West Virginia State Chapter

Board of Directors
President: Bill Archer
Vice Presidents: Garry Bender, Roy Michael
Treasurers: Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Bennett         
Secretary: Diane Archer

Board of Directors
George Keeney, Chairman
Dr. Tim Miller

2009 Inductees

(Additional feature AT THIS LINK)

James St. Clair (right) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
James St. Clair -- "Outstanding American"

When Jim St. Clair attended Huntington High School in the 1950's, the school did not have a wrestling team. He was resigned to spending his winter months as the basketball team's statistician. During his senior year, Jim was selected Captain of the West Virginia All-State High School Football Team and elected Governor of Mountaineer Boy's State.

Thereafter, Jim traveled from Huntington to Charlottesville, Va. where he attended the University of Virginia on an athletic scholarship. There he found a wrestling mat and began his grappling career. Over the course of his college career, Jim received 9 athletic letters in wrestling, football and lacrosse. He was named ACC Outstanding Offensive lineman in 1956 and to the First Team Academic'AII-American Football Team in 1955. Jim finished his wrestling career by placing Second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Championship in 1957.

After finishing his undergraduate degree, he continued at the University of Virginia College of Law from which he graduated in 1960. Then Jim returned to Huntington where he set out to practice law which he did for the next 41 years, retiring in 2001. Jim served on numerous corporate boards, was elected President of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, and served many years with the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners. Jim was elected President and served as a member of the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District for over 20 years.

Upon retirement, Jim had no intention of slowing down. He immediately left Huntington to serve as a Rule of Law Liaison in war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He continues to serve as a volunteer for the American Bar Association, CEELI Projects teaching in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and with the International Senior Lawyers Project in South Africa, Gaborone and Botswana.

It should be noted that in 1982, Jim had a brief return to the wrestling mat, entered the open HWT. class in a tournament held in Ashland, Ky. At the age of 48, Jim bested opponents less than half his age and eventually mounted the awards podium to receive a medal. He credits the success to his Standing Power Switch, which he continues to demonstrate and employ around the world.

Jim's biggest fan is his wife of over 50 years, Mickey. They are the parents of four children and grandparents to nine grandchildren. Jim's two sons, Sam and Bill were both West Virginia State Champions.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors James St. Clair with the "Outstanding American" award, class of 2009.

Dale Hinkle (left) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Dale Hinkle -- "Lifetime Service to Wrestling"

Dale Hinkle graduated from Lewisburg High School and Glenville State College. He later received his Master's Degree from Marshall University in 1979 with a degree in Safety Education.

He began his teaching and coaching career at Ravenswood High School with freshman football and as assistant coach in varsity wrestling. He took over as head coach shortly thereafter producing: 94 state qualifiers, 48 state placers and 10 state champions.

The Ravenswood Red Devils won the Little Kanawha Conference many times and Dale was named Regional Coach of the Year many times as well. Dale retired from coaching wrestling in 1993, but resumed his coaching career with girls' softball. He coached them for thirteen years and was named Regional Coach of the Year several times.

While coaching sports, he participated in community activities for youth and was President of Jackson County Junior Fair for fourteen years. While teaching at Ravenswood High, he was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2000; then retired in 2002 from teaching Driver Education.

Dale, with devoted wife, Sue reside in Ravenswood and have one son, Shannon and two grandchildren, Breanna and Tyler Hinkle.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Dale Hinkle with a "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

Joe Naternicola (left) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Joe Naternicola -- "Lifetime Service to Wrestling"

Joe Naternicola, Jr. attended Fairmont Senior High School where he began wrestling his sophomore year under Coach Jim Feltz. Following high school, he went on to Fairmont State College and earned 2 WVIAC Wrestling Championships under Coaches Bill Kerr and Sam Church. He served as a team captain during his senior year.

After graduation in 1975, Naternicola began his teaching and coaching career at his alma mater, Fairmont Senior, where he coached football (20 years) and wrestling (19 years). During his 19 year wrestling career, Joe coached a total of 14 state champions while compiling a dual match record of 265-79-2 (.770). Ten of his teams recorded top 5 finishes at the state tournament, including 3 runners-up and 2 thirds. Sixteen of his 19 teams finished in the top 10. Including the 14 state champions, Joe coached a total of 98 individual place winners: 17 runners-up, 17 thirds, 16 fourths, 18 fifths and 16 sixths. He coached 31 total finalists, and had at least one wrestler reach the championship finals in each of his final 13 seasons. On two occasions - 1982 and 1984, his teams featured placers in 10 out of the possible 12 weight classes.

Joe was named Regional Coach of the Year on numerous occasions. He received the Big 10 Conference Coach of the Year on 4 different occasions and was also a 2 time NCAC Wrestling Coach of the Year.

After the 1994-95 season, Joe retired from wrestling, but coached one more season of football in the fall of 1995. His football teams at Fairmont Senior qualified for the state playoffs 6 times, reaching the semifinals in 1992. In 1996, he volunteered as a coach in Fairmont State's football program, and in 2001 moved to WVU to coach under Rich Rodriquez, continuing on in 2008 under Bill Stewart.

He has been the tournament director for the Winners Choice (formerly PEPSI Invitational) Wrestling Tournament for the past 35 years. Also he has' directed numerous Regional and NCAC wrestling tournaments while assisting with seeding meetings on all levels.

Joe still resides in Fairmont with his wife, Nancy. They have three sons: Aaron 38, Adam 33 and Aric 32. They also have 4 grandsons: Colin 13, Caleb 10, Austin 11, Alex 2 and a granddaughter due in February of 2010.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Joe Naternicola with a "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

Alex Skirpan (left) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Alex Skirpan -- "Lifetime Service to Wrestling"

Alex Skirpan began wrestling in 1949 in his freshman year of high school in Pennsylvania. He perfected the elevators moves when learning to wrestle with his older brother (Skip). His junior year, he was the first wrestler in his school to win the WPAL. The next year he repeated winning the WPAL and became Carnegie High School's first State Champion.

