BATH — Doug Gilbert and Dr. Tom Ward have earned respect throughout the wrestling community for years.

Saturday, they were inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Hall Of Fame at the Hyde School in Bath.

More than 125 people attended the annual banquet. Joining Gilbert and Ward in the Class of 2013 were Maynard Pelletier, Jon Kane and Rusty Smith.

Hall-of-Fame coach Hal Watson introduced Gilbert and alluded to his unique ability to get kids involved in wrestling and use it as a way to encourage them to strive for more in life.

”Doug is a great technician,” said Watson, who coached at Dirigo. ”When he came to Dirigo he knew exactly what he wanted to teach the kids and has never wavered because he is still teaching those same traits today.”

The long-time Dirigo coach fully knows how much hard work, sacrifice and dedication is required in order to reach the next level. In September 1992, Glen Gurney asked Gilbert to be an assistant coach at Dirigo when Watson stepped down. Gurney stepped away after Dirigo won the 1996 Class C state championship and Gilbert was elevated to varsity head coach.


”I came back (to wrestling) at the right place at the right time,” Gilbert said.

Since Gilbert took over, Dirigo has finished first or second in every regional and won the 2007 Class C state championship. He has coached 28 state champions and 18 individuals to more than 100 career wins.

”Kids that wrestle are still the same,” Gilbert said. ”I’d like to think they are better wrestlers (technically) and less brawlers. We’ve been lucky at Dirigo. There is a culture, a history of good wrestling and the kids want to be pushed.”

During Gilbert’s initial coaching stint, he was an assistant under Jerry Perkins on the 1981 Rumford state championship team.

”He has a tremendous work ethic,” said Perkins, another Hall-of-Fame coach. ”He has an inside drive and desire to succeed that is difficult to match. His competitiveness and desire to win is fierce, to say the least. Doug’s knowledge of the intense sport of wrestling is unparalleled in my opinion.”

Gilbert, a Rumford native, was initially introduced to wrestling as a freshman at the 1971 state meet, held in Rumford.


”This is my fifth decade in wrestling,” Gilbert said. ”After I got into it my sophomore year, it was my teammates that kept me there — Gary Oldham, Steve DeFillip, Dave Magoon, Dino Sciraffia, Jeff and Glenn Gurney — and who could forget (assistant coach) Tom Paradis? There are second-generation wrestlers now and all the assistant coaches have helped along the way.”

Gilbert had competed at 167-pounds sophomore and junior years. He moved into uncharted territory when Perkins convinced Gilbert, who weighed 185 at the time, that going unlimited (when it was truly unlimited) was the best for the team.

Gilbert is the sixth member of 1974 Rumford team in the Hall of Fame, along with Perkins, teammates Steve DeFillip, Steve Nokes, Larry Gill and Bob McPhee.

Since 1993, the MAWA has inducted 71 individuals for their achievements. Few have given a more emotional speech upon induction than Ward, who is currently the superintendent of RSU 9 in Farmington.

”I’ve been very fortunate,” said Ward, who stopped his speech several times to regain his composure. ” I am passionate about the sport. In wrestling, you get out of it what you are willing to put into it.”

Ward, who lives in Temple, initially made his mark on the wrestling mat early in life, winning the first-ever individual Maine high school wrestling championship at 155 pounds for Mt. Blue in 1972. Ward went on to compete at University of Maine and won a New England Championship as a freshman and was co-captain as a senior.


Ward ventured into coaching for one year at Mt. Blue before moving to Rumford as assistant in 1977.

”He was a hit in the school system right from the start because of his tremendous dedication, hard work, and yet easy-going demeanor,” Perkins said. ”Now, I have to mention that I was most impressed with his wrestling background and personal knowledge of man’s oldest sport.”

Ward was well-versed in his “cradle” technique and personal experience, which was an asset in teaching mat skills.

Ward was an assistant coach on the 1978 Rumford state championship team.

”That was a great experience,” he said. ”I learned what it took to build a championship team from Jerry Perkins.”

Ward returned to Mt. Blue and built a competitive program that quickly challenged for the state championship. The Cougars won back-to-back state titles in 1983-84 and Ward was named coach of the year both years.


Ward’s coaching career ended when he became athletic director at Mt. Blue.

”My only regret was having to step away from coaching,” Ward said. ”But that’s the price to be paid when you step into administration. However, I love teaching kids and plan on returning to coaching again.”

Hall-of-Fame coach and presenter Matt Rix pointed out how much Ward’s direct influence helped Maine wrestling return to New England competition in 1999, following a 20-year hiatus.

”It needed to be addressed,” Ward said, regarding the 26-25 vote that sent Maine wrestlers back into regional competition. ”The issue had affected the entire wrestling community and the state of Maine needed to return to New England competition.”

Smith wrestled at Dexter and reached the state finals four straight years, winning three state titles. Kane, elected in his first year on ballot, reached the state finals as a Deering junior, then went 36-0 with 21 pins as a senior, winning a regional and state championships at 171.

Kane then competed in national tournaments, winning the National Wrestling Coaches Association tournament’s most outstanding wrestler and earning High School All-American from the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Kane was selected to the U.S. Naval Academy (2002-2006) and collected 75 wins on the wrestling team, missing qualifying for nationals by one match his senior year. He is a Naval Aviator, flying helicopters, previously deployed to the Middle East.

Pelletier, another first-ballot selection, wrestled for Fort Kent, where he won a state championship in 1970 and was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler, an award that is named after his late brother, John. While wrestling at University of Maine at Orono, he won two Northern New England titles and a New England crown as UMaine’s first Division 1 National Qualifier. Pelletier was assistant coach at Foxcroft Academy under Luis Ayala for three Class C state championships, and as head coach guided the Ponies to four state titles.

Dan Del Gallo of Gardiner, a three-time state champion received the ‘Wrestler of the Year Award.’ Bobb Ewing of Mount Ararat was named ‘Person of the Year, while Chuck Alexander earned Past President Recognition.’

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