Five joining SHS Athletic Hall of Fame
SALEM – The Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2013: Karl Zellers (coach), James Meissner (football/basketball), Mike Stapleton (basketball), David Tkatch (football), and Amanda Ciotti-Ott (softball).
These individuals will be honored at the annual hall of fame dinner on Aug. 29 at the Salem Community Center and then again on Aug. 30 at the home football game.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $25 and will be available July 1 at the Salem Community Center.
Karl Zellers excelled as a student-athlete at Columbiana High School. After serving in World War II, Zellers enrolled at Mount Union College. There he was a four- year letterman in both football and basketball. He had the honor of scoring the first touchdown for Mount Union College in the football team’s first game after the war.
After teaching at Berlin Center and Louisville, Zellers was hired in 1952 by the Salem City School District to teach geography and to serve as an assistant basketball coach to John Cabas and an assistant track coach to Frank Tarr. He also coached cross country and was an assistant football coach to Ben Barrett and Earle Bruce.
As an assistant to Coach Cabas from 1952-1967, Zellers was an integral part of the glory years of Salem basketball, and his reserve teams would help lay the foundation for further future success. Zellers coached two undefeated reserve teams and four teams that only lost one game. His overall coaching record for junior varsity basketball was 201-56.
Zellers applied many of the principles that he used in basketball to his track program. He served as head track coach for 11 years until 1966.
During this tenure as track coach, many of his athletes qualified to participate in the state championships in Columbus. He guided Salem to six county titles and four second place finishes at the county meet. His overall career record as a track coach was 59-3-1.
Zellers left Salem High School in 1967 to become the athletic director at Kent State University’s Salem Campus and to develop its fledgling men’s basketball program. Zellers eventually worked at all of the regional campuses for KSU. He retired from KSU after 43 years in the field of education.
An avid supporter of the SHS Hall of Fame, Coach Zellers and his wife Lois Ann attended all of the induction dinners together until her death in 2011. Coach Zellers continued to attend the induction dinners and was able to attend last year’s ceremony when many members of the 1959 SHS basketball team, back to celebrate the enshrinement of David Hunter, praised Zellers for his impact not only on the team but also on their lives.
Coach Zellers passed away in January of this year. He is survived by his children Deborah Ann (Dr. Umberto) Meduri, K. Bruce (Christine) Zellers, Chesney Dewalt (Atty. John) Gulas and Kirk Dewalt (Laura) Zellers along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
James Meissner (Class of 1958) Football/Basketball
Standing 5’10 and weighing 150 lbs., Jim “Moe” Meissner was a standout on both the gridiron and hardwood. Meissner was also active in his class as he served as a member of the student council and was the president of the Association and of the Varsity S Club his senior year.
On the gridiron, Meissner, a three-year letterman at quarterback, was one of the catalysts for the Earle Bruce-led 1957 team that finished the season 9-1 and was ranked 10th in the final AP poll for the State of Ohio. (This was in the largest school division, as there were only two divisions then.) The team, with the aid of Meissner at quarterback and Henry Maxim at fullback, set a new offensive record for scoring over 300 points in 10 games. It also ended the long winning streaks of several opponents: 15 games by Conneaut, 22 games by East Palestine, and 27 games by Brookfield in a post-season standing-room-only game of state-ranked opponents.
Highlights for Meissner included three touchdown passes in the opener against Youngstown Chaney, two 50-yard touchdown passes against East Palestine, and two touchdown passes including a 77-yard catch-and-run to end Bill Holzwarth versus East Liverpool.
In post-season honors, Meissner was selected, along with Maxim and Holzwarth, to the all-state team.
On the hardwood, Meissner was a co-captain on the last undefeated regular season team in SHS basketball history. The Quakers finished the season ranked fifth in the final polls. Known for his long set shooting ability, Meissner was a consistent scorer from the perimeter. Outstanding games included a breakout 24 points against Columbiana as a sophomore and a spectacular outside shooting performance totaling 20 points against Boardman as a senior, for which WKBN named him its player of the week.
A three-year lettermen in basketball, Meissner’s teams were a combined 43-9 on the basketball court.
After high school Meissner went to the College of Wooster where he continued his athletic career. He played football and baseball for two years and lettered as a sophomore before focusing solely on his bachelor’s degree in political science. He later earned a master’s degree in secondary administration at Y.S.U. After graduation he worked as a social studies teacher and assistant principal at area schools. West Branch, East Palestine, and Columbiana were also the beneficiaries of his talent as a basketball coach. Meissner coached for 50 years, over 35 years as a head coach, and produced several league championship and state-ranked teams.
Now retired from teaching, Meissner has continued to share his coaching skills as an assistant basketball coach at East Palestine for the past nine years. He and his wife of 50 years, Carol, are the proud parents of two sons, James (wife Joy) and Dana (wife Abby), and proud grandparents of Julia, Jessica, Ben, and Carter.
Mike Stapleton (Class of 1976) Basketball
Mike Stapleton’s athleticism, especially his great jumping ability, made him a star on the basketball court for the Quakers.
As a 6’3″ senior he averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. However, it was his great mobility and leaping ability that separated him from all of the other players. He averaged three blocks per game but also altered the shots of many players who tried to shoot over him.
During the course of the season, area coaches typically were impressed with the talents that Stapleton displayed. After Stapleton led the Quakers to a win with 19 points, West Branch head coach Bob McCosky stated, “We did not have anyone that could match up with him and he was the difference.”