He attended Kiski Prep the next fall and started West Virginia University in January. During this school year, he was drafted into the Army. Alex wrestled while in the Army for Ft. Mead. While wrestling in the Army with a win over an NCAA runner-up for Maryland, he was offered a scholarship to Maryland by Coach Solly Krous. After leaving the Army, Alex decided to wrestle at Pitt where he and his wife would be close to their families. In 1960, he was unable to attend the Rome Olympics after attaining runner-up in trials at 170 pounds.

In 1963, the Skirpan family moved to West Virginia. He coached Little League Baseball and Football for 9 years. Alex started wrestling at the YMCA in 1973 with his team he traveled to larger cities to compete on weekends. He umpired baseball for numerous years and refereed wrestling for 24 years or until he had a health problem. Alex was asked to oversee the officials at the State Wrestling Tournament when the rules interpreter became ill.

Now retired, Alex is very thankful for many things. He has donated gallons of blood to American Red Cross. He is a "special friend" to the Monks of the Holy Cross Monastery. Also Alex is a very active member of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church. As always together he and his wife were elected the first husband and wife District governors of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia of the Order of American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.

Alex and his wonderful wife, Nancy married for 56 years are the proud parents of two sons, Alex, Jr. and Andy and a lovely daughter, Ann. They have seven precious grandchildren.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Alex Skirpan with a "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

Ernie Sparks (left) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Ernie Sparks -- "Lifetime Service to Wrestling"

Ernest (Ernie) Sparks is a 1977 graduate of Barboursville High School, where he was a three time state place winner.

He went on to wrestle at Marshall University where he was a four-year starter and was named the Herd's team captain for two years. Ernie ended his career with the Herd with the most wins and the most pins in the school's history. He was named to the all Southern Conference four times and was awarded with the Marshall University Leadership award in 1981.

Sparks began his coaching career in 1981 at his Alma mater, Barboursville High School, as the head coach of the Pirates. When Milton and Barboursville High Schools merged in 1984, he became the head coach of the Knights at Cabell Midland High School, then the largest school in the state.

Ernie was named the Coach of the Year in 1998 by the West Virginia Athletic Coaches Association. He was also awarded the Elk's Coach of the Year in the same year. In 1998 and 2000, he had two state Runner-up teams. During his career, he produced 11 state champions and served as the president of the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association. Under Ernie's 27 year tenure, the Pirates and Knights had a combined record of 442 wins, 129 losses and 2 ties.

Although retired from coaching Ernie is still active in many tournaments around the state.

Ernie has two children. His son, Zack, is a graduate of West Liberty University with a degree in Business and Finance. His daughter, Ellen, is a Senior at Lenior Rhyne University where she is running track while working toward her college degree in Chemistery and Biology.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Ernie Sparks with a "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

Accepting the award on behalf of the late Mr Van Horne are son Todd Van Horne and wife Gladys Van Horne, from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Bill Van Horne -- "Lifetime. Service to Wrestling"

The late Bill Van Horne was the dean of Ohio Valley sportswriters during a legendary newspaper career that spanned 53 years. Van Horne was sports editor at both The Times-Leader for 25 years and the Wheeling News-Register for 28 years. During his writing tenure, Van Horne was recognized by his peers as the most informational and influential writer in Ohio Valley history.

His work with the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (the largest conference in the United States) over the years was especially instrumental in the success and popularity of wrestling throughout the entire Ohio Valley. In fact, Van Horne was the second recipient of OVAC wrestling's "Mr. Mat" Award in 1977. His promotion of wrestling in the Northern Panhandle was nonpareil.

His columns, "Van Horne on Sports", were masterpiece chronicles of the lives of others. His pre-season wrestling previews of local high school mat programs filled nearly two sports pages with detailed wrestler profiles. And during the season, Bill interviewed numerous wrestlers and coaches, spotlighting their accomplishments. A giant in his field and a role model for aspiring writers, Van Horne was admired and respected for his integrity, dedication, fairness, knowledge and compassion.

Numerous awards and honors were bestowed on.Vau Horne. The Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Club named him Man of the Year in 1993. He was selected as the West Virginia Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year 3 times. Bill was a gigantic patron of wrestling in the

Wheeling area and across the entire state. He truly loved the mat sport.

Accepting the award on Bill's behalf is his devoted wife Gladys.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Bill Van Horne with a "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

Russ Ward (left) receives his award from Mike Clair, State Chapters Executive Director, National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Russ Ward -- "Lifetime Service to Wrestling"

Russ Ward graduated from Vinson High School in 1974. He received a Master's Degree in Education from Marshall University in 1979. He has done doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati. While teaching at Richwood High School for thirty years, he was named "Teacher of the Year" on numerous occasions.

Russ coached wrestling at Richwood High School for 19 years. During that time his teams compiled a 185-72 dual meet record. His wrestlers won several conference and regional championships. He coached seven teams to top ten finishes in the state tournament and had 42 individual place winners. Five of those wrestlers were state champions.

Ward also coached football for 26 years and track for 21 years. He is currently the head football coach at Richwood Middle School and serves as a consultant and volunteer for the high school wrestling team.

Russ is described by one of his former wrestlers "as a true mentor and a valued and loyal friend." He resides in Richwood with his devoted wife, Marsha.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Russell Ward with a "Lifetime Service to Wrestling" award, class of 2009.

2009 Induction Ceremony Feature

Hall of Fame Main Page

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