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OVAC Hall of Fame Selects Five Legends

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Four multi-sport athletes and a record-setting cross country coach will be honored in the 12th class of Legends of Ohio Valley Athletic Conference schools. Tom Rataiczak, Executive Secretary of the OVAC, announced the five Legends selections will be recognized at the 13th annual OVAC Hall of Fame banquet on August 13 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. The honorees include Dick Larkins, two-sport athlete at East Liverpool and Ohio State University; Amie Marks Cormell, three-sport Jewett-Scio athlete and second all-time leading area basketball scorer plus state champion high jumper; Ron Martin, who started Caldwell's record-setting cross country run; Ray Montgomery, the first football and basketball all-stater at Warwood High who became all-time football great at the University of Pittsburgh; and Pete Zinaich, Weir High football and baseball star who captained both sports at West Virginia U. Larkins, Montgomery and Zinaich will be honored postumously. The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Automotive Group of Wheeling, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena. "The Legends of OVAC Schools is an effort to honor athletes and coaches who competed prior to the conference start in 1943 or while their schools were not members of the OVAC," Rataiczak said. Previously announced Hall of Fame inductees, and their categories, are: Athletes--Zach Amedro, John Marshall; Kacie Vavrek, Bellaire; Jodi Bates-Starr, Meadowbrook; Matt Powell, Barnesville; Kim Augur, East Liverpool; Dave Delande, St. Clairsville; Jim Wood, Steubenville Central; Jim Woofter, Oak Glen; Robbie Munn, Bridgeport; Ben Wiley, Powhatan; Eddie Becker, Wheeling; Neil Habig, Wheeling Central; Jay Handlan, Triadelphia; Coaches--Stan Blankenship, Dave Linn and Tom West; Official--Andy Cross; Media--Jimmy Mountain; Family--Bob Koch; and Contributor--John Nese. Capsule summaries of the Legend honorees: Dick Larkins (East Liverpool, 1927 Class)--The Potter was a two-sport prep standout before becoming the only Ohio Valley athlete to earn three Ohio State letters in both football and basketball. In high school, he was a four-year football lineman and served as team captain as a senior when he earned All-County honors. He also played two varsity years of basketball for the Potters. At Ohio State, he played tackle on three Buckeye teams (1928-30) and also was a guard on the OSU basketball team for three seasons while earning six varsity letters. After graduatio, he served in the Navy before returning to OSU in 1933 to join the athletic and physical educations staffs. In 1946, he became Athletic Director and served until his retirement in 1971. During his tenure, he guided one of the most extensive athletic programs in the Big 10 Conference and the country. The school named a recreation and physical activity facility, Larkins Hall, in his honor. Amie Marks Cormell (Jewett-Scio, 1994 Class)--The most honored female athlete in Lady Vikes' history, she earned 12 letters in basketball, track and volleyball. In basketball, she scored 2,319 points in 86 games with season game averages of 26.3, 25.8, 28.5 and 27.9 as a senior. Her career point total ranks No. 2 in Ohio Valley history behind charter OVAC Hall of Famer Stephanie Petho of Bellaire St. John's. Other career totals include 837 rebounds, 576 assists, 463 steals, 42% field goal and 74% free throw shooting. She cashed 120 of 314 3-point goals. She earned All-Ohio Player of the Year Division 4 first team honors as a junior and senior and third team as a freshman and sophomore. She was D-4 Co-Player of the Year as a junior and senior with Ashley Bland of Zanesville Rosecrans.. She was a four-year Eastern District and District 5 selection and Player of the Year or Co-Player of the Year as a junior and senior. She was a three-time first team All-Valley selection and a four-time All-InterValley Conference choice. In track, she was twice an All-Valley selection. She won the Ohio Division 3 high jump as a junior and placed fifth as a senior. She earned a basketball scholarship to Akron University and was a four-year letterman and team co-captain as a senior. The 5-foot-9 forward/guard scored 853 career points including 16 against nationally No. 1 ranked, and two-time national champion Tennessee. She currently resides in Northfield, Ohio