Thursday, February 29, 2024

Griffith, Meredith To Enter Into W.Va. Sports Hall Of Fame

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WHEELING–Two college All-America honorees–one a national record-setter and the other a four-time Olympic athlete, will be inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Kenny Griffith and Bruce Meredith will be enshrined by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association at the 77th annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 5 at River City in Wheeling.

Griffith was a late bloomer in sports. He played one varsity basketball season (1937) at old Wellsburg High School before enrolling at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, where he became a four-year starter, a Small College All-American and set a national career scoring record.

The 6-foot-2 Griffith led Wellsburg to a 22-2 record, its only Ohio Valley Athletic Association title and a state regional finals’ berth, as a senior before making national news as a college player.

He scored 1,941 career points in 99 games to break the national college record of 1,596 points set by Hank Luisetti of Stanford University, a charter member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame who was voted the second best college player in the 1st 50 years by a media panel.

KENNY GRIFFITH

Griffith was the nation’s leading scorer as a junior and senior. In 1940, he scored 575 points while playing 688 minutes and became the first West Virginia Conference player to average 20 points a game with a 23.9 gait in WVC games. That effort resulted in being included in newspapers across the land by King Features Syndicate’s popular “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” feature with a headline of “The Nation’s Best”.

As a Battler senior, he again led the nation in scoring with 632 points and a 22.0 point norm. He was a three-time 1st Team All-Conference selection after a 2nd Team honor as a freshman and was All-WVC Tournament three times.

He was accorded All-America honors by the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1941 and played in the All-America game in Chicago. After college, he played briefly with the pro Akron Goodyears in the National Industrial Basketball League.

Griffith also became the first state college basketball player to earn the W.Va. Amateur Athlete of the Year Award (now the Hardman Award) from the W.Va. Sports Writers Association.

In 1974, he was selected to the All-Time W.Va. Conference team and is inducted into the Alderson-Broaddus and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Halls of Fame. With the closing of Alderson-Broaddus, his photos and uniforms displayed at A-B are now included in the OVAC Museum inside Wesbanco Arena in Wheeling.

“I know my uncle Kenny would feel highly appreciative and honored by inclusion in the W.Va. Sports Hall of Fame, nephew Bob Griffith of Wellsburg said. “He would certainly want to thank all responsible for the honor.”

The honoree was born in Limeton, Va., before his family relocated to Wellsburg in his pre-school years, He passed away in 2005 in Georgia.

Accepting his plaque will be a sister, Rita Jean Camilletti, from Akron, Ohio.

Meredith, meanwhile, is one of the most prolific rifle shooters in history. The retired colonel competed in 40 countries during a 71-year career. A native of Boggs Run in Marshall County, he started shooting in 1951 at Linsly Military Institute in Wheeling, his birthplace.

At West Virginia University from 1958-61, he became the school’s first national champion with a record score in smallbore and led the team to its 1st national title. WVU currently has won 19 NCAA titles, the winningest national program and most successful athletic program among W.Va. colleges. Meredith was WVU’s first All-American and repeated the honor in 1961 when he became the only rifle shooter to win the state Amateur Athlete of the Year Award, now Hardman Award, from the W.Va. Sports Writers Association.

In the 1967 Pan Am Games, he won two gold medals as a member of a four-man English match team which set world records. A year later, he was an alternate for the U.S. Team in the Olympic Games.

From 1987-2010, he coached and competed in the U.S. Virgin Islands and qualified to compete in four Olympic Games–in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

He competed in 10 World Championships including Russia (1990), Italy (1994), Spain (1998) and Finland (2002), six times in the Championships of the Americas, winning Bronze in Puerto Rico (1989) and Peru (1993) and five times at the Central American and Carribean Games where he won another Bronze. He shot in eight Pan Am Games and is the only American to be distinguished in six shooting disciplines: air rifle, air pistol, free pistol, running target, smallbore rifle and free rifle.

He was the Officer in Charge of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit which won 105 international medals. His team won 65 national titles and set 146 national records. Individually, Meredith set 73 national records.

“I’m humbled to be honored,” the LaGrange, Ga, resident said. “The state Hall of Fame has a great list of inductees over the years.”

Meredith also is inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit HOF and the U.S. Army Reserve International Rifle Roll of Honor.

A digital plaque listing, with photos, of the inductees into the W.Va. Sports Hall of Fame since 1950 may be found at wvswa.org


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