Sunday, July 19, 2009

2009 Hall of Fame Banquet

By Bob PcPhee

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 Watson

Watson 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.

Bob Walker

Mark Lewia

Wells 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 Kalman

Ryan 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 Stevens

Mark 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 Spencer

The 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.”
Click for Hall of Fame Inductees

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tomaszewski competes in Maine/Nebraska series

Earlier this week Wells High School wrestling standout Vanya Tomaszewski was honored as one of 16 wrestlers chosen to represent the state during the annual Maine-Nebraska friendship wrestling series.
The tournament was held at York High School on Monday and was the beginning of a seven-day event for the team from Nebraska. The event is in its 25th year and Nebraska won 14 of the 16 matches on Monday. The only winner of the team from Maine was York's Billy Gauthier, and one match ended in a tie.
The Maine team is made up of wrestlers from eight different schools in southern Maine and New Hampshire. Tomaszewski, a two-time state champion at 112 pounds, was thrilled to have the chance to wrestle against somebody from out of state.
"I'm pretty excited about this," Tomaszewski said. "I'm trying something new. I'm wrestling against kids that wrestle year-round."
Tomaszewski hadn't wrestled competitively since the New England Championships in the winter when he went 1-3. He did compete in high school track over the spring and wrestled a little bit. In track, he did the pole vault, javelin and ran the 100-meter dash. Tomaszewski said he hurt his back during the track season, but was 100 percent on Monday night.
"It's just in you," Tomaszewski said. "When it comes time you're ready to wrestle."
Tomaszewski just finished his sophomore year at Wells and eventually hopes to wrestle in college. An experience like wrestling against kids from Nebraska, a state known for its high-level of wrestling, can only go a long way in helping him accomplish that goal.
The team from Nebraska will travel throughout the state and wrestles different teams during the week.
The tournament alternates each year from Nebraska to Maine, and next year, Maine will travel to Nebraska and do the tour, wrestling at several schools in that state.
Tomaszewski hopes to be on that roster.
"That's what I'm hoping to do," Tomaszewski said.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mike Brown Goes From Tiny To Terror

The kid was mad at himself. The first punch had already landed, and he hadn't seen it coming. Now, his heart was racing and the adrenaline was coursing through his body. The crowd was already gathering, the fight was on, and 93-pound Mike Brown–freshman at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, Maine–was in a terrible position: behind the masses. In high school, size matters; and on this day it worked in his favor. Brown weaved and squirmed his way through his schoolmates, ending in his customary position: front and center for the scrap.

From a young age, Brown was fascinated by fighting. Even now, as the WEC featherweight champion, he has trouble pinpointing exactly what it is that drew him to fighting and to mixed martial arts in particular. But one thing he knows is this: the sport’s hold on him was magnetic.
He cannot escape its pull. Six days a week, for up to 10 or 11 hours a day, he can be found at American Top Team’s main gym in Coconut Creek, Fla. When you jokingly ask him why he isn't there 7 days, he earnestly responds, “We’re closed on Sundays.”
Brown does everything there. He sells memberships, he works the front desk. If you call the gym right now, there is a good chance he will answer the phone. *The 145-pound king of the sport* *answers the front desk phone!*
“It’s one of the reasons we like him so much,” says ATT manager Richie Guerriero. “Nothing changes with him. He still drives the same piece-of-shit car. He’s a regular Joe and an awesome teammate. I think that’s the reason everyone here was so happy for him to win the title. He’s so humble and he deserves it.”
As a kid, Brown himself couldn't have predicted his own athletic rise. He was always watching fights from the safety of distance, whether it was on a schoolyard or through television, until he had a conversation with his high school friend Chris Brooks. By that time, Brown–self-admittedly “tiny” as a freshman–had come to the realization that he not only lacked the size to be a professional athlete, but he was also too small for the high school sports he’d hoped to play.
Brooks, however, was going out for the wrestling team, and told Brown that with weight classes, he could compete fairly with kids his size. That was true in theory, but not in practice. Brown made the team as a freshman, but he was too small for even the lightest weight class.
After toiling with the junior varsity as a .500 wrestler as a frosh, something clicked, and Brown started winning on the varsity level. By his junior year he captured the state championship in the 112-pound class. The next year, he moved up two weight classes to 125 pounds and finished second in the state.
“It was kind of like fighting, but with rules,” he says. “You were trying to dominate the other person. It was hard work, but I just thought it was fun.” Equal to his love of wrestling was his hatred of school. His grades were always on the edge of disaster, and he graduated with a 1.8 GPA. After graduating, he took odd jobs, partied and generally lacked ambition. But after a couple of years and during a quiet moment, he grew disgusted by his lack of ambition and pledged to change.
Brown enrolled at Norwich University, mainly because it satisfied his most important criteria: it had a wrestling team and a Jiu-Jitsu club. Brown, who was already in his early 20s, was suddenly overcome by a sense of maturity and ambition. Now, sports weren't the only thing that mattered; academics were also driving him. Semester after semester, he was making the Dean’s List, earning A’s while majoring in biology.
“I think I had a drive to prove I wasn't stupid,” he says. “I wanted to prove, ‘I can do well if I want to. And part of it was the competitiveness factor. I wanted to have the best grades in the class. I made it a game, and I always wanted to win.”
But while he was finding himself academically, his athletic self was facing a crisis. During his freshman year, he suffered a neck injury that caused him to lose 70% of the strength in his left arm. The problem required surgery, but long after the recommended recovery period had elapsed, Brown would suffer stingers, a burning pain that traveled down his arm and into his fingers. The stingers would last for 6 or 7 weeks and were sometimes so painful they would literally cause him to cry.
The recurring problem cost him most of his collegiate wrestling career but eventually stopped, likely because the scar tissue from the surgery had broken up.
Around the time he was getting ready to graduate (he finished with a 3.88 GPA), his college roommate Gunnar Olson was scouring the popular site and saw a post looking for northeast-based fighters. As they recall it, Olson was the more gun-ho of the two, but Brown agreed to try. In April 2001, Brown made his debut. He fought Jeff Darienzo and won by key-lock. “I was such a big MMA fan that more than anything, I was just doing it just to say I did it,” he says. “When I actually won, I was almost euphoric.”
After losing to Hermes Franca in his third pro fi ght, he won seven in a row and was invited to the UFC, where he would face Genki Sudo at UFC 47. Brown walked around right at the 155-pound limit and had only been fi ghting for 3 years. Sudo, meanwhile, was a respected veteran of Pancrase, RINGS, and the UFC. Brown lost via arm-bar/triangle in the first round. He wasn't invited back by the UFC and returned to the regional circuit for his next match, where he lost to future star Joe Lauzon. Brown was crushed. For the first time, he considered quitting. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was,’ “ he said. “I didn't want to be the guy losing eight fights in a row.”
But his next fight had already been scheduled, and he didn't want to back out. He beat Renato Tavares. Back on track. With that, Brown began a streak in which he won nine of his next 10 bouts, leading to a contract with the WEC. In his debut fight, he earned a unanimous decision win over respected veteran Jeff Curran. Brown, who by then was training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla, was offered the biggest fi ght of his life: a title bout with WEC’s poster boy Urijah Faber.
The two are philosophical opposites in MMA. While Faber reflects his West Coast roots with a fl ashy and free-wheeling approach, Brown is a blue-collar East Coaster who is less about imagination and more about results. In results, however, they had more in common; Faber entered the fight on a 13-match win streak while Brown had won seven straight. Faber entered the fight a 3-1 favorite.
It was Faber’s improvisational style that betrayed him and Brown’s straightforward approach that proved the decisive factor. Just 2 minutes in, off a scramble against the cage, Faber decided to throw a spinning back elbow while Brown went with a more traditional straight right. Brown landed first, flush against Faber’s chin. The champ went down; the challenger followed him to the mat, pummeled him with 10 unanswered punches, and scored one of the biggest upsets of the year. His win over Faber wrote his place in history, but Brown says he has more to give to the sport. The 33-year-old hopes to fight 3 to 4 more years, and then get involved in coaching or managing.
He was once that kid on the playground, too small to mix it up. When he was weaving and squirming his way to the front, he wasn't getting a better view of the fight; he was moving toward his destiny.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A sorrow that really hits home

