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WPIAL Hall of Fame welcomes Class of 2013

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Members of the 2013 WPIAL Hall of Fame class are: (Seated from left) Bimbo Cecconi, Jack McCurry, Karen Hall (Mt. Alvernia team), Mary Ann Barth (wife of Don Barth), Elaine Sobansky-Blackhurst, Christa Harmotto, Donna Richey and Jeremy Hunter. (Standing from left) Gene Klein (Quaker Valley team), Dick Black (basketball coach of Jack Waltz), Lindy B. Lauro (daughter of Lindy Lauro), Kurt Wolfe, Sean Gilbert, Tyler Palko, Don Woodward and Jack Fullen. Missing from photo is Megan Schnur.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, June 7, 2013, 7:51 p.m.

During his career at Donora High School in the 1940s, Bimbo Cecconi accomplished more than most WPIAL athletes. He won medals in track (high hurdles and sprints) and three football championships. His basketball team finished second in the state, and he found time to play shortstop on the baseball team.

All of that led to his induction Friday night into the seventh WPIAL Hall of Fame class during ceremonies at the Green Tree Doubletree Hotel.

But he has done something else that is as impressive as anything done in the athletic arena. He has lived to the age of 84. His secret to a long life: “Olive oil,” he said. “In the hair and on the salad.” Cecconi went on to Pitt where he played football, basketball and baseball, once intercepting three passes, running for two scores and throwing for a touchdown against Penn State. He said he also outgained the entire Ohio State team in a 10-0 victory.

Told he must keep his acceptance speech to four minutes, he rolled his eyes in frustration. “Seventy years in four minutes? Give me a break.”

The remainder of the Class of 2013:

Sean Gilbert (Aliquippa, 1989): He won three prestigious football honors: Parade All-American, USA Today and defensive player of the year and Gatorade Player of the Year.

Jeremy Hunter (McGuffey, 1996): He recorded a dual-meet wrestling record of 171-2 while winning four PIAA and three WPIAL championships.

Christa Harmotto (Hopewell, 2005): Before earning Olympic silver in volleyball at the London Olympics in 2012, she led Hopewell to a state title while compiling a 59-0 record against WPIAL teams.

Elaine Sobansky-Blackhurst (Trinity, 1980): She made her mark throwing the shot put — a national indoor record of 50 feet, 10 inches — but she also won a state title in discus.

Megan Schnur (Butler, 2002): She excelled at every level of soccer, earning all-section, all-WPIAL, all-state, McDonald's and Parade All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year.

Tyler Palko (West Allegheny, 2002): After starting for four years and helping West Allegheny become the first WPIAL Class AAA football team to win a state title, he threw for 8,343 yards and 66 touchdowns at Pitt.

Jack Waltz (Mt. Lebanon, 1963): Two-sport standout, he was a three-time WPIAL and PIAA tennis singles champion and point guard on a championship basketball team.

Don Barth (North Catholic): He coached the North Catholic girls basketball team to seven state titles and 11 WPIAL championships in 19 consecutive title games while winning 600 of 683 games.

Lindy Lauro (New Castle): From 1961 to 1992, he coached six undefeated football teams and three WPIAL champions (1967, '73 and '75).

Jack McCurry (North Hills): No. 1 in the nation in 1987, North Hills won WPIAL football titles in 1982, '85, '87 and '93 before winning a state championship with the last team.

Donna Richey (Aliquippa): Founded and coached girls basketball at Aliquippa. She won two PIAA and four WPIAL championships.

Quaker Valley boys soccer (1996): While winning section, WPIAL and PIAA titles, Quaker Valley won 26 games without a loss, including 21 shutouts.

Mt. Alvernia girls basketball (1983): The small, private school was 34-0, winning WPIAL and PIAA championship games by scores of 81-45 and 78-52.

Don “Woody” Woodward: He officiated high school and college games in four sports for 41 years.

Jack Fullen: Longtime Blackhawk athletic director, he was elected president of the WPIAL Board of Control in 2010.

Kurt Wolfe (Pine-Richland): Winner of the Courage Award, he has coached baseball at Pine-Richland while battling stage IV colon cancer since 2009.

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