Union HS prepares to host athletic HOF Class of 2022 dinner

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UNION, NJ — Tickets are still available for the Union High School athletic hall of fame Class of 2022 induction dinner, which is now less than four weeks away.

The fifth group of athletes, teams, a coach and a special contributor will be inducted into the Union High School athletic hall of fame on Monday, Nov. 21, at Galloping Hill Caterers in Union.

The first four classes were honored in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Athletes to be inducted are Donald Danz, Class of 1950; Dr. George Wade, Class of 1960; Glenn Grant, Class of 1970; James Crosta, Class of 1972; Mark Ignatowicz, Class of 1980; Ilene Cohen, Class of 1983; Darius Skeete, Class of 1997; Diana Badger, Class of 2000; Dr. Amanda Kardys, Class of 2010; and Cristina Vilsaint, Class of 2009.

Teams to be inducted are the 1996-1997 boys basketball team (27-3) and the 2002 baseball team (26-3). Both were Group 4 state champions, with the baseball team also finishing as the state’s No. 1 ranked team.

Also to be inducted is former boys basketball coach Ted Zawacki. Zawacki guided the boys basketball team to the 1997 Group 4 state championship, which is the only state title the boys team has won. Zawacki also led Union to the North 2, Group 4 sectional state championship in 1999, the second time in three years for the team. Zawacki’s 1998 and 1999 teams reached the Union County Tournament championship games.

A special contributor to be inducted is Ronald Meyer, an avid supporter of Union High School athletics.

Wade produced an impressive track resume while a student-athlete at Union. He was the Union County champion in the pole vault in 1958, 1959 and 1960, and set the meet record. Wade also placed second in the quarter-mile at the county championships.

In 1959 and 1960, Wade was the Central Jersey champion in the pole vault, setting meet records. He was also the Eastern States champion in the pole vault in 1960.

Other honors included Newark Board of Education Invitational pole vault champion in 1960 and Englewood Memorial Invitational pole vault champ in 1960, with a meet record.

Wade set UHS records in the pole vault and quarter-mile his senior season, 1960, and was a member of the UHS indoor track state championship team in 1960.

While at the University of Michigan, at the Big Ten Championships in 1962, Wade was third in the pole vault competition. In the NCAA championships in 1964, he was a member of the champion Michigan mile relay team. For his efforts on that team, Wade earned all-America distinction.

In 2014, Wade was the recipient of the Union High School track alumni Lifetime Achievement award.

In 1978, after completing a fellowship in sports medicine at what is now called the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in California, Wade moved to Boise, Idaho, realizing a lifelong dream of starting a sports medicine clinic. He is the founder of the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute.

Wade has also served as the team physician for Boise State University since 1979. Wade is an advocate for youth athletics. He is a backcountry skier, rafter and kayaker, and enjoys spending time with his son, who is an outstanding kayaker.

Kardys pitched the Union softball team to its 11th and most recent UCT championship in 2009. The fire-balling left-hander also led the Farmers that year to the North 2, Group 4 sectional state championship and then to the Group 4 final played at Toms River East.

Vilsaint was a track star at Union and then at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, where she set school records in the weight throw, shot put and hammer. Vilsaint was inducted into the St. Peter’s University athletic hall of fame in 2019.

Skeete finished his UHS basketball career with 1,187 points, thanks in large part to the team-leading 703 he poured in for Farmers basketball during their state championship season of 1996-1997.
The Union High School athletic hall of fame was established to promote and honor the achievements of those exemplary student-athletes, coaches, teams, administrators and significant contributors who have helped mold and define the true definition of what it is to be a Fighting Farmer.

For induction dinner ticket information, call the UHS athletic department at 908-851-6508; tickets should be purchased by Friday, Nov. 11.

1996-1997 boys basketball, 27-3

Union High School’s only state championship basketball team

• Dec. 20 (H): Union 65, East Side 54.

• Dec. 21 (H): Union 72, North Bergen 68; senior forward Darius
Skeete scores a season-high 37 points.

• Dec. 27 (N): Union 64, Columbia 56, at Scotch Plains–Fanwood.

• Dec. 28 (N): Union 60, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 42, at Scotch Plains–Fanwood.

• Jan. 2 (H): Union 68, Linden 46.

• Jan. 4 (A): Union 67, Plainfield 59.

• Jan. 7 (H): Union 59, Irvington 55.

• Jan. 9 (A): Union 58, Kearny 42.

• Jan. 11 (H): Union 70, Union Catholic 48.

• Jan. 14 (A): Elizabeth 62, Union 55.

• Jan. 17 (A): Union 49, Westfield 38.

• Jan. 21 (H): Union 69, Malcolm X Shabazz 54.

• Jan. 25 (H): Union 64, Rahway 56.

• Jan. 27 (H): Union 75, Emerson 37.

• Jan. 29 (A): Union 78, East Side 68.

• Feb. 3 (A): Union 79, Bayonne 63.

• Feb. 4 (A): Union 66, Cranford 56.

• Feb. 6 (A): Union 63, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 50.

• Feb. 11 (A): Union 56, Good Counsel 34.

• Feb. 13 (A): Union 67, Union Catholic 33; Skeete scores 30 points to reach 1,000 exactly for his career.

