Randolph HOF welcomes athletes
ELKINS — The values of family, resilience and hard work were testified to again and again Saturday as a large crowd of friends, relatives and well-wishers turned out to witness the induction of eight teams and individuals into the Randolph County Secondary Schools Athletic Hall of Fame at the Gandy Dancer Theater.
Emcee Chad Ware introduced the 2005 Elkins High School girls soccer team by noting that they might be considered “the best team ever.” He pointed out that they went undefeated and won the state championship that year, at a time when there were no A, AA or AAA classifications, “so they played everybody. They defeated everybody.”
Coach Nancy Saffel introduced the attending team members, and noted the team’s record was 23-0-3. The defense racked up 17 shutouts, and no goals were scored against EHS in regional or state tournament games.
Members of the 2005 team attending the ceremony included Liz Barnes, Rachel Barnes, Lauren Elmer, Heather Saffel, Sydney Metheny, Kirsten Marshall, Erica Tidwell and Abby Martin.
To introduce Gregg Huffman, a basketball star for Harman High School who graduated in 1981, his former coach, Carl Watson, noted that Huffman had been an iron man for the school. Playing both varsity and junior varsity, Huffman played in a total of 47 games as a freshman, with the team going 40-7 in those games.
Watson said Huffman’s record as a varsity player for Harman High was 66-22, which he said was the best four-year stretch in the school’s history.
Former EHS golf coach Bob Wilmoth introduced inductee Mike Antolini, who as a senior led Elkins to a regional tournament title.
“He was the best golfer that Elkins High School ever produced,” Wilmoth said.
Antolini thanked the Hall of Fame selection committee, along with his teammates and Wilmoth, and offered special thanks to his parents “for their support over the years.”
Sylvester Fretwell, who was a track and field star for EHS, sat with a table full of his class of 1956 schoolmates. He thanked his teammates and the Hall of Fame board members, and noted he’d learned many “life lessons” from sports, and from his former coach, Bob Irwin.
Brian Romero, a wrestler with a career record of 110-19 for Elkins High School, thanked his parents, wife and children along with his former coaches and teammates after being introduced.
He pointed out that he was not quite as successful in other sports, remembering a track meet when he lined up next to a sprinter he’d never heard of named James Jett.
“We were neck-and-neck until they fired the starting pistol,” Romero said to hearty laughs from the crowd. Jett later became an Olympic gold medalist, starred in football for West Virginia University and played in the NFL for nine seasons.
“I didn’t know whether he was that fast or I was that slow,” Romero said. “Probably both.”
The 1999 EHS women’s 4×800 meter relay team members were introduced by their former coach, Greg Hott. The team of Misha (Phillips) Lee, Ryann (Metheny) Phillips, Zaia (Wharton) Ellerhorst and Ariel (Davis) Valentine won the state title in the event in a record time of 9 minutes, 46 and 11 tenths seconds.
Hott detailed how each of them trained and sacrificed to achieve greatness in their sport, and how that dedication prepared them for life, as the high school quartet grew up to become a school principal, a nurse and two doctors.
Speaking on behalf of the 1926 Elkins High School men’s basketball team, which won the school its second state championship in the sport, was Tom Downs, the son of the team’s captain, Bill Downs. Tom Downs said his father, who went on to a long career in the military, learned much from his legendary coach, Frank Wimer.
“My dad always had the greatest respect for the man,” he said.
Also inducted Saturday was George Viethmeyer, a 1925 graduate of Elkins High School who excelled in three sports. He was the state shot put champion in track and field, was the captain for the 1925 basketball squad and played tackle for the football team.
The Randolph County Secondary Schools Athletic Hall of Fame now includes 208 individuals and 40 teams.