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Maine-Nebraska series began in 1984
REGION -- The Maine-Nebraska Friendship Series had its beginnings nearly three decades ago.
It still continues despite the hard economic times, which is a credit to how powerful the worlds oldest sport has become.
In got its start in April of 1984 when Wally LaFountain, an official from Winslow, attended a National Federation of High School's rules committee in Kansas City and met Mick Pierce, who coached at Lincoln Southeast High School in Nebraska.
The FS is the longest exchange between to states in the United States. The two states have alternated hosting each other, with the visiting team typically wrestling at four different sites.
Given the great geographical and economic diversity of the two states, the Great Plains-Atlantic Ocean, this is truly a great cultural exchange. The various scenery and unique experiences continue to provide the participants with life-long memories.
“I think the positives are (numerous),” said Maine Team Leader Shawn Guest. "(Foremost) our kids get to share with kids from Nebraska about how they wrestle and how they live. Of course they are still kids.”
Following the first year of the exchange, Pierce handed the Nebraska program over to Tom McCann, coach at Kearney, Nebraska. Wally LaFountain was the leader on the Maine side of the program for 10 years. In 1995, he stepped down, giving the responsibility of the exchange to Dennis Walch.
After leading the exchange for nine years, Walch, retired Westbrook coach, passed the responsibility on to Guest; a veteran coach at both Wiscasset and Morse.
Over 1,100 Maine wrestlers have participated in over 1600 matches. Maine has also wrestled against individuals from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. While the wrestling is fierce on the mats, the main purpose is to initiate friendships and develop an understanding of a slightly different way of life.
There’s a major difference between the two states, regarding the ability to draw the best competition. Nebraska has 210 schools offering wrestling in four classes, compared to approximately 55 Maine schools in three classes.