Essex County Olympians: Then and Now

NEWARK – City native Dremiel Byers and former Irvington and Bloomfield residents Cullen Jones and Khatuna Lorig remain the three active Olympic athletes from among the at least 75 “Local Talk” area men and women who have competed since 1900.

Nutley native Dixon Boardman (1880-1954) blazed a local trail by finishing as high as fourth place for Team USA in the 400m semi-final race in the II Summer Olympics in Paris. Another 74 men and women have since gone on to represent the U.S., Jamaica, or Nigeria.

Jones and Lorig added a gold and two silver medals to the unofficial “Local Talk” area medal count of 48. They and 31 other local peers have won 24 gold, 13 silver and 11 bronze medals. There are 33 “Local Talk” area athletes who have won at least one individual or team medal.

The honor roll below is based on Sports-Reference.com’s compilation of Olympic athletes born in 10 of up to 11 “Local Talk” area towns with several non-native additions. There may well be Olympic athletes from elsewhere who may have resided in “Urban Essex County” while attending one of our area’s colleges.

The 33 medal winners make up 40 percent of the 75 LTN Olympians. In the just-concluded XXX London Summer Olympics, there were a maximum 906 medals from among 302 sporting events available for some 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Groups. Only up to 7.02 athletes competing would be attaining a medal.

Horace Ashenfelter, 89, is one on the LTN residents who still has his gold medal – and Olympic memories. Ashenfelter, a Phoenixville., Pa. native who moved into the borough in 1951, had scored an upset victory over world record holder Vladimir Kazantsev (1923-2007) in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase during the Helsinki, Finland Summer Games July 25, 1952.

Ashenfelter, a Yale graduate, had caught and passed Kazantsev whole both were vaulting the water trap on the race’s last lap. The Cold War international and local media ran with the story since Ashenfelter was an agent out of the FBI’s New York bureau who had upset the favored Soviet Union runner. Ashenfelter got another opportunity to savor his memories Aug. 3. The Utica, N.Y.-based National Distance Running Hall of Fame inducted him during a luncheon in Fitzgerald’s 1928 borough restaurant.

“Local Talk” asked Ashenfelter if he had met contemporary legendary runners Emil Zatopec, of Czechlosolvakia (1923-2007) and Alain Mimoun, representing France.

“I knew of them and saw them run,” said Ashenfelter. “The thing was that they didn’t speak English – and I didn’t speak Czech or French.”

Here is a list of those from our area who have competed in the Olympic Games:

Current Team USA member in bold

Team USA unless noted in parentheses.

SO=Summer Olympics

WO=Winter Olympics

GLD=Gold Medal, SLV=Silver, BZE=Bronze

NEWARK

  • Ben Adams (1890-1961) Athletics, 1 SLV 1 BZE 1912 SO;
  • Scotty Allen (b. 1949) Figure Skating 1964 WO;
  • Bill Alley (b. 1936) Athletics 1960 SO;
  • Gustav Bauer (1884- ) Wrestling 1 SLV 1904 SO;
  • Willie Beck (1899-1956) Cycling 1920 SO;
  • Dremeil Byers (b. 1974) Wrestling, 2008, 12 SO;
  • Jennie Caputo (b. 1918) Gymnastics, 1936 SO;
  • Dean Cetrulo (1919-2010) Fencing, 1 BZE 1948 SO;
  • Bob Clotworthy (b. 1931) Diving, 1 GLD 1 BZE, 1952, 56 SO;
  • Tom Courtney (b. 1933) Athletics, 2 GLD, 1956 SO;
  • Vincent D’Autoro (1915-2008) Gymnastics, 1948, 52 SO;
  • Dorothy Dalton (1922-73) Gymnastics, 1 BZE, 1948, 52 SO;
  • Melvin Dalton (1906-83) Gymnastics, 1928 SO;
  • Gus Desch (1898-1964) Athletics, 1 BZE, 1920 SO;
  • Christopher Dotterwich (1896-1969) Cycling, 1920 SO;
  • John Eisele (1884-1933) Athletics, ! SLV, BZE 1908 SO;
  • William Fenn (1904-80) Cycling, 1924 SO;
  • Gale Fitzgerald (b. 1951) Athletics, 1972, 76 SO;
  • Barbara Friedrich (b. 1949) Athletics, 1968 SO;
  • Jimmy Gallagher (1905 – ) Soccer, 1928 SO;
  • Adeline Gehrig (1887-1944) Fencing, 1924 SO;
  • Herman Goffnerg (1921-2001) Athletics, 1948 SO;
  • Meredith Gourdine (1929-98) Athletics, 1 SLV 1952 SO;
  • Phil Grippaldi (b. 1946) Weightlifting, 1968, 72, 76 SO;
  • Reggie Jones (b. 1951) Boxing, 1972 SO;
  • Steve Lysak (1912-2002) Canoeing, 1 GLD, 1 SLV 1948 SO;
  • Ed McLear (1879-  ) Wrestling, 1 SLV, 1904 SO;
  • George Mehnert (1881-1948) Wrestling,  2 GLD, 1904, 08 SO;
  • Mark Murro (b. 1949) Athletics, 1968 SO;
  • Shaquille O’Neal (b. 1972) Basketball, 1 GLD, 1996 SO;
  • John Otto (1900-66) Cycling, 1920 SO;
  • Bill Pecora (1913-72) Fencing, 1936 SO;
  • Henry Poore (1895-1940) Art Competition, 1932 SO;
  • Phil Reilly (b. 1952) Fencing, 1984 SO;
  • Helen Schifano (1922-2007) Gymnastics, 1948 SO;
  • Al Sellinger (1914-86) Cycling, 1936 SO;
  • Fred Taylor (1890-1968) Cycling, 1920 SO;
  • Carl Van Duyne (1946-83) Sailing, 1968 SO;
  • Greg Weiss (b. 1941) Gymnastics, 1964 SO;
  • Gus Wester (1882 – ) Wrestling, 1 SLV, 1904 SO;
  • Al Zirkel (1884 – ) Wrestling, 1 BZE, 1904 SO;
  • Frank Zuna (1893-1983) Athletics, 1924 SO

