By Max Goodwin
Three teams and four individual Bulldogs were inducted into the Grandview Athletic Hall of Fame in an Aug. 27 ceremony at Grandview High School.
The 1984 Grandview football team that went 11-2 and reached the state semifinals was inducted. As were both the 2011 and 2012 state champion track and field teams.
Jaron Alexander, Oladapo Akinmoladun, and James White, from those legendary track and field teams were also inducted as individuals. So was Steve Robertson, who served as Grandview’s Athletic Director from 2002 to 2019.
The inductees were also honored during halftime at the first Grandview football game of the season. Many of them traveled from around the United States to attend the event. Members of the 2011 track and field team reminisced on winning the state championship they won more than a decade ago now.
What they couldn’t have known at the time is the culture that they formed then was the beginning of a track dynasty at Grandview. It would be carried on for six straight boys state championships, and nine total between boys and girls teams during a nine-year span.
“This was the mastermind, right here,” said Jaron Alexander pointing to Russell Dotson, who coached sprints at Grandview through the run of six straight state titles and later became head coach.
Alexander came from South Carolina for the induction ceremony. He is still the current 100-meter record holder in Missouri in Class 3, with a time of 10.65 seconds.
Dotson had been coaching sprints at Bishop Hogan Academy and arrived at Grandview in 2010. He saw the speed they had at the school and was amazed.
“They didn’t even know,” Dotson said of Grandview sprinters at the time. “They didn’t even know. I got here and I was like, these guys are athletes.”
As soon as football season ended that year, they began training for track season and trying to raise money for the team. There’s no official indoor high school track and field season in Missouri, but coach Dotson loaded the students in his car and drove them to Mizzou and KU to compete in indoor meets.
Dotson remembered leaving the state championship meet in 2010, driving a minivan with the state qualifiers as passengers after falling short of a state championship. Dotson could see the foundation building.
“I remember, we were driving back with some new Drake on the radio, and I was like, ‘y’all we’re gonna come back and win this whole thing next year,” Dotson said as he stood on the Grandview track during the recent football game while surrounded by the now adult members of that team.
The group did go back and win the whole thing the next year. Then they repeated the next year, the year after that, and the year after. They kept going until they accomplished something no other school in Missouri ever has: six straight state championships in track and field.
“Once you create a strong culture, it’s very, very hard to kill,” Oladapo Akinmoladun said. “And the culture that coach Dotson infused in his first and second year as a coach, it just permeated. You can’t beat that, and that’s why you have six championships.”
Akinmoladun came from Tacoma, Wash. for the induction ceremony. He is now in his second year of residency at Madigan Army Hospital Medical Center and will graduate in 2027 as a general surgeon in the Army.
As he was inducted into the Grandview Hall of Fame, Akinmoladun sat in the auditorium at Grandview High School watching some of his state championship races for the first time since they happened.
Akinmoladun is still the state record holder in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.56 seconds at the 2012 Missouri state championship meet—where he would go on to score a total of 49 points for Grandview.
Akinmoladun went on to have an All-American career for the University of Nebraska, finishing fifth in at the NCAA Championships in the 60-meter hurdles in 2016, and winning a pair of Big Ten Championship in the same event in 2014 and 2015 for the Huskers.
In the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, Akinmoladun was studying critical care as a fourth-year medical student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and students were kept away from patients. Later in the year, they were given clearance to care for sick patients. Akinmoladun was excited about the opportunity to help people during a once-in-a-century medical crisis.
He chose to follow the path to become a surgeon because of how closely it reminded him of his days as an athlete. “How you place your body next to the patient in the O.R., how you manipulate the needle drive…how you master your craft and try to improve,” he described.
That’s what high school athletics are all about.