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WCCHS Announces Its Second HOF Class

Bubba Kapral Executive Sports Editor

WHEELING — Halls of Fame are the ultimate reward for greatness.

Wheeling Central’s athletic tradition is deeply steeped in success. That was reflected in its inaugural hall of fame class enshrined last October.

The original class featured coaches Jim Foti, Jim Thomas, Skip Prosser and Earl Haberfield. Athletes inducted were Bill Gompers, Lenny Pavlic, Dick Miller, Neil Habig, Rick Nau, John “Butch” Erb, Suzie Dailer and Jackie Ernst-Reinbeau.

Impressive indeed.

The Maroon Knights’ athletic greatness is now being reinforced by the second class of hall of fame honorees, slated for induction Saturday, Oct. 21 in the Benedum Room on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.

One historic Maroon Knights team and 12 individuals will be added to the hall.

The Maroon Knights’ 1963 boys’ basketball team that went unbeaten and captured the West Virginia Catholic tournament will be enshrined. The team was coached by Earl Haberfield and went 23-0. Team members were: Erb, Al Salvadori, Charles Lovinski, Paul Klenowski, Joe Doerr, Jay Duffy, Denny Deegan, Tom Abraham, Stan Kaniecki, Ray Powell, Ray Flanagan, Larry Romine and George Altmeyer Jr.

Football coaching great Andy Urbanic and former athletics director Nick Mansuetto are hall-bound, along with Bo McConnaughy, Doug Wojcik and Steve Wojcik, who were Maroon Knights standouts on the playing field who later scripted stellar coaching careers. The remainder of the second HOF class consists of James “Dubie” Dailer, Dr. George “Bunny” Naum, Raquel Burns-Davis, Richard “Richie” Nau, Paul Renowicz, Joseph “JoJo” Blaha and Rebecca “Becca” Kostival-Muehfeld.

Mansuetto, Dailer and Deegan will be inducted posthumously.

“We are really excited to welcome home to the Central family such a distinguished class of inductees,” committee co-chairman and head football coach Mike Young said. “Over the years we have had many athletes help build the winning tradition at our high school. The Hall of Fame committee is looking forward to continuing this work on an annual basis. ”

Induction ceremonies will take place during a brunch beginning at 9:30 a.m. Following the brunch, honorees will be guests at the CCHS Hall of Fame football game against Obama Prep. Kickoff time is 1 p.m. at WJU’s Bishop Schmitt Field.

“What a tremendous class. For me, many of these inductees are names, players and coaches you walked in their shadows and only hoped to follow in their footsteps. Then, there are a few I was fortunate enough to walk the same hallways with (Burns and Kostival-Muehfeld). The path of tradition, heritage and legacy that many of these CCHS athletic titans have paved is unparalleled. Many of these names still exist in our community today, as generations of these families still attend Central Catholic High School today,” Wheeling Central Athletics Director Donnie Murray said. “It is surreal to learn to play the game of baseball, as a kid, from two passionate coaches in Bo McConnaughy and Steve Wojick, and then, as an adult, be able to induct them into our hall of fame.

”It has been a rare privilege to attend a Coach Wojick pitching clinic as a kid and then to be a parent taking my kid to the same clinic years later. With Coach McConnaughy, a man who stepped into the CCHS baseball position to help ail the soul of a broken community, with the loss of our beloved Coach Conlin, lead the team to the state tournament in Charleston. That is the makings of a Hollywood script.

“What a tandem Rocky (Raquel) and Becca were. Raquel was a tremendous player at both CCHS and Bethany and I was able to watch her play at both levels, attending the same schools a year behind. What can you say about Becca? What a monster on the mound. This softball team, anchored by these two diamond dandies, is what drove our baseball team to succeed in capturing our own state crown, and the school’s first in 1999.

“Many of my childhood memories of playing basketball have Paul Renowicz running the baseline as an official in them. Whether on the floor of the YMCA, the pavement of the Elks Playground, or the gymnasium at St. Vincent de Paul Parish School, you would find Paul working multiple games, coaching up players as he called the games, many times by himself. It was when I came to CCHS as a freshman, I was able to put the name and face with the stories of what he was able to do in a Maroon Knights uniform,” he added. “In growing up with Ray Powell’s son, Jeff, and Stan’s son, Jack, playing sports with names like Flanigan, Altmeyer, Duffy, Dailer, and Nau, looking at this list of legends, I feel as if everyone being inducted has had some impact on how I was as a student-athlete, who I wanted to be as a player, and later how I wanted to be as a coach.”

A capsule look at this year’s inductees:

KOSTIVAL-MUEHLFIELD: She played on four straight West Virginia State softball championship teams. Becca was a three-time All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference honoree and three-time All-West Virginia selection. She was twice named the OVAC player of the year and earned the West Virginia Gatorade player of the year honor as a senior.

NAU: The Wheeling Central Hall of Fame is embracing a father-son combination. Rick Nau, former Maroon Knight and Old Dominion University basketball standout, was inducted into the inaugural Central Hall of Fame class last fall. His father Richard “Richie” Nau, a standout player from the era of the 1940s, has been selected this year for enshrinement. The elder Nau was a two-year standout on Maroon Knights basketball teams that were in the midst of winning seven straight West Virginia Catholic Tournament championships. His high school accolades included back-to-back All-City first team and All-OVAC laurels in 1947.

