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Six inducted into County Hall

July 22, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Being inducted into the Washington County Sports Hall of Fame is a significant honor, but for Greg Shank, being inducted in the same class as one of the many area runners he has mentored - Maria (Pazarentzos) Spinnler - made Saturday's induction banquet at the Clarion Inn even better.

"It's special, but it makes it more special that she's going in with me," said Shank, a former Hagerstown Community College track and field coach who finished third in the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon in 1985. "Coaching has been much more rewarding for me."

"Greg being inducted is a thrill for me," Spinnler said. "When I found out we were being inducted together, that was a huge thrill."

Shank and Spinnler joined Dr. Susan Brownell, Pat Boyer, Eugene "Yogi" Martin and Stephen Miguel as inductees honored Saturday.

· Shank is most proud of the runners he helped guide to success - such as current Syracuse track and cross country coach Chris Fox, a five-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in events ranging from 5,000 meters to the marathon, and the only athlete from the Tri-State area ever to run a sub-4:00 mile. Shank's pupils have qualified for 12 Olympic Trials overall.

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"A lot of great runners have come from this area, and (JFK founder) Buzz Sawyer is the reason for that," Shank said. "He taught me about the art of coaching."

Shank got his own start in running at Williamsport High School, sparking a career in which he clocked a career-best 2:35:05 in the 1983 Boston Marathon in addition to the third-place JFK finish.

"When I was in high school, I read a book by American Indian Billy Mills, who won the 10,000-meters in the 1964 Olympics," Shank said. "That inspired me to go out for the very first Williamsport cross country team, which of course has gone on to great success."

· Spinnler said her greatest feat was qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials at 10,000 meters.

"The Olympic Trials was my biggest accomplishment, but that wasn't my biggest race," Spinnler said. "The qualifying race at Penn Relays was the one I spent training for."

Spinnler clocked 33:51.94 at the Penn Relays to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Other top accomplishments include taking fifth in the 5K at the 1993 USATF Championships, and winning the 1987 Road Runners Club of America 10K National Championship.

"I've always enjoyed running, and I've always had people at important times in my life who were there for me," Spinnler said. "I've been so fortunate to have great mentors in life. ... It's not so much the races. The races are why I'm here, but it's what led up to the races that produced the memories I cherish."

· Brownell, a 1978 North Hagerstown High School graduate, won the Penn Relays Heptathlon for three straight years while at the University of Virginia. At the Junior Olympics, she broke the American record for the Pentathlon, and she placed third at the Junior Women's 19U National Championships. She qualified for the Olympic Trials in 1980 and 1984.

But Brownell's favorite moment came as her career came to a close.

"Because it was my last memory, one that stands out was my 800 in 1990 at the U.S. Olympic Festival," Brownell said. "I ran a personal best, and I knew I was going to quit because I was working on my Ph.D. and my mind wasn't in it, so to run a personal best in the 800, which was always a tough event for me, that was a great moment."

· Boyer, a member of the 1958 Hagerstown Colt League team that finished second in the World Series, was a three-sport star at South Hagerstown High School, playing football, basketball and baseball. He averaged 18.1 points per game his senior basketball season, and went on to help Murray State win the Ohio Valley Conference baseball title twice.

"There were no video games back then, no television," Boyer said. "We just played ball. As the seasons changed the ball changed shapes, but we just had fun."

· Martin coached at West Junior High School in Waynesboro, Pa., North Hagerstown and Shepherd University before becoming the Washington County supervisor of health education, physical education and athletics in 1986, a post he held until 2003.

"There were 1,952 student-athletes in 1986 and 3,304 in 2003 when I retired," Martin said. "I'm one of the luckiest guys in the world. This is not my award, this is (Washington County's) award.

"A lot of people contributed to the success of athletics in this county, a lot of coaches, principals, athletic directors, athletes and parents. There's no 'I' in 'Team' and there's no 'I' in this award."

· Miguel, playing for North Hagerstown, won the Maryland state boys tennis singles title in 1985 before heading to Ohio State University, where he made the All-Big Ten Conference team in 1988. In 2000, Ohio State named him to its men's All-Century team.

"My (private) coach Mark Moler gave me a great work ethic and made me understand how hard you have to work," Miguel said. "(Hubs coach Leon) Brumback understood the goals I was looking at and gave me the time and freedom to go practice a little more."

Last year, Miguel was part of the team that won the USTA 5.5 League National Championship.

"My playing days may be over - I have bad knees - but it was fun to get back together with some of the guys and win a national championship," Miguel said.

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