Guedes, Balliet, Zelinsky represent Palmerton
The 26th Annual Carbon County Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and banquet will be held Sunday, May 26, at the Franklin Township Fire Company social hall.
The doors will open at 1 p.m., with the dinner to start at 2 o’clock, followed by individual inductions of 22 who attained athletic accomplishments.
Banquet tickets can be purchased from the following Hall of Fame committee members: McGinley, 570-325-3550, Vince Spisak, 570-645-4542, Art George, 610-826-2830, Jake Boyer, 610-751-6634, Trevor Lawrence, 570-645-4722, Bill Gardiner, 570-669-6564, Bob Gelatko, 570-645-8652, and Evan Evans, 570-645-7716. Tickets are $35 for adults. For children under 12, the cost is $15.
The following will be inducted representing Palmerton:
Manny Guedes, a graduate of Palmerton Area High School, enjoyed two stints as head coach of the Blue Bombers’ gridiron squads, heading the program from 1989-90 and 1992-98.
He piloted the teams through 101 games, the most of any coach at the school, and compiled a record of 54-46-1.
Most noted is his 1992 season when the Bombers went 9-3 overall and were 6-2 in the Centennial League. The team qualified for District 11 AA play, dropping the championship game by a 14-10 score to Catasauqua. This team scored the most points, 246 in 12 games, in a season in the history of the program at the school. As a result of his coaching that season, Manny was selected the Allentown Morning Call’s Football Coach of the Year.
The success of his 1993 team marked the first time at the school that a team won 10 games. The Bombers also became the District 11 AA Football Champions, defeating Pine Grove 19-0 and becoming the school’s first-ever district football championship team. They finished 10-2 overall and were 6-2 in the Centennial League.
The 1994 season saw the Bombers finish in fine fashion with a 9-2 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the Colonial League.
Manny’s 1995 squad did something no other Bomber football team ever did, as it played out of state, traveling to the Kay Lee Bowl in Orlando, FL, where they played West Orange High School. Although losing the game, the experience of such a game was great for the school, program and athletes.
During Manny’s tenure as head coach, he coached several 1,000 rushers. In the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Kody Gildner rushed for 1,222 and 1,182 yards. In 1996, Jason Hernandez rushed for 1,261 yards, and, in 1998, Chris Siracuse carried for 1,689 yards, which was the most yards rushing by a Bomber in any season. During his career, Siracuse set a school record of 2,685 career yards rushing.
Before his stint as head football coach, Manny coached local CYO basketball for five years, and also coached high school junior varsity softball during the 1981 and 1982 seasons at Palmerton High.
Besides being the winningest football coach in Palmerton Blue Bomber history, his teams qualified for district play twice, winning the school’s sole District 11 championship in the 1993 season.
During the 2000 season, Manny took over the reins as interim head coach in midseason for then Head Coach Casimir Kosciolek, who became ill.
After his head coaching stint at Palmerton, he was an assistant coach at Northern Lehigh High School from 2001-2006 and again from 2010-2016. He also served as an assistant football coach at Plateau High School, Collbran, CO, from 2007-2009.
Jason Balliet, a 1985 graduate of Palmerton Area High School, is one of the finest basketball players to have ever come out of the stellar “Blue Bomber” boys’ basketball program, beginning in his sophomore year when he played as a starter on the team.
His play in his first varsity year earned him a place on the Slatington Rotary Christmas Tournament Team, as well as a second team member All Centennial League after he scored 358 points on a 15-11 team that was 10-6 in the Centennial League.
Honors brought to Jason in his junior year were as follows. He was selected first team MVP of the Slatington Rotary Christmas Tournament, and first team, unanimously, All Centennial League, and was the top scorer in the league with a 21.2 points per game average.
Jason scored 582 points that season; helped lead the team to a District 11 AA Basketball Championship; was a District 11 All Star selection; and was selected by a coaches’ poll to the Morning Call District 11 Team.