— Matty Rix understood the feelings of shared triumphs and shared pain that come with being a high school wrestler. Today a community that extends beyond Rix's hometown of South Berwick and the hallways of Marshwood High knows the feeling of shared sorrow.

Rix, just 19 years old, died of a possible drug overdose sometime late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. He was apparently alone in his room in a Dover, N.H., boarding house. He had a job and plans for his future. He was going to join the army.
The news is a kick in the gut. Who in wrestling didn't know the Rix name? Nearly 35 years ago, brothers Matt and Mark were among the best in Maine, wrestling for Marshwood. In 1982, Matt Rix became the young coach who rebuilt a program that would contend for state championships year after year.
Four years ago, Deanna Rix knocked down the gender barriers to come so close to winning the state title at 130 pounds. She lost by one point in the second overtime of her championship bout with Shane Leadbetter of Sanford. Matt Rix coached his daughter that night while Matty Rix cheered his sister.
Matty would have his own success, winning more than 100 bouts in his high school career. Matt, with his gentle smile and Matty, with his broad grin, were familiar faces at amateur tournaments up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
''Oh, no,'' said Jerry Perkins after hearing that Matty Rix was dead. Perkins coached champions at Rumford High and then Mountain Valley from 1967 to 1988. ''This is difficult to comprehend. I've always believed if you can make it through the sacrifices and the discipline and the courage it takes to walk onto the mat alone to face your opponent, it makes the rest of life easier.
''I also know that's not true for everybody.''
Wrestlers and their coaches form a brotherhood that outsiders don't always fully understand. Wrestlers deny themselves the pizza, egg rolls, and whoopie pies of life. They work and sweat off excess pounds, hone muscles and mind, then prepare to meet an opponent alone.
They pray that exhaustion doesn't overtake them, leaving them emotionally and mentally naked for all to see. They'll pay the price other teens won't, simply to feel that utter satisfaction of having their hand raised in victory.
Rookie or four-year letterwinner, they know what it's like to be on top of their world or to face their worst fears. They may not have met Matty Rix, but he wasn't a stranger.
For the men who coach, the sorrow is doubled. Matt Rix is a friend.
''Whenever he saw me, he'd give me a hug,'' said Perkins. ''He'd say, 'Hi, dad.' We both have the same (receeding) hairline. Matt is such a straight shooter.''
Matt Rix was achingly honest in an interview with the Foster's Daily Democrat newspaper in New Hampshire when asked if Matty used drugs. ''I'm sure he did. He tried to keep things away from me. Being the coach, it was taboo.''
Typically, wrestling coaches get on the mat with their wrestlers for one-on-one, hands-on instruction. It's the only way to teach.
''It's such an individual sport,'' said Tom Wells, who started the wrestling program at Cony High in Augusta before moving on to the mat to become a respected official. Like Matty Rix, Wells' son, Max, a champion hurdler at Maranacook, graduated from high school last spring.
''(Wrestling) is so demanding and all-encompassing. It takes over your life. It's one reason I got out (of coaching.) I can't imagine living in a house with a wrestler.''
Bob Eon can imagine. Until this winter, he coached sons Josh, a freshman at the University of Southern Maine, and Joey, a Massabesic senior. Both were state champs.
''When you wrestle and your father is the coach, you can't leave it behind when you get home,'' said Bob Eon. ''I was there to see what they ate, how much sleep they got, if they were doing their homework, everything.''
Dennis Walch remembers how his stomach churned when he coached his son, Brian, at Westbrook High in the early 1990s. The three two-minute periods of an individual bout can be that intense. ''Brian had no pressure from me, absolutely none. He was more gung-ho about what he put into his body and how he wrestled than I was.''
That didn't diminish Walch's pride in watching his son win. It was the pride Matt Rix shared with Matty.
Bob Eon has told his sons, for all their success they're not invincible. ''The one's you're going to hurt are the ones you love.''
The hurt is shared.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 MAWA Hall of Fame Inductees

