West Branch Sports Hall of Fame welcomes new members

Normally, we like to focus on football in the feature story, and while this touches on football, the focus is primarily on the four former local athletes being inducted into the West Branch Sports Hall of Fame: Bill Bowes, Gray Simons, Neil Turner and Larry Rippey (deceased).

There’s an outstanding slate of inductees to be enshrined into the West Branch Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in November.

First here’s some information regarding the ceremony.

Induction Ceremony information

The induction ceremony for those selected for the West Branch Sports Hall of Fame will be Sunday, November 10, 2013 at the Genetti Hotel & Suites, 200 West 4th Street, Williamsport, PA. Social time will begin at 6:00 P.M., dinner will be served at 7:00 P.M., and inductions will follow.

Tickets will be available October 9, from the following directors: Ron Bowes 748-6673; Al Yearick 743-5722; Gary Yocum 547-1400; Paul Wertman 546-0715; Dave Frey 326-1406; Barry Rake 327-1006; Rod Laub 220-5793; Tom Aber 742-7942; Marty Maurer 323-5746; Tom Kline 322-0977; Bobby George 368-2573; Mike Litzelman 971-7597; Lynn Poust 546-5106; Hal Spooner 323-4816; Chris Cooper 441-1030; Carl Nolan 323-4702.

Now, let’s take a look at the inductees…


1. William Bowes (Football)

Bill was a three sport athlete at Lock Haven High School starring in football, basketball and track. He quarterbacked the 1960 team to an undefeated season and was selected to the Big 33 Team. At Penn State he lettered 3 times, captained the 1964 Nittany Lions and played in the Blue-Gray All-Star Game. He also won the Student-Athlete Award. For 27 years as head coach of the University of New Hampshire he became the coach with the most wins in the 50 year history of the Yankee Conference. He garnered 175 wins and a .617 winning percentage with 20 winning seasons. His teams earned berths in two Division II and two Division I-AA play offs including 4 Yankee Conference Championships and 2 Atlantic 10 Championships. He ranks among the Division I-AA top 15 coaches in career wins. He won Yankee Conference Coach of the year in 1975, 1989 and the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1991 and 1994. In 1994, he received the New Hampshire College Hall of Fame Distinguished Contribution to Football Award, in 2000, the Penn State Alumni Athlete Award and the Boston Gridiron Club Outstanding Contribution to Football Award.

Gray Simons (Wrestling)

Originally from Norfolk, VA, Gray enrolled at Lock Haven State College in 1958 and became the best-ever Pennsylvania collegiate wrestler posting a 91-1 career record. He was a 4-time 115 pound NAIA Champion and Outstanding Wrestler in 1959,’60,’61,’62 and a three-time NCAA Champion (’60 ’61 ’62), Outstanding Wrestler. In 1961 and 1962 freshman could not compete in the NCAA championships. Gray’s only loss was to the defending NCAA 123-pound champion (8-7) as a freshman. He won 84 straight bouts after that loss. Gray represented the USA on the 1960 and 1964 Olympic team. He was selected by Amateur Wrestling News as the number one lightweight wrestler of all times. Gray had a 36-year coaching career that included six years at LHSC where his teams posted a 59-10-1 record while winning two NAIA team titles and placing in the top 10 at the 1966 and 1968 NCAA tournaments. Gray has been inducted into seven Halls of Fame, including the Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association and a Distinguished Member to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Neil Turner (Wrestling)

Neil was a wrestler at Clearfield High School and Penn State University but gained prominence in his 50 year coaching career (35 as a head coach). He coached at Altoona High School, Stevens Trade School, Clarion University, Crusade for Christ in San Bernardino, CA., Athletes in Action in Lancaster, PA., Clearfield High School, Lock Haven University and Messiah College. He established a career record of 361-162-6 as a head coach. He has been inducted into Halls of Fame in the PSAC (2001), PA., District 9 (1997) and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (2004). He also received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Penn State University, Coach of the year, MAC (1996) and in 1988was named Coach of the year in the Eastern Wrestling League and the PSAC. He is currently serving as Director and Coach of the Mat-Town USA Wrestling Club.


Larry Rippey (Wrestling) Represented by Larry’s Widow Cherie Rippey

Rip enjoyed an extraordinary wrestling career at Lock Haven High School and Lock Haven University. In high school, he won 3 PIAA District VI titles, 2 Northeast Regional crowns and 2 PIAA State Championships. In the championship match in his senior year, he dominated the defending State Champion 11-1. His high school record was 78-5-1 with a remarkable 51 falls. At Lock Haven University, he compiled a 77-7-2 record, won the NAIA CHAMPIONSHIP (1970), the PSAC Championship (1971) and placed fourth in the NCAA Championship (1971) earning All American status. He extended his wrestling career as both a coach and a PIAA official.