Five Mountaineers Added to WVU Hall of Fame

The 2002 Class of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame features five Mountaineer stars from basketball, football and track.

The 2002 class includes basketball standouts Willie Akers, Eddie Beach and Rosemary Kosiorek, track pioneer Barney Gedwillis and gold medal sprinter and football player James Jett. Induction ceremonies will take place around the WVU-Maryland football game the weekend of October 4-5. This class brings the number of total inductees to 77.

Willie Akers, a basketball letterman from 1958-60, was a key participant on the great WVU squads that earned the nation's No. 1 ranking in 1958 and advanced to the NCAA finals in 1959, losing 71-70 to California. Those Mountaineer teams went 81-12, winning two Southern Conference championships and two conference tournaments with three NCAA appearances. Akers was named to the SC all-tournament team as a senior. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds over his career and served as team captain in 1960.

A native of Mullens, W.Va., Akers holds bachelor's (1960) and master's (1966) degrees in education from WVU. After playing professionally for two years with the ABA's Cleveland Pipers, Akers coached at Logan High School and led the Wildcats to four Class AAA state championships (1964-77-78-83). His record at Logan was 402-116 (77.6%). His service there lasted more than 20 years, as a physical education instructor, then as dean of boys and finally as assistant principal for 10 years. He spent the next 10 years serving as Logan County's assistant superintendent of schools.

Akers, active in many civic endeavors in Logan County, now operates Plaza Lanes in Logan. He was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and to the Logan High School Hall of Fame in 1994. He and his wife Linda have two sons, Darren and Chad.

The late Eddie Beach, the first Mountaineer to be chosen in the NBA draft, was a WVU basketball letterman from 1947-50. Beach scored 972 career points and was a vital part of the Mountaineers' 1947 team that ranked No. 1 nationally with an 18-1 record before entering that year's National Invitation Tournament. He was named to the Helms Foundation's All-America third team in 1948 and was selected team captain in 1950.

Beach, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., was selected in the fifth round of the 1950 NBA draft by the Minneapolis Lakers. He played one season (1950-51) in the NBA with Minneapolis and Tri-Cities before he was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years of service.

Beach returned to WVU to complete his master's degree and then taught history at Union High School in Union Township, N.J., from 1955-82; he coached the basketball, baseball, golf and bowling teams at Union, winning state and conference championships. After his retirement, he and his wife, the former Delores Fisher, returned to the Morgantown area; their three children are Eddie III, Andrew and Diane. Beach died in Morgantown on March 14, 1996.

Barney Gedwillis was WVU's best distance runner before WWII and one of the premier runners in the nation during the 1930s. As a senior, he participated in the 1936 U.S. Olympic Trials at 5,000 meters; running with a blister, he finished fourth, one spot away from a berth in the Berlin Olympics.

A two-time state high school champion, Gedwillis, a letterwinner from 1932-36 and team captain as a senior, set WVU school records in the mile (4:24.6) and two-mile (9:37.2) that stood for 32 years.

A native of Thomas, W.Va., Gedwillis earned an electrical engineering degree from WVU and went to Alaska to pursue business opportunities in the gold mines and mink ranching. He returned to West Virginia in 1939 and re-entered track competition, running the distance events in national AAU meets. The AAU named him to its 1940 All-America team.

Gedwillis took work in the aircraft industry, first in Baltimore and then in Seattle and California in a career that lasted more than 25 years. Gedwillis and his wife, the former Ann Fleming (who died in 1975), returned to Thomas after his retirement in the late 1960s.

James Jett came to WVU on a football scholarship and left not only as a four-year starter at wide receiver but as a seven-time track All-American and Olympic gold medalist. The native of Shenandoah Junction in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle finished fifth at 100 meters in the U.S. Olympic Trials in New Orleans, earning him a spot on the 4x100 Olympic relay team. Jett ran the first two rounds of that race in Barcelona, then gave his spot in the finals to Carl Lewis; all team members earned a gold medal. The West Virginia state track athlete of the year in 1990, 1991 and 1992, Jett earned NCAA indoor and outdoor All-America honors at 50, 100 and 200 meters during his career and finished as NCAA runner-up at 100 and 200 meters in 1992.

The only true freshman to play on WVU's 1989 Gator Bowl team, Jett over his four-year football career totaled 11 touchdown catches and 1,384 receiving yards, ranking him eighth among WVU career leaders at that time. His 78-yard TD catch from Darren Studstill in his last game against Louisiana Tech in 1992 set a then-stadium record. Also a return man, Jett finished with 3,076 career all-purpose yards, then fifth best in WVU history. He played in the Japan Bowl all-star game.

Signed as a free agent by the NFL's Oakland Raiders, he has been a member of that team since 1993, playing in 140 professional games. His career totals include 256 catches, 4,417 yards (17.3 avg) and 30 scores; he is the eighth leading receiver in Raider history. Jett led the AFC with 12 touchdowns in 1997 and his longest career catch was an 84-yard touchdown vs. Atlanta in 2000. In 1996, he won the NFL Fastest Man competition and was a finalist in 1997.

Jett and his wife Cara live in the Oakland area; they have two children, James Jr. and Jordan.

Rosemary Kosiorek Myers was West Virginia's most decorated women's basketball player ever, leading the Mountaineers to a 26-4 record and a No. 11 national ranking her senior year. A four-year contributor, the Mountaineers were upset winners of the Atlantic 10 tournament Kosiorek's freshman year, advancing to the NCAA tournament for the first time. As a junior, she became the first player to lead the Atlantic 10 in both scoring (20.2) and assists (6.2), earning honorable mention All-America honors.

As a senior, she was unstoppable, leading WVU to a 22-game winning streak, the A-10 regular season title and a 25-3 regular season record, as she averaged 24.3 points and a school record 6.8 assists per game. Her 1,136 points scored that season were almost half of WVU's total output; for her career, she had 2,061 points and 725 assists.

At the end of that 1992 season, the Mountaineers received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, hosting Clemson in what would be a 71-70 win before 8,000 fans at the Coliseum. WVU advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing at powerhouse Virginia.

A Kodak All-American and a finalist for the Margaret Wade Trophy (given to the college player of the year), Kosiorek received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame as the nation's best player under 5-5. A three-time all-Atlantic 10 pick, she was the 1992 Atlantic 10 player of the year and WVU's MVP and team captain.

A first team Academic All-American, Kosiorek graduated with honors in accounting from WVU in 1992. The Baltimore native later was invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic Team and the WNBA. Kosiorek has served as a senior manager for the accounting firm KMPG LLP for the past 10 years. She and her husband Doug live in Forest Park, Md., with their daughter Annika.

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