The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

June 10, 2012

Blaney great as cager and Sprint car racer

MORGANTOWN — Dale Blaney, a rare two-year captain in West Virginia University’s men’s basketball program, is still making a name for himself in Sprint car racing.

The Hartford, Ohio, native was a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard for coach Gale Catlett in 1983-84-85-86. He was a leader on teams that posted records of 23-8, 20-12, 20-9 and 22-11.

Blaney piled up a four-year total of 1,520 points in 124 games to rank 18th all-time in total points. He also earned personal honors every season that he played.

Blaney, who averaged 30.4 minutes per game, finished his collegiate career with a 12.3 scoring gait. He also must rank among WVU’s sharpest shooters ever consistently.

He made 560 of 1,093 shots for 51.1 percent accuracy. In addition, he made 26 of 53 fairly-new 3-point goal opportunities (49.1 percent) and 374 of 460 free throws (81.3).

Blaney has been competing in Sprint car racing for 22 years and still enjoys that very much. His deceased father was a great driver, and Dale’s brother Dave is competing on the NASCAR circuit.

In the University of Northern Ohio All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series, Blaney is a three-time champion. Those triumphs came in 1995, 1996 and 2008.

Dale has a total of 88 All-Star wins, second only to Kenny Jacobs’ 98 victories. Four of Blaney’s wins have come in 2012.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in physical education, Blaney was drafted by the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. He took part in a rookie camp and did very well. Legend Jerry West, then that organization’s general manager, said later that he probably would have made the squad. But Blaney decided against playing pro basketball.

While he appreciated West’s great compliment, Blaney has no regrets.

“I was interested, and it probably wasn’t the best decision of my life to pass up that opportunity,” he said in retrospect.

“For whatever reason, I decided against going out there for a second look by the Lakers.”

Blaney did spend about seven years coaching basketball at Warren Harding High School in Ohio. He was coach of the JV squad and assistant on the varsity staff.

“I enjoy racing sprint cars,” Blaney said. “My father did that for about 45 years. I followed.”

He also enjoyed playing basketball at WVU.

“Those were four of the best years of my life,” Blaney said. “It was a great atmosphere there.”

As a Mountaineer, Blaney made the Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team three seasons and also the all-tournament team. He’s on the all-time team for the 1980s.

Leah Blaney, his 16-year-old daughter, excels as a long jumper. She was seventh in the Ohio High School Track and Field Championships last Saturday in Columbus.

He also has a 21-year-old stepdaughter.

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NOTE: Sodexho, the WVU concession contractor, provided lunch for the 700 people attending Bill Stewart’s funeral. It has been inaccurately reported that WVU provided the food.

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