Trio inducted into PHS Sports Hall of Fame

Photo by Josh Hughes Inducted into the Parkersburg High School Sports Hall of Fame were, from left to right, Joe Handlan, Kathy Goldstein and Carl Harnish Thursday at the Blennerhassett Hotel.

PARKERSBURG — A grand total of 17 individuals had been inducted into the Parkersburg High School Sports Hall of Fame, but on Thursday night, three more members were etched in history. The Blennerhassett Hotel played host to the 2019 class that included Kathy Goldstein, Joe Handlan Jr. and Carl Harnish.

Stories of triumphs and all-around fond memories highlighted the night. Hall of Fame Committee member Butch Shaver praised each inductee, and he let it be known how much the Hall means to the area.

“I don’t have to tell the people in here that Parkersburg High School has got a storied history. Not only athletically, but academically,” Shaver said. “There have been a tremendous bunch of athletes that have gone through that school, so it’s extremely hard to come up here and try not to induct 100 in a year.”

With the night’s honors just getting started, PHS Hall of Fame coach Susan Gardner kicked off inductions with an ode to track superstar, Goldstein. Goldstein was a key piece to the Big Reds’ first track team title in 1976. At that time, she achieved state records in both the 100 and 220 yard dashes, and those records still stand an astonishing 43 years later.

Following her time in Parkersburg, she attended the University of Tennessee on a full scholarship. She found success on the big stage, as she finished fifth in the 4×100 relay at the 1977 NCAA Track & Field Championships. She joins Jennifer Leachman, Amy Deem and the aforementioned Gardner as the fourth woman inducted.

“Kathy Goldstein was a phenomenal three-sport athlete at Parkersburg High School in the mid-1970s, Gardner said of Goldstein. “Official approval for state competition began Kathy’s junior year, in 1975. She really paved the way for girls’ athletics…not just for Parkersburg High School, but for the state of West Virginia.”

Goldstein made her way to the podium and spoke of the people who helped her get to this point.

“This is wonderful. It’s wonderful being with old friends and meeting new people,” she said. “I want to say this: No one’s success is possible without nets underneath them, and that’s you guys,” Goldstein remarked about her parents and their support.

Current Athletic Director and former state champion wrestler Chris Way inducted his former coach, Handlan Jr. Handlan was a state champion himself at PHS, and following his high school graduation, he wrestled at Ohio University in 1967-68. After he graduated from college, he returned to PHS to assist on Hall of Famer Bob Dutton’s staff. He left in 1973 to become the head man at Eastern Kentucky University, but his time with the Colonels was short-lived. The next year, he returned to Dutton’s staff and was promoted to head coach in 1976 following Dutton’s retirement.

In his 24-year tenure, Handlan was at the helm for 52 of his wrestlers who became state champions. He compiled a record of 234-122-2 in dual meets en route to six team championships. One-hundred forty-four of his wrestlers were state meet placers, and 13 of his wrestlers were named high school All-Americans. By the end of his run in 2000, Handlan had been named West Virginia’s AAA Wrestling Coach of the Year an impressive six times.

“First off, I’d like to say that it’s quite an honor to recognize coach Handlan here at the Hall of Fame dinner,” Way said. “I’ve known coach Handlan personally since 1991, when I was a sophomore wrestling at Parkersburg High School.”

Way ran down Handlan’s list of accomplishments and made an observation that spoke to the quality job Handlan did at PHS.

“One of the thing’s that us in the wrestling world find most remarkable, is that he coached a State champion every single year he was at Parkersburg High School.”

Handlan had his turn at the podium and talked about all sorts of stories that shaped his career, but he spoke most passionately about the athletes who put up a big fight, win or lose.

“One thing I might take a little issue with (Way’s comments), is how awesome it was that I had at least one state champion every year,” Handlan started. “But I had some really good kids. I had kids that would go out there and fight. They might not be the best, but I’ll tell you, buddy, when they got done, even if they lost, that other guy knew he’d been in for a battle. It’s easy to coach people like that. It truly is.”

The final inductee was former volleyball coach, Carl Harnish. MSAC Commissioner Jim Hamric inducted Harnish as succinctly as a bump, set and spike. Harnish’s road to Parkersburg High was different than those of Goldstein and Handlan, as he graduated High School in Pennsylvania. He went to West Virginia University and graduated, but little did he know that his life was soon to change forever.

Susan Gardner’s time as head volleyball coach was in its final stages, and the school was searching for its next coach. Harnish had his choice of schools around the area to coach basketball at (after time at Franklin Elementary School as a science tacher and basketball coach), and he chose PHS. Following Gardner’s resignation, Harnish took the reigns and exceeded expectations.

From 1983 to his final year in 2015, he coached ten State championship squads and 8 runners-up. In 30 of 34 of his years, his teams qualified for the State tournament. He was a two-time West Virginia Volleyball Coach of the Year and a National High School Region II Coach of the Year in 1991. Harnish ended what was a memorable evening for PHS athletics.

“It’s a special place. Like you (Hamric) said, I had a chance to go to Williamstown, South and PHS,” Harnish said. “I knew what I wanted right away, and so, I chose Parkersburg High School. I taught over there at Franklin for nine years, and I knew I wanted to Be a Big Red. I knew the pride they had, and the spirit and the attitude. Attitude is so much, and that’s what Parkersburg is, is a lot of attitude.”

In between tonight’s JV and Varsity basketball games, the inductees will be honored in front of a big senior night crowd. There, everyone will be reminded what it means to be once a Big Red, and always a Big Red.

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