By Bob McPhee 

The MAWA Hall OF Fame increases each year as deserving individuals are recognizes for accomplishments and contributions to the worlds oldest sport. A foursome will be officially inducted at a MAWA banquet this summer. They include former coaches Bob Walker, Hal Watson and Mark Lewia and Sanford wrestler Ryan Kalman. Hal Watson It requires quite an event to revoke a reaction from Hal Watson, however, even the mild-mannered man was rendered speechless upon being informed that the former Dirigo coach is a member of the 2009 Maine Amateur Wrestling Hall Of Fame. The honor is certainly humbling to Watson who started the Cougar wrestling program over three decades ago with little support or guarantees. Still, Watson refused to be deterred and was determined to see his dream become a reality. Watson will be officially inducted at a MAWA banquet this summer. He will be joined by former coaches Bob Walker and Mark Lewia and Sanford wrestler Ryan Kalman. Watson engulfed the opportunity and with a no-nonsense and can do attitude, Dirigo has revolved from club level to a state powerhouse. "I am overwhelmed at being selected," Watson said, a retired history teacher. "To have my name mentioned in the same conversation with those (past and current) recipients is gratifying. As I have contacted people, it has forced me to realize that this has happened to a short, fat, bald kid from (River Valley)." Watson had initially started a wrestling program at Dirigo in 1980 and Jack Schmidt placed third in the 1982 Class B state meet. Despite high student participation, a lack of interest by the  dministration put things on the back burner. Fortunately, the vision resurfaced in 1985 when first-year principal Tom Ward asked Watson if he’d be willing to be wrestling coach. Watson’s second-floor classroom served as a practice room and approximately 10, four by eight-foot mats were taped together between the iron-heating grates, which were cranked up. "Hal is very deserving," Ward said, currently SAD 21 superintendent. "I vividly remember watching Hal empty his classroom every night after school and put together what he had for mats and coach wrestling. I knew then that I had to find a way to buy him a wrestling mat and support him in starting wrestling at DHS. The rest is history." Watson initially introduced to wrestling by the late Mel Preble who coached at Stephens High School in Rumford. The fever and love for the pure sport never escaped his intra-being. When the sport was reintroduced at Dirigo there were numerous obstacles to overcome, 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. Dirigo paid its dues and Watson handled things by instituting his own style. He hammered out discipline, while early assistants Peter Glover, Mike Burke, Roger Smith, Glenn Gurney and Spencer Quiriron were the technicians.Hal Watson (continued)  "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. The important thing was never forgetting reaching toward the goal of a quality program." Former athletic director Brad Payne scheduled powers Oxford Hills and Rumford in a triangular meet, and as expected Dirigo was crushed. Then Rumford coach Jerry Perkins stated 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 instrumented what was necessary in order for Dirigo to reach the next level. "When you think of Dirigo wrestling it is important to think of the man who started it," Perkins said, who is a hall of famer. "Hal Watson started the program from scratch and built it up by learning and teaching the basics. Not only has Dirigo earned respect in Class C rankings, but in all classes." For years, Watson brought out the best in his hard-nosed student-athletes and the competitiveness is well known. In 1988, the Cougars finished fifth at the Mid-State League tournament and went home with their heads held high. The following day coach Tom Hicks called to admit a scoring error was discovered and Dirigo was declared the winner. Wrestlers are known for being able to react to any situation and following a 1989 meet, Watson took Martha outside and proposed marriage to her. Fortunately, he maintained focus and received an affirmative answer because he needed to rush back-inside and help roll the mats up. Two years later, a Class C state meet was created, but controversy erupted over seeding each wrestler. Watson promptly spoke-up and said it doesn’t matter who is seeded where because we’ll still kick your tail. This wasn’t an idle threat because Dirigo won the 1990 state championship and finished runner-up the next three years. "The classroom was still being used for practice when we won the state championship," Watson said. "We had six finalists and Keith St Laurent (103-pounds) was our first state champion. My philosophy for the team(s) that I stressed was that we didn’t fit any previous molds. Nobody wanted us. So, if we were relentless, worked hard and stayed together we would gain acceptance. (Dirigo) built a tradition and has maintained it since it started." Watson stepped away in 1994 and handed the reins over to Gurney and Dirigo didn’t skip a beat and won the 1996 state championship. When wrestling gets in the blood stream it’s hard to ignore and Watson is no exception because he was reeled back in as assistant coach for Doug Gilbert from 1997-2006. "Hal’s demeanor never changed," Gurney said. "I’ve never heard a referee or opposing coach say any thing disrespectful. He treated every one fairly like you’d want to be treated. I can honestly say that any one who been around him is a better person.Bob Walker Robert Bob Walker had no prior wrestling experience, however, with sheer determination and a can-do-attitude founded the program at Noble HS in 1973 and also enjoyed a success tenure at Kennebunk. In nearly two decades, Walker compiled a 253-98-1 dual-meet record and along the way won state championships at each interscholastic institution. This included the hundreds of individuals who he helped and earned their respect. After getting the Knights going in 1974, Walker stepped away for a season, before returning in 1976 and stayed mat side until 1985. Noble finished fourth in the 1977 Class A state meet, but it served as a prelude of things to come. In Walkers nomination, current Noble coach Kip DeVoll wrote Bob was my coach and mentor at Noble, along with many other athletes at Noble and Kennebunk. If it had not been for Bob, I would not be where I am today in terms of coaching. Bob is the father of Noble wrestling, having started the program from scratch in 1973 with no previous wrestling experiences, he built a powerful base for future teams to follow.” In 1981 and 1984, Noble proved to be a team to be on the move after placing second at the regional and state meets, respectively. In ’85, the Knights broke through by winning both the regional and state meets. Following the banner season, Walker moved up the road to Kennebunk and In 1991, Kenn tied Sanford for the Class A state championship. In 1994, Walker retired and Dale Doucette took over. DeVoll and Doucette both wrestled for Walker at Noble and both coach the Knights. Glenn Rowe and Steve Winkleman were Walker's first two state champions. Walker coached 17 individual state champions 10 at Noble and seven at Kennebunk; is believed to be the only coach to win a team state championship without ever competing in the sport; even more amazing, he won two state titles with two different high school programs. Walker was committed to enhancing the sport and served as Liaison to the MPA from 1989-94. Mark Lewia Mark Lewia who coached wrestling at Wells for 23 years earned plenty of respect and will be inducted in to the MAWA HOF, also. Lewia guided the Warriors beginning in 1983 and following the 2006 stepped aside to coach the junior high program. Lewia had discovered how wrestling can contribute to a person’s life, when competing at Kennebunk. He placed third in the 1979 state meet. The lessons learned prompted him to move in to the coaching ranks. Wells won 254 dual meets and became a team to watch for in tournament competition. This included Class B state championships in 1988 and 1996, respectively. In both big wins the teams had stepped-up following set backs at the regional, one week earlier. The Warriors did win three regional crowns and finished second seven times. Lewia coached 26 individual state champions and 54 state finalists. This included the late Sean Sheehy who won three titles. The Navy Seal was inducted in to the MAWA HOF in 1994. Wells has always been a competitive program which competes hard and has earned nine Sportsmanship awards from the Maine Principal’s Association. When Lewia stepped away his brother Scott took over and continues coaching the high school team.Ryan Kalman Ryan Kalman who competed at Sanford HS and Springfield College will be inducted as a competitor. He was a member of two state championship teams at Sanford and was a finalist in ’92 state meet. Kalman enrolled at Springfield and excelled in the classroom and on the wrestling mat. He was an Academic All American in 1995 and 1997. In 1997, Kalman earned All American honors with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Division III championships. He was inducted in to the New England College Conference Wrestling Association HOF. Kalman joins his late father Keith as the fourth father-son tandem in the MAWA HOF. The elder Kalman won a NE championship in 1964, in fact Sanford is the only Maine team to ever win the NE crown. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Barbaric to be sure, but a sport

