During an induction ceremony prior to the kickoff at the Poland versus Lakeview football game on Sept. 16, eight past Poland athletes will be inducted into the Poland Athletic Hall of Fame. They will be featured during a Hall of Fame tailgate party prior to the game and all former coaches and inductees are invited to attend.
According to Poland Seminary High School Athletic Director Brian Banfield, the first class of inductees were honored in 1988. That makes this year’s class of inductees the 23rd.
Inductees are chosen every spring by the Hall of Fame Committee. That committee meets quarterly and collects data from Hall of Fame applications. From that data, they choose the former athletes that will be honored during a football game. After the honors weekend, they will have a plaque that will be showcased outside the auditorium doors in the hallway at the high school.
In looking at this year’s class and those who have been inducted over the past 22 years, Banfield said Poland has great athletes in more ways than one.
“It's incredible to look at the number of athletes that we have produced at such at a high standard,” he said. “Not only athleticly, but academically as well.”
This year’s list of inductees include the following:
• Kenneth Granger (1936). A key member of the 1935 state champion mile relay team, Granger was a three year letter winner in track and field. He was also a member of the 1936 state runner-up medley relay and fourth place mile relay teams. In addition to his accomplishments in track, Granger was also a three year letter winner in basketball and also lettered in baseball as well.
• Don Christian (1969). Probably Poland’s first “star” on the baseball diamond, Christian pitched the first ever no-hitter in Poland baseball history in 1969. He went on in his career to throw back to back no-hitters versus Brookfield and Warren Harding -- the only Poland player ever to do so. His 17 and 2/3 consecutive hitless innings is still a Poland record. During high school, Christian was also a two-year letter winner in Football and Tennis. In addition to playing, Don also was an assistant baseball coach for both Mel Klingler and Dan Flood and also coached youth baseball in Poland for over 20 years.
Upon graduation, Christian attended Tulane University where he played baseball and was a two-year letter winner. He continued playing baseball at the AA level for 29 years and was inducted into the Eastside Civics HOF. He has managed and coached the Youngstown Old-timers for the past 10 years.
• Coach Mel Klingler. Klingler graduated in 1955 from Youngstown Woodrow Wilson High School. While at Wilson, he played football, basketball and baseball. He attended Youngstown College where he majored in education. He played for the university’s baseball team and graduated in 1960. He earned his master’s degree in secondary education administration from Westminster College and also did post graduate work at Kent State University.
He began teaching and coaching at United High School in the fall of 1960. From 1965-1969, he taught and coached at North Lima High School. He became the head football coach at Crestview High School in 1969.
“Coach Kling” came to Poland in 1973. He served as the head assistant and defensive coordinator of the Bulldog varsity football team under head coach Dave Pavlansky and was also the head baseball coach until 1979. In 1979, he became Poland’s head football coach, holding that position until 1984. He resumed coaching baseball as an assistant in 1992.
During his years at Poland, he began and developed the Occupational Work Experience program at the high school and was recognized by the state as “Coordinator of the Year.” He also served on the State OWECA Council. He was a member of the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association executive committee for many years and was elected president of the organization.
He retired in 1997 culminating 37 years of teaching and coaching.
• Eric Spiegel (1976). Spiegel was a four sport athlete for the Bulldogs excelling in basketball, football, baseball and track. In baseball, Spiegel was the starting pitcher for a Bulldog team that went on to become the Ohio region runner up under coach Mel Klingler. That season, Spiegel earned Honorable Mention All-Northeast Ohio and was 1st team all Mahoning Valley Conference. Spiegel was also a leader on the football field as a two-year letter winner at offensive tackle. He was 2nd team All Mahoning Valley Conference selection in 1975. That year the Bulldogs won the MVC championship under coach Pavlansky. In basketball, Spiegel was the team captain, two year letter winner and All MVC and All Northeast-Ohio selections. In track, Spiegel earned his varsity letter, placed 3rd in the district for shot put and had the second longest shot put in Poland history at that time.
