Retired PTHS Girls Track Coach Cecil Ward is a member of the class of 2019 inductees to the Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) Hall of Fame.
As head girls’ track and field coach at Paducah Tilghman, Ward led the Blue Tornado to 12 State Championships, including eight-straight titles from 2000 to 2007, to go along with two boys’ cross country state titles. He coached numerous individual champions during his tenure, nearly 30 All-Americans and multiple Olympic Trial qualifiers.
A two-time individual state champion at Providence High School, Ward won the state title in the shot put in 1967 with a distance of 49-04.50 and the discus in 1968 with a mark of 142-07. He went on to star at Western Kentucky University as a decathlete and set the school record in the javelin in 1973 with a throw of 214-5.
Upon graduating, Ward took a job at Paducah Tilghman where he started coaching football before a job opened up coaching track and field. He guided the Blue Tornado to back-to-back AA State Championships in 1974 and 1975, and another state title in 1979 before leaving to become the head track and field coach at WKU, where he produced five All-Americans in his first year.
In 1982, Ward returned to Paducah Tilghman and guided the girls’ track and field team to another AA State Championship in 1993. The Blue Tornado began an unmatched string of success in 2000 by winning the first of eight-consecutive state titles, culminating with their final team championship at the 2007 state meet. Ward’s run of success in girls’ track and field coincided with him leading the Paducah Tilghman boys’ cross country team to back-to-back 2A State Championships in 2003 and 2004 – the first and only boys’ cross country titles in school history.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association will induct its Class of 2019 on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Hilton Downtown Lexington. This year’s 10-member class will be the 32nd inducted into the Dawahares/KHSAA Hall of Fame, and consists of former high school coaches, athletes, officials, administrators, and contributors.