— Say this for Marcus Davis: He knows how to grab attention walking into an arena or a committee room at the Maine Statehouse. His pull-no-punches personality helps. So does his nickname.

How do you ignore someone who calls himself the ''Irish Hand Grenade?''
Davis was the spokesman this week for those who want Maine to recognize and license the sport known as mixed martial arts, cagefighting, ultimate fighting or, in the words of Sen. John McCain, human cockfighting. McCain said that in 1997 when he proposed a ban on a form of competition that was in its infancy.
Well, this baby has learned to walk and is now sprinting. Mixed martial arts is a growth industry and Davis believes the state should tap into the revenue stream. That Davis is a ranked welterweight with earning power, a businessman and a Mainer is not beside the point.
That Maine lawmakers will find themselves in a quandary is another point. Mixed martial arts is alley-fighting with a bare-bones code of conduct. Submit or I'll continue to kick, elbow, punch, knee or choke you.
Davis, during an interview at his Biddeford gym last year, said the sport wasn't barbaric. Everything stops upon submission.
Afterward the combatants shake hands, embrace and voice their respect for each other.
It's crude and savage fury getting to that point that is the definition of barbarity.
You see that same savagery during hockey fights. You can't see the biting and eye-gouging at the bottom of a pile of NFL players going after a fumble. Later, players will tell you it happened.
Red Sox fans cheered when Coco Crisp charged the mound last spring, initiating a brawl. Many times it's just grab-and-hold. And sometimes it's not.
Fighting in hockey or in football or baseball is an occasional byproduct of the games. That makes it all right, barbaric as it still may be. Because mixed martial arts and boxing is fighting, some would bring it down to the mindlessness of dogs and roosters tearing each other apart. There's little that is mindless about two men or two women in a cage or a ring. That's what makes it sport.
People are drawn to either or both because there is so little pretense, or to put it another way, more honesty and even honor. Mike Tyson aside, it's why the great fighters are so deeply embedded in our culture. Time will tell if a Tim Sylvia, the Ultimate Fighting heavyweight champ from Ellsworth, or Bangor's Davis or featherweight champ Mike Brown, the Bonny Eagle graduate who lists Portland as his hometown, will rise to that.
After Brown defended his title, a reader called the Press Herald to say we gave him and what he does too much attention. Better that we write about more socially redeeming sports.
Last week, Jimmy Smith's eyes lit up when he heard that Brown successfully defended his title. Smith is the Marine from Biddeford who won the New England Golden Gloves title and heads to the national tournament next month.
Smith and Brown sparred together at the Portland Boxing Club when Smith was in high school. Funny, but Smith maintains that amateur wrestling, which he did at Biddeford High, was more challenging than boxing.
But the idea that two opponents, squaring off with only their strength, wits and will is the common ground for boxers, amateur wrestlers and mixed martial artists.
There's room under sport's big tent for mixed martial arts. It has its rules, its code of conduct and, surprise, its respect for each other.
You would have to watch and listen to understand.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Locals compete wrestling New Englands, Deering wrestler second in weight class

