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Armstrong Hall of Fame to welcome 12 new members

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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.

By George Guido
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
 

Like many kids, Kittanning's Jon Spangler dreamed of playing major league baseball.

However, shortly after signing with the then-world champion Brooklyn Dodgers as a pitcher in 1955, Spangler suffered a recurring foot injury, and his baseball aspirations were quashed. But Spangler later channeled his energies toward another sport — hockey.

He founded the Armstrong Amateur Hockey League and later coached the first Kittanning varsity team to a 16-0-1 record and twice was named to coach in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League all-star game.

Spangler will be one of 12 inductees, including two honored for a combination of athletic and military service, at the 40th Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet.

The event will be at 4 p.m. April 29 at Laube Hall, Freeport.

Other inductees will include:

• Wendell Ray Alcorn, a Dayton High School graduate who played four years of basketball for the Lions, before becoming a three-sport letterman at Penn State's Mont Alto campus. Alcorn served in the Navy from 1961-92 and endured more than seven years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

• Andrew Balbo was a three-year starter as a center and linebacker for Leechburg. He made the all-WPIAL team as a center in 1969 and moved on to Bucknell University, where his career was cut short by an injury. Balbo later founded Sun Blessed Landscaping in Allegheny Township.

• Dave Buchner helped Apollo High School to the 1965 WPIAL Class B football title game and accepted a scholarship to Wyoming before suffering a career-ending knee injury. He taught 32 years for the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.

• Frank Brochetti was a three-sport standout at Shannock Valley High School before serving in Vietnam. He was killed in action on April 8, 1972, less than a year before U.S. combat operations ended.

• Jody McMeans Dean was the first female basketball player in Dayton High history to eclipse the 1,000-point career scoring mark. She went on to excel in three sports at Westminster College. McMeans Dean is a 1995 Westminster Hall of Fame inductee.

• Shawn Allen Earl, a Kittanning graduate, has a successful career in archery that has spanned three decades, starting as a Pennsylvania regional and statewide champion in 1990. He currently is on the pro shooting staffs at Mathews Inc. and Easton Sports.

• William Hodak will be inducted in the builder category. A Worthington High School graduate, he was a charter member of Worthington Little League and served 42 years as president of the Buffalo Valley Sportsman's Club.

• Capt. Adam Brochetti, who recently returned stateside after two Marine deployments in Afghanistan, was a major figure in football and wrestling while at Kittanning. He remains Kittanning's third all-time rusher in football and was Valley News Dispatch first team in wrestling for three years.

• Don Marco played football at Leechburg High School but has become better known as a runner as an adult, competing in 5Ks, 10ks, six Pittsburgh marathons and 10 ultramarathons.

• Carrie Miles earned four letters in track and two in softball at Karns City High School. She later was named track MVP at Clarion University and was an NCAA scholar-athlete.

• Joe Ridgeley was part of two WPIAL football finalists at Freeport and has had a distinguished coaching career, particularly at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg. He was defensive coordinator for the Red Devils from 1979-2010 and compiled a 149-21-1 record as the school's head track coach.

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