Trio completes Martins Ferry Athletic HOF 2022 class

The Martins Ferry Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 is complete.

The final three selections are Joe Ellis (Class of 1974), who was a standout runner in both cross country and track who later enjoyed tremendous success as Ferry’s cross country coach; Nick Stankovich (Class of 1977), selected for a variety of contributions to Purple Rider athletics as an athlete, coach and administrator; and Jess Cordery, the school’s most successful softball coach.

Previously announced selections for the HOF Class of ’22 included Jack Kardules (Class of 1961), Denny Lucas (Class of 1971), Tom Suriano (Class of 1973), Jeff Smith (Class of 1993), Angela Cerasoli (Class of 2005) and Chas Yoder (Class of 2005).

These nine individuals will be inducted on Friday, Aug. 26 at a luncheon for family at the MFHS cafeteria in the afternoon and they’ll be introduced at halftime of the Purple Riders’ home football game that evening against Leetonia.

Next week, the four selections to the Wall of Honor will be announced.

Here’s a look at the bios of Ellis, Stankovich and Cordery:

Joe Ellis

Class of 1974

Ellis was a key part of a golden era of cross country at Ferry High, the senior statesman alongside fellow Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Mike Frazier under legendary coach Gordon Downie.

A three-year letterman, he enjoyed a solid junior year where he placed 14th in the OVAC Cross Country Championships, 30th in the OHSAA Class AA Sectional and 49th in the OHSAA District with a season-best time of 10:16.

Ellis blossomed as a senior captain, finishing seventh in the OHSAA Class AA Sectional, fifth in the District (9:45) and qualifying for the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships where he finished in 32nd place.

He placed fourth in the Belmont County Meet, sixth in the OVAC and had top 10 finishes in invitationals at Martins Ferry, Brooke, Dover, Bellaire and John Marshall and was 12th in the giant West Liberty Invitational.

His season best time in his final year was 9:28.In track, he was a three-year letterman who served as captain during his senior campaign.

In track, Ellis was a captain as a senior for the Riders who finished sixth in the OVAC Class AAA Meet, second in the OHSAA Class AA Sectional and 15th in the District while posting a 6-1-1 dual meet record and finishing in the top six in six invitationals.

Ellis placed first in the 880-yard run at the Steel Valley Track League Championship Meet and he was fourth in the same event in the OHSAA Class AA Sectional, missing a district berth by one spot.

Ellis continued running at West Liberty State College (graduating there in 1977) where he was a member of six WVIAC championship teams (three in cross country, three in track) and competed in the Cross Country Nationals as a junior and senior.

A four-year letterman in cross country and three-year letterman in track, he served as captain of the Hilltoppers’ cross country team as a senior. He finished ninth in the WVIAC Championships as a junior and placed 18th as a senior despite competing with a foot injury. He also competed in countless local road races both during and after his high school and college days, most recently running in the prestigious Boston Marathon in 2015.

Ellis was also very successful as Ferry’s head cross country coach from 1989-94 and 1997-2002.

Under Ellis, the Riders won five OVAC girls’ championships (1991, ’93, ’98, ’99 and 2000) and the four boys’ titles (1991, ’92, ’93 and ’98).

He also had several Belmont County championship teams and regional-qualifying teams and five state qualifying teams (girls in 1992 and 2000; boys in 1992, ’93 and ’99). He also served as an assistant track coach (1985-95 and 1998-2000) , working primarily with the distance runners. In between, he was head cross country coach at West Liberty State College (1995-97).

Nick Stankovich

Class of 1977


Stankovich enjoyed a solid athletic career in high school and college, but his contributions to Martins Ferry athletics extend far beyond his playing days.

On the field, he served as an assistant football and track coach of the Purple Riders for 30 years, coaching the line under Hall of Fame football coach Dave Bruney and coaching the weight men in track.

He began his career in education as a teacher at North Elementary in 1981, becoming the principal there from 1984-96.

He then served as assistant superintendent from 1996-99 and elevated to Superintendent of the Martins Ferry School District from 1999-2010.

Upon his retirement, he then became a member of the Martins Ferry Board of Education starting in 2012.

Along the way, Stankovich was very instrumental in obtaining the funds for the field house located inside the Dave Bruney Football Complex, having turf placed on the field and other renovations at Ferry Stadium as well as at the Fred Thomas Track Facility on the MFHS campus.

As an athlete, Stankovich was a three-year letterman in football; a three-year letterman in track who shined in the weight events, including a toss of 53-9 in the shot put and 146-2 in the discus; and a one-year letterman in wrestling.

He went on to play football for four years at Capital University.

Jess Cordery

(Softball Coach)

Cordery coached the Lady Riders’ softball team for 11 seasons, compiling a solid career record of 162-101.

He coached Martins Ferry’s first regional qualifying team, leading the 2005 Lady Riders to the OHSAA Division III Sectional title by defeating St. Clairsville (12-3) and Steubenville Catholic (4-3); and district crown by upending Indian Valley (6-2) and Ridgewood (4-1).

That led to the D-III Regional semifinals where Ferry dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to eventual state champion Sycamore Mohawk, leaving the Lady Riders with the school’s best record ever at 23-4.

That squad also won the OVAC Class 3A championship that season. Cordery – who was the ROTC instructor at MFHS – was named OVAC Coach of the Year twice (2000 and 2005) and the Eastern District Division III Coach of the Year in 2005.

He coached three All-Ohioans during his tenure – Natalie Vinci, Angie Cerasoli and Kayla Lewis.


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