By Michael Hoffer

Several local standouts capped their winter season with New England competition last weekend. Toussaint runner-up wrestler Deering senior Ryan Toussaint finished second in the 125-pound weight class at the New England championship wrestling meet in New Haven, Conn. Toussaint beat Nick Flannery of Framingham, Mass., 6-5, in the quarterfinals, decisioned Joe Pronk of Marshfield, Mass., 3-1, in the semifinals, then lost 10-0 to Mike Meyers of Warwick, R.I., in the finals. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Maine wrestlers fall short in finals

— From staff reports

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Ryan Toussaint of Deering, Peter Gilman and Joey Eon of Massabesic, and Travis Spencer of Belfast all came within one victory of winning their respective divisions but settled for second place Saturday at the New England high school wrestling championships.
Toussaint won his first three matches at 125 pounds before losing 10-0 in the championship match against Mike Meyers of Warwick, R.I.
Gilman's bid for the 140-pound title ended with a 6-3 loss to Dan Telhada of Franklin, Mass. Eon, a four-time state champion, then lost in the 145-pound final to Victor DeJesus of Lowell, Mass.
Spencer, also a four-time state champion, dropped a 4-2 decision in the 189-pound final against Lucas Bowman of St. Bernard (Uncasville, Conn.).
Stephen Martin of Bonny Eagle compiled a 5-1 record to finish third at 171. He won 6-4 in the consolation final against Joel Altavesta of Tewksbury, Mass.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The special new kid in Lisbon

— When faced with the unknown, Dan Schofield won't fake it. He knows the uneasiness of nervousness, wondering how he'll get through the moment at hand. Fearing that moment is something he doesn't know.

His father taught him that.
Schofield is Lisbon High's 229-pound state heavyweight wrestling champion, one of the seven who qualified for the New England tournament in New Haven, Conn., on March 6-7. Never mind that Schofield never wrestled before this, his senior season. Never mind that he separated his shoulder three weeks before the Class C championship meet in Augusta. Or that his opponent in the state finals had pinned him the week before.
Never mind that he had been uprooted last summer from the life he once knew in Ohio and Michigan. Schofield's father, Roland, had lost his fight with cancer in June, five years after his wife, Ilene, lost hers. Dan and his 15-year-old sister, Amanda, moved to Maine to live with his older brother, Christopher, and his wife, Charlotte.
''It was hard,'' Schofield said Wednesday of the passing and the grieving, of leaving friends from school and church behind. But Roland Schofield had told his son to trust himself and to have faith.
''My dad believed that life gives you opportunities and challenges,'' said Schofield, who measures his words, thinking before he speaks.
He didn't hide the loss of his parents from teammates. Neither did he share a lot of memories.
Happy teammates surrounded Schofield after he beat A.J. Carrier of Dirigo at the end of the tournament. He was the last of seven Lisbon wrestlers to win championships that night. The team title was locked away long ago.
Most new champions feel a surge of intense satisfaction in the moments after competition. Schofield did. ''I feel,'' he said that night, ''that I can do anything.''
Lisbon football coach Dick Mynahan spotted Schofield this summer walking along the road they share. Schofield was a strange face.
''I remember asking myself, why don't we get football players (that size) in Lisbon?'' Later, Mynahan learned that someone had been at the weight room used by Lisbon High football players, asking about playing.
It was Schofield.
Schofield grew up in St. Helen, a small logging town in north-central Michigan so small, it couldn't support a high school. Two years ago his father moved his children to Toledo, Ohio, to be closer to the medical facilities treating his cancer.
''There aren't a lot of differences,'' said Schofield, referring to old friends in Ohio and new ones in Maine. ''I'm always meeting one person that reminds me of someone I knew back home.''
Schofield played defensive tackle and offensive guard on the Lisbon line. He used his exceptional leg strength well.
Teammates encouraged him to go out for wrestling. The Greyhounds needed a heavyweight. Schofield knew what a double-leg takedown was, but little else about the sport.
''I'm home schooled (he attended public schools in Ohio and Michigan) and I wanted something more to do. So why not?''
He's a rangy 229 pounds with good quickness, balance and strength.
What helped him on the football field would help him on the wrestling mat. He learned new moves quickly.
''I was amazed at the amount of knowledge he retained,'' said wrestling coach Mark Stevens. ''We'd show him something new and he'd use it right away.''
He won more bouts than he lost, many times giving away 20 or 30 pounds or more in the 285-pound class. He believed he could at least place in the state meet and maybe win. But in late January, while pulling his arm out of an opponent's hold, he separated his shoulder. He still won the bout but couldn't raise his arm.
Schofield took some time off. The pain lessened but didn't go away. He returned to the mat. The son who was at his father's bedside in a hospice had the strength to push another kind of ache aside.
At the state meet, Schofield pinned both his opponents, including the Eastern Maine champ, Andrew Larson of Foxcroft Academy, in the first period of their semifinals bout. Then came the rematch with Carrier. Up in the Augusta Civic Center grandstand, Dick Mynahan watched, respecting Carrier's talent and thinking the bout would end quickly.
Schofield held his own. That's when those in the Lisbon community who knew Schofield realized they were watching something special.
What happens in two weeks at the New England tournament will take second place to the triumph of the spirit.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Buddy system leads to wrestling crowns