NAUM: He competed and lettered in four sports — football, basketball, baseball and track. Naum became one of the cornerstones of Wheeling Central Catholic and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference’s best four-year basketball teams in history. He was a four-year selection as an All-City performer and a multi All-OVAC selection.

DAILER: He was one of Wheeling Central Catholic’s most honored athletes during the decade of the 1940s. Dailer was both a standout football and basketball player who twice earned five-team All-City laurels in football and in basketball as a senior. He went on to be a three-year football performer at Notre Dame, including the 1947 national championship team, considered by many as the best team in school history.

DOUG WOJCIK: A four-year letterman in football and baseball and three-year starter in basketball, Doug played on two West Virginia Class AA state championship teams. Wojcik started at QB his final two seasons, earning All-OVAC and All-City laurels along with all-state honorable mention his senior year. He is currently still scripting a successful collegiate basketball coaching resume, now at East Carolina.

RENOWICZ: He was a standout scorer and rebounder on the first Wheeling Central basketball team to compete in the Secondary School Activities Commission state tournament in 1975. He was Central’s top scorer and rebounder as a junior and senior. As a senior, he averaged 21.6 points per game. Renowicz twice earned All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference first-team honors and twice selected to the third unit of the big school All-West Virginia Class AAA all-state basketball team.

BLAHA: A starting guard on Wheeling Central Catholic’s 1982 West Virginia Class AA championship basketball team, he finished his career as one of the Maroon Knights’ all-time athletic greats. He was a first-team all-state honoree in three sports, football, basketball and baseball. He earned back-to-back all-state tournament laurels (1982 and 1983), averaging double-figures during both his junior and senior seasons. He capped off his senior year with berths on the all-state, All-OVAC and All-Valley squads.

BURNS-DAVIS: She played on Wheeling Central softball teams that captured four straight West Virginia Class A championships (1995-1998). An all-stater in basketball and softball, Burns-Davis set several school records. In basketball, she was a 1,000-point scorer. In softball, Burns-Davis established school records for batting average and slugging percentage as a four-year starter.

McCONNAUGHY: This marks the third hall of fame recognition for McConnaughy, also a member of the OVAC and West Liberty shrines. He is still regarded as one of the best shortstops in Ohio Valley history. He was a stellar four-year letter-winner in both basketball and baseball. After a minor league baseball career, he authored a legendary baseball coaching career at West Liberty.

STEVE WOJCIK: He compiled a superb 22-6 pitching mark for the Maroon Knights, earning All-Catholic Tournament, All-Valley and all-state (all classes) honors. He was a three-time first team All-WVIAC selection, posting an impressive 23-4 career record at West Liberty. He spent four years in the New York Mets organization. He is a member of the West Liberty Hall of Fame.

URBANIC: He enjoyed an ultra-successful four-year stint guiding Wheeling Central football, compiling an amazing 35-5-2 mark. His teams won four straight West Virginia Catholic High School championships. He went on to a successful coaching career at Penn Hills (Pa.) before college stints at Florida State and Akron.

MANSUETTO: He served as the athletics director for 15 years during one of most important eras in Wheeling Central Catholic High School history. He was one of the driving forces behind the Maroon Knights’ bid to become the first Ohio Valley parochial school accepted for membership into the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

“As the newly named athletic director at my alma mater, it is a privilege and honor to be able to enshrine such a worthy 2017 Hall of Fame Class here at Central Catholic,” Murray said. “I know I speak for myself and many of the members of our community when I say that all of these people have always been hall of fame in our book. In October, we are simply making it official.”

“Congratulation to the members and their families of the CCHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing your time, talents, effort, and passion for Central Catholic High School. Welcome home, Maroon Knights.”

Tickets, priced at $25, can be purchased by contacting Maggie Espina at (304) 905-6228 or at mespina@cchsknights.org. The brunch is open to the public. All tickets must be purchased in advance. None will be sold at the door.

BUBBA’S BITS

Congratulations to River High football coach Mike Flannery. When his Pilots downed rival Magnolia Thursday night it marked the 150th win in his head coaching career.

∫ It likely won’t happen anytime soon, but having NFL doubleheaders on Monday nights makes for great TV viewing.

∫ Browns fans may have legitimate reason for hope after years and years of nightmarish quarterback play. Rookie Deshone Kizer is rough around the edges but handled himself quite nicely in a close loss to the Steelers.

∫ I nailed it when I predicted Rafa Nadal would win the U.S. Tennis Open. However, Sloane Stephens was never on my radar for the women’s crown.

∫ The Ohio Valley needs more Thursday night football — be it prep or West Liberty.

∫ Congratulations go out to Bridgeport High coach Gary Krol on his first win as a prep football coach as his Bulldogs bested Paden City on Friday night. Win No. 2 may come quickly as the Dogs play host to Conotton Valley this week.

∫ I coveredWheeling Central’s win over Williamstown Friday. I came away quite impressed with Knights sophomore quarterback Curtis McGhee III. He does it with his arm and legs while coming from great grid stock.

Bubba Kapral can be reached via email at: bkapral@timesleaderonline.com

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