Lakewood Hall of Fame welcomes 14 legends
BY DOUG McKENZIE
The luncheon celebrated the careers of the 14 greats who helped bring an extraordinary number of team and individual championships to LHS over the years.
The 14 honorees were selected from a list of 41 nominees.
The newly elected Hall-of-Famers are: Harold "Hal" Schank (class of 1935), Walter "Babe" DeFreitis (1937), Sanford "Sandy" Kalb ('47), Rudy Kurinsky ('44), Jim Westhall ('45), George A. "Albie" Maier ('48), Edwin Brandt ('48), John "Jack" Deligny ('53), Dick Estelle ('60), Robert Nastase, Tim O'Donnell, John "Pott" Richardson ('67), Herbie Williams ('86) and Damion Hahn ('99).
Hahn is the most recent graduate, and one of the school's most recognizable former athletes. As a three-time NJSIAA state champion (1997-1999), finishing second his freshman year, Hahn entered the Hall in his first year of eligibility, and for good reason.
He had a career record of 131-3 during his career at Lakewood, winning 102 consecutive matches, scoring 204 takedowns and 89 pins. He was undefeated in dual meets throughout his high school career, and is generally considered one of, if not the top high school wrestlers ever to come out of New Jersey.
He also won various regional and national events, being named the 1999 Fila Junior World Trial and World Champion, Asics High School Wrestler of the Year and first place in the Junior National Championships in 1997 and 1998. He also won a Cadet National Freestyle Championship at 167 pounds in 1995.
As if that weren't enough, upon moving on to the University of Minnesota, Hahn became a two-time national champion with a career record of 118-21.
Hahn is currently pursuing a dream of making the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team.
Fans of the LHS boys basketball team are very familiar with the success of Richardson. As a player, he was a First Team All-State performer in his senior year, leading his team in scoring and serving as co-captain of the 1967 state championship team.
From there, Richardson went to Temple University and was a member of Temple's 1969 NIT championship team. In 1971 he became co-captain of the Owls, and won the Harry Litwak Leadership Award.
Following his playing career, Richardson became a teacher and a coach at Lakewood - positions he has held for 35 years now. His coaching rsum is one of the best in state history - he has been selected as Coach of the Year seven times; won the Sullivan Award in 1991 for contributions to Shore basketball; inducted into the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame as a player and a coach in 1996; inducted into the New Jersey State Coaches Association Hall of Fame, has a career winning percentage of about 75 percent; and is rapidly approaching 400 career wins.
A lot of the credit for his success, Richardson said, belongs to Nastase.
"I attribute the influence of my high school coach as being largely responsible for my high school, college and present career success," Richardson said. "[He] challenged all of his players to be the best they could be. Most of the [positive mental attitude] philosophy that I use today was nurtured by coach Nastase."
Nastase began his basketball coaching career in Lakewood in 1964, after graduating from Penn State University and holding several earlier coaching stints. During his tenure at LHS, his teams won five state titles, including the overall state title in 1967. He teams won the Shore Conference title in 1966, and division titles in all 13 years he coached.
Nastase also coached at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and at Oral Roberts University, as well as for the New Jersey Jammers professional team and Toms River North High School.
O'Donnell was another beloved coach to join the list of Hall-of-Famers. During a 28-year stint as the school's boys soccer coach, O'Donnell's teams won three division titles, two state sectional titles and one overall Group III title, as he amassed 260 games. His teams also produced four Ocean County Players of the Year, four regional All-Americans, and various other All-State and All-Conference honors.
Schank participated in football, basketball and baseball during his years at Lakewood High School, eventually earning a scholarship to Rutgers for his quarterback skills. He then led the 1938 Scarlet Knights to a championship, while also participating in championship teams in basketball.
After graduating from RU in 1940, he bean his coaching career at LHS in football, where he worked under Russ Wright, and also served as the head boys basketball coach. After joining the Armed Services from 1942-1945, Schank's athletic skills and knowledge were used as a player/coach for Fort Monmouth. He followed with a successful coaching career at Freehold High School from the 1950s to the 1970s, where he was credited with resurrecting the football program. As both a football and baseball coach, he had the best record in the Shore Conference from 1950-1960.
He concluded his career as the athletic director for the Freehold Regional School District.
DeFreitis was a four-year participant in football, baseball and basketball. He was an All-State football player in his senior year, when the Piners, under Russ Wright, went 9-0 and won the Shore Conference, Central Jersey and state championships. He also received mention on the All-State basketball team in his senior year, and helped guide the LHS baseball team to a Central Jersey championship. He later played semi-pro baseball for the Belmar Braves, and after serving during WWII, played AAA baseball in Evansville, Ind., before concluding his career as a minor leaguer in Kentucky.
DeFreitis was also a charter member of the Lakewood Black Hawks, who in the early years were known for their outstanding athletic teams.
