BATH, Maine — Five men who have had strong influences on the past and present of the state’s wrestling world will be inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame later this summer.
Doug Gilbert, Jon Kane, Maynard Pelletier, Rusty Smith and Tom Ward will be honored during a banquet scheduled for August 1 at the Hyde School.
Gilbert wrestled at Rumford High School under MAWA Hall of Fame coach Jerry Perkins and helped the Panthers win consecutive Class A state championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
Gilbert went on to wrestle at Maine Maritime Academy before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at Rumford in 1981.
Gilbert left the coaching ranks for a decade, but returned in 1992 as an assistant at Dirigo of Dixfield. He ascended to the head coaching position in 1997 and the Cougars have remained one of Maine’s top Class C programs since then, a run highlighted by winning the 2007 state championship.
Kane was a four-year wrestler at Deering of Portland who earned high school All-America honors as a senior in 2002 when he won the Class A state championship at 171 pounds and went on to become champion of the 176-pound division at the National Wrestling Coaches Association tournament in Newark, Del.
Kane finished with a 108-30 career high school record, including 36-0 with 21 pins as a senior.
He then wrestled at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he amassed 75 victories during his college career and missed qualifying for the Division I national championships by one match during his senior year.
Pelletier is a graduate of Fort Kent High School, where he won the 167-pound state championship as a senior in 1979.
Pelletier went on to the University of Maine, where in 1984 he became the school’s first wrestler to qualify for the national championships.
More recently, Pelletier served on the wrestling coaching staff at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft from 2001 to 2008. During that time the Ponies compiled a 157-16 record with back-to-back Class C state championships in 2004 and 2005 along with five Eastern Maine titles and five Penobscot Valley Conference crowns.
Pelletier also was instrumental in the development of the Foxcroft Olympic Wrestling Camp held each summer at the school and now in its 12th year.
Pelletier will be the second member of his family to be inducted into the MAWA Hall of Fame. His brother Romey, an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling Team, was selected in 2000.
Smith was a three-time individual state wrestling state champion while competing for Dexter during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He won the Class B title at 103 pounds as a freshman while helping Dexter win its sixth straight team title in that division, then was runner-up at 107 pounds a year later when the Tigers moved up to Class A and finished second in the state team competition.
Dexter returned to championship form in 1971, and so did Smith. The Tigers won their first state team crown in the large-school class that year and Smith was crowned the Class A individual champion at 112 pounds by defeating Sanford’s Jim Tuttle in the championship match to avenge a loss to Tuttle in the 107-pound final a year earlier.
Smith also went on to finish as the New England runner-up in his weight class during his junior season.
Smith capped off his high school career by successfully defending his Class A 112-pound state championship in 1972.
Ward was a Class B state champion at 155 pounds from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington in 1972, then went on to the University of Maine where he won a New England title during his freshman year and went on to co-captain the Black Bears as a senior.
Ward took his first teaching and coaching job at Rumford, where he served as an assistant wrestling coach under Perkins on the school’s 1978 state championship team.
He soon returned to his high school alma mater, where he led Mt. Blue to back-to-back Class A state championships in 1983 and 1984.
Ward’s career path eventually turned to school administration, first as athletic administrator at Mt. Blue. He later served as principal at Dirigo, Mt. Blue (twice) and Marshwood of South Berwick before becoming superintendent of SAD 21 in Dixfield and later RSU 10, a consolidation of the Dixfield, Buckfield and Rumford school administrations.
This spring Ward was selected to become superintendent of RSU 9 in the Farmington area.