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Three coaches to be inducted into Wrestling Hall of Fame

Oct. 21, 2012 @ 12:20 AM

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame will hold its 10th "Hall of Fame Day" banquet on Oct. 28 at Embassy Suites in Charleston.

Three coaches who served Tri-State schools for years are scheduled for induction:

Jim LeMaster, head coach at Milton Middle School in his last stop and a coach for more than 25 years. He's honored for "Lifetime of Service to Wrestling."

Bane McCracken, former head coach at Milton High School.

Mike Ellis, former coach at Hurricane High School. He also is honored for a Lifetime of Service.

LeMaster began his coaching career in wrestling with the Milton Youth program in the early 1980s. He had coached other sports, but started learning by serving as a volunteer coach, assistant coach, co-head coach and as head coach at Ona in 1988. When Ona and Milton consolidated into Milton Middle, he served as coach of the Panthers until he retired in 2011.

LeMaster's teams won 15 conference championships, including seven in a row, and posted a 447-42 record in duals. He had more than 100 individual conference champs. Six of his wrestlers went on to be high school state champs and seven went on to compete in college. One was an NCAA All-American.

In addition, LeMaster's teams never had a GPA of less than 3.0. His program also established a "Wrestling With Hunger" match held every year. Admission was a food donation and the food baskets went to the less fortunate at Christmas. LeMaster and his wife, Pat, have two sons, Michael and David.

McCracken won a state title for Milton in 1962 at 177 pounds. He was the school's first state champion.

Ellis wrestled three years at Hurricane and went 25-12. He started coaching wrestling in 1968 and stayed for 16 years. He had three Top 10 finishes in the State Tournament. In 1980, he started the Putnam County Youth Wrestling Program. Ellis also started soccer programs for boys and girls at Hurricane and in the middle school. He served as teacher, coach, assistant principal at the Putnam County school for 40 years until he retired in 2008. He lives just outside Hurricane close to his daughter Marian and son Reuben. He has five grandchildren.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame recognizes the efforts of coaches, teachers and contributors to the sport of wrestling in West Virginia. There are three categories: Lifetime Service to Wrestling (awarded annually), Medal of Courage (awarded when appropriate) and Outstanding West Virginian (awarded when appropriate).

Also scheduled for induction are Donnie Bauer, longtime youth coach in the Wheeling area; Thomas Lewis, supporter in the Fairmont/Marion County area; and James Snyder, former sports writer at The Parkersburg News (posthumous).

Recipient of the Outstanding West Virginian award is Dave Wadsworth, former wrestler and long time supporter of the sport in the Hedgesville area.

The Lifetime Service Award Program is designed to honor and recognize dedicated wrestling people for their years of commitment to young people.

When awarded, the Medal of Courage Award goes to a wrestler who has overcome overwhelming adversity to be successful on the mats and in his own life.

Each recipient will be recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at Stillwater, Okla., with an embossed name plaque. Each will receive a plaque and jacket to commemorate the special occasion.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will start at 1 p.m. Dinner will be served at 2 with the award presentation to follow. Tickets are $50.

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