Linsly graduate Meredith tabbed WVU Legend
WHEELING – When one thinks of WVU athletics Bob Huggins and basketball or Will Grier and football probably come to the forefront.
The Mountaineers’ rifle team, however, owns the bragging rights as the school’s most successful athletic program. The WVU rifle program has been on the mark for 19 NCAA championships, nine more than the next closest institution.
The shooter who laid the foundation for that Morgantown-based precision greatness is a Wheeling native, Linsly Military Institute and WVU legend. Bruce Meredith, now 81 years young, is that person. The retired U.S. Army colonel has scripted an amazing resume in the sport.
WVU boasted two athletic All-Americans in 1960 – Meredith and Jerry West. Meredith went on to compete in four Olympics and was inducted into the West Virginia University Hall of Fame in 2004.
The 1955 Linsly grad added another prestigious accolade to his collection last month. Meredith was enshrined into the Mountaineer Legends Society.
The Legends Society was born in 2016, making Meredith’s selection all that more impressive as a member of just the third class.
To be tagged a Mountaineer Legend, “an individual must have demonstrated consistent and unique national excellence in their collegiate career, their achievements must be significant on an individual and team basis and, in general, made a noteworthy contribution to the history of the athletic program. Individuals must first be inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame,” according WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons.
“I was kind of surprised. I didn’t even know that they had a Legends Society,” Meredith said. “Football and basketball get all the PR and get picked first then come the minor sports.
“I think it is a pretty impressive honor for a guy who grew up in a coal mine hollow in West Virginia,” the current LaGrange, Ga. resident added. “I was never overly talented but I tried to work hard and never quit.”
His tireless work ethic and perseverance spawned a career that took root in the 1950s and continues to this day. He is competing this weekend in a shooting competition in South Carolina.
Meredith has taken part in competition in 40 countries and amassed 206 national records. He represented the U.S. in the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympiads. He also served as the rifle team’s leader in the 2004 Athens games.
“The Olympics are definitely a highlight of my career. It is always strenuous competition but very rewarding,” Meredith said. “I also take pride of being the oldest competitor in any event (age 63) at the Sydney Games. In the Barcelona games I was able to watch the U.S.A.’s Basketball Dream Team.
“In the Olympics you see the entire range of athletes. You can see the tiny gymnasts and the bulky weightlifters,” he continued. “The Olympics showcase average people doing above average things. It is a great experience.”
His path to shooting stardom did not come easily. He grew up in a home that had no running water.
“I had to work in the Linsly kitchen to help pay my way there,” Meredith said. “WVU didn’t offer any scholarships for shooting. So I also worked in WVU kitchen and in the summer I worked in the steel mill to pay for college. Then I entered WVU’S ROTC program.”
Meredith’s shooting career with the Mountaineers was nothing short of sensational.
In 1960 and 1961 he earned All-American honors while also being national collegiate champion in ’61. That same year, Meredith was selected as West Virginia’s State Amateur Athlete of the Year.
After his days in Morgantown, the shooting star served eight years of active duty in the U.S. Army and two more in the Reserves, all the while continuing to compete.
Another high point came in 1967 when he captured the national championship while also recording the first-ever perfect score with a telescopic site. He also was a member of the U.S. team in ’67 Pan-American games.
All told, he has accumulated more than 25 military and Presidential awards and medals. He also went into the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Support Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I am pretty proud of my career. It has taken me to every state in the union and around the world,” Meredith said. ” I would like to think I am the spark that lit the fire that has led to WVU shooting greatness.”
LOIS STOBBS MEMORIAL
PLANS ARE progressing well for the 9th Annual Lois Stobbs Memorial Veterans Day 10K set for Saturday. The event has generated more than $70,000 to paralyzed Veterans of America.
Some 300-350 participants are expected. Retired USAF Col. Robert Yahn will be the featured at the post-race banquet. He currently is an instructor at Wheeling Jesuit University.
The banquet starts about 11 a.m. with Colonel Yahn speaking at about 11:15. All veterans and active military personnel are not charged for entry and participation in the walk/run and all participants dine free at the awards banquet inside WesBanco Arena.
A Humvee will lead the race, with several restored Willy’s Jeeps behind. These will transport Hugh Stobbs and Bob Scatterday, who flew many combat missions in Vietnam.
John Looney and Mike Novotney of the Veterans Center in Bethlehem will be honored for the use of the facility for meetings as well as their committee involvement.
Race registration and packet pick-up is set at Bridge Street School on Friday, from 5-7 p.m., and Saturday at 7 a.m.
TWO LOCAL natives officiated the WVU men’s basketball Gold-Blue game last Friday night — Tony Chiazza of Elm Grove and Teddy Valentine of Moundsville. Mike Eades of Princeton (W.V.) was the third official and rounded out an All-Mountain State crew. Valentine and Eades have worked numerous Final Fours while Chiazza is a rising star as a hoop arbiter.
DEREK WOLFE is enjoying another solid season with the Denver Broncos. The former Beaver Local and University of Cincinnati standout has recorded 20 tackles, a sack and an interception heading into today’s game at Kansas City. The 6-5, 285-pound defensive end is in his seventh year with the Broncos. He has 25 career sacks.
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN to Times Leader Sports Writer Kim North as he goes into the U.S. Wrestling Hall of Fame West Virginia Chapter today in Charleston for his 30-plus years of superb coverage of the mat sport. It is a special honor for a special writer.
LES DELLOMA recorded his fifth career hole-in-one on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Belmont Hills Country Club. He used a 5-iron on hole No. 2, a 165-yard par three. Witnessing the ace were Dave Diosi, Dave Reasbeck, Andy Yanok, Rennie Minor and Larry Landtiser.
HAYWOOD HIGHSMITH is now a professional basketball player. The former Wheeling Jesuit University star inked a contract last week with the Delaware Blue Coats — the NBA G League Affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers. Highsmith was the Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association National Player of the Year and earned National Basketball Coaches Association All-America First Team status. The Mountain East Conference Player of the Year averaged 22 points and 12.5 rebounds a game last winter. Highsmith finished his Cardinal career with 1,952 points and 1,251 rebounds.
NEIL TENNANT, a Linsly School and Fordham University graduate, has accepted the Social Media Coordinator position with the National Hockey League Headquarters in midtown Manhattan in New York City. Tennant has previously served as Marketing/Social Media Coordinator for the Wheeling Nailers.
WVU REGAINED its swagger with its blasting of Baylor Thursday night. It is hard to fathom how the bad-news Bears could win three games this fall. The Mountaineers have their line-in-the-sand moment this Saturday in Austin. A win over the Longhorns will likely propel WVU into the Big 12 title game. A second conference loss could prove lethal to such aspirations.