August 21, 2014

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7 individuals, 2 teams to be inducted to Lorain Sports Hall of Fame

Seven individuals and two teams will be inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame at its annual enshrinement banquet May 16 at DeLuca’s Place in the Park.

Three of the athletes — Byron Gladden, Henry Patterson Jr. and William Gary Patton — excelled at the former Admiral King High School. Donald Hitchens starred at Clearview, while Jim Svoboda was a multisport star at the former Lorain High School. Emmett Flynn and Michael A. Gormley were athletic standouts at the former St. Mary High School.

The 1990-91 Lorain High girls basketball team and the 1959 Lorain High football team are also being inducted.

Longtime Clearview track and cross country coach Len Nickoloff will be inducted under the special category.

Byron Gladden

A four-year starter for the Admiral King basketball team from 1990-94, Byron Gladden finished his career as the city’s all-time scoring leader with 1,692 points.

Gladden, who scored in double figures in 87 of the 95 games he played, also had 1,009 rebounds. The Admirals won three sectional championships and two district titles during his playing days. In his senior year, the team lost in the regional tournament to the eventual state champions.

He was named first team and player of the year by several groups. He topped off his high school career by being named Lorain County Mr. Basketball and the Ohio Division I Player of the Year and was also chosen to play in the North-South All-Star game.

Gladden received a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University but only stayed there a short time before transferring to Owens Tech Community College in Toledo and end his playing days.

Donald Hitchens

Donald Hitchens didn’t let his small stature (5-foot-6, 170 pounds) keep him from being a stellar running back for Clearview from 1969-73. Not with the power, speed and elusiveness he brought to the position.

He rushed for 1,066 yards during his senior season to finish with a school-record 3,265 career yards. He also holds the school’s single-game record of 218 yards.

Hitchens was named second team All-Ohio as a junior for his defensive efforts as the team’s nose guard and followed that up with a first-team All-Ohio selection as a senior running back.

He also excelled in track, wrestling and basketball for the Clippers, with track being his second-best sport. He stood out as a sprinter, running a strong leg on relays from 440 yards through the mile. He also starred in the long jump, with his best leap coming in at 21 feet, 6 inches.

Henry Patterson Jr.

Perhaps best known for his accomplishments as a track athlete at Admiral King from 1989-93, Henry Patterson Jr. was also a standout in football and baseball.

Though the track program was cut in 1990, Patterson paid the $50 registration fee in 1993 so that he could compete in the state championships.

He finished second at the district meet with a leap of 6-10, but missed making state by one spot the next week when he finished fifth with a jump of 6-6.

Patterson’s efforts nevertheless caught the eye of several Division I college coaches and he decided to continue his career at the University of Toledo. He was a two-time all-American as a Rocket and earned several other Mid-American Conference and national honors.

After his UT career, he spent seven years at the Elite/Professional Track and Field events, where his personal best (7-7¼) came in 1999 at the Nassau Invitational Championships.

In 2000 and 2004, he finished fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials, becoming the first alternate for the American team.

In recent years, Patterson has taken up running in marathons, competing in Columbus, Chicago and Boston, among others.

William Gary Patton

William Gary Patton was a standout football, baseball and basketball player for Admiral King from 1980-84 and it was his hit that gave the Admirals a win over Brush in a 1984 regional semifinal baseball game.

He also played on one of the Lorain’s all-time best sandlot teams — Lorain Products, which won back-to-back Class E Hot Stove state championships, going 33-0 in 1983.

On the football field, he racked up several honors before taking his skills to Eastern Michigan University, where he earned four varsity letters and was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference running back. The only player in EMU history to lead the team in a statistical category for four years, he is also the school’s career leader in touchdowns (31), all-purpose yards (5,533), rushing attempts (702) and rushing yards (3,497).

He was the most valuable player when the Eagles won the California Bowl in 1987 and went on to be a seventh-round pick by the New York Jets in the 1988 NFL Draft. He returned a punt for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in a preseason game.

James Svoboda

James Svoboda earned three letters each in football, basketball and baseball during his Lorain High School career from 1965-69.

His football resume is impressive: two-time All-Buckeye Conference defensive end, winner of the Golden Helmet award as the top senior player in Lorain County, Ohio North-South All-Star game participant and captain and Ohio Lineman of the Year, receiving the most votes for both the offensive and defensive end positions.

He was also the first All-American high school player from the City of Lorain.

Svoboda was nominated to West Point by then-U.S. Representative Charles Mosher but opted to attend Purdue University on a full-ride scholastic/athletic scholarship, where he was the only freshman two-way starter and team co-captain. After being red-shirted in 1970, his career was cut short by an ankle injury.

Emmett Flynn

Emmett Flynn excelled on the basketball court for the former St. Mary High School from 1964-68, where he earned three varsity letters.

He was twice the team’s scoring leader, averaging 17.4 points as a junior and 27.1 as a senior. He also averaged 30.5 points per game in North Central Conference play as a senior. He was named the team MVP both seasons and received several other conference and state accolades.

Michael A. Gormley

Michael A. Gormley starred in basketball and baseball at the former St. Mary High School from 1959-63 before attending St. Procopius College near Chicago.

As a senior at St. Mary, Gormley led the North Central Conference in scoring at 19.7 points and was second in Lorain County (19.6). He was named to the All-NCC first team and was also an All-Ohio third-team selection by United Press International.

In baseball, he had a .395 batting average with 15 runs batted in, leading the team to a district championship.

He earned four varsity basketball letters at St. Procopius, now known as Illinois Benedictine College. In 1972, he was named head basketball coach at the school before resigning after the 1973 season due to family responsibilities.

Gormley accepted a position with the Darien (Ill.) school system and retired from education in 2003, receiving a proclamation from the mayor. He even had a street named in appreciation of his service to the community.

1990-91 Lorain High girls basketball

The team finished the regular season with a 20-0 record, becoming the first girls team to accomplish that feat. After winning Division I sectional games against Amherst and North Olmsted, the team lost a district semifinal to Westlake. The girls were ranked fifth in the state.

All-Ohio point guard Kyle Lathwell and junior Monica Bennett led the team in scoring and rebounding for the well-rounded and deep team.

1959 Lorain High football

The Lorain High 1959 football team finished the season with a 7-2 record, sharing the Buckeye Conference championship with Elyria and Marion Harding.

The Steelmen, whose preseason outlook wasn’t overly optimistic because of a lack of size, but their quickness and dedication overcame any negatives.

Steelmen head coach Art Lave was named Buckeye Conference Coach of the Year and had six of his players named first-team All-Buckeye Conference, along with two second-team picks.

The team was ranked in the top 10 by The Associated Press and United Press International and had three players — Mike Mishak, Jim Turton and Ray Martin — named first-team All-Ohio.

Len Nickoloff

Len Nickoloff was a cross country and track standout at Admiral King from 1963-67 before attending New Mexico Highlands University from 1968-73.

As an Admiral, he earned two letters each in cross country and track, setting school records in both sports.

His coaching career at Clearview lasted from 1973-2004. He was an assistant boys track coach for 10 years before being head boys and girls coach for 21 years. He was the head cross country coach for the boys and girls for 29 years.

Nickoloff coached 10 individual state track champions and 30 state-placers. Six of his girls teams and four of his boys teams finished in the top 20 at state. The Clippers had an athlete in the state finals in 17 of his 21 seasons as head coach.

The highlight of his track coaching career came in 2001 when the boys claimed the Division III state championship. The 1987 girls 800-meter relay team set a Division III state meet record, that stood for 10 years.