FAIRMONT — The Olympic Games are officially underway.
While the Mountain State celebrated the triumph of Ginny Thrasher, folks around Fairmont State University reveled in excitement as one of their own, Perry Baker, prepares to take the field for the first time Tuesday.
In anticipation of the event, I met with Fairmont State’s director of marketing and branding Amy Baker as well as sports information director Chris Thomas to learn a little bit more about local Olympic history.
Mary Lou Retton will forever be remembered as Fairmont’s Olympic hero, and rightfully so, but when Baker takes the field in rugby sevens Tuesday at 1 p.m., he will be the fourth athlete from Fairmont State to compete in the Olympic Games, albeit the first to don the stars and stripes of the United States.
Fairmont State’s Leroy Loggins, Steve Newkirk and Luc Tousignant all attended then Fairmont State College between the years 1976-81, and all represented their respective nations in the highest international competition.
With help from Baker and Thomas, as well as research on sports-reference.com, I took a look back at these athletes to learn some more about them.
The first was Newkirk, a swimmer and 11-time All-America member of the Fighting Falcons swim team. While at Fairmont State between 1976-78, Newkirk set school records in the 100- and 200meter butterfly, the 400- and 800-meter freestyle relay and the 400-medley relay.
In 1976, Newark went to the Montreal Olympic Games representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. In those games, the United States took home gold in 12 of 13 events, and Newkirk failed to reach the podium, according to information on sports-reference. com In those same 1976 Olympics in Montreal, future Fairmont State quarterback Tousignant competed as a member of the Canadian handball team.
In the ’76 Olympics, according to information on sports-reference. com, Canada finished in 11th place out of 12 teams, one spot behind the team from the U.S.
Despite not earning a medal, Tousignant went on to have a record-breaking career at Fairmont State, before going on to play professionally as well.
While a member of the Fighting Falcons under coach Dave Ritchie, Tousignant was the signal caller on teams that finished 5-4-1 in 1978, 9-1-1 in 1979 (the ’78 and ’79 teams also featured current East Fairmont High School football coach Lou Geary), 6-3-1 in 1980 and 9-2-0 in 1981. His teams wonWVIAC championships in ’79 and ’81, with Tousignant winning WVIAC Player of the Year and second-team All-America honors in his senior season.
During his four years, Tousignant set the school passing yardage record with 4,737 yards, was selected to the All-WVIAC first team in 1981 and All-WVIAC second team twice.
His 4,737 passing yards and 30 touchdowns still rank in the top four in school history.
Tousignant was selected in the eighth round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills and went on to play one professional season with theMontreal Concordes.
Finally, Loggins, a standout at Fairmont State for Joe Retton between 1979-80, played in the 1992 Olympic Games for Australia.
After attending Baltimore City Community College for two years, Loggins transfered to Fairmont State. As a Falcon, Loggins scored 1,279 points in two seasons, helping Fairmont State to a record of 20-8 in 1978-79 in which he was named first-team All-WVIAC. In 197980, Loggins and the Fighting Falcons finished 26-5 and made the NAIATournament.
Loggins was an NAIA All-American, WVIAC Player of the Year, first-team All-WVIAC andWVIAC TournamentMVP.
He’s among the school’s alltime leaders in single-season points and scoring average, as well as career free-throw and field-goal percentage.
Loggins was drafted in the 1980 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, but opted to play in the NBL in Australia, where he became a citizen.
Loggins played his first season in Australia in 1981 with the Brisbane Bullets before playing two seasons for West Adelaide. From there, Loggins returned to the Bullets and played until 2001.
Loggins played in a total of 567 NBL games, scoring 13,106 points (23.1 points per game), according to the Bullets’ website.
Loggins is the Bullets’ alltime leader in nearly every statistical category. The team’s website touts him as the best player in franchise history and one of the greatest imports in the history ofAustralian basketball.
There is a statue in Loggins’ honor in Boondall, Australia.
In the 1992 Olympics, the same games the featured the USA Dream Team, Loggins averaged 12.3 points per game for an Australian team that finished 4-4, good for sixth overall.
All three athletes are members of the Fairmont State Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Now, Baker will become the first Fighting Falcon to compete for the United States in the Olympics. He hopes to become the first to earn an Olympic medal as well.
This story by Sean McNamara of the Times West Virginian appears here with permission. Contact McNamara at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @SMcNamaraTWV.