WPIAL announces Hall of Fame Class of '13

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Two football players who made it to the NFL, a silver medalist from the 2012 Olympics, legendary coaches and a "perfect" girls basketball team highlight the WPIAL Hall of Fame class of 2013.

The WPIAL announced the class during a ceremony this morning at the Heinz History Center. Induction ceremonies will take place during a banquet June 7 in Green Tree.

The two players who made it to the NFL are Aliquippa's Sean Gilbert and West Allegheny's Tyler Palko. Hopewell's Christa Harmotto was a member of the U.S. women's volleyball team that won a silver medal at the Olympics. The legendary coaches are Don Barth of North Catholic (girls basketball), Jack McCurry of North Hills (football) and Lindy Lauro of New Castle (football). The "perfect" girls basketball team was the 1983 Mount Alvernia Lions, who were the first to win WPIAL and PIAA titles with an undefeated record.

The WPIAL selects inductees in six different categories. Here are this year's inductees:

ATHLETES

Lou "Bimbo" Cecconi, 1946 Donora High School graduate -- Earned 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball and went on to play all three sports at Pitt.

Sean Gilbert, 1989 Aliquippa -- Outstanding football player who was USA Today's National High School Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. Went on to play at Pitt and 11 seasons in the NFL.

Christa Harmotto, 2005 Hopewell -- Led Hopewell to three WPIAL championships and one PIAA title. Was a three-time All-American at Penn State and won two NCAA titles.

Jeremy Hunter, 1996 McGuffey -- One of only five wrestlers in WPIAL history to win four PIAA titles. Had 171-2 career record before going on to become an NCAA champion at Penn State.

Tyler Palko, 2002 West Allegheny -- Four-year starting QB who had a 48-7 record as a starter with three WPIAL titles and one PIAA title. He finished his career with 7,234 yards offense before going on to play at Pitt and a few seasons in the NFL.

Elaine Sobansky-Blackhurst, 1980 Trinity -- Three-time WPIAL and PIAA champion in the shot put and also a PIAA champ in the discus. Was best shot putter in the contry as a senior and also scored more than 1,000 career points in basketball. Was an eight-time All-American in track and field at Penn State.

Megan Schnur, 2003 Butler -- A Parade All-American soccer player at Butler, Schnur went to to become an All-American at the University of Connecticut. She played for the U.S. National Team and also in the Women's Professional Soccer League.

Jack Waltz, 1963 Mt. Lebanon -- Won three WPIAL singles tennis championships and three PIAA titles. Also played point guard on WPIAL championship basketball team. Went on to play tennis and basketball at Yale.

COACHES

Don Barth, North Catholic girls basketball -- In 23 years at North Catholic (1974-97), won a record 11 WPIAL titles and seven PIAA titles. Counting 11 seasons at defunct Domenec High, Barth won 788 games, second-best in Pennsylvania girls basketball history. Also had a WPIAL-record 56-game winning streak.

Lindy Lauro, New Castle football -- Had six perfect seasons in 32 years as coach (1961-92). Won two WPIAL titles, one co-championship and finished with a 220-104-15 record. A New Castle graduate, he also played at Pitt and a few years in the NFL.

Jack McCurry, North Hills football -- Announced his retirement only a few months ago. Finished as the third-winningest coach in WPIAL history with a record of 281-108-9 during 35 seasons (1978-2012). Won four WPIAL championships, one PIAA title and his 1987 team was ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today.

Donna Richey, Aliquippa girls basketball -- Started the girls program at Aliquippa in 1976. She won four WPIAL titles, two PIAA titles and her overall record was 324-67.

TEAMS

Mount Alvernia girls basketball 1983 -- The small, all-girls Catholic school in Millvale finished the season 34-0 with WPIAL and PIAA titles. The Lions, coached by legendary De Porucznik, won eight postseason games by an average of 27 points. Madalyn "Sam" Gottschalk, Maureen "Mo" Conley and Karen Hall were standouts on the team.

Quaker Valley boys soccer 1996 -- The Quakers finished 26-0 and won WPIAL and PIAA titles. The team, coached by Gene Klein, outscored opponents, 169-7, and had 21 shutouts. It was voted No. 1 in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association.

OFFICAL

Don "Woody" Woodward -- Was a highly-respected official at the high school and college levels. In 41 years, worked football, baseball, basketball and softball games, including WPIAL and PIAA championships.

CONTRIBUTOR

Jack Fullen -- The longtime Blackhawk High School athletic director also has served for two decades on the Board of Control for the WPIAL and PIAA.

COURAGE AWARD

Kurt Wolfe, Pine-Richland baseball - Named after former Freedom High athlete John Challis, whose courageous battle with cancer became a national story a few years ago. Wolfe has battled colon cancer the last few years and he won a WPIAL championship in 2010.

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