4 times (2009, 2010, 2014, 2015).  In addition to coaching Cross Country, Dick also served as the Head Indoor Track Coach (2003-04), Assistant Indoor Track Coach (2000-03), Varsity Boys Basketball Coach (1984-87), Boys JV Basketball Coach (1981-84), Freshman Boys Basketball Coach (1978-81), and Boys Indoor Assistant Track Coach (1977).  Dick retired from coaching after the 2016 season, and from teaching at the end of the 2018 school year.

Ricky Craven, Class of 1985, grew up watching his father compete at Speedway 95 in Bangor, Maine. Early in his racing career, Ricky won the 1991 championship in the now-NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. His path to NASCAR began at 15 years old in Unity, Maine, at Unity Raceway, where he earned two wins and Rookie of the Year honors in 1982, followed by a dozen victories en route to the track championship in 1983. He went on to multiple wins at several New England tracks in the following years before joining the American-Canadian Tour before advancing to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East fulltime in 1990. In 1991, he won a series-record 10 races on his way to the championship.  Ricky competed in the NASCAR CUP SERIES for 11 seasons following his runner-up finish in the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES point standings in 1993 and 1994. He also earned Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES (1992) and the NASCAR CUP SERIES (1995).  In 2001, Ricky began driving the No.32 Tide Ford and scored his first career Cup Series victory that October at Martinsville Speedway following a last-lap battle with Dale Jarrett. His legendary 2003 win over Kurt Busch by .002 seconds at Darlington Raceway remains tied as the closest-recorded finish in NASCAR history.  Ricky’s final full season of NASCAR competition was in 2005. He went on to win a NASCAR RV & GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES race for Jack Roush at Martinsville in 2006, after which he retired from driving with 446 NASCAR national series starts (278 Cup Series, 142 Xfinity and 26 Truck Series).  After retiring, Ricky spent 14 years as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, and Fox.

Jon Perry, Class of 1977, was a three-sport athlete playing football, basketball and baseball.  Jon was named to the Bangor Daily News All-Tournament Basketball Team in 1977, was an All-PVC Honorable Mention his sophomore year and an All-PVC First Team Baseball selection both his junior and senior years as a pitcher and outfielder.  Jon was also named to the All-Zone 1 American Legion Baseball Team in both 1976 and 1977.  After graduating from Hampden Academy, Jon went on to play baseball for four years at the University of Maine.  He was a 4-year varsity “M” Award winner, selected to the 1980 All-Yankee Conference Second Team (1st Baseman), was a starter on the 1981 College World Series Baseball Team, and is in the Top 10 All-Time Single Season Batting average (senior year).  After college, Jon went on to coach baseball as an assistant at both the University of Connecticut and Husson University, served as Head Baseball Coach at both Old Town High School and Hermon High School, has been an official for football, basketball, and baseball, volunteered with Little League and American Legion Baseball, served on the RSU22 Board of Directors, was an Athletic Administrator for 11 years (Hermon, Waterville, Bucksport), and is currently the Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Hampden Academy.

Morna Rawcliffe, Class of 1944, was an outstanding athlete and coach.  While attending Hampden Academy, the only sports offered were football, basketball and baseball for men and basketball for women.  Morna played four years of basketball and also was a cheerleader.  Morna attended the University of Maine, majoring in Physical Education and played Field Hockey, Basketball and Volleyball.  She was also a member of the Tumbling Club and Modern Dance Club.  Morna was named to the All-Maine Team in both Basketball and Field Hockey.  In the fall of 1969, Morna became Hampden Academy’s first female Physical Education instructor.  At that time there were only two sports offered for women, Basketball and Softball.  Before she retired in 1977, she helped add (and coach) Gymnastics, Field Hockey, Volleyball and Track & Field.  Morna also coached both JV and Varsity Basketball at Hampden Academy.  After her retirement from teaching, Morna became heavily involved in the Senior Games, competing in Swimming, Bowling, Track & Field, Table Tennis, Basketball and Bowling.  Upon her death in January of 2017, a scholarship in her name was established for a graduating senior from Hampden Academy.

Tom Stephenson, Class of 1975, was a multi-sport athlete, playing Football (4 years), Basketball (9th Grade), Indoor Track (10th, 11th, & 12th), Baseball (9th), and Outdoor Track (10th, 11th, & 12th).  Tom won between 6 and 10 Individual State Track & Field championships in a variety of events, holds the State of Maine and Hampden Academy record in the 60-yard dash and also held the State of Maine record in the 300 yard run.  Tom went on to be a 4-year scholarship athlete in Track & Field at the University of Maine, lettering three years in Outdoor Track and 4 years in Indoor Track.

NOTE: The Hall of Fame Committee released the first six names of its first class of Hall of Famers last week. Check out the story of those inductees by clicking here  Hampden Academy Athletic Hall of Fame

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