PORTLAND - It is certainly deserving and Hal Watson of Rumford was officially inducted in to the Maine Amateur Wrestling Hall Of Fame. Over 100 people attended the MAWA banquet held at Verrillo's Convention Center, Saturday July 18. The honor is certainly humbling to Watson who started the Dirigo wrestling program three decades ago with little support or guarantees. Master of Ceremonies Wally Lafountain, HOF member, cited Watson for his intense dedication .
Hall of Fame Inductees
Hal WatsonWatson had initially started a wrestling program at Dirigo in 1980, however, the administration put things on the back burner. The vision resurfaced in 1985 when his second-floor classroom served as a practice room and approximately 10, four by eight-foot mats were taped together. At Dirigo there were numerous obstacles, especially since the team wasn’t allowed to practice in Defoe Gymnasium at the high school. In 1989, a regulation wrestling mat was purchased, however, it was stored at the middle school one mile away.
Watson was initially introduced to wrestling by the late Mel Preble who coached at Stephens.
“I surrounded myself with good coaches,”Watson said. “I took advice from anybody, then I’d pick and choose from the information that I had stumbled across.” Dirigo paid its dues and Watson hammered out discipline, while early assistants Peter Glover, Mike Burke, Roger Smith, Glenn Gurney and Spencer Quiriron were the technicians.
Watson credited former athletic director Brad Payne for being supportive of the program. Then Rumford coach and fellow HOF Jerry Perkins told Watson the Cougar wrestlers knew what moves to execute, but they needed physical conditioning. Watson didn’t take any criticism personally, but instead quietly listened and learned.
Walker had no prior wrestling experience, however, with sheer determination and a can-do-attitude founded the program at Noble HS in 1973; winning state crowns at Noble 1985 and at Kennebunk 1991.
Mark LewiaWells Coach, has had many state champions. Brought Wells to its first regional title in many years in 2002. Outstanding coach. Coached State championship team in 1996. Known as great motivator. Recognized for making wrestling popular in town of Wells
Ryan KalmanRyan Kalman ’97 achieved a great deal of success as a wrestler at Springfield College. A native of Springvale, Maine and a graduate of Sanford High School, Ryan became an All-American at SC as a grad student when he finished sixth as a 158-pounder at the NCAA Division III Championships at Ohio Northern University in 1997. He helped Springfield finish ninth as a team that season. Ryan was also a Scholar All-American Wrestler in 1995 and 1997. He also helped SC win two NECCWA Championships in ’97 and ’98.
Ryan graduated from Springfield in ’96, and then earned his master’s degree in Physical Therapy from SC in ‘97.
“Ryan Kalman was probably the toughest wrestler mentally that I have ever coached,” said Springfield Head Coach Daryl Arroyo. “Ryan perhaps was not the fastest, strongest, or most athletic wrestler that I have coached, but he won because he wanted it more. During his final year, he suffered a shoulder injury during the NECCWA Tournament. He still had to wrestle two more matches after that to qualify for nationals. Ryan gutted those matches out and made it. Due to the injury, he could not practice or fully prepare for the next two weeks. Yet when it came time, not only did he wrestle at nationals, he reached the semifinals and became an All-American.”
Since his graduation, Ryan has practiced physical therapy in a number of different sports and orthopedic facilities in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. He is currently the Clinic Director for Performance Rehabilitation in West Springfield. He, his wife Ann, and two children, Nicholas and Kiana, live in Somers, Connecticut, where he helps out with the local wrestling program when time permits.
Coach-of-the-Year: Mark StevensMark Stevens of Lisbon accepted Coach-of-the-Year honors. The Greyhound dynasty has flourished under Stevens, including winning Class C state championships twice in the past three years. In 2009, Lisbon outscored bridesmaid Dirigo and Bucksport by 73 points.
Person of Year: Kevin Smith and Bob Weimer of Deering (Portland)
Outstanding Wrestler: Travis SpencerThe Wrestler of the Year is Travis Spencer-Belfast who is a four-time state champion. The award is named for legendary coach John Carmaihalis, who started wrestling in Maine in 1959. Spencer, 2009 New England finalist, earned All-American Honorable Mention by Wrestling U.S.A. Magazine, respectively. The Lion standout has received a full-scholarship from a Missouri University.
Spencer will bid 2008-2009 winter to join the elite ranks of four-time individual state champions, having won the Class B title at 160 pounds as a freshman and at 189 pounds each of the last two years.
“He’s 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and he’s as quick as anyone on the team,” said Heroux of Spencer, who went 49-2 last winter and begins his senior season with a 120-9 career record — with six losses coming as a freshman.
“It’s not hard to coach someone like that because there’s no substitute for strength and speed. He’s very strong, he’s quick and he loves the sport.”
Spencer, who went on to finish third in his weight class at the 2008 New England interscholastic championships, also went 5-0 last summer during the Maine-Nebraska Friendship Series held in Nebraska.
“There was a lot of good competition out there,” said Spencer, who this winter will attempt to break the school record for career victories of 154, set by older brother Jimmy Spencer last season. “It was a real good experience. I was hoping to do well, but I just went down there thinking I’d try to wrestle my best.”
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