The St. Helena High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the local organization dedicated to the preservation of the history of sports in St. Helena, held its fifth banquet in honor of seven inductees into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
This year’s group featured Attilio “Toch” Ghiringhelli (Class of 1936), Del Britton (Class of 1957), Andy Vanderschoot (Class of 1965), Kirk Mulligan (Class of 1968), Rich Lomeli (Class of 1978), Allison Zumwalt whose married name is Stone (Class of 1985) and Tobe Wolf (coach for 25 seasons).
The event was held in the Native Sons Hall on Spring Street on Saturday. Bob Fellion (Class of 1963 and Hall of Fame committee member), acted as Master of Ceremonies and Marielle Coeytaux, wife of the late St. Helena Mayor Del Britton, sang “America the Beautiful” before a packed hall.
Each inductee was first introduced by members of family or friends who had first-hand knowledge of the inductees. Amid the remembrances from those inductees present at the event, several commented upon their success as really the success of their teams and the enthusiasm of parents and teachers in supporting their sports activities.
“It’s about all of you and all of us doing it together,” Vanderschoot said at the podium. “It was about recognizing integrity and responsibility.”
Vanderschoot was part of some dominant football teams in the early 1960s, winning a league championship all four years. In fact, he was part of the class that lost just one game his prep career and none as a member of the varsity team, going 27-0 his final three years.
His production as a basketball player improved each season, earning All-League honors his final two years. In 1964-’65, he led the Saints to a North Central League I basketball championship behind a 4-2 record (16-5 overall), averaging 16.1 points per game.
That spring, St. Helena also won the league crown in baseball – making it a three-sport sweep – as Vanderschoot pitched 77 innings with a 1.82 ERA. His 245 total innings is a school record, and his 239 career strikeouts are the third highest in Saints history.
Ghringhelli, who passed away in 2002, was inducted posthumously, and his grandchildren Kelly and Scott Urbanik received their grandfather’s honors during the event.
Kelly Urbanik recalled one of her grandfather’s favorite stories about playing high school basketball in the Native Sons Hall, where the ceremony took place. “He said they always had an edge when playing in this very hall,” she remembered him saying. “Because they knew how to maneuver the ball through the rafters. Talk about a home team advantage!”
Ghiringhelli was a four-sport athlete and competed in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. From the limited statistics available, he excelled in baseball, with a career .376 batting average and .520 slugging percentage. On the hill, he pitched 193 innings (fifth most in SHHS history) and posted a 1.56 ERA (sixth best), averaging 9.4 strikeouts per game (sixth most).
Britton, who was highlighted in the May 11 edition of the late Jim Hunt’s “On This Date Plus” column, was the most consistent batter in school history. He was a three-time All-League selection and league MVP his senior year. Not only did he have a nine-game hitting streak, but, at one point, recorded a hit in 10 consecutive at-bats. He was also the second of two players in Saints’ history to hit for the cycle, going 5 for 5 against Calistoga on April 30, 1957.
For his career, Britton batted a school record .417, and recorded 15 doubles (fifth most), six triples (fourth most), and five home runs (sixth most), totaling 26 extra-base hits (fourth most). His .677 slugging percentage was the third best in school history.
Britton also played football and basketball, and was All-League in both as a member of the North Bay League III champion football team in 1955 and the NBL III champion basketball team in 1956-57.
Mulligan, who walked the halls as a freshman during Vanderschoot’s exceptional senior year, was a force in the passing game for the Saints football team. He totaled 63 receptions (fourth most), 1,313 receiving yards (third most) and caught 20 touchdowns (second most). Maybe more impressive is that 10 of those TDs came during his second All-League season in 1967.
He played varsity basketball for three years and won the NCL I title each year. Mulligan’s best offensive campaign was his junior year as a co-captain, averaging 10.8 points per game, leading St. Helena to an 18-8 overall record. He was All-League his final two years.
Mulligan let his breakaway speed shine in track, though. By 1968, he hit personal bests in the 220-yard dash and 440, clocking 23.8 and 50.3, respectively. The 440 time is a school record.
Fellion remembered what others said about Lomeli Saturday night, “If you want to win the game, put in Lomeli.” Fellion called Lomeli “The happy athlete. Even when he was hit, he always smiled.”
Lomeli was part of some of the greatest teams to play in St. Helena. After two consecutive years as the runner-up in the North Coast Section Class A playoffs, Lomeli helped the Saints win the title in 1977. He totaled 1,069 yards of total offense (582 rushing, 415 receiving) with 11 touchdowns. He also had two interceptions on defense and was All-Redwood Empire in addition to his third straight All-League selection.
A few months after winning the section title in football, the basketball team was able overcome a similar hurdle, turning a third-place finish in the Class A standings in 1976 to a championship in ’77. The two-time All-Leaguer averaged 9.6 points per game as the Saints posted a 22-3 overall record.
Like Lomeli, Stone (née Zumwalt) was responsible for some of the most legendary banners at the high school. She played under famed volleyball coach Donna McCormack, who introduced Stone at the ceremony, winning the section title three straight years, won the Northern California Division III championship twice, and also won the State Division III championship twice. Her junior year they were third in the state division.
In track, Stone ran the middle distance events and also competed in the long jump. Her mile relay group set the school record with a time of 4:39 in 1983.
She also played softball in 1985 when she was named SHHS Female Athlete of the Year.
Both Lomeli and Stone were coached by Wolf, who directed the track and field program from 1973-’97 and coached one final year for St. Helena in 2003.
The Saints boys were NCL I champs four times from 1973-’83, and never finished lower than fourth during that span. After moving to the Superior California Athletic League, Wolf’s girls teams won eight championships from 1989-97. His return to the athletic program in ’03 was away from the track, though, leading the tennis team to a Coastal Mountain Conference (South) championship.