Cary High honored not just its past, but its beginnings on Friday with its newest sports Hall of Fame class.
The three-person class including W.C. “Billy” Creel (class of 1929), Jeff Farwell (1982) and Suzanne Gardiner Mahar (1989). Creel will be inducted posthumously and is one of the earliest graduates of Cary High to be inducted.
All three persons had long waits to be nominated and elected to the Hall, which began in 1994, but all three were inevitable inductions.
The class was inducted at halftime of Cary’s Friday home football game against Panther Creek.
Farwell was the first state champion for NCHSAA Hall of Fame coach Jerry Winterton, winning the 1982 title back when there was just one wrestling champion per weight class across the state.
He went undefeated his senior year despite having knee surgery three weeks prior to the season. He went on to be a four-year starter at the University of Chicago and was a conference champion in college. He stayed in Chicago as an assistant coach.
Cary’s wrestling program was starting to take off. Since Farwell’s state title in 1982, Cary has added almost 50 individual state wrestling champions to the school’s total.
Suzanne Gardiner Mahar
Mahar, who was Suzanne Gardiner in high school, won NCHSAA individual swimming titles – including the 200 IM in 1989 as well as the 100 butterfly in 1988.
She was Cary’s first individual state swimming champion. It would be 10 more years unil another Imps swimmer won gold – John Simpson in 1998 – and even longer for another girl to claim the top prize – Torrey Bussey’s first title in 2007.
She went on to win an ACC title at N.C. State in the 200 butterfly and was an NCAA qualifier.
W.C. “Billy” Creel
Creel is perhaps better known for what he did after his high school career. He joined the Navy, was a member of the Cary school board as well as the town council, and later elected N.C. Department of Labor Commissioner in 1972.
But Creel was also a four-sport star in high school. He was the leading scorer on the 1928-29 Imps basketball team and a letterman in football, baseball and track and field. He went on to play baseball and basketball at N.C. State College, as it was known then, and was selected for a tryout with the New York Yankees.
Creel died of a heart attack in August of 1975 while serving as Labor Commissioner. Former Govenor Jim Hunt, then the Lt. Govenor, said at the time “No man ever served North Carolina better or enjoyed it more than Billy Creel.”