Bowman Hartley And Jim Gunning To Continue Academic And Football Careers At CUP (02/18/19)

(Photo courtesy of Melissa Shoemaker. Front L-R Bowman Hartley and Jim Gunning. Back L-R Coach Larry Wiser and Coach Dave Eggleton)

Former rivals, Clarion Area’s Bowman Hartley and Clarion-Limestone’s Jim Gunning recently had a joint photo-op to announce their signing letters of intent to continue their academic and football careers at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

The joint signing announcement’s purpose was to present a show of unity, between the two schools, which will co-op together for varsity football this fall. C-L joins in the co-op with Clarion and North Clarion which have co-oped for several years.

Both were linemen for their respective schools. Bowman, 6-3, 260 pound has seen action at tackle, end and defensive end for the Bobcats and the 6-1 and 255 pound Gunning, played center and nose guard for the Lions.

The two young men shared their thoughts about their junior high and high school careers, and about those who have helped them along the way and what they expect the future to hold for them at CUP and beyond:

Hartley shared: “Playing for the Bobcats, from 7th grade on, I have always loved football. No matter what my coaches from Jr. High and Varsity told me to do, I follow through. If they move me to different positions, I will gladly do. I’ll do anything to provide for the team.

“While researching schools, I felt Clarion University is the right fit for me. Close to home and I know the area very well. And I can come watch the newly formed Clarion Area/Clarion-Limestone team at home games if possible.

“Signing the National Letter of Intent to play for Clarion shocked me. I didn’t expect the coaches would want a local to play. The recruiting process has been long since the beginning of summer 2018. I would not have done this without my parents’ support, my friend Alfonso Hoggard III, my junior high coach, Jess Quinn, who also taught me in the fourth grade and supported me, and my head coach, Larry Wiser, who pushed me with a ton of confidence.

“I would be playing on the offensive line. Possible seeing playing time my freshman year. In order to play, I will need to train a lot harder than I did during my junior year in the off season. Drills, weights, diet, everything to become the best Golden Eagle I can be.

“I will be studying Nutrition and Fitness and my future career is to become a strength and conditioning coach like Jesse Kelley from the YMCA. I love fitness and I transformed my body from a skinny junior high player, to a huge, 6’3, 260 plus pound, lineman. And hopefully play professional if my future leads me to it.”

Gunning had this to say, “First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made me the person who I am today. My coaches from youth football to junior high football to varsity football were great role models in my life who made me stronger mentally and physically every day. I would like to thank my teachers for making me want to learn and develop myself into a more well-rounded person, and I would also like to thank my family and my friends for always cheering me on to do my best.

“I would like to thank my track coach Alan Cumo for always believing in me since I met him in my freshman year. I would like to thank Coach Pete Beskid for always working with me in the weight room, on the field, and in the classroom to reach my full potential. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for always pushing me to do better and make the extra step. They have guided in the right way to success and they always will.

“My time as a Clarion-Limestone Lion has been tremendous. I remember Colby Himes persuaded me to join youth football the year it was created at C-L. I will never forget him for doing that. After two years of pee wee football, I played junior high football where Coach Todd Mathews wanted me to start playing center and that’s the position I have played ever since. I played my seventh and eighth grade in junior high football. Then, I was at a tough situation whether I should stay down in junior high or go up and play for the varsity team. I decided, as a freshmen, that I wanted to be moved up to develop my skills and to challenge me. That year, I started two games and we won both of those games. Also, that year C-L football started to turn around with a 4-5 record.

“My sophomore year, we went 8-3 as a team, and I started at center every game that year. My junior year was very similar to my sophomore, but we went 6-5 losing in the first round of the playoffs. After that season, I was motivated to work even harder so we can finish close games and win for our school. My senior year, my team went 9-3. We had a lot of good things happen this past season. I’m really thankful for all 22 of my teammates and my coaches for a great season. Overall, I have only missed one game in the eight years that I have played football.

“My future plans include going to Clarion University to pursue a degree in Business. In football, I would love to keep playing center, but I am willing to do whatever the team needs me to do.

“I’ve  recently gotten to know Bowman Hartley. I remember playing against him over the years in the nasty rival games, but I never really got the chance to meet him. However, during the off-season, I plan on preparing myself with him for our future on the Clarion Football Team. Bowman is a hard worker, and I see a lot of similarities between him and me. I believe we will be good friends in the near future.

“I’m glad that I have this opportunity with Bowman to tell my story and be recognized for my signing. I’m happy to see that Clarion and C-L football combined and I can see good things in the future for the co-op. It feels good to be possibly on the last C-L football team ever.”

Gunning is the son of Lisa and John Gunning and Hartley is the son of David and Julie Hartley.

The Gunning’s had this to share, “Jim has always been open to learn.  He worked hard and never gave up on his dreams. It’s been a joy to watch Jim play football or do anything he puts his mind to.  We are honored to be part of his journey.

“We are looking forward for Jim reaching all his goals in the future.

“Also,  Jim, for 4 years has been one of the top 5 in his class for academics. 

“Jim was a two-way first team all-conference player in the District 9 Small School South Conference during the 2018 season.”

And from the Hartley’s: “This would not have been possible without the dedication and care of the CAHS coaching staff. At every level, coaches poured into Bowman and gave him the confidence and drive to succeed.

“We can’t say enough about coach Wiser. He brought Bowman on the varsity squad as a ball boy, took him to football camp while Bowman was still in Jr. High, and poured time and effort into helping Bowman realize his potential.

“There is an entire community of folks who took the time to work with and develop Bowman, both physically and academically. Teachers and Coaches, administrators and Boosters, should share in the success of this day.”

Bobcat head coach Larry Wiser had this to say about Hartley, “I am very proud of Bowman. This young man was one of the hardest working athletes I have ever coached.

“I have known him and his family for several years. Bowman is blessed with a great support group. Clarion Proud!!!!!

“I am looking forward watching this young man at CUP.”

Lion head coach Dave Eggleton, who will be the assistant coach on the new team, said, “Jim has been a 4 year starter for me. It has been amazing watching him grow into such a great football player. He was two-way all conference this season offensive line and defensive line.

“The thing I am going to miss most about Jim is his leadership. He has been a great role model for all of the the athletes in our program for the past several years. He has been a player I could depend on, both on and off the field. It’s so exciting to see him move on and play at CUP. I know he will represent his school and family well at the next level.”

Clarion University Golden Eagle head coach Chris Weibel shared his excitement in having these two young men join his program, “We are excited to have Bowman and Gunning be a part of the Golden Eagle Family.

“We as a program need to make sure we are taking care of our “back yard”.  We can’t let good local talent get away.

“Hartley and Gunning have a huge upside.  Not only do they have the frames to put on more mass, they both academically fit the mold with the type of student athlete I want in my program.

“With my familiarity of Clarion and Clarion-Limestone, there is a level of toughness they have, and a work ethic that has been instilled in them.

“I am looking forward to getting them on campus in the Fall and getting to work.”

Congratulations to Bowman and Jim, their families, high school programs and the Golden Eagles. The best to both of of these young men in the future!!!!

(Thanks to Melissa Shoemaker for the photo and to all who contributed quotes for this article.)