2013 WPIAL Hall of Fame Class
Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 4:09 PM
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Included in the WPIAL Hall of Fame class of 2013 are athletes, coaches and teams that not only made a big mark locally, but nationally.
On Wednesday, the WPIAL released its seventh annual Hall of Fame class. The class includes a football player who was a national player of the year, a few who went on to be college All-Americans, a coach who guided a team to a No. 1 ranking in the country and another team that was ranked No. 1 in the country.
Induction ceremonies will take place at a banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree June 7. The banquet is open to the public and tickets are available through the WPIAL at its web site (www.wpial.org) or by calling the WPIAL at 412-921-7181.
The WPIAL selects Hall of Fame members in six different classes – athletes, coaches, teams, official, contributor and the Courage Award, named after former Freedom athlete John Challis, whose courageous battle with cancer a few years ago made national news.
Here is the WPIAL Hall of Fame class of 2013:
Lou “Bimbo” Cecconi, 1946 Donora High School graduate – He was a four-year starter in football, when it was unheard of for a freshman to start in any sport. He earned a whopping 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. He was the quarterback of the 1945 team, which is considered one of the greatest in WPIAL history. That team allowed only six points all year. Went on to play football, basketbal and baseball at Pitt. Football was his best sport. He was named to Pitt’s all-time team from 1900-1970.
Sean Gilbert, 1989 Aliquippa – He was a 6-5, 280-pound linebacker who in 1988 was named USA Today’s national Defensive Player of the Year. He won two WPIAL championships at Aliquippa and also was the starting center on a PIAA championship basketball team in 1989. He went on to play football at Pitt, was and All-American in 1991. He was the No. 3 pick in 1992 NFL draft and played 11 seasons in the NFL. He’s the uncle of current NFL star Darrelle Revis.
Christa Harmotto, 2005 Hopewell – It was only last summer that Harmotto won a silver medal at the Olympics as a member of the U.S. volleyball team. At Hopewell, she dominated competition, helping the Vikings to three WPIAL titles and one PIAA championship. She went on to big success at Penn State, overcoming a knee injury to become a three-time All-American also won two NCAA titles.
Jeremy Hunter, 1996 McGuffey – Hunter never knew what it was like to NOT win a state title. He was one of only five wrestlers in the history of the WPIAL to win four PIAA titles. He won three WPIAL titles and his career record was 171-2. He became an All-American at Penn State, was an NCAA champion once and a runner-up once.
Tyler Palko, 2002 West Allegheny – No starting quarterback in the history of the WPIAL won more games than Palko. He was a four-year starter and his record during that time was 48-7. He started on three WPIAL championship teams and capped his career with a PIAA title. He played in three PIAA championships and finished his career with 7,234 yards. He also played basketball through his junior year. He went on to a very successful career at Pitt and played a few seasons in the NFL.
Elaine Sobansky–Blackhurst, 1980 Trinity – As a senior, she was the top shot–putter in record in the country and made Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd. In fact, she still holds the PIAA record for the shot put. She was a PIAA champion in both the shot put and discus (three-time PIAA winner in the shot put). She also scored more than 1,000 career points in basketball. She went on to Penn State, where she was an eight-time All-American in track and field.
Megan Schnur, 2003 Butler – She was a dominating soccer player at Butler, good enough to make the Parade All-American team. After high school, she went on to become a standout at the University of Connecticut, where she was an All-American. She played for the U.S. National Team and also in the Womens Professional Soccer League.
Jack Waltz, 1963 Mt. Lebanon – This Waltz danced to the tune of championships. He won three WPIAL singles tennis championships and three PIAA titles during his career with the Blue Devils. He also played point guard on a WPIAL championship basketball team. He went on to play tennis and basketball at Yale in the Ivy League.
Don Barth, North Catholic girls basketball – When it comes to winning PIAA titles, no one did it better than Barth. He and Farrell boys coach are tied for the most state titles in basketball with seven each. Barth coached a total of 34 years – 11 at defunct Domenec High in the Pittsburgh Catholic League and 23 at North Catholic (1974-97). He won 788 games, the most of any girls coach in WPIAL history. He won 11 WPIAL titles and had a 56-game winning streak.
Lindy Lauro, New Castle football – Lindy. Just the name meant success. In 32 years (1961-92) as New Castle’s football coach, he had a 220-104-15 record with six perfect seasons, two WPIAL titles and one co-championship. He played football at New Castle, went on to play at Pitt and also a few years in the NFL.
Jack McCurry, North Hills football – McCurry retired from coaching only two months ago and he leaves as the third-winningest coach in WPIAL history. He had a record of 281-108-9 during 35 seasons (1978-2012). His first win was over Gateway and fabled coach Pete Antimarino. McCurry won four WPIAL championships, including one co-championship, and one PIAA title (1993). His 1987 team was ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today and McCurry was named USA Today’s National Coach of the Year.
Donna Richey, Aliquippa girls basketball – Richey started the girls program at Aliquippa in 1976 and almost immediately she started winning with regularity. She won 11 section championships at one point and became recognized as one of the top coaches in the WPIAL. She had a 324-67 record with four WPIAL titles and two PIAA titles.
Mount Alvernia girls basketball 1983 – In 1983, March went out like a “perfect” Lion. The Lions of Mount Alvernia became the first team from the WPIAL to win WPIAL and PIAA teams with a perfect record. The Lions, coached by legendary De Porucznik, won eight postseason games that season by an average of 27 points. The small, all-girls private school in Millvale finished 34-0, led by Madalyn “Sam” Gottschalk, Maureen “Mo” Conley and Karen Hall.
Quaker Valley boys soccer 1996 – The ’96 season was absolutely perfect for the Quakers. Under coach Gene Klein, the Quakers finished 26-0, won WPIAL and PIAA titles, and was voted No. 1 in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association. They outscored opponents, 169-7, and shut out 21 opponents.
Don “Woody” Woodward – A longtime official at both the high school and college levels. Worked 41 years in football, baseball, basketball and softball and worked PIAA and WPIAL championship games.
Jack Fullen – Fullen has been the Blackhawk High School AD since the mid 1970s and served for two decades on the Board of Control for the WPIAL and PIAA.
Kurt Wolfe, Pine-Richland baseball – Wolfe has battled colon cancer the last few years, but continues to coach the Rams. Three years ago, despite the cancer, he guided Pine-Richland to the WPIAL championship.
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