By Lisa Byers
There were already a number of established high school wrestling programs in the area when Meadville Area Senior High School jumped on board in 1963. But Dick Lumley, who helped get things going and served as the program’s first head coach, knew that with a lot of help, the Bulldogs could be as successful as any of those other programs.
When the Meadville Area Senior High School wrestling program celebrates its 50th anniversary tonight at 7 during a dual match with Strong Vincent, there will be plenty of accomplishments to laud.
In Meadville’s 50-year history, 107 section titles, 75 District 10 titles and five state titles have been won. Meadville also owns 20 100-match winners and has seen 35 of its wrestlers go on to compete at the collegiate level since 1980. One of those wrestlers, Sean O’Day won a Division I national championship at Edinboro University.
A great deal of those exploits have something to do with Lumley’s involvement.
Lumley began his high school coaching career in Townville in 1960 and was there three seasons before Meadville decided to start a varsity program. Lumley applied and “that was where I was,” he said.
Lumley coached from 1963 to 1967 when he made the decision to move south to Pittsburgh to tend to his wife’s family. He coached at Keystone Oaks for four seasons, but made his return to Meadville in 1971 where he remained the head coach through the 1997-98 season.
Lumley oversaw some memorable moments, especially during the 1980s.
Meadville won six section titles, five District 10 titles and four region titles from 1982 to 1989 and placed second, fifth and eighth at the state championships.
In 1982, Meadville crowned its first state champion, Jack Uppling (1985). Three others followed for the Bulldogs during that decade: Doug Stanford (1984, 112 pounds), Sean O’Day (1985, 132 pounds) and Mike McHenry (1986, 167 pounds).
As far as a pinnacle moment in Lumley’s career?
“Every kid was a memory,” Lumley said.
There are a couple memories, though, that do stand out.
“We had four state champions and were second in the state once,” Lumley said. “But my biggest feeling of accomplishment was the number of kids I pulled off the street, got them into wrestling and they are college educated today.”
Lumley credited a number of people for Meadville’s success over the last five decades, including former Meadville Tribune sports editor Craig Phillips, Mitch Roe, Art Cocolin, Pat McHenry and the late Patsi Mantini.
And even 50 years later, Lumley has some connection to the Meadville program. Current head coach Barry Anderson and assistants Jeff Longstreth and Terry Tidball all wrestled for Lumley as did prior coaches such as Jon Frye and John Amato.
Lumley, who will turn 75 next month, is expected to be among the alumni of Meadville’s wrestling family that will be on hand for tonight’s celebration.