After graduating from Poland in 1976, Spiegel was courted by several Big Ten schools, but chose attend Harvard University where he won two varsity letters in football at offensive tackle and also played on the Harvard baseball team for two years.
Spiegel went on to receive his master's degree from Dartmouth and has gone on to have a successful career in business and has also published a book entitled "The Energy Shift." Spiegel is currently the president of Siemans USA and resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Doreen and his daughter Jessica and son Allan.
• Candace Bates (1999). Bates was one of the most prolific female athletes to attend Poland Seminary High School. A three sport Athlete, Candace is Poland's all-time leading scorer in women's basketball amassing an amazing 1269 points in her career. She averaged per game, 17 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals in her four-year career with the Lady Bulldogs. During those years, Bates and the Lady Bull Dogs achieved an 86-13 record, four MAC titles, four District titles, three Sectional titles, two State Regional titles and two appearances in the State semi-finals. She was named to the Ohio All-State first team and garnered All-Mac and All-NEO first team honors. While in high school, Bates also lettered twice in soccer and track.
Upon graduation, Bates embarked on a four-year basketball career with an athletic scholarship to the Ohio University in Athens. She finished her career with the Bobcats as the teams second all-time leading three-point shooter with a total of 153; highlighted by making six three-pointers in a game against Buffalo. She also became the 11th player in the school history to score more than 1,000 points.
Jim Perry (1990). A three sport athlete, Perry is the first golfer to be inducted into the Poland Athletic Hall of Fame; He was a four-year letter winner for Poland's golf team and earned All MVC honors during his time at PSHS. In addition to golf, Perry was three-year letter winner on the basketball court at point guard and was a Mahoning Valley All Star selection and still holds the schools record for Highest free throw shooting percentage in a season. In addition to golf and basketball, Perry was a member of the baseball team as well where he earned his varsity letter and Honorable Mention All-Mahoning Valley Conference.
Upon graduation, Perry attended Youngstown State on scholarship and was a member of the YSU golf team. In 1994, Jim was named Mid-Continent Conference player of the year and in 2000 he captured the Northeast Ohio Amateur Invitational championship by a winning margin of 13 strokes.
• Jeff Wiery (2000). A three-year starter in football, Jeff was a captain and key member as a tight end and outside linebacker for the 1999 state champion football team. He was All-MAC 1998 and 1999 and All NEO in 1999. In track, Wiery was a key performer of the 2000 State Track and Field Champion team. He lettered two years in a row and earned All-League honors in 1999 & 2000 and All-State honors in 2000. He was a key member of the State Meet first place 4x400 relay team and the record setting 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. Wiery also has the distinction of being one of three athletes to have participated on two state champion teams in the same school year. In addition to track and football, Wiery also lettered one year in basketball.
• Micah Harris (2001). Harris was a scholar athlete who played both football and basketball in high school. He was three-year starter in football at linebacker and tight end. He was awarded All-State honors and played in the North-South All Star game in Columbus and also represented Ohio in the Big 33 game in Hershey, Pa., his senior year. Harris was a key member of the 1999 State Champion Football team -- the first ever in the state of Ohio to go 15-0. He was All-MAC and All State in football as a junior and senior. He was nominated as the Top Dog by his fellow teammates and was awarded the Dave Pavlansky Scholarship.
In basketball, Harris was the team captain and a two-year starter at forward for the Bulldogs. He was selected to the All-Mac first team for his performance on the court.
As a highly touted football recruit, Harris committed to Duke University his junior year to play football. He lettered each of his three years and as a freshman he was named to the All-American team. Harris played in 33 games for the Blue Devils and was a leader on and off the field. Harris was just entering his senior year at Duke when he was tragically killed in a car accident. Harris will forever be remembered for his enthusiasm and energy on the football field and, more importantly, for his character.