• Feb. 19 (N): Union 64, New Providence 47, UCT at Arthur L. Johnson.

• Feb. 22 (N): Union 46, Linden 34, UCT at Elizabeth.

• Feb. 26 (N): St. Patrick 66, Union 44, UCT at Elizabeth.

• March 4 (H): Union 53, Linden 46, N2G4 quarterfinals.

• March 8 (H): Union 74, East Orange 44, N2G4 semifinals.

• March 10 (N): Union 65, Elizabeth 55, N2G4 final at Plainfield.

• March 12 (N): Union 65, Henry Snyder 46, Group 4 semifinal at Union.

• March 16 (N): Union 61, Atlantic City 50, Group 4 final at Atlantic City.

• March 18 (N): Union 75, Pitman 72, TOC quarterfinal at Elizabeth.

• March 20 (N): Seton Hall Prep 68, Union 47, TOC semifinal at Rutgers; Skeete scores 19 points in his final game to finish with 703 for the year (23.43 average) and 1,187 for his career.

Head coach: Ted Zawacki.

Cindy Pools Classic at Scotch Plains–Fanwood: 2-0, champions.

Watchung Conference–American Division: 13-1, second place.

Elizabeth won the American Division title at 12-0.

Union County Tournament: 2-1, semifinalist.

St. Patrick won the UCT against Elizabeth, 61-48, at Elizabeth.

North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4: 3-0, champions.

Group 4: 2-0, champions.

Tournament of Champions: 1-1, semifinalist.

St. Anthony won the TOC against Seton Hall Prep, 69-63, at the Meadowlands.

2002 baseball: 26-3, No. 1 in New Jersey
Union’s fifth state championship baseball team

1966, 1968: Central Jersey titles before group finals began in 1971.

1972, 1974, 2002: all in Group 4.

• April 1 (H): Union 3, East Side 0.

• April 3 (A): Union 16, Irvington 2.

• April 3 (A): Union 15 18, Irvington 1.

• April 6 (A): Union 15, Columbia 0.

• April 9 (A): Union 13, Malcolm X Shabazz 0.

• April 10 (H): Union 4, Plainfield 1.

• April 13 (A): Bishop George Ahr 5, Union 4.

• April 15 (H): Union 5, Kearny 2.

• April 17 (H): Union 5, Elizabeth 4 (nine innings).

• April 24 (A): Union 16, Linden 1.

• April 26 (A): Union 3, Roselle Park 2 (11 innings).

• April 27 (H): Union 5, Arthur L. Johnson 3.

• April 29 (H): Union 4, Governor Livingston 2.

• May 1 (H): Union 12, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 2.

• May 4 (H): Union 7, Roselle Park 3, UCT first round.

• May 6 (H): Union 5, Cranford 4.

• May 8 (H): Union 4, Bayonne 0.

• May 11 (H): Union 5, New Providence 4 (nine innings), UCT quarterfinals.

• May 15 (A): Union 5, Summit 3.

• May 17 (A): Union 11, East Side 7.

• May 19 (N): Arthur L. Johnson 11, Union 2, UCT semifinals at Rahway.

• May 21 (A): Union 12, Plainfield 11 (eight innings).

• May 22 (A): Union 15, Elizabeth 9.

• May 24 (H): Union 11, Bloomfield 1 (five innings), N2G4 quarterfinals.

• May 28 (H): Union 3, Elizabeth 2, N2G4 semifinals.

• May 29 (A): Kearny 5, Union 2.

• May 31 (N): Union 4, Roxbury 2, N2G4 final at Kean University.

• June 4 (N): Union 7, Bayonne 0, Group 4 semifinal at Northern Valley Regional–Demarest.

Senior RH Brian O’Neill tossed a six-hit shutout, striking out five and walking one; O’Neill also banged out two hits and scored two runs.

Bobby Honymar was 2-for-4, with two doubles and three RBI.

Mike Wenna produced the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly RBI in the top of the third that gave Union the lead for good at 1-0.

• June 8 (N): Union 8, Jackson 2, Group 4 final at Middlesex Vo-Tech in East Brunswick.

Freshman RH Stephen Blumetti pitched the first four innings to earn the win and finish 9-0 that season; he allowed two earned runs on four hits, while not striking out a batter or walking one in a 47-pitch stint.

O’Neill earned a save by pitching the final three innings scoreless, allowing no hits and no runs, while striking out three and walking one in 32 pitches.

Mike Wenna was 1-for-3, with an RBI, run, two stolen bases and, again, the game-winning hit.

Marc Weres was 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run; his two-run homer in the third increased Union’s lead to 3-0; Weres also made a great diving catch.

Franklin Marinez was 2-for-2, with four RBIs, one run and two stolen bases; he slammed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to lift Union’s advantage to 8-2.

Union outscored 29 opponents that year by an impressive margin: 224-89.

Head coach: Mike Hamberg.

Watchung–American Division: 9-1.

Union County Tournament: 1-1, semifinalist.

Westfield won the UCT against Arthur L. Johnson, 7-4, at Linden.
North 2, Group 4: 3-0, champions.

Group 4: 2-0, champions.

Photos Courtesy of Mike Hamberg