By Dave Dyer
---- — It’s been a long time coming, but Windham resident David Wilson was inducted into the New England College Hall of Fame two weekends ago in a ceremony at Johnson and Wales College.
Wilson, who is still involved in wrestling as an official while also assisting as a coach at Windham High School, was WPI’s first college All-American and a four-time New England finalist.
He also endured a remarkable journey on his rise to the elite of college wrestling.
In fact, Wilson’s story was depicted in a recent book by Roy Eaton entitled “Makers. Shakers and Takers,” which profiles 18 short stories of people (including Donald Trump) making a difference.
Wilson’s story relates how he started wrestling at St. Bernard High School in Ucasville, Conn., as a 4-foot-8, 67-pounder. He was so small that the athletic director tried to get Wilson to drop the sport. But he refused and, to his credit, the high school coach decided to keep Wilson, which was a decision that benefited both of them.
By the time he had graduated, Wilson had become an undefeated varsity wrestler, a two-time high school state champion (at 98 and 105 pounds) and a two-time New England freestyle champion.
In dual-meet competition, Wilson gave up only one point in his entire high school career and, in three tournaments, he was cited for most pins in least amount of time.
Wilson, 54, was nearly as successful at WPI, where he was All-New England four times at both 118 and 126 pounds, posted a 58-3 record, finished third in the Division 3 nationals and eventually came in third in his weight class at the 1976 semifinal Olympic tryouts.
In Wilson’s very first match in high school, as he approached the official and his opponent, he tripped and fell flat on his face, evoking laughter from everyone in attendance including his own teammates.
But Wilson won that first match and every one after that and, following a tremendous career, he clearly had the last laugh — as his induction into the College Wrestling Hall of Fame proves.