West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Remembering Great Coaches

I often reminisce about the unique qualities of the many great wrestling figures that I have been blessed with throughout my life. In essence, I learned from the untiring energy of Rex Peery (Pitt), the outstanding character of Bill Hinegardner (John Marshall), the deep wrestler-understanding of Rod Oldham (Parkersburg South), the electrifying emotion of Eric Carder (Wheeling Park), the meticulous organization of the late George Kovalick (Weir High), the true grit of Joe Handlin (Parkersburg), the wrestling savvy of Bill Archer (Huntington), the endearing dedication of Dix Manning (Shady Springs), and the self-control of Mal Paul!

Now the name Mal Paul may mean nothing to West Virginia Wrestling fans, but in PA wrestling circles he is considered a "legend." Mr Paul coached wrestling at Shamokin High School for 19 years (1946-1965), and I learned the meaning of discipline as a wrestler under his tutelage. So, please permit me this opportunity to "brag" about my high school mentor.

Coach Paul, along with his loyal assistant--Lyman "Beansy" Weaver, produced champion after champion via sound fundamentals and the innate ability to instill a "winning spirit" in his matmen. During Mal Paul's tenure as wrestling coach in this small coal-mining community, his teams won 14 sectional and district championships. (Note: There were no regional or state team titles at that time.)

Furthermore, Coach Paul developed 82 district champs, 20 regional winners, and 8 state champions. Considering the fact that back then that the state elimination process involved four weekends of strenuous competition, these statistics are truly phenomenal--especially in view of the fact that the tournament field was not divided into classes based on enrollment, but had the athletes from the small schools and those from the large schools competing against each other.

But there's more.

Coach Paul's dual meet record was 195-35-2; that's an average of less than two loses a year, with no losing seasons! And in 1973, Coach Mal Paul was inducted into the "Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame." But even more rewarding to him as an educator are the scholarships his wrestlers acquired as such fine colleges as West Point, Lehigh, Temple, Michigan, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, and Rutgers.

In sum, Mal Paul symbolized the best in coaching, not knowing in his knowlegde of the sport, but also in the professional manner that he always conducted himself during many "pressure-packed" situations. Without question, Coach Paul taught his wrestlers how to play the game with dignity--both on and off the mats!

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Updated January 25, 1999