The Mercer County Hall of Fame will hold its 75th anniversary banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at The Park Inn by Radisson, near West Middlesex. The Silver Anniversary for the oldest local hall of fame in the world will include the induction of 11 former athletic greats or contributors to athletics in county history. Lanny Frattare, the former “Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates” and “Voice of the Mercer County Hall of Fame” for almost 4 decades will again serve as master of ceremonies and will also be the main speaker to reflect on his long tenure with the group. The banquet is sponsored by Mike Erme with co-sponsor Mel Grata.
A great individual athlete in his own right, it is for his contributions as a coach that earned Paul Sanders a spot in the Mercer County Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
A state champion in cross country in 1956 at New Castle High and national top 10 finisher twice at Westminster College, his coaching career at Hickory High is legendary.
He served as head coach or assistant from 1968 through 1983 with 5 teams going undefeated (1968, ’70 and ’71 in track; 1970 and ’71 in cross country). His cross-country team lost the opening dual-meet of the season in 1969, but went on to win 52 straight duals.
His teams won 6 Mercer County championships, 3 in each sport. His 1971 team won the District 10 cross country title, while the Hornets finished runner-up twice. His teams placed high in the PIAA Championships several times and many individuals had Top-10 finishes.
Overall his track teams went 98-68, while cross country clubs were 168-66. His student-athletes set 8 outdoor track records that are now retired.
Paul trained several top runners such as Bill Moder, Dave Lawton, Alex Kasich, Tom Kocis, Tom Herrmann and Len Krichko, who went on to outstanding college careers. Kasich and Krichko were collegiate All-Americans and are Mercer County Hall of Fame inductees. He also coached and mentored two other runners who won state championships – Bob Petrini at Kennedy Catholic and Jordan Williams at Sharon.
For 21 years he was assistant coach in cross country and track at Westminster College, where the women’s track team won 4 Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships and the men won 3.
He was inducted into the Westminster College Titans Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and Lawrence County Hall in 1990. Since 2009, in his honor, Lawrence County has awarded the Paul Sanders Elite 8 Teams Awards to the top 8 boys’ and 8 girls’ cross country runners in the county.
He has served as a track and cross country official for more than 20 years.