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Posted Feb. 10, 2009, at 11:14 p.m.
A wrestling match is one of the most individual experiences in high school sport — a one-on-one confrontation against an opponent, under the spotlight, in front of the fans.
But winning a wrestling championship is far more an exercise in teamwork, with teammate helping teammate in the wrestling room throughout the winter to prepare for that moment in the individual spotlight.
“Champions come in pairs,” said Lisbon coach Mark Stevens, who guided the Greyhounds to their second straight Class C state title and third in the last four years at Augusta on Saturday. “If you look at the champions we had, Joe Doughty and Dan Schofield wrestle every day in practice, they train together.”
Doughty, at 215 pounds, and the 285-pound Schofield were among seven individual state champions from Lisbon. Similarly, champions Forest Cornell (112 pounds) and Mike McNamara and Josh Pomerleau, the runner-up at 119 pounds to Scott Carpenter of Calais, also fed off the practice challenges they provided each other throughout the season.
“Mike, Forrest and Josh, they train together every day,” said Stevens. “I think that’s kind of the perpetual motion some of these teams have that are successful here, and we’re included.
“These guys have wrestled together, and they train the new guys coming up, and eventually by the end of the season the new guys are winning matches.”
It’s a similar scenario for the Belfast Lions, who had seven state finalists and five individual champions leading the way to the team’s consecutive Class B state championship.
“We drill together a lot,” said Belfast junior Kote Aldus, the reigning 160-pound New England champion who won his second straight state title in that weight class Saturday. “I kind of think of us as brothers. We do everything together, we always train with each other, and when we don’t want to do any more, one of us gives us that extra shove, and definitely that extra shove helps a lot.”
Belfast’s individual titles came in consecutive weight classes, from Zach Shellabarger (152), Aldus and Kornealius Wood (171) to four-time state champion Travis Spencer (189) and Mark Smith (215).
And while that group represents a weight differential of more than 50 pounds, all of those champions have been able to learn and prosper thanks to each other’s help.
“We’ve all been in the program together since middle school,” said Shellabarger, one of five seniors who will graduate from Belfast’s starting lineup, “so we’ve all helped to develop each other to help get us where we are now.”
More honors for wrestlers, teams
Three competitors and six teams received special recognition after Saturday’s state wrestling championships held at the Augusta Civic Center.
Joey Eon of Massabesic of Waterboro, Travis Spencer of Belfast and Cameron Bubar of Lisbon each was honored as the outstanding wrestler in his class.
Eon won his fourth consecutive state individual title in helping Massabesic finish in the Class A meet. He outlasted Mark Richardson of Noble of North Berwick in the 145-pound championship final, rallying for a 6-4 overtime decision that avenged a loss a week earlier in the Western Maine Class A meet. Eon previously had won three individual state titles at 140 pounds.
Spencer joined Eon in the four-championship club by winning the 189-pound title to help Belfast win its second straight Class B state crown. Spencer had little difficulty winning his third 189-pound championship after winning the 160-pound class as a freshman. He recorded three first-period pins — capped off by a victory over Oak Hill of Sabattus’s Nick Wells at 1:32 of the championship match to continue his undefeated season.
Bubar won his first individual state championship while leading Lisbon to its second straight Class C team title and third in four years. Bubar, who placed third at 140 pounds as a freshman, second at 145 as a sophomore and second at 152 last winter, decisioned Jacob Ferland of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 10-3 in this year’s 171-pound final.
Also presented during Saturday’s post-meet awards ceremony were team sportsmanship awards. Eastern Maine teams honored were Skowhegan (Class A), Hermon (Class B) and Fort Kent (Class C), while Western Maine teams recognized were Marshwood of South Berwick (Class A), York (Class B) and Dirigo of Dixfield (Class C).
2nd wrestling postseason looms
What once was a break in the high school wrestling postseason schedule while waiting for the New England championships in early March has filled up fairly rapidly.
The second annual Maine High School Girls Wrestling Invitational meet will be held Feb. 18 at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington.
Fifty-three girls from 31 schools competed in nine weight classes a year ago, with Mount Ararat of Topsham, York, Oxford Hills of South Paris and Caribou emerging as the top four teams.
A larger field is anticipated this year, led by Kayleigh Longley of Noble of North Berwick, who won the 105-pound title at the girls meet last year and reached the championship round of the Class A state meet last weekend.
That meet is followed on Feb. 21 by the inaugural Maine All-State Folkstyle Invitational to be held at Cony High School in Augusta.
The top three finishers in each weight class from Classes A, B and C at the state meet will be invited to determine all-class champions.
That meet leads to the 45th annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships to be held March 6-7 at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


