Official State Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame
New Jersey Chapter Inducts Six Members Into Its Class Of 2022
Gratitude, humility and emotion were the themes of the 2022 induction banquet for New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Held on Sept. 25 at the Westin Princeton, five men were honored for Lifetime Service and one as an Outstanding American.
“It’s our honor to recognize them and recognize all the past honorees who have gone before them,’’ banquet chairman Frank Sica said of the inductees “They are very selfless, in respect that they would rather put the accolades and the glory on their kids or on someone else, rather than on themselves.”
Dr. Michael Deehan, an orthopedic surgeon who wrestled for Princeton University, has been the primary physician for the state high school championships more than 25 years.
“The title is beyond me,’’ he said about being voted in as an Outstanding American. “I don’t see myself as worthy. It’s an honor to be included with these guys; it’s very rewarding. I never expected this.”
“It’s just sinking in,’’ said Peter Frampton before the ceremonies, an official who has worked more than 2,000 meets and tournaments that included high school and the collegiate level. “It’s a great honor to be recognized.’’
Those were common words throughout the day, an event attended by more than 400 people.
“To be honored in something like this after all the years you’ve been in it with the people that are in it, it’s great,’’ offered Ralph Ross, a high school coach who won more than 600 matches. “My whole family is here, a bunch of wrestlers are here. It’s a good day for us.
“You really don’t think about it until it comes,’’ he added. “I’m in the South Jersey Hall of Fame, the county Hall of Fame, but when you get the letter on this it’s like, ‘Oh man.’ I mean, you can’t go any further.”
Richard Scorese couldn’t travel due to illness, but his son Russ and daughter Debbie were among those there in support. A high school state champion and a NAIA national champion, he went on to be a successful high school coach.
“This is a huge thing for him,’’ said his son, who spoke on his father’s behalf at the podium. “And it means a lot to our whole family.’’
“We all have wrestling in our blood,’’ added his sister with a smile, for many years a statistician at her dad’s meets. “It’s just sad he’s not here.’’
There was little surprise that Darryl Burley was there. A four-time NCAA finalist and two-time national champion at Lehigh, Burley could not say enough about his family, as well as his Lehigh family, at times pausing to find the right words.
“This means the world to me. This is an opportunity to thank most of the people who enabled me to be here. It’s a gathering,’’ he said. “A reunion.
“I was overwhelmed,’’ he said about first hearing about the honor. “I was, because I know the prestige that this institution holds and has. I’m just happy to be part of New Jersey history. We’ve had a lot of history, a lot of talent, and we still have a lot of talent. We’ve produced World champions and Olympic champions, so I’m just happy to be part of New Jersey wrestling and to be recognized.’’
Ernie Monaco was perhaps the most humbled. Founder of The Edge School of wrestling, he helped develop some of the top talent in the state over the years. Many of them went on to win high school state championships, become NCAA All-Americans and Olympic team members.
Caught up in emotion several times on the podium, he had said earlier in the day that he did not feel he belonged alongside all the Hall of Fame coaches, wrestlers and officials.
While he could not say enough about family and friends who made his journey possible, he also spoke of the impact of relationships he experienced over the years.
At one point he truly captured the thoughts of every inductee regarding the reality of the Hall of Fame honor. Said Monaco, “I don’t have the words to describe how I feel.”
Master of Ceremonies Ken Bernabe could relate, having been inducted in 2013.
“It is a truly humbling feeling and for the inductees of the Class of 2022, one could revel in their joy of earning and being presented the ultimate honor in the sport of amateur wrestling.”
Written by: Paul Franklin, NJ Chapter Board Member
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