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Seven to be inducted in CT Chapter of National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2022

Seven individuals will be inducted in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2022. Top row, from left, Ben Aleks, Drew Black, Mike Cunningham and Dr. Erich Doubek. Bottom row, from left, Sarah Jadach, Captain Frank Kapral and Bryan McCarty.

Seven outstanding individuals who have helped young men and women grow thanks to the sport of wrestling will be honored and inducted into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in April 2022.

Three are current coaches, two are former coaches, one individual is a long-time tournament organizer and one inductee will be the first woman to be inducted into the chapter’s Hall of Fame. The seven inductees are:

  • Enfield’s Ben Aleks, former high school coach in Connecticut and western Massachusetts and wrestling benefactor
  • Drew Black, head coach at Wesleyan University
  • Mike Cunningham, head coach at Xavier High in Middletown
  • New Milford’s Dr. Erich Doubek, long-time tournament organizer, historian and supporter of the New Milford Wrestling Association
  • Derby’s Sarah Jadach, chair of the Connecticut chapter of USA Wrestling
  • The late Frank Kapral, wrestling coach at Coast Guard, an official and author
  • Bryan McCarty, head coach at Platt High in Meriden

All seven will receive a Lifetime Service award for coaches, officials, or contributors with at least 20 years of service.

They will be permanently recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Stillwater, Oklahoma) with an embossed name plaque. These seven will join 44 other inductees in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Aleks wrestled at Cathedral High in Springfield and returned to coach there from 1969-78 before coming to Fermi High in Enfield for 11 years (1983-94). After stepping down as head coach, Aleks continued as a volunteer with the program. Recently, he spearheaded the effort to construct a dedicated wrestling room for the Enfield High program at the newly-renovated high school. It was named in his honor in December 2019.

Black has been the wrestling coach at Wesleyan University for 23 years. A two-time New England Wrestling Association (NEWA), he has led the Cardinal to a program-record 211 wins and the New England title in 2012. Last January, he was inducted into the NEWA Hall of Fame.

Cunningham has been coaching for 26 years, most recently at Xavier, where he has led the Falcons to nine Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) titles, three state championships (2011, 2012, 2020) and a State Open title (2012). More than 30 wrestlers have won state titles in the Cunningham era. He has also coached boys lacrosse and boys soccer at Xavier. Prior to his tenure at Xavier, he was the head coach for four years at Rocky Hill and one year at Wesleyan.

Doubek served as the meet director for 80 tournaments throughout the years including the Western Connecticut Conference (WCC), Southwest Conference (SWC), Western New England Independent School Wrestling Association (WNEISWA) championship tournaments and New Milford’s annual tournament, one of the longest running tournaments in the state (35 years). In 1998, he and his wife, Neen, were co-founders of the New Milford Wrestling Association, where he has served as president (1998-2004) and treasurer (2014-present).

Jadach has been part of USA Wrestling for more than 20 years. She joined the organization in 1999 as membership director, became vice chair and became the first woman to be named chair of USA Wrestling Connecticut in 2009. She is currently one of four women in the nation currently serving as a state chair in USA Wrestling. In 2015, she was named State Chairperson of the year by USA Wrestling. Since 2005, Sarah has been coordinating and overseeing the participation of the Connecticut team at the USA Wrestling Cadet, Junior and Freestyle national tournaments each July in Fargo, North Dakota.

Kapral was a wrestling coach at Coast Guard for seven years but he also helped the sport blossom in eastern Connecticut. He founded the Coast Guard’s Small Fry wrestling program in the 1960s for boys ages 8-18 and began the state’s first Pee-Wee wrestling league. He was commissioner of the Southern Connecticut Interscholastic Wrestling Officials Association for nearly 25 years. He also wrote two textbooks, including the Coach’s Illustrated Guide to Championship Wrestling in 1964. Kapral passed away in March 2020 at the age of 91.

McCarty was hired to be the head coach at Platt in 1991-92 at the age of 18 after spending one season as an assistant coach. McCarty, who was awarded the Coach of the Year award in 2012 from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, has led the Panthers to 491 dual meet wins, which is No. 5 on state’s career win list in wrestling. A Special Education teacher in the Meriden school system, Bryan was named Platt High Teacher of the Year in 2017.

Cunningham will join his father, Jim, in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Jim Cunningham was inducted in 2010. Jadach, will join her father, Buster, in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, too. Buster Jadach was also inducted in 2010.

Interested in tickets? You can purchase tickets online today.

Learn more about the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame by going to the chapter website.

Connecticut Wrestling Online has been covering the sport of wrestling in Connecticut and New England since 2001.

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