B y Paul Wager
Paul F. Wager, a longtime assistant coach for the Whitehall High School wrestling team, was inducted into the Section V Wrestling Hall of Fame on Dec. 12.
Wager, who lost his battle with mantle cell lymphoma on May 20, was honored with five other inductees at Red Fedele’s Brook House during the Section V Friends of Wrestling’s 11th annual banquet.
The inductee’s names were added to the Hall of Fame plaque, which is located in the lobby of the Brook House. A total of 119 people have been inducted since the Section V Wrestling Hall of Fame since it was started in 1994.
Wager wrestled at Gates-Chili High School where he was a Monroe County champion and Section V champion in 1967, completing his senior year undefeated at 13-0, with 12 of those victories coming by pinfall.
Wager also was a three-time finalist in the Monroe County Championships where he graduated in 1967.
Wager is the first wrestler from Gates-Chili to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
He was inducted into the Section V Hall of Fame by his son, Paul J. Wager, while his wife Valerie, and daughters, Janna DeLong and Jessica Wager, accepted the award.
The other inductees into the Section V Hall of Fame were former LeRoy head coach Bob Gately, York’s Doug Henrickson, Canandaigua’s Butch Hibbard, Madison High’s Tommie Smith and McQuaid’s Bob Zoeke.
Wager was a two-time Region III champion while at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown. He was named the FMCC Athlete of the Year in 1970 and to the college’s William Wright Hall of Fame in 1976. He also was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region III Hall of Fame in 1978 after placing fourth and sixth at the NJCAA Tournament. He also was a two-time Region III champion.
After graduating from FMCC, Wager competed on the wrestling team at the University of Arizona, where he placed twice in the Western Athletic Conference Championships, and was a member of the WAC championship team in 1971.
After college, Wager was the head coach at Mill River Union High School in North Clarendon, Vt., from 1978 to 1982, where he coached several wrestlers to state and New England titles.
From 1983 to 1996, as well as 2006 through 2013, Wager was an assistant coach at Whitehall High School, helping several wrestlers to sectional championships and trips to the state tournament.
Wager also taught physical education at Proctor (Vt.) High School for 30 years before retiring in 2003.