Tuesday, August 31, 2004

2004 Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame

By Bob PcPhee

The time and sacrifices that have been extended certainly reflects the 2004 Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame inductees.

The 2004 class includes longtime coaches Frank ‘Spook’ Spizuoco of Dexter; Dennis Walch of Westbrook and Al Kirk of Deering. The late Sean Sheehy wrestled at Wells High School in the mid-1980s.

The four inductees will raise the total to 40 members in the Hall of Fame.

The four will be officially inducted at a ceremony next summer.

Spizuoco has been associated with the Dexter program since its inception in 1958. He has been an assistant coach to eight different coaches, including Donald Hosapple from 58-62. Spizuoco served as head coach for several years, including 1963-65 and the Tigers were unbeaten during that period.

When the University of Maine was considering dropping the wrestling program, Spizuoco stepped in and was the head coach for its final two seasons.

"Spook is a major reason behind the success of Dexter wrestling,"current Dexter coach Dave Gudroe said. "He really puts his time in and it’s all volunteer. The thing that’s impressive is he is so detailed and wants to know every thing each kid is doing and how they have positioned on the mat. I’ve learned so much from him over the years, beginning when he coached me as a freshman (1974)."

Dexter has won 12 state championships in 42 years, second only to 16 won by Sanford. Dexter has had 74 individual state champions during this time.

Walch established the program at Westbrook in the early 1970s and remained as head coach until retiring last year. Walch still teaches physical education and is the Westbrook golf coach. He has filled the winter void by becoming a wrestling official. Walch has seen numerous changes during his tenure, but coaching in the competitive atmosphere has always remained one of the top priorities. The sport requires each participant to be prepared to utilize two important behaviors. The most obvious factor is an individual’s ability to cope with the extremely physical demands necessary during a match. An often over looked aspect is the mental make-up of every participant and how it can be used as an advantage in their performances.

Walch is also the team leader of the Friendship Series, featuring wrestlers from Nebraska and Maine. The annual event is the longest active cultural exchange between two states in the nation.

Sheehy was the first Wells wrestler to win three Class B state championships (1985-87) and was also the first Wells wrestler to achieve 100 career wins. The former Warrior was quiet and humble, however, he is best remembered for his tenacious leadership.

Unfortunately, Sheehy was 30 years old when he past away in March of 1999. Sheehy had lived life to the fullest and was in his 10th year as a Navy Seal. While a member of Seal Team One, Sheehy completed two WESTPAC deployments and had been on standby for deployment to Desert Storm. In 1993 he was selected to Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), which he served with distinction until the time of his death. Through out Sheehy’ military career, his dynamic, self-confident and unselfishness were an influence to all who worked with him.

Sheehy was decorated and received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Kirk has been the wrestling coach at Deering since 1977 and also was an assistant football coach for 19 years. Kirk, a former lay minister, is an Associate Professor of Technology at the University of Southern Maine.

Kirk remains dedicated to school spirit and is active in wrestling every day.

The Rams coach believes in the tradition of the sport and the Rams wrestling room, transcends it. When you step inside, you see the faces of former wrestlers and get a sense of the golden moments that have occurred through out the years. Kirk has developed a strong interaction with kids and knows what makes them tick. Former Deering wrestler Jon Kane won a National championship two years ago and currently competes at the United States Naval Academy.