Monday, August 22, 2016

Wrestling Hall of Fame inducts Josh Pelletier

Ernie Clark, BDN Staff • August 22, 2016
CHARLESTON – Josh Pelletier wasn’t born when both his father and uncle starred on the wrestling mat.

But individual success stories in the physically demanding endeavor rooted in a shared passion for the sport have landed all three in the same place — the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.

Josh Pelletier, now 28, was inducted during ceremonies at the Hyde School in Bath last Saturday night, joining his father Maynard (inducted in 2013) and uncle Romey (2000).

The younger Pelletier’s induction may have been the unlikeliest of the trio, only because injuries nearly prevented him from realizing his premier collegiate accomplishment in the sport, competing for an individual national championship as well as being part of a title-winning team at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Maynard Pelletier was a high school state champion from Fort Kent who in 1984 became the first University of Maine wrestler to qualify for the NCAA championships. Romey Pelletier was an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman team.

Josh Pelletier was one of the most successful wrestlers in Maine high school history, capturing three individual state championships while a student at Foxcroft Academy and winning the New England 275-pound title as a senior in 2006.

Pelletier earned a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship to attend Liberty University, where he battled back from a knee injury suffered during his sophomore year to work his way into the Flames’ wrestling lineup full time in 2010. He compiled a 15-8 record and placed second in the NCAA Division I East Regional, one win short of the nationals.

He returned to the regional qualifying meet seeded first in his weight class in 2011 but hurt his knee while warming up for his first match, beginning an injury-filled three years that also saw him leave school short of graduation.

As he continued to recover from knee and back injuries, Pelletier inched his way back into the sport as an assistant coach at Foxcroft Academy during the 2012-13 season, helping coach Luis Ayala’s Ponies win a third straight Class C state championship.

A year later, he was helping coach the University of Maine club wrestling team, which concluded its season at the 2014 National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships at Allen, Texas.

While there he reconnected with Julian Castro, his former coach at Liberty, which had dropped NCAA Division I wrestling and joined the NCWA in 2012 to comply with Title IX standards.

That meeting eventually led to Pelletier returning to Liberty in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as well as for one last chance to wrestle collegiately.

It was a stunningly successful comeback for Pelletier after more than three years off the mat — he went 33-6 and advanced to the NCWA heavyweight championship match.

He also helped Liberty win the 2015 NCWA team championship.

“As far as coming back and being an All-American and wrestling on the national stage and as a team winning the national championship, I don’t think there will be a memory like that,” said Pelletier recently.

“I’ll never forget that I was able to come back and stand on the podium at a national event.”

And while Act 2 of his wrestling career landed Pelletier in national-level competition, fond recollections similarly abound from Act 1 — when he compiled a 110-11 career mark at Foxcroft and earned considerable individual acclaim while also helping the Ponies win Class C state team championships in 2004 and 2005.

“The first part of my career with high school and the first part of college are obviously some of the best memories I’ll ever have, especially just being around my friends and coaches,” he said. “There’s just nothing like the friendships you make in the locker room with those guys you go through all those practices with every day.”

Pelletier now lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida, and continues to remain involved with the sport as head wrestling coach at Ludus Martial Arts.

He provides training and instruction and wrestling to approximately 30 professional and amateur mixed martial arts fighters who train at that gym.

“Honestly, I get by far the most joy from coaching and seeing someone who tells me they want to win, whether it’s a wrestling state championship or an MMA fight, and we develop a plan and I see them reach their goal,” Pelletier said. “When I see them work their butts off and follow through, I don’t think there’s any feeling like it.

“For me it’s way better to see the fruits of that labor and the next generation being able to benefit from what I’ve learned in the past.”

Editor’s note: Maynard Pelletier is a graduate of Fort Kent High School, where he won the 167-pound state championship as a senior in 1979.

He 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 2001-08, where he helped coach his sons, Josh and Caleb.

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 each summer.

Romey Pelletier, also a graduate of Fort Kent High School, wrestled at the University of Maine at Presque Isle before enlisting in the U.S. Army after his graduation in 1977. He went on to become became assistant wrestling coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1978, a position he held through 1984.

Pelletier also continued to wrestle, winning the bronze medal in the 1982 Concord International tourney, the gold medal in the 1982 World Military tournament, and was the Canadian champion in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1982.