Kalb made a name for himself as an outstanding runner. He competed in a mile relay team that placed at the Penn Relays, and set a then-sophomore record of 4:42 in the mile when he placed second at the Shore Conference championships, before taking sixth at the state meet in 1959.
He has since given back to the track community by becoming one of the most recognizable track enthusiasts the Shore has ever known. He was directed AAU-level track meets and has served as the director of the Lakewood Nine-Mile Handicap Walk every Memorial Day weekend since 1968. He currently serves as an official for many Lakewood and Ocean County track meets, and was recognized by the Shore Athletic Club's Wisner Brothers' Founders Award for founding the new Shore Athletic Club in 1964.
Kalb has served on the AAU, NJ-Athletic Congress and USATF-NJ, the governing body of Olympic Track and Field for the United States. He was also a founding father (in 1968) for the Shore Chapter of the State Track and Field Officials, and has officiated in the Penn Relays, IC4A's, Ivy League Heptagonals, as well as the Olympic Invitationals.
Kurinsky is another of the versatile athletes being recognized for all of his prowess. He was a three-year letterman in football, basketball and baseball, playing on a Group II championship team in football, where he earned First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-State honors. In basketball, he was the captain of the Shore's championship team, while in baseball, he was co-captain under coach Larry D'Zio's 16-5 team.
After serving in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946, Kurinsky attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and played baseball as a utility infielder.
A wide-ranging sports career started at LHS for Jim Westhall, where he played football, basketball and baseball for four years. Following his high school days, Westhall continued his education at Duke University, before beginning his career in broadcasting. After working several years at a radio station in Laconia, N.H., as a program and sports director, he was the play-by-play man for Dartmouth football for a year and a sports director at WTVD-TV in Durham, N.C.
He then spent the next 25 years promoting tennis, and created the Volvo Tournament in Stratton Mountain, N.H.
Maier was a First Team All-State and First Team All-Shore football selection during his days at LHS, though he also played baseball and ran track. From 1949-1950, he attended Marshall University on a football scholarship, and was named to the All-Ohio Valley and All-Mid-American Conference Teams. In 1951-52, Maier enlisted in the Army and fought in the Korean War, were he was seriously injured and awarded four Battle Stars, the Korean Citation and a Purple Heart.
Returning to school in 1953-1955, he completed his degree and got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955. After graduating from college, Maier returned to coach football at Lakewood High School and later became the head coach at Toms River. He later became the supervisor of Health and Physical Education, and athletic director, at Haddon Township High School, where he was named the N.J. State Athletic Director of the year in 1981.
Brandt's involvement in Piner athletics spanned over six decades. After playing four years of football at LHS, where he was First Team All-State and First Team All-Shore selection in his senior year, Brandt went to West Virginia Tech on a scholarship and was named All-Conference his junior and senior years. In 1954, he was selected to play for the undefeated Alaskan U.S. Army Command football team, where he played until 1956. After returning from the military, Brandt got his master of education degree at Rutgers, and began his teaching and coaching career at Ewing High School, before returning to Lakewood.
From 1960 until he retired in 1995, Brandt was a teach, head football coach and athletic director (1979-1995) at LHS. He was named Coach of the Year in 1964 and 1965, coaching the undefeated team of '64, and won two consecutive conference championships.
Deligny was a three-sport star at LHS, who led the baseball team to a conference championship, led his basketball team in scoring and broke the LHS individual scoring record. In 1953, he was chosen MVP of the team, and was an All-Conference selection in 1952 and 1953.
Following high school and college, Deligny enrolled in the Naval Reserve, serving at Lakehurst Naval Air Station for 12 years, before receiving an honorable discharge He then worked for JCP&L for 43 years as a safety representative. He also helped found the Lakewood Biddy Basketball League and coached for 16 years, serving as a coach on all four state championship teams, and coached for International Biddy Basketball Tournament hosted in Lakewood. He is a life member and a past president of the Lakewood Black Hawks.
Estelle was the first Major League Baseball player from Lakewood High School, and just the second from Ocean County. Estelle signed with the San Francisco Giants on graduation day in 1960 and pitched on the 1962 National League championship team.
During his high school career, he had an 11-2 record with a .038 ERA and averaged 12 strikeouts per seven innings. In 1959, he was an All-Shore selection as a member of the conference-champion Piners.
Williams was one of Lakewood's finest track stars, in all three seasons - cross country, indoors and outdoors. In XC, he was won the Ocean County title three years in a row, and was selected First Team All-Shore in all three seasons. In 1985, he was the Shore Conference champion, set a South Jersey Group III sectional course record and was the Group III state champion.
In indoor track, Williams was also selected All-Shore, and holds the school's two-mile record of 9:33. In spring track, Williams was named All-Shore in both the one- and two-mile events, and was a Group III sectional champ. He also took third at the Meet of Champions in the mile, clocking a 4:14.