Naval Academy Graduate Wayne Hicks to Be Inducted into EIWA Hall of Fame
Feb. 1, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Naval Academy graduate Wayne Hicks is one of five men that will be inducted into the EIWA Hall of Fame on March 2-3 at the 103rd EIWA Championship held at East Stroudsburg. The ceremony will take place before the final round of the tournament on March 3.
Clyde "Red" Witman, former coach at East Stroudsburg, Robert Eberle of Princeton, George Feuerbach of Lehigh and Charlie Ridenour of Penn State join Hicks to comprise the Class of 2007 EIWA inductees.
Wayne Hicks was a two-time EIWA champion at 137 pounds and the recipient of the 1966 Coaches Trophy awarded to the EIWA Championship's Most Valuable Wrestler after beating defending national champion, Billy Stuart, in the finals. Hicks' only career EIWA tournament loss came in the '65 finals to Stuart, after Hicks defeated another defending NCAA champion in the quarterfinals. Additionally, he claimed the league's John Fletcher Memorial Award in 1966 as the wrestler who scored the most team points during his EIWA Tournament career.
Outstanding seemed to come naturally to Hicks, as he was an undefeated two-time New Jersey state champion at Somerville High School and outstanding wrestler as a senior. While at Navy, he won two Wilkes Open titles and was voted Outstanding Wrestler in both 1964 and '65. After graduation from the Academy, Hicks placed third at the 1971 U.S. World Team Trials, including one tie with future Olympic champion John Peterson.
A carrier pilot while serving in the Navy, Hicks was an assistant to Ed Peery who produced two EIWA championship teams (1972 and 1974). He later spent many years as a volunteer coach for wrestling programs in the area, including the Naval Academy, Navy Junior Wrestling, Crofton Junior League, Old Mill High School and St. Mary's High School, his current avocation. In 2002, Hicks was inducted into the Maryland Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for Lifetime Service.
Clyde "Red" Whitman coached at East Stroudsburg University for 17 seasons between 1961 and 1979. His lifetime record was 180 wins, 76 losses and six ties. Clyde holds the school's records for longest wrestling tenure as coach, most dual meet wins and he ranks second in winning percentage. As head coach, he guided 22 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champions and more than 20 All-American medalists.
Whitman coached ESU to its highest three finishes at the Division I National Championships - 8th place and twice 13th from 1966-68. His top wrestlers were Gary Cook, a 3-time All-American who placed 3rd twice and 4th in Division I and heavyweight Dick Schumacher, a Div. II national champion and 2-time Division I medalist. Whitman coached five Top 10 teams in Div. II, including the school's highest-ever place, a fifth. Red led teams to PSAC Championships in 1967 and 1970 and his 1966 team was undefeated in duals.
Red was also a professor and athletic director at ESU, earning the alumni association's "Great Teacher" award in 1995. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, as well as the halls of fame at West Chester University and East Stroudsburg. He passed away on April 28 of 2006 at the age of 74.
Robert Eberle graduated from Brooklyn Poly Prep before wrestling for Hall of Fame coach, Jimmy Reed. Robert became a three-time EIWA champion at 128 pounds, winning all three tournaments entered and was a captain in 1941 for Princeton's co-champion EIWA team. Eberle earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award by pinning Penn's James Laggan, whom he also defeated in the 1940 finals. As a sophomore finalist, Bob defeated another two-time runner-up and he's one of just four Tiger wrestlers ever to earn the Outstanding Wrestler Award. In 1940 he appeared on the cover of the NCAA rulebook. As a freshman, Robert Eberle became his school's first-ever freshman winner of Cane Spree, an athletic contest initiated during the Civil War. He graduated with a degree in biology and spent two years in medicine at Columbia before serving as an Army lieutenant in medical administration. In 1948 he earned a master's degree in drama at North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
He founded one of the first winter stock theaters in Florida and later became a prime time television director for NBC. Among highlights was directing the Kate Smith Show. While working at WOR-TV and casting Harlem Detective, he resisted pressure from McCarthyism. He also worked with the legendary Russian, George Balanchine, one of the greatest choreographers in the history of ballet. Beloved by family and friends, he died in June of 2000 and was married for 54 years to Mary Hanchette. Their children are Ruth, Robert and Russell, along with three grandchildren.
Despite competing at three weight classes for the good of his team, George Feuerbach amassed one of Lehigh's best records with a career mark of 37 wins, five losses and a tie. He became his school's third three-time EIWA champion by winning in the 137 pound finals at home against two-time NCAA third place winner, Gerry Maurey of Penn State. The 7-3 victory helped earn the Outstanding Wrestler Award. Feuerbach also defeated Maurey, 8-1, in a dual meet on the road. Among George's few defeats were two bouts at NCAAs against national finalists and two bout sup a weight, including a 4-3 loss up at 147 against national runner-up Don Frey.
After competing for Spring Gardner at Mepham High School, Feuerbach became captain of his Lehigh team and was also an accomplished freestyle competitor. He was a Junior Metropolitan AAU champion in 1946, New York State AAU winner in 1947 and Long Island champion in 1947 and '48. He competed in four National AAU championships and was a fellow teammate of Charlie Ridenour with the New York Athletic Club. Entering the Air Force as a pilot after graduation, Lieutenant George Feuerbach died serving his country in 1956, after an equipment malfunction caused a fatal crash during takeoff.
Charlie Ridenour was born to be a Penn Stater but served his sport in many ways. He grew up in State College, PA, and was a state champion at 115 pounds in 1939. He became a three-time EIWA champion at 121 pounds for the Nittany Lions from 1941-1943 and was the league's Most Outstanding Wrestler as a junior. As a sophomore at the NCAA Championships, he was the highest scorer, winning 17-5 and 14-11 before losing, 9-7, to the top seed. In 1942 he placed 3rd in the nation by scoring the most falls, with three, and losing only to runner-up Malcolm McDonald. Malcolm succeeded him as a three-time EIWA champion at 121, while one of Charlie's falls came against a future NCAA champion.
Charlie missed out on his senior NCAA Tournament due to World War II. He eventually won two National AAU titles, highlighted by defeating NCAA champion, Dick Hauser, to end his 95-bout win streak as an amateur. Ridenour served in the military from 1944-46 and was a U.S. Olympic team finalist in 1948. He was assistant coach at Penn State before becoming head coach at the University of Pennsylvania from 1952-61. Charlie coached one year at Lock Haven before retiring to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He passed away in 1970. In his relatively short life, Charlie Ridenour was widely renowned for his passionate belief in the promotion of wrestling.