MIDDLETOWN, NJ - The Middletown Township Lion Hall of Fame has announced its latest class of inductees. This year’s group includes two of the Shore Conference’s elite coaches and a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference decathlon champion among the 10 former Lions who will be inducted on Friday, October 29th.
The induction ceremony will take place at the Middletown H.S.North gymnasium, beginning at 4 p.m., prior to the Lions home game with Toms River East.
Tom Erbig, class of 1972, and Brian Zatorski, ’89, have taken the lessons they learned as members of the Orange and Black to develop two of the premier sports programs at the Shore as well as the state. Erbig’s Middletown South softball teams have won four NJSIAA group championships, while Zatorski’s Southern Regional girls track teams have dominated the Shore Conference and state scene for much of the past decade.
Dr. Stephen Dunphy, ’89, who made a name for himself as a sprinter and hurdler for coach Bob Welsh, went on to track and field stardom at the University of Virginia, where he was a two-time All-American.
Joining Erbig, Zatorski and Dunphy as inductees are Coach Richard Grezner; Bob Bruenig, ’58; Ken Bullivant, ’63; Bill Albert, ’74; Jeff Ecklof, ’78; Bill Parulis, ’87, and Tara Schulz, ’90.
The Lion Hall of Fame will also honor the State Champion 1991 Cross Country team as well as presenting the Distinguished Alumni Award to Larry McKnight, ’80.
The Lion Hall of was founded in 1990 to perpetuate the tradition of athletics in Middletown, which dates back 1913 when the first organized sporting events were conducted. This year’s class of inductees brings to 106 the number of individual athletes and coaches to be recognized for their contributions to their high school.
The accomplishments of each of these student-athletes has placed them in elite company among the annals of Lion athletics.
Bob Bruenig, ’58: Earned nine varsity letters (three each in football, basketball and baseball) in his career. Voted the outstanding athlete of his graduating class, Bruenig was one of the star players on Coach Arnie Truex’s last unbeaten football team in 1957 that included a memorable victory over the great Frank Budd and Asbury Park on Thanksgiving Day. Bruenig was a two-way standout in both the offensive and defensive backfields. His six touchdown receptions in his senior year still stand as a school record. He earned All-County and All State honors in football. Bob would enroll at the Merchant Marine Academy before an injury curtailed his career. He graduated from Seton Hall University in 1966 and is retired from a career in the petroleum industry. Bob currently resides in Westbrook, CT.
Ken Bullivant, ’63: A strike out artist, he teamed with Hall of Famer Ken Foulks to form one of the greatest pitching tandems in Shore Conference history. Bullivant, a lefty, was an All-State (once) and All-Shore (twice) selection during his three-year career. He tossed two no-hitters during his senior campaign as well as several one-hitters as he led the Lions to the Class A title. A career educator, Bullivant has coached and taught in Keyport and Shore Regional, and is part owner of Jersey Mikes Subs in Middletown.
Tom Erbig, ’72: Earned six letters (two each in football, wrestling and baseball) as a Lion. Member of two championship teams in both wrestling and baseball. Tom went on to Glassboro State College where he played varsity baseball in his junior and senior years. He captained the Prof’s 1976 team. After a brief stint at Allentown, Tom returned to Middletown in 1979. At Middletown South his wrestling teams won more than 100 matches between 1984 and 1997 and won five District 22 crowns. In softball he has amassed a 606-188-1 record, winning four overall group championships, including the last two Group III titles.
Bill Albert, ’74: Burst on the Middletown wrestling scene as a sophomore on the undefeated 1971-72 team that included future Hall of Famers Ken Hopfensperger, Phil Steiner and Tom Erbig. Albert opened every match for the Lions for three years as a 98/101-pounder. He won district and region titles in both his junior and senior season, placed third in the states in his junior year and lost in the state finals in his senior year. He is often considered the most dominating wrestler in Middletown wrestling history. In his senior year, he did not allow an opponent to score a point until the finals of the Region Tournament. Bill lives in Texas.
Jeff Ecklof, ’78: Follows his father Alan, ’53, into the Hall of Fame. A punishing linebacker for coach Vic Kubu’s first three teams, Ecklof earned first team All-County and All-Shore honors during his senior year as well as All-State recognition. Middletown North opened the 1976 season with two losses and a tie, then reeled off six straight wins to share the conference title with Long Branch and Matawan. In his senior year, Ecklof anchored the defense that dominated Shore Conference opponents on the way to a Class A North title and the school’s first berth in the state playoffs. Jeff’s college career was cut short by injury. He lives in Pennsylvania and his two sons were multiple state wrestling champions in high school and became NCAA Division I wrestlers.