In a 64-62 loss to Warren Harding, Stapleton scored 25 points. The Harding coach said, “We felt we had to shut Stapleton down to win because he’s the best we’ve seen all year. Even though he scored 25 points, [we feel we did] a fairly good job on him.” The Massillon coach declared Stapleton a definite major college prospect. “He’s just super -his 32 points are more than anybody scored against us this year.”
The team lost to a tough Canton McKinley team in the regionals. They were the first team from SHS to get back to the regionals since the 1959 team.
Stapleton was named team MVP and WSOM’s Outstanding Quaker. He received plaques for twice tying the school record for most field goals in one game (15) and setting a new standard for field goals in a season (194).
He finished the season with 469 points, ranking him second on Salem’s all-time single-season scoring charts to that date. Stapleton scored 273 points as a junior to give him a total of 742 career points good for fourth for career scoring at the time.
Stapleton was selected as the All-County Player of the Year and first team All-Northeastern Ohio. Also impressive was his first team selection in the highly competitive Big 8 Conference. Stapleton was the Big 8 Conference scoring champion, averaging 21.6 points per game and ranked high in every offensive category for the Big 8.
He was named to the AP Class AAA All-Ohio basketball team as special mention, named All-Ohio AAA by UPI, and was picked for both the North-South All-Star game and the Schoolboy Classic. In the Schoolboy Classic Stapleton had 18 points and the first four points of the game via the dunk which was allowed for the game.
After high school Stapleton received a full ride to play basketball for the University of Tennessee. According to the University of Tennessee media guide, Stapleton is “A tremendous leaper, . . . In the Akron Cage Classic, Stapleton edged out Louisville’s famed leaper Darrell Griffith for third place in a dunking contest.”
After college, Stapleton moved west and now resides in the San Diego area with his wife Noelle and their two children, Stone and Ava. He works for Qualcomm.
David Tkatch (Class of 1988) Football
David Tkatch was a three-year starter for the Quakers on both the offensive and defensive lines. Playing in the tough Mahoning Valley Conference, Tkatch was as rugged of a lineman as you could find.
Tkatch’s head coach for his sophomore year, Joe Rottenborn, recognized immediately that “Dave was something special. He was intense, intelligent, determined, and admired by his peers.” Even as a sophomore, Tkatch started at both offensive guard and defensive tackle and excelled at both positions. Rottenborn cites Tkatch’s play as a key factor in Salem’s upset over the fifth-ranked and then-undefeated West Branch Warriors.
The highlight reel for Tkatch would have to include his stellar play in Salem’s 39-0 shutout of East Liverpool his senior year. The Quakers, coached by Fred Kunar, caused nine Potter turnovers with Tkatch recovering a fumble and returning it 13 yards for a touchdown.
The 6’1″, 240 pound Tkatch was a two-time MVP of his team and was named as a first team lineman on both the All-MVC team and the All-County team for two years in a row. He was chosen as co-captain his senior year and was selected to play in the Penn-Ohio All-Star Game.
Tkatch was offered a full ride scholarship to Division IA Kent State University to play football. While at KSU, Tkatch earned four varsity letters, starting three years at nose tackle. It should be noted that while playing nose guard at KSU, he consistently occupied enough blockers so that two of his teammates who benefited from his play became the leading tacklers in school history. He was chosen to the All Mid-American Conference Academic Team for three years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Tkatch is a vice-president for Merlot Manufacturing in Pittsburgh, PA. He and his wife Kris are the proud parents of three active boys, David, Andrew, and Zach.
Amanda Ciotti- Ott (Class of 1994) Softball
Amanda Ciotti entered high school in 1990 with the hopes of one day playing fast pitch softball for the Lady Quakers. The school’s program had started one year prior to her entering high school. Although the pitching position is the toughest position to develop for fast pitch, she was able to break into the lineup early in her career.
During her freshman year, the Lady Quakers’ second year as a team, the team finished with an 8-16 record. Ciotti picked up all eight of the victories and had several impressive starts. She pitched a one-hitter against Lisbon earning a victory, and the Lady Quakers also beat the always tough Columbiana Lady Clippers and Beaver Local Lady Beavers.
As a sophomore Ciotti pitched the Lady Quakers to their first winning season, finishing 12-7, and to their first tournament win. Once again, the Lady Quakers were able to sweep already established programs such as the Lady Clippers of Columbiana, the Lady Indians of Girard, and the Lady Cats of Struthers for the season. The school played for the sectional championship against defending regional semi-finalist and perennial state power Austintown Fitch, only to lose 7-0. Ciotti picked up 11 victories on the year.
Her junior year Ciotti helped lead the Lady Quakers to wins against Columbiana, Howland, West Branch, Crestview and finished the season winning eight games. A season highlight was beating West Branch in the sectional semifinals; unfortunately, in the next game they were stopped once again by the Lady Falcons.
Selected captain her senior year, Ciotti ended the season with six wins, the last one giving her a then school record for career wins with 33. She helped to lead the Lady Quakers to three winning seasons and capped her senior year by being named All-MVC second team. She was also named to the All-County team.
After high school Ciotti attended Malone College and continued to play softball for two more years before exclusively focusing on her education. She married Michael Ott; they currently reside in North Canton where she is a controller for a local company.