In 1983, Romey Pelletier was the national Greco open runnerup, and in 1984 he won a gold medal in Greco style at the Interservice Championships and placed first in his weight class at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was a team alternate for the 1984 Olympic Games.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 MAWA Hall Of Fame Inductees and Award Winners

2016 Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Hyde School
616 High St.
Bath, Maine

 4:00 PM - Doors Open
                  4:30 PM – 5:00 PM Social Time
         5:00 PM – 5:45 PM Dinner
   5:45 PM - Presentations

2016 Inductees
Wes Leighton
Josh Pelletier
Allen Stein

Coaches of the Year
Tenney Noyes
Brooks Thompson

College Wrestler of the Year
Daniel DelGallo

High School Wrestler of the Year
Peter DelGallo

Person of the Year
Alan Kinerson

Tickets: $25.00 per person, must be pre-purchased by August 6th using the ticket registration form.

Link: 2016 Ceremony Information and Registration Form

Friday, April 1, 2016

Former Maine wrestling star back on the mat with an eye on the Olympics

Now a mother of two, Deanna (Rix) Betterman, who made headlines a decade ago by thumping the boys, sets her sights on a berth on the U.S. team.

Former Marshwood High School wrestler Deanna Betterman, who's 28 now, married and the mother of two in Colorado Springs, Colo., will compete in trials this month for a spot on the U.S. Olympic women's wrestling team. The Summer Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro. Christian Murdock/The Gazette/Special to the Press Herald

