INDIANA COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Class of eight will be honored in May
Two individuals who gained international recognition head the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame’s 2014 induction class.
Josh Wirt, who won a gold medal in the Paralympics, and Joe Renosky, who has sold fishing lures worldwide, are two of the eight individuals who will be inducted on Sunday, May 18, at the Rustic Lodge in White Township. Tickets, at $35 apiece, will be available at The Indiana Gazette in April.
The rest of the class consists of Michael Berezansky, a Pine Township High School graduate who played in the Canadian Football League in the 1950s and went on to star at IUP; John Chakot, who coached standout offensive lines at IUP and Indiana High School; Sue McMurdy, the area’s most decorated golfer; Steve Neal, a record-setting quarterback at Indiana High School in the 1970s; Lindsey Stefan, a two-time state champion in the high jump when she was a junior and senior at Homer-Center High School; and Bill Wilt, a longtime wrestling coach at United High School.
“This is another very strong group of inductees, and it shows the wide variety of exceptional talents that Indiana County has produced over the years,” Doug Steve, Hall of Fame president, said.
Following is a brief look at the Class of 2014:
JOSH WIRT: A Brush Valley native and United High School graduate, Wirt played on the United States sled hockey team that won a gold medal at the VIII Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Wirt, 28, lost the use of his legs in an auto accident in August 1994 and turned to sled hockey when he was 14. He continues to play for the Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins Senior Division team.
JOE RENOSKY: An Indiana native, Renosky is a renowned fishing lure designer who has always been on the cutting edge of technological advances in the industry.
He started his business, Renosky Lures, out of the basement of his home in Homer City in the 1980s and now operates a plant in Indiana. He has sold billions of his plugs, jigs, spoons and plastics for all freshwater species.
MICHAEL BERZANSKY: An Alverda native who now lives in New Jersey, Berzansky played for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1955-59 before entering college to play at Kent State in 1959. He transferred to IUP for the 1960 season and played three years on the offensive line.
A four-sport standout in football, basketball, baseball and track and field at Pine Township, he won Indiana County Meet titles in the 440-yard dash, the mile relay and the broad jump.
JOHN CHAKOT: A Blairsville native, he was a three-sport athlete in 1965-69 and went on to become an all-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference offensive lineman at Edinboro, where he played on two undefeated teams.
He began his career as an assistant coach in 1973 and continues as an assistant at Indiana High. He spent 1979-2001 as offensive line coach at IUP on teams that went 190-68-2, won two PSAC titles, made 12 appearances in the national playoffs and played in the NCAA Division II championship game twice. He coached eight All-Americans and two NFL draft picks.
SUE McMURDY: The Indiana native has won a record 13 Indiana Country Club women’s championships and six USGA championships ranging from the junior title to the senior amateur, as well as various local, regional and state championships.
STEVE NEAL: Neal set career records at Indiana High from 1971-73 that still stand. His 214 completions for 2,912 yards and 40 touchdown passes remain career records, and his single-game performance of five touchdowns still tops the record book. His 15 touchdown passes in a season and single-game effort of 251 yards remained records until only recently.
After high school, he went on to start for two years at IUP.
LINDSEY STEFAN: Stefan won PIAA Class AA championships in the high jump in 1999 and 2000 and went on to star at St. Francis University, where she won six straight Northeast Conference titles and was named an Academic All-American.
She still holds the St. Francis school record in the event at 5 feet, 8 inches, a height she cleared multiple times.
BILL WILT: An Indiana High School graduate, Wilt was a four-year letterman on the IUP football team, but he is best known in wrestling and track and field circles.
Wilt coached wrestling at United from 1967-82, winning 101 dual matches and four Appalachian Conference team titles, and he coached 14 conference individual champs, three district champs, one regional champ and one state champ. He was inducted into the District 6 wrestling hall of fame.
He has been a track and field official for 45 years.