The West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame has chosen six athletes and a coach to honor this year for their contributions to sports in Findlay, North Fayette and Oakdale.
The second annual class of inductees will be recognized at a banquet May 18, and their names will be permanently listed on a plaque in a location yet to be determined. All of the athletes are West Allegheny graduates.
North Fayette parks and recreation director Bob Brozovich, who coordinates the hall of fame, said the 2013 group is a strong class.
"There's some high-profile athletes in this one," he said.
One of the more popular is football player Tyler Palko, a 2001 West Allegheny graduate who later played for the University of Pittsburgh and on several NFL teams. He was with the Steelers in 2009 but did not play in any regular-season games.
While at West Allegheny, he won more games than any starting quarterback in WPIAL history and helped earn the Indians three WPIAL titles and one state championship under coach Bob Palko, his father. He also recently was selected for the WPIAL Hall of Fame class.
The other inductees are:
• Christine Taranto, a WPIAL and PIAA state champion in cross-country and a swimmer. A 2003 graduate, she went on to run at the U.S. Naval Academy. She currently serves as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.
• Michael Craig, a 2001 graduate who was captain of the PIAA championship football team his senior year. At St. Francis University near Altoona, he was linebacker. He now serves as an assistant football coach at Duquesne University. His mother, Janet Craig, is a Findlay supervisor.
• Mike Polidor, an ice hockey goalie and cross-country runner who graduated in 1999.
He was the leading goalie in the South Hills Interscholastic Hockey League and was goaltender for the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a decorated air force pilot.
• James J. "JJ" Quinn, a 1970 graduate who lettered in four sports. He was quarterback of the championship football team in the first Black Hills Conference in 1969, and he played baseball for the Little Pirates. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he lettered four years in baseball. He spent 29 years in the Navy, retiring as a rear admiral. Now living in Virginia, he works for an aerospace company.
• Mitchell Zalnasky, a 1962 graduate who lettered in football, basketball and baseball.
After two years as a starting tight end at the University of Pittsburgh, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins. He then moved to the Canadian Football League, where he played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He has been broadcasting that team's games on radio for 37 years.
• Guy Rippole, a football coach who will be inducted posthumously and recognized as the architect of the Indians defense that helped earn four WPIAL titles and a state title. He is remembered as a mentor and friend, and the team has named a yearly award after him.
A panel of nine West Allegheny sports advocates selected the inductees for the hall of fame, which was formed last year.
Nominees had to be at least 10 years out of high school and could include athletes, teams, coaches and supporters of high school-sponsored sports programs.
The induction banquet will be held at 6 p.m. May 18 at the Cornerstone at Tonidale, 7011 Steubenville Pike, North Fayette.
Tickets are $35, with proceeds benefiting Providing Assistance, Love & Support, or P.A.L.S., a North Fayette group that organizes sports and recreation programs for children with special needs.
For tickets: 724-693-3118 or email@example.com.
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.