BLOOMFIELD

  • Khatuna Lorig (b. 1974) 1 SLV, 1 BZE, 2008, 12 SO (Also 1992 for Russia Unified Team, 1996, 2000 for Georg. Rep.)

EAST ORANGE

  • Joetta Clark-Diggs (b. 1962) Athletics, 1988, 92, 96, 2000 SO;
  • Randall Davey (1997-1964) Art Competitions, 1932 SO;
  • Carin Gabarra (b. 1965) Soccer, 1 GLD 1996 SO;
  • Dorian Scott (Jamaica) (b. 1982) Athletics, 2008, 12 SO

IRVINGTON

  • Joseph Bost (b. 1956) Judo, 1976 SO;
  • Claude Holgate (1872-1937) Wrestling, 1904 SO;
  • Cullen Jones (b. 1984) Swimming 1 GLD, 2 SLV 2008, 2012 SO;
  • Ron Karnaugh (b. 1966) Swimming, 1992 SO

MAPLEWOOD

  • Mebolaji Akiode (Nigeria) (b. 1982) Basketball, 2004 SO

MONTCLAIR

  • Bill Andre (b. 1931) Modern Pentathlon, 1 SLV, 1956 SO;
  • Jennifer Dore (b. 1968) Rowing, 1996, 2000 SO;
  • Henry Duys, Jr. (1924-2007) Sailing, 1948 SO;
  • Greg Gates (b. 1926) Rowing, 1 BZE, 1948 SO;
  • Jed Graef (b. 1942) Swimming, 1 GLD, 1964 SO;
  • Rich Kenan (b. 1942) Swimming, 2000 SO;
  • Marty Liquori (b. 1949) Athletics, 1968 SO;
  • Patience Sherman (b. 1946) Swimming, 1 GLD, 1964 SO

ORANGE

  • Tom Auth (b. 1968) Rowing, 1996, 2000 SO;
  • David Bush (b. 1961) Diving, 1976 SO;
  • Lesley Bush (b. 1947) Diving, 1964, 68 SO;
  • Peter Cortes (b. 1947) Rowing, 1 DLD, 1976 SO;
  • Bob Cottingham (b. 1966) Fencing, 1988, 92 SO;
  • Karen Courtland (b. 1970) Figure Skating, 1984 SO;
  • Ginny Duenkel (b. 1947) Swimming, 1 GLD, 1 BZE, 1964 SO;
  • Glen Foster (1930-99) Sailing, 1 BZE, 1972 SO;
  • Walter Gegan (1899-1931) Athletics, 1928 SO;
  • Ken Walsh (b. 1945) Swimming, 2 GLD, 2 SLV, 1968 SO

WEST ORANGE

  • Mike Austin (b. 1943) Swimming, 1 GLD, 1964 SO;
  • James Chapman (1887-1975) Art Competitions, 1932;
  • Alan Williams (1893-1984) Rugby, 1 GLD, 1924 SO

BELLEVILLE

  • Platt Adams (1885-1961) Athletics, 1 GLD 1 SLV, 1908, 1912 SO;
  • Mike Devaney (1891-1967) Athletics, 1 GLD, 1920, 24 SO;
  • Bob Giordano (b. 1968) Wrestling 1980 SO Team;
  • Phil Grippaldi (b. 1965) 1 SLV 1968, 72, 76 SO

GLEN RIDGE

  • Horace Ashenfelter (b. 1923) Running 1 GLD 1952, 56 SO;
  • Susan D. Long (b. 1960), Skiing, 1984 WO;
  • Bruce MacDonald (b. 1927) Race Walking, 1956, 60, 64 SO;
  • Charles Mays, Sr. (1941-2005) Broad Jump, 1968 SO;
  • Harold M. Rayner (1888-1954) Fencing, Pentathlon, 1 BZE, 1912, 20 SO;
  • Joan Spillane (b. 1943), Swimming, 2 GLD, 1960 SO

NUTLEY

  • Ray Blum (1919-2010) Speed Skating, 1948 WO;
  • Dixon Boardman (1880-1954) Athletics, 1900 SO

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