He was also named Honorable Mention (Associated Press) All State, and was selected a weekly Morning Call Player of the Week, after being part of a Blue Bomber team that won the school’s 1,000 victory in a 22-9 season in which the squad finished second in the league with a 13-3 mark.
As a senior, Jason was again selected to the Slatington Rotary Christmas Tournament First Team and he repeated as a First Team All Centennial League selection. He led the league in scoring at 24.9 points per game, and was the top scorer in the Carbon/Panther Valley Area with a 24.1 points per game mark, tallying 554 points.
He was selected a Morning Caller Player of the Week; was named (tied with the top vote-getter) for a second year in a row to the First Team All District 11 squad; and he was again selected Honorable Mention (AP) All State for the second year in a row.
At the season’s end, he played in the LARC All Star Game for the Centennial League team. That year, he was also named to the McDonald’s All-American Basketball Team and played in the McDonald’s All Star game in May, 1985. The Bombers finished up that year with a 16-7 overall record and were 13-3 in league play.
Jason completed his three years of high school basketball with 1,484 points, ranking him in Palmerton school history as second in boys’ scoring and fourth on the boys’/girls’ scoring list.
Following high school, he attended Division1 Colgate University, where he was a four-year letter winner on the men’s team. He scored a total of 450 points, including a game-high of 26 points tallied against Siena University. He was a 43 percent three-point shooter and shot 74 percent from the free throw line.
Jason and his wife, Shawna, a graduate of CU Boulder, have been married for 20 years and live in Colorado, where Jason has been the vice president of Solutions at Thunderhead, Inc.
Francis Jon Zelinsky, a 1987 graduate of Palmerton Area High School, was a standout, three-sport athlete for the Blue Bombers, running cross country, wrestling and competing in track and field.
As a freshmen, he was a member of the 1983-84 cross country team that posted a 15-0 record, capturing the Centennial League Title. In wrestling, he took third place at the league tournament, wrestling at 138 pounds. In the spring, he was a member of the track and field team, running distance races, where he placed fourth in the league meet.
In Frank’s sophomore year, he was a member of the 1984-85 undefeated 12-0 boys’ cross country team. In wrestling, Frank placed second at the league meet, and became a District 11 champion at that weight, qualifying him for his first trip to Hershey and the state wrestling tournament. In track, he ran the distance races with his 3,200-meter relay team placing at districts.
In 1985-86, Frank’s junior year, he again helped his team as a reliable runner to a 13-1 cross country running season, tying Notre Dame of Green Pond for another Centennial League championship. In wrestling, he was first at the Centennial League Tournament, and won his second District 11 title at 155 pounds. He also won at the Southeast Regionals and finished second in the state. In track, he was part of the 3,200-meter relay team that placed second at districts.
In Frank’s senior year, he captained the cross country team that captured second place in the Centennial League. In wrestling, the Blue Bombers won their first Centennial League Championship with an 8-0 league record and a 16-1 overall mark. Wrestling at 155 pounds, he won District 11 and Regional championships. He ended his career by placing third in the state tournament, closing out his career with 106 wins. In track, Frank decided to run the hurdles instead of running distance and was an immediate successwinning the District 11 110-meter title and setting a new school record and a District 11 record in a time of 15.1 seconds, qualifying him for the state meet. Frank also placed second at districts in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Frank is the only known Bomber athlete to have become a district champion in two sports — wrestling and track. He was also earned 12 varsity letters in athletics.
Frank’s high school accomplishments earned him a wrestling scholarship to Edinboro University, a Division 1-A wrestling school that was coached by the legendary Olympic wrestler Bruce Baumgardtner and Mike Deanna.
Frank’s highlights in the wrestling program include beating the defending national champion in the Las Vegas Invitational, where he was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler. He was ranked fourth in the country at the national level and took eighth place at 177 pounds, making him a Division I All-American.
After leaving Edinboro, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served our country honorably for more than 20 years. He received the Bronze Star for his duty in Afghanistan.
Frank and his wife, Genna, reside in Hermitage, PA. They have two sons, Collin, a physician’s assistant, and Garett, a supervisor at an industrial plant.