The list of NCAA wrestling champions from Washington County is a short and distinguished one. And for nearly three decades, no names were added to that list, until Sylvester Terkay ended a 28-year drought for Washington County by winning the 1993 national championship in the heavyweight division.
A Canon-McMillan graduate and a three-time All-American at North Carolina State University, Terkay was the first wrestler to win an NCAA championship since Trinity’s Veryl Long did so for Iowa State in 1965.
Terkay will be one of 14 people, along with a Team of Yesteryear, who will be inducted in the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame next month. The ceremonies take place Friday, June 14 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Meadow Lands. Tickets are $45. Ticket orders can be made by contacting B.J. at 724-678-4320.
Joining Terkay in this year’s class are John Ballein (football), Rebecca Braun-Champlin (marksmanship), Doug Crouse (track and field), Gregg Day (soccer), Dave “Bimbo” Vallina (softball), Tom Diamond Sr. (Posthumous, wrestling), John Ross (Posthumous, wrestling), Elizabeth Proudfit (basketball), Tom Hay (swimming), Bryan Matusic (wrestling), Thomas P. O’Connor (youth service), Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah (sports broadcasting) and the 1992 Canon-McMillan High School wrestling team will be inducted as the Team of Yesteryear.
Terkay had a career record of 122-4 at N.C. State with 64 of the wins coming by pin. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestler of the Year three times, and was the ACC heavyweight champion four times. Terkay also was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Dream Team first team.
A three-time first team academic All-American, Terkay was inducted into the Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
The following is a look at six other honorees. Biographies for the other inductees will appear in a future edition of the Observer-Reporter.
John Ballein Football
A four-year letterman in football at Bentworth High School, Ballein was on the coaching staff at Virginia Tech University during the Hokies’ rise to the level of national power under head coach Frank Beamer.
Ballein began his football career as an outstanding defensive player at Bentworth, where he set several Bearcats records, including single-game tackles, single-season tackles and most points earned on defense for tackles, assists and interceptions. Ballein was named Bentworth’s Outstanding Defensive Player, and was a Tri-County all-star and the winner of the Paul Silver All-Around Athlete of the Year Award in 1979.
He was captain of Bentworth’s football and baseball teams as a senior, and competed in wrestling for one season.
Ballein continued his playing career at Indiana (Pa.) University. He was coached by two members of the Washington-Greene Sports Hall of Fame: Val Jansante and Steve Telleck.
As a coach, Ballein spent 25 years on the staff at Virginia Tech and is currently the Hokies’ associate athletic director for football. He also has been Virginia Tech’s director of football operations. Ballein was on Beamer’s first coaching staff at Virginia Tech in 1987. Ballein also coached high school football at Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, Va., and Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va.
Rebecca Braun-Champlain Marksmanship
A graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University, Braun-Champlin was a member of a Frazier-Simplex Rifle team that won an NRA National Four Position Girls Championship. A four-year letterwinner at Washington, she set a WPIAL and PIAA record in 1974 by firing all perfect scores for the season.
Bruan-Champlain was the state girls champion in 1972, 1973 and 1974 in three-position. At West Virginia, she was a member of the Mountaineers’ team that won three NCAA championships from 1974 through 1976. She won individual and team gold medals in Mexico City as a member of the Army Reserve in 1976. In 1978, she took fifth place in the World Shooting Championships in Seoul, South Korea, and won a gold medal as part of a world-record setting women’s standard rifle team.
In 1979, Braun-Champlin won a bronze medal in the individual 10-meter air rifle and was a member of the gold medal air rifle team in the world championships in Seoul. She qualified for the Olympic Games in 1980, becoming the first woman from Pennsylvania to do so, but did not participate because of the United States’ boycott of the Games.
In 1981, she won silver in the women’s individual air rifle championships in Rio de Janero, Brazil, and a pair of gold medals in the women’s air rifle and standard rifle team events. She followed that in 1982 with a silver medal as a member of the U.S. standard rifle team in Caracas, Venezuela, before retiring from the world shooting stage in 1983.
Doug Crouse Track
A former WPIAL and PIAA champion in the mile while at West Greene High School, Crouse also qualified for the NAIA national finals in cross country in 1965 and 1966.
Crouse was a three-sport letterman at West Greene in football, wrestling and track. He was the section wrestling runner-up as a senior at 127 pounds and also the WPIAL runner-up. But track is the sport in which Crouse excelled. In 1963, he set the West Greene and Greene County meet records in the mile (4:41.6) and went on to win the WPIAL and PIAA championships. His best time in the mile as a junior was 4:28.9.
As a senior, Crouse repeated as both WPIAL and PIAA champion, setting a state record in the mile of 4:20.9, which beat the previous record by two seconds. He also finished fourth in the 880-yard run in the state meet as a senior.
At Waynesburg College, Crouse competed in cross country and track, twice advancing to the NAIA national finals in cross country. He was the NAIA District 18 champion in the mile.
Crouse had a 35-year teaching career at West Greene and coached track, cross country, wrestling and football.
Gregg Day Soccer
Day played soccer at Trinity High School during the Hillers’ best period in the sport. He was a key player on Trinity’s 1985 state championship team.
Day went on to play college soccer at the University of Evansville and at Old Dominion, and has been coaching soccer since the 1990s.
At Trinity, Day was a two-time (1985 and 1986) all-state player, a two-time all-WPIAL and three-time all-section selection. He was a Regional All-American in 1985, and named All-American by USSYA and Parade Magazine in 1986.
Day turned down a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Spirit to attend college in 1986. He also helped the Beadling Under-19 team win the Eastern Regional championship and play for the National Club Championship.
At Evansville, Day played in the Elite Eight (1987) and helped the Purple Aces to the No.1 ranking in the nation in 1988. At Old Dominion, he started in the central midfield and helped the Monarchs to the Sun Belt Conference title.
Day is currently an assistant coach with the Canon-McMillan High School girls program and a coach with the Beadling Soccer Club. He also has instructed at the Star Striker School Soccer Camps.
An accomplished soccer referee, Day has officiated the NCAA Division III men’s national championship match.
Tom Diamond Sr. Wrestling
A three-year letterwinner at Washington High School, Diamond was the WPIAL and PIAA champion in 1952 at 145 pounds, going 13-2-3. He was also a three-year letterwinner at guard in football, winning honorable mention All-County in 1951. Diamond was a one-year starter on the West Virginia University wrestling team.
As a competitive runner, Diamond competed in seven marathons and one mini-triathlon, and also running in numerous 10K and 5K races.
Diamond also spent 13 years as a youth wrestling coach at the Brownson House.
Dave “Bimbo” Vallina Softball
One of the best players in Burgettstown Fast-Pitch Softball League history, Vallina was a standout for 33 years, compiling an amazing 631-108 pitching record with a career ERA of 1.78. He pitched 21 no-hitters and three perfect games. Vallina struck out 7,932 batters, averaging 11 strikeouts per game.
Vallina played on 27 league championship teams and 23 playoff champions.
He helped the Burgettstown Green Machine win Pennsylvania ASA Class B state championships in 1979 and 1985, and played in four ISC World Championships (1976, ’79, ’81 and ’83).
Vallina is one of the few softball pitchers who can claim they defeated the legendary Eddie Feigner of the King and His Court, doing so in 1984 in a game played in Washington.