Palatine High School's Hall of Fame induction ceremony for 2017 will take place just prior to the varsity kickoff before Friday's homecoming game against Maine South, at approximately 7:20 p.m.
The four inductees are:
• Gerald A. McElroy: McElroy left his North Dakota home town in 1931 because a massive farming drought. That led to a bad wheat crop, which in turn resulted in a one-third cut in teachers' salaries -- a misfortune that ended up being a boon for Palatine. Mr. McElroy's move to the Midwest began a 39-year career as teacher, principal and superintendent. From 1931-1944, he taught math and history and coached track and basketball. His basketball teams had great success against conference rivals, and his track teams won conference four times. McElroy was also instrumental in starting up the historic Palatine Relays, which his teams won three times during his tenure -- and which now bears MVP awards in his name. After becoming the school's principal 1944, McElroy stayed involved with the athletic program by starting up the high school golf team. When the school board told him that there was not enough money in the budget to start up a new team, McElroy took it upon himself and funded the team with his own money.
• Amy Laskowske: Laskowske is one of the most decorated runners to walk the halls of Palatine High School. Between cross-country and track, she earned 14 state medals during her running career. In cross-country, she was all-state her sophomore, junior and senior years after finishing fourth, second and sixth individually. She also led her team to two state trophies. In track, Laskowske was a three-time high school state champion in the 3,200-meter run, winning that event her freshman, sophomore and senior seasons. Her second-place finish in her junior may have been just as impressive, considering she'd battled an injury all season. Laskowske was also very successful in the 1,600-meter run, finishing in the top seven at state all four years she competed and helping key a second-place team state finish in her senior year. Laskowske went on to a standout collegiate career at Minnesota, capped by an All-America honor in the 10,000-meter run in her senior year.
• Gerry O'Brien: The impact Gerry O'Brien left on Palatine High School throughout his career was indelible. With Coach O'Brien at the helm from 1987-2004, the Palatine wrestling program was successful on many fronts. Statistically, his teams were among the best in the area. During his tenure, he coached 22 state qualifiers, nine of which placed at the state meet. He also led three wrestlers to a top-two state finish. A total of 28 O'Brien-coached wrestlers won regional championships, eight won sectional championships and one was a state champion. As impressive as his wrestling resume was, it was his ability to build relationships with people that defined O'Brien. He was a coach, teacher, counselor, father figure, confidant, cheerleader, chauffeur and made those around him better."
• Bob Watson: Watson was as close to perfection as a cross-country runner could get in his senior year. He finished first in every race he competed except one, winning the MSL meet, the regional and the sectional. He then capped off his season for the ages by winning the high school state meet. In track and field, Watson earned All-MSL honors his junior and senior year. He also earned all-state honors as a junior by placing fourth in the 3,200-meter run at state, and he followed that up with a sixth-place finish his senior year. All of that led to a scholarship at Alabama, where Watson earned All-SEC honors in cross-country his junior year by placing 11th in the SEC meet. He was the Crimson Tide's No. 1 runner and wound up finishing 38th out of 300 runners at the regional meet. He was named captain of his cross-country team his senior year and led his team to an upset over ninth-ranked Tennessee by being his team's No. 1 runner and placing 19th overall in a field of over 300 runners.