Six set for Susquehanna Hall of Fame induction
Six different sports and the coaching profession are represented this year for the inductees headed into the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Six people have been selected by the chapter's membership, and they will be formally inducted at the annual banquet, scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 6 p.m. at the Susquehanna Fire Company, 1000 Manor St., Columbia.
This year's inductees are: Richard Bentley, Dan Blakinger, Tony DiPaolo, Kyle Salyards, Robert Walther and Gene Wise.
Bentley played basketball at Columbia High School and at Shippensburg University. He returned to his alma mater to coach the boys' varsity basketball team for six seasons and the girls' varsity for six seasons.
His boys' teams compiled a record of 143-40, won three section titles, two Lancaster-Lebanon League titles, and a District Three Class AA crown. His girls' teams went 122-34, including one section title, one L-L League title and four District Three AA titles. He remains the only person in District Three to coach a district champ in both boys' and girls' hoops. His 270 wins ranks first among all coaches in Columbia basketball history.
Blakinger was a three-time varsity letter-winner in wrestling at Manheim Township from 1967-70, amassing a record of 64-6-1. He was undefeated in his senior year and was a two-time District Three champion, two-time Southeast Regional Champion and the 1970 state champion at 103 pounds. He was named a High School All-American in 1970 by Scholastic Wrestling News.
Blakinger went on to wrestle at Harvard, where he was a three-year varsity letter-winner with a record of 70-13-1. At the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Tournament, he placed sixth in 1972, sixth in '73, and second in '74. He was named All-Ivy in 1973.
DiPaolo played high school football at Berwick and college ball at Bloomsburg and Catawba, At Catawba, he earned All-North State Conference honors for three years and was nominated for Little All-American in 1958.
DiPaolo began his coaching career at South Rowan High School and then at Solanco for two seasons before moving to Lancaster Catholic in 1965. He compiled a record of 156-97-6 in 25 seasons at Catholic High, earning numerous Coach of the Year Awards. He also coached linebackers at Franklin & Marshall for 12 years, giving him 43 years of coaching.
Salyards was a four-year letter winner in swimming at Hempfield. He won eight District Three championships and three relay gold medals. At districts, he won the 200-yard IM gold medal three times, each time establishing a new state record. He also captured the 500-yard freestyle gold and one relay gold medal in addition to medaling in the 100 breaststroke three times. Salyards was named Outstanding Swimmer at the state meet in 1997. He also broke 10 records at the High School All-American meet.
Salyards went on to swim at the University of Georgia. He won an NCAA title in 2004 and was a two-time SEC champ. He represented the United States in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where he placed sixth in the 200-meter breaststroke. He also swam in the Pan American Games.
Walther was a member of the 1941-42 Columbia High School basketball team that won the Lancaster County title. He also played center/linebacker for the Crimson Tide football team that went undefeated in 1941.
Walther went on to win a Bronze Star while serving as a Hospital Corpsman with the U.S. Navy in World War II. Following his Naval service, Walther enrolled at Bloomsburg, where he played football and basketball.
Wise played soccer, basketball, baseball and participated in track and field while at Cornwall High School, where he was All-Lebanon County in basketball and soccer and was the High School Athlete of the Year in 1955.
Wise went to Elizabethtown College where he earned eight varsity letters in soccer and baseball. He was Honorable Mention All-American in soccer (1958-59) and was voted E-town's Outstanding Male Athlete. Wise went on to coach baseball at Millersville University from 1966-77, compiling a 145-71-2 record and winning three PSAC championships. He was named Coach of the Year in 1968, '74 and '75. He was inducted into Elizabethtown College's Hall of Fame in 1979 and Millersville University's Hall of Fame in 2012.
Tickets for the banquet are $15 and can be obtained by calling Rich Gerfin at 684-4772 after 6 p.m.