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Tornado warning can’t stop celebration as Hall of Fame Plaque Presentations kick off Honors Weekend

The honorees from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2013 pose together before the plaques are unveiled on Friday night. Larry Slater photo

STILLWATER, Okla. - Honors weekend is something that honorees, their families and friends remember for the rest of their lives, as the wrestling community comes together to celebrate the lives and successes of wrestling’s greatest legends and leaders at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The Unveiling of the Plaques will be remembered for more than just the fellowship and joy normally associated with the induction weekend.

Shortly after the honorees and their guests came together to socialize for this annual ritual, a tornado warning went into effect. Well over 100 people were asked to evacuate the Wrestling Hall of Fame building, cross the street, and go to the basement of the Bennett Hall dormitory as a precaution for the severe weather.

The socializing continued in the crowded basement for more than a half an hour as the weather passed through the region without major incident. An intense rain storm followed, making returning to the Hall of Fame a bit of a wet adventure, but soon everybody was back in the Hall ready for the formal program to start.

The evening began with a special presentation. Jim Keen, chairman of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors, presented a check for $10,000 to the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) for the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. Accepting the check were CPOW members John Bardis, Noel Thompson and Rich Bender.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum was a founding member of the Coalition to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, and its Executive Director Lee Roy Smith is a member of CPOW.

The guests were led into the John Vaughan Wing of the Hall of Fame for the formal presentation of the plaques, as the inductees stood in front of their displays and posed for pictures and videos with their families and friends.

Emcee Sandy Stevens read the achievements of each of the honorees, and the displays which will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame were presented to those in attendance. All of the honorees were able to attend, in spite of travel challenges getting to Stillwater today.

Those who were honored with their plaques were:
• Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner Zane Retherford
• Lifetime Achievement for Officials honoree Pat Fitzgerald
• Order of Merit winner John Dustin
• Medal of Courage winner Matt Hamill
• Outstanding Americans Joshua Harris and John Bardis
• Distinguished Members Dan Chandler, Melvin Douglas, Matt Ghaffari and Ron Gray

Saturday will include a luncheon after the golf tournament at the Stillwater Country Club, followed by the induction ceremonies at the OSU Student Union in the evening.

There will be more memories to cherish tomorrow, even without the excitement of another tornado evacuation.

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