Bill Parulis, ’87: In an era of smashmouth football, Parulis paved the way for future Hall of Famers John Fardella and Rich Toland. A 6-2, 250-pound, two-way tackle he was the driving force behind the Lions’ ground game. The Lions, under coach Don Ayers, won the Central Jersey Group IV title in 1986 and Parulis paved the way from his tackle position. A first-team All Shore & All-State selection his senior year, Bill was selected to play in the All-State Classic at Rutgers. He also excelled on the wrestling mat as a heavyweight and captured a district title in 1987. Bill is a union dock builder by trade, but also finds time to help coach the Middletown Eagles Pop Warner team. He lives in Port Monmouth.
Dr. Stephen Dunphy, ‘89: The rigors of track and field prepared Stephen well for a career in medicine. Dr. Dunphy, an emergency room physician in Southern California, is the most decorated track athlete in Middletown history. Under the guidance of Bob Welsh, Stephen was a multi-Shore Conference champion as a hurdler. Stephen earned a track scholarship at the University of Virginia in his sophomore year and promptly won the first of three ACC decathlon championships. He still holds the ACC decathlon record! He finished 14th at the 1992 Olympic trails (as the youngest competitor) and was ranked 33rd in the world at that time. Stephen and his wife, Nicole, have four children. They live near San Diego.
Brian Zatorski, ’89: When they start to compile a list of the elite track and field coaches in the state, and beyond, invariably Brian’s name is on the list. An outstanding track athlete during his days at North, he teamed with fellow inductee Stephen Dunphy, Aaron Cleveland and Bryan Dunphy to win the indoor shuttle hurdles state championship in 1988. Zatorski has turned the Southern Rams into one of the premier programs in the state. His individual coaching awards are too numerous to list, but include several national awards. His Rams have won nine Shore Conference track team titles and eight overall State Group IV team titles in his 12 years as a head coach. Brian attended Moravian, Pa., College and was a NCAA Division III qualifier in the decathlon in his junior and senior years.
Tara Schulz (Reidy), ’90: A true student-athlete, Tara had the rare honor of being co-captain on two state sectional championship teams. The 1998 field hockey team captured the Central Jersey Group IV title while the 1989 softball team took home CJ IV honors. Tara, who ranked 15th in a graduating class of 450, was an All-Shore selection in field hockey and softball in her senior year and was a four-year letter winner in both field hockey and softball at Brown. She was named All-Ivy in field hockey in 1991 and 1993. Perhaps her greatest triumph came two years ago and off the athletic field. After battling chronic kidney disease for ten years, Tara was the recipient of a kidney from her twin brother Matthew. She and her husband, Greg, have two boys. They live in Brentwood, TN.
Richard Grezner, Coach: No coach in Lion history achieved more victories than Grezner, whose bowling teams won 12 division championships, five Shore Conference crowns and one state district title. Three of his teams finished second overall in the state finals. He coached numerous All-Shore and All-County performers during his 25 years as the Lions coach. His crowning achievement came in 1989-90 when his team finished 27-0. Grezner spent 35 years as an educator in Middletown and is currently involved in selling real estate.
Larry McKnight, ’80: Perhaps no one bleeds orange and black more than the Distinguished Alumni recipient. Larry, a varsity football and track athlete during his days at North, was a volunteer coach at North for 18 years under Vic Kubu, Don Ayers and Mike Galos. Truly a volunteer, Larry took many a North athlete under his wing and now volunteers at Wall and its head coach Chris Barnes, a 1990 Hall of Fame inductee. Larry is famous for “Camp McKnight,” the summer training sessions he ran for years at North. Larry lettered twice in football and three times in track at North, where he once held the school shot put record. Larry works as a supervisor for the township public works department. He and his wife have two daughters and they live in Middletown.
1991 Cross Country Team – Long time coach Bob Welsh reached the pinnacle of his career when his harriers captured the CJ Group IV championship. Keith Fish, Brian Lynch, John Kaiser, Chris Stripto, Dan Markowicz,Tom Walsh, and Peter Quirk were among a talented group of runners who led the Lions to their first State Title since the 1964 team, which featured Hall of Famers Harry Nolan and Ken Jorgensen.
The program will begin at 4 PM reception with light refreshments being served. The formal ceremony will begin at 4:30 PM. All Alumni, friends and the public are invited to attend the free event.