The late Stanley Romanoski, a statewide ambassador and coaching pioneer for track and field and cross country, has been elected to the Wheeling Hall of Fame in the Sports and Athletics category.
The Hall of Fame board announced that Romanoski, Marc Harshman and three others will be inducted during a banquet at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling onSaturday, April 20. Doors will be open for the general public at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased from Hall of Fame board members.
Romanoski, a 1936 graduate of Triadelphia High School, had a 40-year coaching career in West Virginia capped by a 24-year tenure from 1957-81 as head men's track and field and cross country coach at West Virginia University. He promoted running and track and field year-round while traveling the state in the summers to assist local coaches with competitions, clinics and meets.
He also was the featured speaker in Wheeling at the original Elby's Distance Races.
At WVU, he founded the Mountaineer Relays and WVU Invitational cross country meet for high school athletes.
He also originated the state prep cross country meet that was later sanctioned and run by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission as the state championship event. Romanoski also started the indoor track program at WVU without a facility and led the effort for new indoor and outdoor facilities in the 1970s.
As a Mountaineer head coach, he piloted more All-America trackmen (seven) than any other WVU coach. Included were distance runners Carl Hatfield, Roger Meador, Mike Mosser, Don Sauer and Alex Kasich, hurdler Garnet Edwards and pole vaulters Jack Carter plus his first team captain Dave Tork, currently a Wheeling resident, who later set a world record as the second 16-foot vaulter. Mosser, an NCAA indoor champion, participated in the "Dream Mile" race with Olympians Jim Ryun and Marty Liguori.
Edwards won the 1979 Penn Relays and was an NCAA outdoor high hurdle finalist two years and indoor finalist in 1979 when he was "outleaned" for first place by Olympian Renaldo Nehamiah. Romanoski also coached WVU's first African-American varsity athlete, long jumper Phil Edwards from Morgantown.
Romanoski's WVU track teams were 70-39-1 while the cross country team records were 128-64. He coached three Southern Conference cross country title teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament. The 1962 squad finished 20th in the nation, the highest placing for a WVU team. He also served as vice president and later president of the IC4A track coaches association and conducted college and high school coaching clinics in the region.
His passion for the sport started at Triadelphia High School. Competing for coach Charley Petty, he won the state one-class 880-yard titles as a junior and senior with times for 2:03.2 and 2:04, compared to the state record of 2:02. He also set a West Virginia regional mile record time of 4:40 which lasted a decade. He played end in football.
He was recruited to play football at Belmont Abbey (N.C.) College by coach Bud Bonar, a Bellaire native. He played three sports for two years before transferring to WVU for his final two years. At WVU, he ran track under his coaching predecessor, Art Smith, and was a member of the mile relay team which set a school record that lasted over 30 years.
After college, he rebuilt two state high school athletic programs, including starting both track teams, sandwiched around a Navy tour of duty. He started his coaching career at Ansted High School, which was coming off a 30-game losing streak in football and a 3-60 basketball record. His three football teams went 24-5 including 9-0-1 in 1947; he coached a basketball team that was 19-2.
After the Navy tour, he took over a Dunbar High program which was 1-9 in football and 1-19 in basketball the previous year. In nine seasons, his football teams went 52-33-1 and his 1957 track team won a one-class state championship. The feat earned him the state all-sport Coach of the Year award, the only time in 70 years of the honor that a coach was cited primarily for track. He also coached the South to a victory in the 1953 West Virginia North-South football game. Overall, he coached 11 winning football teams before heading to WVU as a coach.
Romanoski was born Aug. 2, 1918 in Homestead, Pa. His family relocated to Wheeling in 1923 and resided in the Overbrook area. He attended St. Vincent's Grade School before enrolling at Triadelphia High School. He died on June 26, 2004.
Earlier, he was inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
His award will be accepted by Tork, who not only was the first WVU team captain for Romanoski but also became a world-record pole vaulter.