EAST HANOVER, NJ — The 2019 inductees to the Big “L” Club Hall of Fame—including five former Livingston High School (LHS) athletes, one LHS coach and, for the first time, one LHS team—were officially honored for this achievement during a brunch held at Hanover Manor.
This year’s honorees—Robert Young (1966), Don Julich (1982), Chris Peacock (1984), Jarrod Pence (1999), Danielle Genovese Wettengel (2006), Coach Ed Grasso (1975) and the 1972 LHS boys soccer team—were also recognized during halftime of the 2019 homecoming football game.
“Our goal is to recognize former Livingston High School student athletes who excelled on the playing field and who are great role models for current high school kids and youngsters that are growing up in town and playing sports,” said Joe Cullen, chair of the Big L Club Hall of Fame Committee. “These are the best of the best for Livingston High School.”
Cullen said the ceremony was “a nice gathering of people in town,” where LHS Principal Mark Stern, Livingston Mayor Al Anthony and members of the township council, members of the board of education and other local dignitaries joined the Big L Club in congratulating the honorees and their families.
Although this is an annual event meant to celebrate the carefully selected athletes, this year was slightly different in that it was the Big L Club’s first year inducting a team into the Hall of Fame.
“We felt it was time highlight some of our best teams in the history of Livingston High School,” said Cullen. “This particular team was the first undefeated state championship team that finished No. 1 in the State of New Jersey, so we felt that honoring them first would be appropriate.”
About the 1972 LHS Boys Soccer Team
With 20 wins and no losses during the 1972 season, the LHS boys soccer team was not only Livingston’s first undefeated team, but was also the first LHS team to ever win an overall state championship.
The team gave up only 11 goals during the entire season, which ended in a 2-1 victory over Brick in the Group 4 State Championship. Members of the team also broke several team and individual scoring records, and many of the players received All-State, All-County and All-Conference recognition.
Ed McInroy, a celebrated LHS soccer coach, was named Coach of the Year during the 1972 season.
About Robert Young
During his years competing in cross-country, wrestling and track-and-field at LHS, Young set a school record in the one-mile, two-mile and long-distance runs. He was also part of two championship teams, including the Group 4 one-mile relay a state championship team and the Jersey Hills Conference distance medley championship team. As a wrestler, Young became the first LHS freshman to earn a varsity letter.
For the last 44 years, Young has participated in the Atlanta Peachtree Road 10K race.
About Don Julich
As part of the hockey team at LHS, Julich was the New Jersey high school scoring champion in both his junior and senior years. His team won the state championship in 1980 and 1982 as well as the Gordon Cup in 1981. The 1980 LHS hockey team was inducted into the New Jersey High School Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, which he was also recently inducted into as an individual.
For eight years, Julich played on the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni team. He also assisted in the development of a youth program in Hanover and coached his own daughter, who was a member of New Jersey’s first girls 12 and under ice hockey program.
About Chris Peacock
In addition to competing on the hockey team, Peacock was also named a captain and most valuable player (MVP) of the LHS tennis team during his senior year. Playing third singles as a freshman and first singles as a sophomore, junior and senior, Peacock finished his LHS career with 100 wins on a team that finished in the top 10 in the state all four years. In 1984, he was name the Essex County first singles champion and All-State Group Four.
Peacock attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played first singles as a freshman and was a singles finalist in the Big East Tournament in addition to being a named First All Big East in 1986.
About Jarrod Pence
Pence was a captain for both the football and basketball teams while at Livingston. As part of the football team, he was an All-County and All-Conference player in addition to being named the MVP of the Robeson All State Game. During his senior year, Pence was named the winner of the LHS Brian Piccolo Award.
After high school, Pence started for three years in the secondary at Moravian College and broke the single season NCAA Division 3 record for passes defended. He was named Second Team, All-American and First Team, All-American and also played in the Aztec Bowl and East Coast Bowl All Star Games.
From 2003 to 2010, Pence coached football at LHS. He was inducted into the Moravian Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.
About Danielle Genovese Wettengel
Wettengel competed on the softball and field hockey teams for LHS, playing on the Essex County championship softball team in 2006. Starting all four years for the LHS softball team, Wettengel was a four-time First Team All-Conference player, a three-time First Team All-Essex County selection and a two-time First Team All-State Group 3 selection. She also became the all-time leader in hits for LHS with 142 in her high school career.
Wettengel started at shortstop all four years while at Caldwell College, where she held the single-season homerun record and also became an All-Conference and All-Northeast Region selection.
About Coach Ed Grasso
Grasso, a LHS graduate of 1975, is known as the founder of the LHS girls soccer program. In 1988, he was named Essex County Coach of the Year and continues to coach today.
In addition to coaching Livingston little league and softball, Grasso has also coached little league and softball in Chester and worked with the boys and girls soccer programs at Belleville High School.
Grasso is also a former LHS athlete, playing varsity soccer with the 1974 conference championship team, which was ranked No. 11 in the state.
More from the Big “L” Club
According to Cullen, the Big L is already accepting nominations for next year’s Hall of Fame class. Nominations can be submitted through the organization’s website to be considered by a committee that will discuss each nominee’s qualifications and vote on the 2020 honorees.
The Big L is also seeking sponsors for upcoming events like the popular Trish Duffy Casino Night, which will be held on Jan. 31 at Hanover Manor. All proceeds from this and other Big L events support the LHS Athletic Program.
Learn about upcoming events, become a sponsor, or nominate a Hall of Fame honoree by clicking HERE.