Six inducted into HOF
ELKINS -Members from two of Elkins High School’s most successful athletic teams, along with six individual athletes, stood before family and friends Saturday to receive their induction to the Randolph County Athletic Hall of Fame at the Gandy Dancer Theatre in Elkins.
The 1956 EHS football team and the 1982 EHS girls basketball team were inducted into the Hall, along with individuals Heather Saffel, Jim Sanders, Allen Duckworth, Bridget Jack Lanham, Scott Shillingburg and Travis Wells.
Elkins resident and former WVU basketball player, Ron LaNeve, served as Master of Ceremonies. Behind every successful athlete is a solid foundation of family and friends, LaNeve said.
“Champions don’t become champions just by being on the field or on the court,” LaNeve said. “You don’t excel in business or anywhere else just because you opened your doors. It takes year of practice to become a real champion. Every person being inducted today, at one point, had to be driven to practices and games and events by parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, relatives and other good friends … They don’t do it by themselves. It’s parents and family who are totally dedicated to making that child into the adult that they become today.”
The 1956 Elkins High School football team ranks as one of the top all-time scoring teams in school history. Captain Blaine Corrick spoke on the team’s behalf.
“Elkins High School was the smallest school in the conference at the time,” Corrick said. “We had a good coach. Coach Irwin said to us, basically, ‘you leave everything on the field – don’t take anything home with you. If you leave everything on the field, there is no problem at practice. But if you don’t leave everything on the field, practice is going to be awful long – wind sprints and anything else to get us back in shape.”’
Coached by Bob Irwin, the Tigers finished the season with an 8-1 record and ranked first in the state at midseason. With only one loss to Shinnston, the team finished as runner-up to undefeated state champion Grafton in the Big 10 Conference. Elkins finished the season ranked second in the state.
Saffel graduated from Elkins High School in 2006, earning numerous awards in three sports. During her speech, she thanked her family, friends, coaches and teammates for helping her achieve success.
“Individual awards don’t mean anything to me, my teammates were my best friends,” Saffel said. “On the soccer team, we always competed with one heart. There were 20 girls on the team, but we had one heart. That’s how we got as far as we did.”
Saffel was a two-time All-State first-team selection in soccer, a three-time All-Stater in cross country and earned eight All-State titles in track.
On the soccer field, Saffel was named to the All-NCAC first team on three different occasions. In both her junior and senior years, she was voted the NCAC Player of the Year and State Midfielder of the Year. She captained the 2004 state runner-up team and 2005 state championship squad.
She participated in cross country three years, winning individual and team regional championships during her junior and senior years.
On the track, Saffel won two NCAC titles in the 1,600-meter run and 4×400 relay events, and seven regional titles in the 800, 1,600 and 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
Sanders, a 1981 graduate of Elkins High School, played on the first Tiger football team to make the state playoffs. Prior to his speech, Penny Crawford read a letter on behalf of Sanders’ former football coach at EHS, Mike Hickman.
“Jimmy was a special player and is certainly deserving of this honor,” Crawford read. “He was one of those rare players that a coach would say, ‘I wish I had 20 more like him.’ He had a wonderful attitude, with a great work ethic. He showed up everyday with a smile on his face and gave 100 percent on every drill.”
As a junior, Sanders earned All-State honorable mention honors.
During his senior season, he ran for a school record 1,174 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry for 12 touchdowns.
Duckworth competed in track, basketball and football at Elkins High School. In his senior year in 1958, he was voted Athlete of the Year. His wife, Becky Duckworth, accepted the award on his behalf.
Duckworth qualified three times for the state track meet in the mile relay, 440-yard dash, discus and half-mile team relay events.
On the basketball court, he averaged over 20 points per game his senior season at the strong point position.
A varsity starter in football at offensive and defensive end, he grabbed seven touchdown receptions as a senior.
Lanham set school records in basketball at Tygarts Valley High School from 1995-1998. With 1,174 career points, she was an All-Potomac Valley Conference selection her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was not present for the ceremony.
She set a school record for single-game rebounds with 26 as a junior. Her other single-season records include 41 three-point field goals with a 44 percent average from that range.
Lanham was an honorable mention All-State choice as a sophomore and an All-State second-team choice both her junior and senior years.
Shillingburg, a 2000 graduate of Harman School, ranks as one of the all-time leading scorers in West Virginia High School basketball. With 2,128 career points, he was a first team All-State selection as a sophomore, junior and senior.
As a sophomore, he ranked fifth in the state in scoring with 26.3 points per game.
During his junior year, he hit the 1,000-point mark, averaging 31.6 points, which was third best in the state.
Shillingburg averaged 33.2 points per game as a senior, second best in the state, while leading the state with 16.14 rebounds per contest.
Wells was one of just two punters from Elkins High School to be named a first team All-NCAC performer in three straight seasons (1990-1992).
In 1991 – with an average 39 yards per punt with a long of 59 yards – he was selected to both All-Mon Valley and All-State first teams. He became the first junior named to the All-State squad since Albert “Big Sleepy” Glenn in 1922.
The 1982 Elkins High School girls basketball team, coached by Jay Dailer, finished with a 25-2 record, winning the Big 10, sectional and regional championships before falling in the state championship game, 55-46, to John Marshall High.
The team compiled a three-year record of 68-8 with an 11-3 mark in postseason play. From 1980-1982, they won three Big 10 championships, three sectional titles and two regional crowns. In two state tournament appearances, the team reached the semifinal round in 1981 and finished as state runner-up in 1982.