Lycoming’s Darrin Kenney, Ron Knoebel to enter MAC Hall of Fame
Lycoming College has two former athletes set for induction in the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame in former football standout Darrin Kenney (1992) and former NCAA wrestling champion Ron “Buddy” Knoebel (1965).
Kenney joins former longtime coach Frank Girardi (1972-2007) and former teammates Rick Bealer (1991), Ed Dougherty (1992) and Tom Vanaski (1975) as the fourth football player enshrined.
“I wanted to play really bad and I was going to go where the coaches wanted to put me,” Kenney said. “I wanted to win and do what was the best for the team. At times Lycoming was a struggle, I didn’t get a lot of playing time freshman year and had thoughts of transferring. As the summer began, I started getting better and was able to work on myself. I learned a lot of life lessons early on from the coaching staff with Coach Girardi and Coach Wiser and I learned how to push myself to become better.”
A standout on one of the best offensive line units in Lycoming football history, Kenney could line up in each of the five positions to find the matchup against the best defensive player in front of him. The Warriors went 39-7 in his four years, leading the team to three MAC championships and the program’s first appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the Division III national championship game, in 1990.
After graduating, Kenney spent 10 years as a lineman in the Arena Football League, beginning in the 1993 season as a member of the Tampa Bay Storm. He helped the team earn a trip to the Arena Bowl that year. He then moved on to the Albany Firebirds in 1994, helping to bring an American Conference title and Eastern Division crown.
Knoebel joins former coach Budd Whitehill and two other Lycoming wrestlers in the MAC Hall of Fame in Bill Bachardy (1967) and former all-time wins leader Royce Eyer (2001).
“I am honored and proud to be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame,” Knoebel said. “Lycoming was a defining time and place for me. It was a good fit, I was in the right place and it was the best decision. I was blessed to have coach Budd Whitehill for all four years. He was a big part of my success.”
Knoebel was a two-time MAC champion and was the first NCAA champion from Lycoming College.
“He’s the first NCAA champion at Lycoming in any sport,” Lycoming wrestling coach Roger Crebs said. “He’s made a great impact on the program and means a lot to the Lycoming family. The amount of involvement he has on campus as a whole is amazing.”
During the 1963-64 season, Knoebel moved up to the 137-pound weight class and again led Lycoming to a third-place finish at the MAC championships after winning the 137-pound title, earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award by beating defending champion Albert Sweitzer from West Chester. It was then, Knoebel said, he thought he could become a national champion. However, at the NCAA Small College Championships, he finished 1-2, dropping an overtime decision on the second day to fall short of All-American status.
Knoebel was on a mission in his senior season, though, going 9-0-1 in the regular season before winning his second MAC title and leading the team to a second-place finish. He capped off his collegiate career as the NCAA College Division champion with a 6-0 win over Jim Rush of Western State College to become Lycoming’s first NCAA champion.