The Fairmont State Athletic Association has announced this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. The Class of 2012 includes Martha Ganoe (volleyball) Kristen Gattuso (women’s basketball), Haywood Highsmith (men’s basketball), George Opron (baseball), John Feronti (swimming), Jarrod Furgason (football) and Bill Stewart (football).
The Hall of Fame inductees will be enshrined on Friday, Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Gym 1 of the Falcon Center. A social starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Falcon Center conference rooms will precede the banquet.
Tickets are available by contacting the Fairmont State athletic department at 304-367-4220.
The Fairmont State Athletic Association (formerly the Lettermen’s Association) is a group designed to unite alumni, lettermen, friends, fans and corporate sponsors to help support the competitive success of Fairmont State athletics.
Martha Ganoe (Volleyball, 1986, 88-90)
Martha Ganoe was a two-time first team All-WVIAC selection for head coach Larry Hill. Ganoe helped lead the Falcons to two WVIAC Tournament championships and was named the tournament MVP in 1990. FSU also won the regular season championship posting its only undefeated conference record in school history (18-0) that season and notched a school-record 42 wins. She established a school record with 1,806 digs for her career that stood for over 20 years.
Kristen Gattuso (Women’s Basketball, 2001-05)
Kristen Gattuso authored one of the finest women’s basketball careers in school history. The leading scorer in school history with 2,041 career points, Gattuso also holds career records for made field goals (738) and made three-pointers (258). As a senior, Gattuso set school records for points (727) and scoring average (22.7) while helping the Falcons to a 28-4 record and its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. She was named the WVIAC Player of the Year while also earning second team All-America honors from Daktronics and honorable mention recognition by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in her final season.
She was a two-time All-WVIAC first team selection and was named one of the league’s “Top 25 at 25” in 2007 honoring 25 of the league’s all-time great players and coaches in celebration of the 25th anniversary of women’s athletics in the conference.
Haywood Highsmith (Men’s Basketball, 1985-89)
Haywood Highsmith was a premiere post presence for the Falcons from 1985-89. Highsmith is the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 439 (over 200 more than second place on the list), and led the nation in blocked shots with 145 during his sophomore season. Highsmith scored 1,639 career points and 1,045 career rebounds during his four-year career. He was a second team All-WVIAC as a senior and was a two-time All-WVIAC honorable mention selection. He currently ranks ninth in school history for career field goal percentage (.551) and 10th in made field goals (707).
George Opron (Baseball, 1953-54, 57-58)
George Opron was a standout for the Falcons on the diamond during a college career that was split due to military service.
Opron helped Fairmont State to three league titles and a runner-up finish in his four seasons. He was a two-time team captain and served as captain of the All-WVIAC team in 1958. In 1957, he guided the Falcons to the national playoffs and was 10th in the country in batting with a .479 average. He was also tied for the national lead in doubles that year with seven. He led Fairmont State in batting in three of his four seasons.
John Feronti (Swimming, 1974-78)
John Feronti was an All-America swimmer for coach Steve Mahaney from 1974-78. Feronti earned All-America honors in the 1,650 free and the 800 free relay. During his time, Feronti set school records in the 200, 500 and 800 freestyle events and helped lead Fairmont State to three WVIAC championships. He also served as team captain for a squad that finished in the top 10 in the country at the national meet in three of his four seasons.
Jarrod Furgason (Football, 1993-96)
Jarrod Furgason rewrote the Fairmont State record books as a quarterback for the Falcons from 1993-96. Furgason, a two-time first team All-WVIAC selection, set Fairmont State career records for passing yards (9,856), touchdown passes (101), completions (798) and total offense (9,638). His 101 touchdown passes established a WVIAC record and ranked second all-time in NCAA Division II. His seven touchdown passes against Concord in 1995 remains a school record.
Furgason, who owns four of the top nine seasons for passing yardage at Fairmont State, led the Falcons to the WVIAC title in 1996.
Bill Stewart (Football, 1972-74)
Bill Stewart was a three-year letterman at Fairmont State before having a distinguished coaching career.
As a player at Fairmont State, Stewart was an offensive lineman and team captain for coach Deacon Duvall helping the Falcons to the league title in 1974. He got his coaching start as a student assistant at Fairmont State in 1975. Stewart’s coaching stops included Salem (1977-79), North Carolina (1979, 1985-87), Marshall (1980), William & Mary (1981-83), Navy (1984), Arizona State (1988-89) and Air Force (1990-93). He got his first head coaching opportunity at VMI and spent three seasons (1994-97) with the Keydets. Stewart then spent three more seasons (1998-2000) in the Canadian Football League before becoming a member of Don Nehlen’s staff at West Virginia in 2000. He remained at WVU under Rich Rodriguez, and led Mountaineers to a stunning 48-28 victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2008 before officially being named the head coach. He spent three seasons as head coach of the Mountaineers (2008-10). He died of a heart attack in the spring of 2012.