103 A 
1. Gage DeRosier (MASS) 15-0 
2. Kayleigh Longley (NOBL) 
3. Andy Ancira (CONY) 4-3 
4. Dale Cabral (BONN)
103 B 
1. Ryan Burgess (MTNV) 3-2 
2. Shane Daly (WELL) 
3. Logan Rich (CAMD) 2:54 
4. Reaha Goyetche (YORK)
103 C 
1. Caleb Hall (DIRI) 12-7 
2. Vinnie Malinauskas (DEXT) 
3. Mark Smith (FOXC) 3:50 
4. Matthew McInnis (MONM)
112 A 
1. Jake Rasque (MARS) 5:52 2. DJ Brackett (MORS) 
3. Ethan Gilman (MASS) 4:06 4. Shane Shibles (NOBL)
112 B 
1. Vanya Tomaszewski (WELL) 5-3 2. Jordan Young (BELF) 
3. Jesse Hurtado (WATE)  17-15 
4. Robert Worthley (MTNV)
112 C 
1. Forrest Cornell (LISB) 5:52 
2. Michael O’Connor (DEXT) 
3. Trevor Weymouth (FOXC) 5:30 
4. Cody Lozier (FORT)
119 A
1. Matt DelGallo (GARD) 16-4 
2. Ken Hagen (NOBL) 
3. Ryan Cook (BONN) 4-0 
4. Peter LePage (MASS)
119 B 
1. Brandon Wright (MCIN) 3:33 
2. Keith Madore (OAKH) 
3. Max Bragg (CAMD) 8-0 
4. Tim Ross (MTNV)
119 C 
1. Scott Carpenter (CALA) 8-2 
2. Josh Pomerleau (LISB) 
3. Greg Rowley (PENO) 9-7 
4. Ryan Malo (PISC)
125 A 
1. Ryan Toussaint (DEER) 6-1 
2. Joey Badger (NOBL) 
3. Will Lundquist (CONY) 8-2 
4. Stephen Desjardins (BREW)
125 B 
1. Craig Morrill (OAKH) 1:32 
2. Dustin Vigue (WINS) 
3. Phil Kyser (BELF) 2:27 
4. Tom Cassidy (CAMD)
125 C 
1. Mike McNamara (LISB) 7-1 
2. Kaleb Mann (FOXC) 
3. Zach Lafreniere (PENO) 6-0 
4. Eric Coulombe (MONM)
130 A 
1. Jake Bagley (NOBL) 2:39 
2. Dalton Groeger (BONN) 
3. Justin Dumond (MASS) 13-2 
4. Aaron Taylor (ERSK)
130 B 
1. Zac Fields (CAMD) 8-4 
2. Josh Robbins (BELF) 
3. Chris Neumann (WELL) 4-3 
4. Tim Howie (MTDI)
130 C 
1. Brian O’Connor (DEXT) 0:29 
2. Bryan Blackman (DIRI) 
3. Curtis Lozier (FORT) 4:22 
4. Lawrence DiPietro (JOHN)
135 A 
1. Bryan Anderson (NOBL) 1:10 
2. Kaleb Austin (SKOW) 
3. Zachary Clarke (SANF) 5-0 
4. Kyle Courtway (MASS)
135 B 
1. Ernie Matthews (MTNV) 2:51 
2. Brandon Rich (CAMD) 
3. Derek Juchnik (LINC) 1:33 
4. Matthew DiBona (WELL)
135 C 
1. Brandon Jonaitis (DIRI) 4:20 
2. Matt Nicholson (LISB) 
3. Spencer McCormick (CALA) 9-4 4. Jordan Fogg (BUCK)
140 A 
1. Peter Gilman (MASS) 3:28 
2. Ben Valencia (NOBL) 
3. Brandon Corson (SKOW) 5-2 
4. Kevin Kinehan (BONN)
140 B 
1. Jack Simpkins (CAMD) Pin 1:31 
2. Ryan Botting (HERM) 
3. Ben Fredette (WINS) Dec 4-3 
4. Joshua Thornton (MTNV)
140 C 
1. Ronald Harvey (DEXT) 6-2 
2. Bruce Rumney (BUCK) 
3. Zach Heanssler (DEER) 11-9 
4. Mike McManus (LISB)
145 A 
1. Joseph Eon (MASS) 6-4 
2. Mark Richardson (NOBL) 
3. Drew Leeman (ERSK) 
4. Ian L’Heureux (SANF)
145 B 
1. Billy Gauthier (YORK) 6-5 
2. Jacob Powers (CAMD) 
3. Steven Genthner (MEDO) 4-0 
4. Taylor Carey (MTNV)
145 C 
1. Marcus Bubar (LISB) 3:33 
2. Ray Wood (BUCK) 
3. Tom Hines (DIRI) 9-8 4. Justin Jordan (JOHN)

