Night of memories, stories at Luzerne HOF ceremony

First Posted: 8/18/2014

WILKES-BARRE – Ronald Hungarter wanted to play football.

A two-sport standout, the Meyers High School graduate had one dream – like most who excel on the gridiron do.

Run between the lines on the grandest stage of all: the National Football League.

“All I ever wanted to do was play pro ball,” Hungarter said. “The first game of my senior year, I got a serious concussion and was told I couldn’t play football again. My college scholarships disappeared and all I had left was to concentrate on track and field. I was able to get some lucky throws off and set some records. I was made a hammer thrower in college, and I didn’t even know what a hammer was. I am here because my freshmen football coach told me to go out for track and field.”

Hungarter was one of 13 people inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame John Louis Popple Chapter on Sunday night at Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center.

Hall of Fame honorees included Hungarter, Leonard Augustine, Karen Stefanowicz Brubaker, Neil Corbett, Tom Gauntlett, Stephanie Jallen, Alex “Rep” Junevitz Jr., Ron Musto Jr., Charles Podlesny, Thomas Rokita, Gary Siegel, Elliot Silkowski and Gordon Williams.

“I didn’t expect this at all. Then, you read about all the other honorees, you begin to realize how special this is,” said Stefanowicz Brubaker, a two-sport standout during her playing days at Lake-Lehman and a national softball champ at Trenton State.

Of course, there was a common theme on this night.

Shock and surprise.

Most laughed when they found out. Some shed some tears. Others, well, just wondered.

“To be honest, I was shocked. I read these impressive biographies and I couldn’t believe that I was included amongst this group of amazing athletes,” said Hungarter, who still holds the discus record at Meyers High School and earned a scholarship to Ohio University.

The accomplishments, quite incredible when you search through them.

Star basketball players who netted 2,000 points

Olympians in Hungarter and Jallen.

Distinguished baseball players and coaches.

Tennis players. Soccer standouts. Dominating athletes in the pool.

Then you have Gauntlett, who lettered in five sports at Dallas High School. He later traveled to Chapel Hill where he started two years for the University of North Carolina basketball squad where he was nominated for the all-ACC freshman team, played in a Final Four and was teammates with NBA stars like Billy Cunningham and Charlie Scott.

“At my age, I try not to look back too much,” he laughed. “It’s nice to see old friends that I’ve played against and that I know. When you play sports for as long as I have, it’s amazing to see all the elite athletes that have come from this area. When I played, there was so many smaller schools. Now, you have a lot of jointures with the schools combining together.”

Each one takes pride in their respective sports.

Hungarter walked down memory lane about his track and field days.

Stefanowicz Brubaker just smiled when someone brought up about her days of dominance as a spiker where she was named all-state honorable mention and second-team selection.

Siegel, a PIAA state wrestling champ in 1978 and an 88-match winner at Syracuse, took a different approach.

“I’m representing the entire wrestling community tonight,” he said. “Luzerne County has had some amazing athletes and special wrestlers. To me, wrestling is one of those sports where it is a team sport and an individual sport. Some of my fondest memories are from the team aspect of the sport.

“My uncle was induced into the boxing hall of fame in Luzerne County, and I remember coming to that. It was so excited to be there, and I remember all the old stories. It left a strong impression on me. I’m just so happy to be honored here and have the opportunity to catch up with some old friends.”

comments powered by Disqus