LORAIN — John Telatnik waited seven decades after winning the state long jump championship in 1947 to his induction into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame. When the Lorain High graduate finally took center stage Thursday at the 48th annual enshrinement banquet, he took full advantage of the spotlight.
Telatnik, who was informed of his selection into the Class of 2017 on his 87th birthday, not only thanked his family and coaches for helping him excel in track and baseball, he told stories of his time as an athlete, of being deployed in Korea in the Army and of being a teacher and coach at Lorain’s Irving Junior High School and at Clearview High School.
“In order to impress upon students when they did something wrong, I would poke them in the chest to get their attention. That’s why I was known as, ‘The Finger,’” Telatnik said during the ceremony at DeLuca’s Place in the Park.
Telatnik was joined by Lorain Catholic basketball player Michael Horne, Lorain tennis standout Bill Morris, Lorain Catholic volleyball player and coach Meredith Bingham, Lorain native, St. Peter alum and Super Bowl champion Matt Willhelm, Lorain golfer David Emerick, athletic trainer David Dury and Lorain’s 1915 state champion hurdler Norris Sinclair, who was inducted posthumously.
The 1985-86 Admiral King basketball team that won a Class AAA regional champion was also inducted.
Wilhelm, a 1999 graduate of Elyria Catholic, was a key member of Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team and played eight seasons in the NFL for San Diego and Green Bay. He talked about the pride of growing up in Lorain that he carried with him throughout his career.
“The first camera and microphone that showed up in my face when we won the national championship … I uttered the words, ‘This is for South Lorain, this is for Lorain, this is for all the people back in Lorain watching me and supporting me,’” Wilhelm said. “There is just a toughness you get coming from Lorain. You get counted out and have to overcome so many things, it became a chip on my shoulder.
“To be candid, sometimes I want to smack people when they talk smack about Lorain. When they ask me where I’m from I proudly say Lorain, Ohio.”
Bingham, whose 1994 Lorain Catholic team lost in the Division IV state final, went on to play at Tennessee Tech, where she led the nation in digs as a junior.
“My coaches truly led by example. Their example and dedication — on and off the court — was validated when our 1994 team was inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame (in 2012),” Bingham said. “They always had the team’s best interest in mind and always put others first. A valuable lesson I use today.”
Horne, a 1976 Spartans grad, was an All-Ohio basketball player who played a key role in the 1976 state tournament run. After playing college basketball at Henderson (Texas) Junior College, Horne returned to Lorain County and coached at Firelands, where he was named the Lorain County Division II coach of the year in 1991-92 and 1992-93.
Emerick, a 1975 Lorain Catholic graduate, won more than 30 junior golf tournaments and was on the Spartans team that finished fourth in the 1975 state tournament. He later became a PGA teaching pro and is president of the North County Junior Golf Association in California.
Emerick reminisced about spending much of his childhood golfing at Lorain’s Emerald Valley Golf Club.
Morris was Buckeye Conference tennis champion in 1979, his senior year at Lorain. Although he turned down offers to play college tennis, he played competitively most of his life and was at one time ranked No. 1 in the USTA’s Northeast 35-and-over doubles category.
Chronicle-Telegram sportswriter Paul Heyse accepted the plaque on behalf of Sinclair, who won the 220 low hurdles and 120 high hurdles in the 1915 state meet, becoming one of only two Lorain athletes to win two championships at the same meet.
David Cannon spoke on behalf of the 1985-86 Admirals team that finished 23-4 and defeated four state-ranked teams on its way to a regional championship. Coach Mitch Gillam was on hand to present the players with their plaques while Cannon read off their names. They were one of only three boys basketball teams to win a regional title in Admiral King history.
“Everyone on this team is still grateful for the support of the Lorain businesses, booster clubs, cheerleaders, equipment managers and the students and teachers who came out to the Shot Palace for every game and shouted, ‘We are AK,’” Cannon said.
The Hall of Fame committee also recognized Lorain senior Naz Bohannon as the winner of the J. Ed Uland Memorial Award, given annually to an outstanding student-athlete from Lorain.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.