Two Pitt Wrestling alumni were honored this year as inductees into various Halls of Fame. Joe Solomon, class of 1955 and John Hnath ’87 are the latest Panthers to be etched in local sports history with their inductions in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and Southwestern PA Wrestling Hall of Fame, respectively.
The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame announced Saturday, April 11, that the late Joe Solomon, an NCAA Champion at the University of Pittsburgh, was named to its 2020 class.
Solomon, a 1955 graduate of Pitt, was a four-year member of the wrestling team. His time as a Panther was highlighted by his NCAA title at 167 pounds in 1954.
While at Pitt, Solomon was named the team MVP his freshman and sophomore year and the Panthers’ team captain as a senior. Solomon was a four-time EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) champion.
After college, Solomon joined the Navy and was the U.S. Navy All Navy Champion. He had coaching success as well. As the coach for the Great Lakes Naval Station Wrestling Team, Solomon won the team title in 1956.
Also in 1956, he received an invitation to become a member of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team.
A Canonsburg, PA. native, Solomon won a PIAA state championship as well as posted a runner-up finish. He won three WPIAL titles between the years of 1947-1951.
In addition to The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Solomon is also a member of The Washington-Greene Co. Chapter HOF, The Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling HOF, The EIWA Officials HOF, The Pitt Golden Panthers HOF, National Wrestling Officials HOF, Canon-McMillan Hall of Honor, The WPIAL HOF, and the National Wrestling HOF. He also served as a board member on the Dapper Dan/Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic committee.
Solomon, who passed away August 5, 2017, is survived by his wife Barbara “Bobbie” Solomon (Barefoot), and his three children, John, Dan, and Diane Solomon Hrapla, and several grandchildren.
John Hnath Honored
Well known Division 1 and high school referee, and Mt. Lebanon and Pitt alumnus, John Hnath was inducted into the Southwestern PA Wrestling Hall of Fame this year.
Hnath graduated from Mt. Lebanon in 1982 where he was a WPIAL AAA runner-up as a junior; his senior season was cut short by an injury. In college, Hnath was a four year starter at Pitt, and a two-time team captain. His most notable accomplishment as a D1 wrestler was qualifying for the NCAA Championships in 1985. However, his collegiate legacy will be less defined by his success as a competitor, but rather more so by his outstanding officiating.
Hnath served as President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Officials from 2001-2013. He has officiated at the NCAA Division I Championships 10 times, balancing this duty with his day job, the President and owner of General Fabricating Services, a local light manufacturing company. He is also an active committee member of the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic.
Perhaps what will be his most enduring effect on the sport, Hnath was a key founder of the Mt. Lebanon Youth Wrestling Association, and served as a coach for many years. I can speak to this from personal experience.