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Fourth Class to Be Inducted into Centre County Sports Hall of Fame

by on February 11, 2020 5:10 AM

There is a strong Bellefonte flavor to the 2020 class of the Centre County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Honorees from Bellefonte are Beth Devlin, Eric Milton, Bucky Quici, Ron Pifer and the late B.J. Wetzler and Larry Fornicola.

They will be inducted at the chapter’s annual banquet at the Penn Stater in State College on Oct. 11.

The class, elected by the membership of the Hall of Fame, includes a four-time state champion, a two-time state champion and NCAA runnerup, a co-captain of the Penn State 1971 Cotton Bowl team and NCAA runner up in wrestling, and an NAIA wrestling champion among its eight living and two deceased members.

“It’s hard to believe we are inducting our fourth class,’’ said Quici, who is the president of the chapter’s board of directors. “Once again we see a variety of sports represented. From players to coaches we again have an outstanding class.’’

In alphabetical order, the class of inductees is as follows:

• Devlin, who was the first girl ever to play Little League baseball in Bellefonte. She lettered four times in both basketball and track at Bellefonte, went to Penn State to play softball and was on the team that went to the 1985 College World Series. She holds the Penn State single season ERA record.

• Max Dinges was Penns Valley’s only PIAA wrestling champion. He won the 180-pound championship in 1963. Dinges went 22-0 as a senior and either pinned or shut out 20 of his 22 opponents. He passed away days after the voting had concluded.

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• Gene “Geno” Dixon won the PIAA championship at 165 pounds in 1959 after placing second as a junior. He had a career record of 48-10-3 at P-O. At Bloomsburg he won the NAIA championship in 1961 and won two conference championships. In football, at P-O, he was all-state and rushed for 803 yards as a junior and 1,201 as a senior. Dixon coached wrestling at West Branch where he produced four District 6 champions and three Northwest Regional champs.

• Angela Hoover won four PIAA titles in the javelin for BEA. She is the county’s only four-time state champion in any sport. She was undefeated in all javelin competitions in high school and holds the PIAA record of 154’5’’. At BEA, she earned 10 letters in basketball, track and volleyball. She was named a USA Today All-American and set the Big East record in the javelin while competing at Pitt.

• Dr. David Joyner was an all-state football player and PIAA wrestling champion at State College. He went on to Penn State where he co-captained the 1971 football and wrestling teams. He was an NCAA wrestling runnerup. He went on to become an orthopedic surgeon and then the athletic director at Penn State.

Dave Joyner was an all-state football player and PIAA wrestling champion for State College before becoming a co-captain of football team and NCAA wrestling runnerup at Penn State.

• Eric Milton, a 1993 Bellefonte graduate, earned a baseball scholarship to Maryland and was the first-round pick of the New York Yankees in the 1996 draft. He was the Yankees Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 1998 the Yankees traded him to the Minnesota Twins, where he threw a no-hitter in 1999. He was selected for the All-Star team in 2001.

In his 11-year career he played for the Yankees, Twins, Phillies, Reds and Dodgers.

• Ron Pifer won a pair of PIAA wrestling championships at Bellefonte. At Penn State he was an All-American and NCAA runnerup in wrestling. He twice served as a wrestling coach at State College and also at West Point. At State High, he coached eight PIAA champions and later wrote a book, which became a CD, on leg wrestling.

• Bucky Quici coached softball and girls basketball at Bellefonte. He won 293 softball game and grabbed four District 6 championships, six league titles and the Western Regional championship. His was the first Bellefonte team to reach the PIAA finals. In basketball he had 101 wins and had an undefeated league champion in 1983. He led the Lady Raiders to their first appearance in the PIAA playoffs. He was inducted into the inaugural District 6 Softball Hall of Fame.

• The two deceased honorees are Rebecca (B.J.) Wetzler and Larry Fornicola, both of Bellefonte. Fornicola won two District 6-9 wrestling championships and finished with a 32-7 record. At Penn State, he was an Eastern and NCAA champion at 137 pounds. His career record at Penn Sate was 90-3. He also lettered in boxing at Penn State. He placed fourth in the Olympic Greco-Roman trials in 1956. Fornicola went on to become a high school and college coach.

• Wetzler was a three-sport athlete at Bellefonte, earning 11 letters. She received a D-1 softball scholarship to Campbell University. In high school, she had a .517 batting average and 11 home runs — three of them grand slams. She recorded 42 RBI in a season, which remains a Bellefonte record. She was in the inaugural District 6 softball Hall of Fame class.

• Jackson Horner, longtime State College track and cross-country coach, was elected in the Legends category. He lettered in both sports at Penn State. His cross-country teams won five PIAA championships and he had three runners earn four PIAA titles. In track and field State College jumpers won two PIAA gold medals and his distance runners earned four more. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Track and Field and National Scholastic Track and Field halls of fame.

Longtime State College track and field and cross country coach Jackson Horner was elected to the Centre County Sports Hall of Fame in the Legends category.

 • William (Keno) Beezer was honored for his service to the Philipsburg community. Beezer was elected to the Pennsylvania American Legion Hall of Fame and the Clearfield Chapter of the Pennsylania Sports Hall of Fame. He coached Philipsburg VFW Teener and American Legion baseball for 20 years and his 1976 teener league team won the state championship. He later served as a baseball scout for the Montreal Expos and later worked for the Major League Scouting Bureau for 39 years. He was instrumental in founding the Philipsburg YMCA.

“On behalf of the board of directors it is extremely important to emphasize if you don’t see someone you feel should be considered for induction you need to become a member. As a member you can nominate someone and then have the privilege of voting for them,‘’ Quici said. “To become a member contact any Board member or visit our Facebook page.‘’

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