152 A 1. Peter Bronder (NOBL) Pin 0:19 2. Chris Robinson (CONY) 3. Harrison Strondak (WEST) Dec 6-3 4. Andrew Tripp (MASS) 152 B 1. Zach Shellabarger (BELF) Pin 3:29 2. Patrick Hapworth (MCIN) 3. Dakota Hellum (ELLS) Dec 3-2 4. Matthew Duka (MTNV) 152 C 1. Kyle Huston (LISB) Dec 7-2 2. Alex Miele (DIRI) 3. Cody Caron (DEXT) TF 16-0 4. Fred Lear (JOHN)
160 A 
1. Dillon White (SKOW) 6-3 
2. Patrick Chute (BIDD) 
3. Spencer Chipman (MORS) 6-4 
4. Derek Cloutier (MASS)
160 B 
1. Kote Aldus (BELF) 19-4 
2. Dillon Tibbetts (OAKH) 
3. Revelin Goeway (MCIN) 8-4 
4. Tristan Ripley (MTVI)
160 C 
1. Stephen Klenowski (BUCK) 4-2 
2. Josh Palmer (DIRI) 
3. Kyle Bell-Colfer (HALL) 5:00 
4. Lee Gustin (DEXT)
171 A 
1. Tyler Russell (MORS) Dec 6-5 
2. Stephen Martin (BONN) 
3. Zach Chandler (MTAR) 13-0 
4. Nate Winsor (NOBL)
171 B 
1. Kornelius Wood (BELF) 3-2 
2. Clyde Tibbetts (OAKH) 
3. Derek Clark (WINS) 8-2 
4. Bo Richards (HERM)
171 C 
1. Cameron Bubar (LISB) 10-3 
2. Jacob Ferland (MATT) 
3. River Robertson (BUCK) 12-2 
4. Andrew Jipson (PENO)
189 A 
1. Alexander Holland (MASS) 5-1 
2. TJ Vallee (CONY) 
3. Gerald Gould (NOKO) 8-6 4. Jacob Greenwood (WIND)
189 B 
1. Travis Spencer (BELF) 1:32 
2. Nick Wells (OAKH) 
3. Roy Williams (MCIN) 10-6 
4. Jesse Morkeski (LINC)
189 C 
1. Doug Richardson (DEXT) 5:51 
2. Craig Woodard (BUCK) 
3. Matt Johnston (MATT) 6-4 
4. Art Stambach (LISB)
215 A 
1. Andrew Drouin (WEST) 8-1 
2. Alex Wood (ERSK) 
3. Mike Fraser (CONY) 0:31 
4. Ryan Bogan (SANF)
215 B 
1. Mark Smith (BELF) 19-8 
2. Adam Hathorne (OAKH) 
3. Camden Fernald (MTDI) 1:57 
4. Jared Sargent (ELLS)
215 C 
1. Joe Doughty (LISB) 3-2 
2. Josh Dunbar (BUCK) 
3. Jake Linkletter (MADI) 5-2 
4. Zach Porier (DEXT)
285 A 
1. Nate Lavallee (CAPE) 0:56 
2. Shawn White (CONY) 
3. Tyler DeBardino (DEER) 4:04 
4. Heiko Nichols (NOKO)
285 B 
1. Mark Heathcote (CENT) 4-0 
2. Stephen Johnson (WELL) 
3. Jesse Sawin (FRYE) 2:11 
4. Justin Boyle (BELF)
285 C 
1. Dan Schofield (LISB) 8-6 
2. A.J. Carrier (DIRI) 
3. Andrew Larson (FOXC) 0:27 
4. Evan Goodine (BUCK)

Wrestlers of the Meet (OW)
Class A - Pelletier Award: Class B - LaFountain Award:
Class C - Smith Award:
Joey Eon (Massabesic) Travis Spencer (Belfast)
Cameron Bubar (Lisbon)

 ---------CLASS-A         ---------CLASS-B     ---------CLASS-C
 1. 170.5 Noble           1. 177.5 Belfast     1. 203.5 Lisbon
 2. 155.0 Massabesic      2. 120.0 Camden      2. 129.0 Bucksport
 3.  90.0 Cony            3. 107.5 Oak Hill    2. 129.0 Dirigo
 4.  69.0 Bonny Eagle     4.  98.0 Mtn Valley  4. 128.5 Dexter
 5.  54.0 Skowhegan       5.  78.5 Wells       5.  66.0 Foxcroft 
 6.  49.0 Morse           6.  65.0 MCI         6.  43.0 Penobscot 
 7.  43.0 Erskine         7.  44.0 Winslow     7.  36.5 Fort Kent
 8.  40.0 Deering         8.  32.0 York        8.  36.0 Calais
 8.  40.0 Westbrook       9.  28.5 Lincoln     9.  33.0 Mattanawcook 
 9.  28.5 Sanford        10.  26.5 MDI        10.  28.0 John Bapst 
10.  24.0 Cape Elizabeth 11.  24.0 Ellsworth  11.  23.0 Monmouth  
11.  24.0 Marshwood      12.  23.0 Hermon     12.  13.0 Hall-Dale 
13.  23.0 Gardiner       13.  21.0 Fryeburg   13.  12.0 Piscataquis 
13.  23.0 Mt Ararat      14.  20.0 Central    14.  11.0 Deer Isle 
13.  23.0 Nokomis        15.  19.0 Medomak    14.  11.0 Madison 
14  .15.5 Biddeford      16.  13.0 Waterville 16.  4.0 George Stevens 
15.  13.0 Windham 17.    17.  12.0 Caribou    17.  2.0 Washington 
16.   8.0 Brewer         18.   9.0 Mt View             Boothbay
17. 3.0 Bangor           19.   2.0 Old Town            Calvary Chapel
18. 3.0 Kennebunk                  Sumner              Stearns
19. 3.0 Mt Blue                    Winthrop
20. 3.0 Thornton                   Woodland 
21. 1.0 Scarborough

Sportsmanship Awards
A West: Marshwood
B West: York
C West: Dirigo
A East: Skowhegan
B East: Hermon
C East: Fort Kent