by Dan Farfaglia
Western New York native Chris Stalker is making his G. Ray Bodley debut tonight as the new head coach for the team.
He is the first new varsity coach in a quarter century for the Red Raiders and the seventh in its history.
Tonight’s match is one of the most anticipated dual meets of the season as Coach Gene Mills brings his Phoenix Firebirds, last year’s Division 2 state champions, to town in an attempt to end a very long winning streak at home.
No Central New York High School Wrestling team has beaten Fulton in their own gym since former Coach Mike Conners, now an administrator in Oswego, made his first appearance at the helm of the Red Raider program back in December of 1987.
A lot happened in a very short period of time for the new coach. He was living out of state for most of the last decade before returning.
“My daughter was born July 26, I interviewed for the job Aug. 1, got married Aug. 14, and moved back to New York Aug. 22,” said Stalker.
Stalker is originally from Medina. He started wrestling in elementary school and stayed with it until he graduated high school. He was a four-year varsity starter, a two-time league champion and finished with 99 career wins.
He attended college at SUNY Cortland, majoring in physical education. He played football there for five years and was a three-year starter at fullback and senior co-captain.
Stalker said he knew that he wanted to exclusively coach wrestling as soon as the opportunity became available.
Right out of college, he landed a job teaching physical education and coaching wrestling in the Baltimore, Md. school system.
During his time there, he was Baltimore’s District 9 Coach of the Year in 2005 and the recipient of the Maryland Wrestling Officials sportsmanship award in 2009.
His teams also won four Baltimore District team titles, coached 16 individual city champions, two regional champs, and one Maryland state champion.
To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397