West Virginia Wrestling

Fourteenth Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet

October 30, 2016
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV

Six new members were inducted into the West Virginia Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame on this pleasant October Sunday afternoon.

As usual, opening remarks were offered by Wayne Bennett, WV Chapter Treasurer (WV-HOF '08), and the invocation was offered by his wife Diana. Once again, Bill Archer, WV Chapter President (WV-HOF '07) served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Aristotle Svingos of Huntington was honored this year with the "Medal of Courage" award. In his moving remarks, Svingos related how wrestling had instilled in him several life lessons, including guts, grit, determination, courage, determination, endurance, perseverance, and tenacity - traits which, along with the support of his family and friends, have been of immense benefit to him the past four years as he has battled a series of serious health issues. Svingos concluded his remarks by noting that "...time past is a memory that wise men can learn from, the future is not promised, and today is the only day you can live in."

Preston County's Mike Contic was honored for his Lifetime Service to Wrestling. Contic recalled the phrase "It Takes a Village," and expressed gratitude for the assistant coaches, fabulous parents, booster clubs, fine administration, and outstanding young men he has worked with during his career as a coach. He noted that he finds his biggest success stories in the accomplishments of many of his former wrestlers after they have left the mats, going on to find success at West Point, the Coast Guard Academy, and finding success in business, education, and the medical and legal fields.

Point Pleasant's Joann Cullen became the second woman inducted into the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling HOF. Cullen noted that her journey through West Virginia wrestling began in the early 1980s, when her husband Jack (WV HOF '11) began coaching at Central Preston High School. Starting as a cheerleader advisor, she rapidly advanced to the position of assistant coach in the high school ranks at Point Pleasant, working with her husband Jack and others. Cullen's experience as assistant coach ran the gamut of those duties which assistants are called on to perform, including finding herself in sole charge of her team on the mat at the State Tournament one year when the head coach found himself watching the tournament from the stands (and we won't get in to that...).

Dr. Dan Doyle expressed his thanks to the committee for the recognition, indicating that he had been blessed with many to guide and direct his life journey. He recalled perhaps some of his earliest wrestling activities with his brothers as his father would toss a nickel on the floor and he and his three brothers would scramble for the nickel (and a mother who often provided a dime for the brothers who didn't get the nickel)! Expressing gratitude to those in the sport who have come before, Doyle noted that "...we build the future by honoring the past."

Dick Edge, whose wrestling journey began some 50 years ago, recalled that "...never in my 49 years of wrestling did I say 'Wouldn't it be nice if I won an award.'" Edge noted that his motivation was the love of the sport and the kids (and he shared a "dirty little secret" that coaches are also motivated by ego, competition, and the urge to win). Edge, who is somewhere in the vicinity of 80 years old, noted that half his life was given over to helping other people's kids, and, if given the chance, "I'd do it all over again."

Hurricane's Dale Slack noted that his wrestling career actually began in the 9th grade when, as a member of the school's basketball team, he fouled out of a game in under one quarter, with his coach suggesting that perhaps wrestling might be a better sport for him. And the rest, as they say, is history. Slack's contribution to the sport includes a very successful high school career, and several years as a wrestling official and service at numerous State Tournaments. He paid special tribute to his high school coach Mike Ellis (WV HOF '12), who provided much support during a recent severe illness.

2016 Hall of Fame inductees:

Seated, L to R: Aristotle Svingos, Joann Cullen, Dr. Dan Doyle
Standing, L to R: Dale Slack, Richard "Dick" Edge, Mike Contic

Honoree Dale Slack (center) along with sister Bobbie Levy, nephew Casey Levy, son Dylan Slack, and wife Tiauna.

...along with well-wishers in attendance.

Preston County's Mike Contic with family...

...and a few of his friends (They all had not arrived yet. Was anybody left in Preston County)?

Inductee Aristotle Svingos with a few members of his fine family: Neice Kayla Bowman, son Lambros, daughter Alexandra, wife Janet, daughter Maria Simone with friend Kane Smith, mother Mary Svingo, and brother Sotoro with wife Vickie...

...and others on hand to honor Svingos.

Dick Edge (center) with nephew Roy Edge, daughter Holly Edge, brother Bill Edge, wife Pat, Daughter Lynn Davis, and daughter Jennifer Ragase...

...and a few other friends in attendance on this pleasant day.

Dr. Dan Doyle with sooo many family members...

...and sooo many other friends on hand.

Not to be outdone, Joann Cullen with some of her family members in attendance: sister Peggy Jackson, sister Brenda Blackston, brother Chuck Lipscomb, mother-in-law Lucy Cullen, Travis Cullen, husband Jack Cullen, son Justin and daughter-in-law Kiley Cullen, daughter and son-in-law Jordan and Tyler Glover, and Tom and Laura Cullen.

This year's inductees with past inductees in attendance.

West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Return to the WV-Mat front page