By Steve King
MEDINA — The Medina County Sports Hall of Fame traces greats from the earliest days to the modern day — and everything in between.
It seems appropriate, then, the 2012 class reflects that fact in equal proportions.
The six-member class, which was announced Thursday, is heavy on both ends — and in the middle as well. It includes a graduate from 63 years ago and one from 60 years ago, two from about 20 years ago, and a pair from the last decade.
The class is made up of Lawrence Roberts, a 1949 graduate of Chatham High School, which has been consolidated into Cloverleaf, Al Thomas Award winner Sam Gorfido (Medina, 1952), Dan Mihacevich (Brunswick, 1993), Scott Gasper (Cloverleaf, 1994), Mike Kudla (Highland, 2002) and Drew Saylor (Wadsworth, 2002).
Those men will be officially enshrined at the 27th annual induction and recognition ceremony June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at The Galaxy Restaurant in Wadsworth.
Voting was done by a selection committee consisting of members of the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club, The Gazette, which co-sponsors the hall of fame, and athletic directors from the seven county schools.
Also honored will be the 1988 Brunswick baseball team that made it to the Class AAA (big-school) state tournament, members of every All-Gazette team from the 2011-12 school year and the female and male Medina County Special Olympics Athletes of the Year.
Ticket information will be announced soon in The Gazette.
Roberts, who is deceased but still has family in the area, was a basketball star for the Chatham Oilers from 1945-49. According to school yearbooks, he scored 1,370 career points, which stood as the county record for 44 years until Highland’s Rob Wininger broke it in 1993 with 1,842. Brad Reusch, also from Highland, later scored 1,525 points, which leaves Roberts third all time.
Roberts was the first player to be named All-Medina County four times, and was a first-team selection the last three years. He led the Oilers to the 1947 Medina County League Tournament championship and the Lorain Class B Sectional finals in 1947 and ’49.
In a 48-46 loss to heavily favored Ridgeville in 1949, he set a Lorain Sectional record with 31 points.
Roberts also played quarterback for Chatham’s six-man football team and pitched for the baseball team.
The Al Thomas Award is given annually to someone who serves a supporting role for sports, and Gorfido has certainly done that. It could be said that he is the ultimate Medina sports fan. If the Bees are playing — regardless of the sport, the gender of the athletes or the grade level — he’s there cheering them on during the fall, winter and spring.
He’s such a fixture at events at his alma mater, in fact, that the portion of the bleachers in the Medina gym where he always sits is known as the Sammy Section.
But Gorfido is more than just a fan. He’s also a pioneer, having started the Medina Youth Football program.
As for Mihacevich, it’s hard to determine in which sport he excelled the most — volleyball or wrestling.
As a wrestler from 1990-93, he was a three-time Division I state placer, finishing fourth as a sophomore and senior and sixth as a junior. He was also a two-time Pioneer Conference champion.
In volleyball, he was team captain for the Blue Devils’ club team, finished first in kills three straight years and led them to the state finals as a senior.
Then at Ohio State, Mihacevich became one of the best volleyball players in school history, setting Buckeyes records for points (48) and kills (43) in a match, getting selected all-conference twice, being named the team’s Most Valuable Player in both 1996 and ’97, lettering all four years and serving as captain in 1996.
He was also a member of the Olympic Festival Training Team in 1996.
Gasper earned a combined total of six letters in football and basketball at Cloverleaf, but it was in the former sport that he really made his mark. Named All-Ohio, All-Pioneer Conference and All-Gazette twice each in football, the quarterback was chosen the 1994 Gazette Male Athlete of the Year.
Gasper also starred in football at Western Virginia Wesleyan, setting school records in yards passing, touchdown throws and completion percentage, and then went on to play professionally in both the Arena and European leagues.
He has since gone on to coach football at the high school and college levels and is currently serving as an assistant at East Mississippi Community College.
Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that athletes need to have been out of high school for 10 years to be considered for induction, and Saylor and Kudla were in their first years of eligibility.
Saylor is another in a long line of great baseball players to have come out of Wadsworth. A two-time Gazette MVP and the school season and career record-holder in runs scored, RBIs and walks, the shortstop led the Grizzlies to back-to-back regional appearances and then went on to Kent State, where he was a Louisville Slugger All-American and a first-team All-Mid-American Conference pick.
That caught the attention the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, who drafted him in the 13th round in 2006. He finished his five-year minor league career in 2010 with a .253 batting average, 18 home runs, 149 runs batted in and a .327 on-base percentage, with his best season coming in 2009 when he hit .302 and helped the Lake Erie Crushers to the Frontier League championship.
Saylor is presently in his first year as a hitting coach for the Grand Junction (Colo.) Rockies, the Rookie League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
As an inside linebacker, Kudla led Highland to its first two football playoff appearances in 2000 and ’01, and was the Division III co-Defensive Player of the Year in Ohio in the latter season.
Like Mihacevich, Kudla went on to play at Ohio State. He was a special teamer in 2002 as the Buckeyes won their first national championship in 34 years and made All-Big Ten as a defensive end in 2005.
He signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his career ended not long thereafter with multiple hamstring injuries.
The 1988 Brunswick baseball team was just 8-6 (fifth place) in the Pioneer Conference during the regular season, but caught fire in the Class AAA tournament.
The Blue Devils, coached by Linn Oring, defeated Akron Kenmore 4-1 to capture the district title, then topped Steubenville 6-1 and Louisville 6-5 to earn the regional crown, scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh in the latter game to cap a rally from a 4-0 deficit.
The Blue Devils, who still hold the team record for home runs (37), finally lost 11-2 to Holy Name in the state semifinals to complete a 17-10 record.
Contact Steve King at firstname.lastname@example.org.