One more chance.
That’s all Deanna Betterman wants. For 10 years she’s chased a spot on the U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling team. Now 28 and a mother of two, she knows time may be running out.
So she’s focusing everything she has on the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, which will be held April 9-10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Betterman, the daughter of Marshwood High wrestling coach Matt Rix, is looking to make the same headlines she generated in 2005 when she nearly won a high school state championship at Marshwood competing against boys.
She’s going to have to be at her best at the trials because her weight class – 53 kilograms (117 pounds) – is loaded with talent. Only the winner gets the Olympic berth.
“This is a big deal for me,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “I’ve worked a long time for this.”
Deanna Betterman of Colorado Springs, Colo., tries to strike a balance between her athletic pursuits and her family, above: her husband, Joe Betterman, their 3-year-old son, Mason, left, and their daughter, Madison, who is 18 months old.
Deanna Betterman of Colorado Springs, Colo., tries to strike a balance between her athletic pursuits and her family, above: her husband, Joe Betterman, their 3-year-old son, Mason, left, and their daughter, Madison, who is 18 months old.Courtesy Betterman family
Four years ago, Betterman’s Olympic dreams ended when she discovered she was pregnant a couple of months before the Olympic trials. She and her husband, Joe Betterman – a former Team USA Greco-Roman wrestler who had to retire from competition after having surgery to repair bulging discs – have two children, a 3-year-old son, Mason, and a daughter, Madison, 18 months.
Being a mother has not dampened her desire to compete in the Olympics. If anything, it has fueled the dream.
“It keeps me motivated,” she said. “If I’m having a hard day, I think of my kids and they get me through a tough practice. I’m wrestling for them, too.”
It’s not unusual for mothers to compete in the Olympics. Twenty-one members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing were mothers. At the London Olympics in 2012, there were 12. Among them: soccer player Christie Rampone, volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, basketball player Candace Parker, swimmer Dara Torres and marathoner Kara Goucher.
But it can be a difficult balance, obviously, especially now as Betterman tries to cut down her weight after wrestling at 59 kilograms (about 130 pounds) in the past.
“I come home and I’m tired,” she said. “And I have to have energy to play with the kids, or make dinner. In some ways it’s hard.
“But at the same time, it works out great that I get to pursue my dream while I have my family.”
Over the years she has seen many wrestlers her age leave the sport to marry and start families. Even now, many of the younger wrestlers ask her how she does it.
Terry Steiner, the U.S. women’s head coach, said being a mother seems to have made a difference in Betterman’s life.
“There’s a lot of power in that,” he said. “She’s juggling some things, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes, when it’s the only thing we do, it can be detrimental to us. She’s married and has two young children who need her attention. When she comes into the wrestling room or to work out or to lift weights or to run, it’s probably the most relaxing time of the day for her. It’s time for her to spend time on herself.
“And she seems to be just enjoying it more. I know she’s very easy to be around now.”
Betterman and her husband are willing to make the schedule work. “I got lucky with Joe, he’s such a great guy,” Betterman said. “He’s taken on a lot, has picked up a lot of what I usually do with the kids.”
She misses her children at times, of course. “And I feel guilty sometimes, I feel selfish when I drop them off at day care for me to go train for four hours a day,” she said. “That’s when it’s hard for me sometimes. But other than that, we balance it out in the end.”
Deanna Rix, wrestling for Marshwood High in January 2005, takes on Noble's Heath Devoll in the 130-pound class. She won the match.
Deanna Rix, wrestling for Marshwood High in January 2005, takes on Noble’s Heath Devoll in the 130-pound class. She won the match. Press Herald file photo/John Patriquin
Betterman was always driven to succeed, especially after a high school career that grabbed national headlines. She won 100 career matches at Marshwood, all against boys, and came within four seconds of a state championship as a senior, losing 2-1 in double overtime on an escape point. But she struggled when she left home for Northern Michigan University and to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She was on her own for the first time and had trouble adjusting. She stopped wrestling altogether for a while.
When she returned, she regained the edge that put her on track to make the Olympics. Twice she finished fifth in the world championships for the U.S., in 2008 and 2009. Even then, her life was jolted when her younger brother Matty died of a prescription drug overdose in 2009.
Steiner said everything that has happened to Betterman has brought her to this point in her life.
“She’s really just grown up a lot,” he said. “When she first got on the scene, she was still finding herself and she went through some rough times all the way around. She’s come through. She really is an enjoyable person. I think she has good balance in her life now and that’s what it comes down to right now.”
Betterman knows she was probably at her prime leading into the London Olympics in 2012, when her first pregnancy occurred. She took a year off after Mason was born, wrestled for a year, then became pregnant with Madison and took more time off.
Competing at a lower weight class in the past year, Deanna Betterman, top, wrestles Haley Augello in a practice this week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Christian Murdock/The Gazette/Special to the Press Herald
Competing at a lower weight class in the past year, Deanna Betterman, top, wrestles Haley Augello in a practice this week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Christian Murdock/The Gazette/Special to the Press Herald
She returned to the mat about a year ago, although competing at a much lower weight class. “My body got a lot smaller after I had my kids,” she said. “And I do eat a little healthier now. It was a little bit of a lifestyle change.”
But dropping three weight classes is not an easy thing to do. In addition to having to shed about 18 pounds, she’s now competing against wrestlers who are more agile and quicker.
“At 130 pounds, I thought she could control the pace and speed of the match,” said Matt Rix, her dad. “At 116, things got a lot quicker. I saw her in April (in her first match at that weight class) and I was concerned. She had a tough tournament.
“Then I saw her in November and it was like night and day. Her timing was back and she looked like her old self again.”
Her results this year – including a third-place finish in an international field and fourth at the U.S. Open – have been encouraging. But the 53-kilogram class may be the deepest in terms of talent and experience. It includes the top three U.S. wrestlers at 53 kilograms, as well as the top three at 55 kilograms, who are dropping down a weight class because 55 kilograms isn’t an Olympic weight.
The biggest threats may be Whitney Conder (No. 1 at 53 kilograms and a bridesmaid at Betterman’s wedding) and Helen Maroulis (No. 1 at 55 kilograms).
“Her defense has to be spot on, she has to be able to shut people down with good defensive tactics and score counter-offensively,” Steiner said of Betterman. “She’s very tough when she stays in her position.”
Always known as a defensive wrestler who capitalized on her opponent’s mistakes, Betterman had to learn how to counter lighter, quicker opponents. “At first I tried to wrestle their game, rather than mine,” she said. “The fourth tournament in, I felt I was more used to the weight class. … I have to stick to my style and do what I do – wait for them to make mistakes and counter that, tie them up, slow them down and make them wrestle my style.”
Deanna Betterman, top, practices takedowns with Haley Augello during practice Tuesday at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. The Gazette/Christian Murdock/Special to the Press Herald
Deanna Betterman, top, practices takedowns with Haley Augello during practice Tuesday at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. The Gazette/Christian Murdock/Special to the Press Herald
A spot on the team this year, she said, “would mean the world to me. This has been my whole life since I was 4 years old. I’ve spent the last 10 years training at this level.”
And she’s trying to pass her knowledge along. She and her husband coach at the James Irwin charter school in Colorado Springs in the spring, and they run the Betterman Elite Wrestling Club. Most of their students are boys, but she said they have some girls involved as well.
“I’m following in my dad’s footsteps,” she said. “I’ll always be involved in wrestling.”
Whether than means competing past this year or not she isn’t sure. “I was planning on this being the last one,” she said. “But things are going good, my life’s in order. I might go one more quad. I’m not sure yet.”
Whatever Betterman decides, Steiner said, she’s already made her mark on her sport.
“We all know what Deanna Betterman is,” he said. “She’s a great competitor and has been a great part of women’s wrestling for a long time. That’s never going to go away. She’s got a great legacy.”

Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 Hall of Fame Induction

Saturday 13nd August Hyde School Bath, ME beginning at 4pm

Paid in full tickets required

Send check for $25 payable  to MAWA using the following address 
    John Nicholas, MAWA President
    2 Pot of Gold
    Windham Maine 04062

Due date: 6th August 2016