and teaches and coaches at Nordonia High School. Ron Martin (Tiffin Columbian, 1971 Class)--The architect of the most dominant cross country program in Ohio Valley and Ohio history, he guided Caldwell from 1975-86 to a dual record of 1,195-186 and the first two of a record eight straight Ohio Class A state titles. In 1983, the Redskins finished two points behind champion McDonald in the state meet. A year later, Caldwell placed second, one point behind Dayton Christian. But the best was yet to come. In 1985, Martin guided the Redskins to a perfect 136-0 dual record and the school's second state title. The 1986 team, however, is regarded as the school's best with a 137-0 dual record capped by a state record low 26 points to repeat as Ohio champion. The Redskins were declared the mythical national champion by Cross County Magazine. The 1984-86 Caldwell teams were led by three-time Ohio medalist Tony Carna, an OVAC Legends' honoree and one of only five state harriers to win three individual crowns. Martin left Caldwell after the back-to-back Ohio crowns and was succeeded by current coach Dugan Hill, who extended the Redskins' state title run to eight in a row through 1992. Martin, who also coached at alma mater Tiffin Columbian and Seneca East, is the current coach at Tiffin University. He was inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997. Ray Montgomery (Warwood, 1926 Class)--The first Viking all-stater in football and basketball later became and all-time great at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned one-class All-State (1925) in football, as well as All-Valley, and was selected to the five-player, one-class All-State (1926) in basketball as he led the second Viking team into the state tournament. He also played baseball. For his high school, and later college honors, the school featured his All-America recognition with a large pictorial display in the school for many years. That display currently is featured in the OVAC Museum inside WesBanco Arena. In a 1969 series by The Intelligencer, he was selected to the Early Era guards on an All-Time Ohio Valley Football team based on staff research and reader polling. He enrolled at Pitt on a basketball scholarship and tried out for the football team after national Hall of Fame coach Jock Sutherland reportedly promised him a trip to the Rose Bowl if he made the team. He did and dropped basketball to concentrate on football. In his three seasons, Pitt won 23, lost four, had two ties and made TWO Rose Bowl trips after unbeaten regular seasons (8-0-1 in 1927 and 9-0 in 1929 when Pitt was crowned national champion by regular season polls.) Pitt, however, lost both Rose Bowls by 7-6 to Stanford and 47-14 to USC. As a senior, he earned consensus first team All-America as a 6-foot-1, 188-pound guard. The two-way standout, also cited for his defense, was labeled by Sutherland as "the perfect guard" and was hailed as one of the greatest linemen Pitt ever produced. In 1958, he was selected to an All-Time Pitt team. Pete Zinaich (Weir, 1943 Class)--The most honored player on the first OVAC team to claim an "official" W.Va. all-class football championship. In the pre-playoff era, the W.Va. Sports Writers Association voted the 1942 Red Riders, coached by Hall of Famer Carl Hamill, the state champion despite a 6-3-1 record. Weir was unbeaten (4-0-1) vs. in-state teams with close losses to Massillon and Youngstown Chaney in Ohio and Clairton, Pa. The three-year regular fullback-linebacker on teams unbeaten vs. in-state foes was the Riders' leading rusher as a junior and senior and earned first tam all-class 11-player All-State as a senior. After military service, he enrolled at West Virginia U. and became a rare team captain of two sports (football and baseball) as a 1949-50 senior. He lettered four years in football and was a regular as a junior fullback on the 9-3 record team which won the Jan. 1, 1949 Sun Bowl with a 21-12 win over Texas Western. After his senior season, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 9th round as the 115th overall NFL pick but opted for an education career.. He also was a three-year letterman at shortstop on the WVU baseball team. After WVU, he spent his entire teaching/coaching career in Eastern Ohio. He was head football and baseball coach at old Adena High School from 1956-69. His best football team (1965) went 9-1 and won the OVAC Class A championship.
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