June 23, 2018
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Ex-NASCAR driver Craven, legendary coach Doughty among inductees for Maine sports hall

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

WATERVILLE, Maine – Former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ricky Craven and longtime Skowhegan Area High School field hockey coach Paula Doughty will be among nine people inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame during its 38th annual awards banquet set for May 5 at the Augusta Civic Center.

This year’s class represents an eclectic mix of athletic interests, ranging from auto racing, field hockey and sports medicine to boxing, bodybuilding and powerlifting, basketball and football.

Also scheduled for induction are Douglas W. Brown, M.D., of Portland; Gary B. Fifield of Buxton; John “Skip” U. Robinson of Windham; Robert Russo of Portland; Paul M. Vachon of Augusta; Manchester H. Wheeler of Brewer; and John C. Wolfgram of South Portland.

In addition, five scholar-athletes will be honored as recipients of $5,000 MSHOF scholarships: Georgia Bolduc, Waterville High School; Caitlin Bucksbaum, Falmouth High School; Adrienne Carmack, John Bapst Memorial High School of Bangor; Madeline Wiegman, Leavitt Area High School of Turner Center; and Evan Worster, Forest Hills Consolidated School of Jackman.

Richard G. Austin, a power lifter Rumford who was inducted into the MSHOF in 1999, will receive the organization’s outstanding achievement award.

Craven, currently a stock car racing analyst for ESPN, began racing at age 15 at Unity Raceway. Named Busch North Rookie of the Year in 1990, Craven was also honored in 1995 as NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie the Year. In more than 11 years of competition, the Concord, N.C., resident participated in 278 races and won twice in what is now known as the Sprint Cup circuit, NASCAR’s top division. He also finished third in the 1997 Daytona 500 behind Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Terry LaBonte.

Doughty, a Farmington resident, has coached field hockey coach at Skowhegan for 31 seasons, compiling a 438-80-17 record with 11 Class A state titles in the last 12 years. Twice, in 2004 and 2008, she was honored as National High School Coach of the Year. Skowhegan’s 2012 team finished 18-0 and outscored its opponents 147-2. Her Skowhegan team currently is riding a 54-game winning streak.

Brown is a specialist in sports medicine who has served as medical consultant to U.S. national soccer teams, including from 1994 to 2000 when he was head team physician for the U.S. women’s national team. A native of Waterville, Brown is a 1968 graduate of Bowdoin College where he captained the hockey team.

Fifield, the women’s basketball coach at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, holds the NCAA Division III record with 30 consecutive years of 20 or more victories. At the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season, he had the highest winning percentage (84.2) among NCAA Division III women’s basketball coaches with five or more seasons of service with a career coaching record at USM of 601-113.

Robinson, a national and international powerlifting and bodybuilding champion, has dedicated his life to promoting health and physical fitness. In 1986 he won Mr. World and the AAU Body Building Championship in the short height class. Why did he start lifting weights? “I got tired of being skinny,” Robinson said.

Russo has owned the Portland Boxing Club since the early 1990s, and he also has been selected 14 times as coach for Team New England. He twice served as coach of Regional Team #1 in Lake Placid, N.Y., an area encompassing New England, New York and New Jersey. In 2008 he was selected as Coach of the Year for USA Boxing/New England.

Vachon was the starting point guard for Cony High School’s 1973 Class A state championship team, and later served as the girls varsity basketball at his alma mater from 1985 to 2008. His teams compiled a record of 451-40, good for a .911 winning percentage. Cony won seven Class A state championships and 11 Eastern Maine titles under Vachon’s guidance. Since his retirement from coaching, Vachon has served as athletic administrator at Cony.

Wheeler was a two-way standout at quarterback and safety for the University of Maine football team from 1958 to 1961, leading the Black Bears in total offense in his junior and senior years. In his final season, Wheeler averaged 10.09 yards per carry. Drafted by the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League, he also played for the Boston Patriots.

Wolfgram has guided four high school football programs in Maine to a total of 10 state championships: one at Madison in Class C; three at Gardiner in Class B; and four at South Portland and two at Cheverus of Portland, both Class A programs. During a span of three seasons from 2010 to midway through the 2012 campaign, he guided Cheverus to a state Class A record of 34 consecutive wins — breaking the previous mark of 31 set by Wolfgram-coached South Portland from 1995 to 1997.

Austin last month won his eighth career world title in the 220-pound Master Division class for powerlifters at the World Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships in Las Vegas. In winning his latest title in the age 80-84 division, the 81-year-old Austin broke the world record in his age category by with a bench press of 363 pounds.

Tickets for the banquet are $40 for members of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and $45 for non-members. A reserved table for 10 is $400. Tickets may be purchased until April 28. A social hour is scheduled for 11 a.m. The dinner buffet will begin promptly at noon.

Make checks payable to the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. To purchase tickets online, visit www.mshof.com and click on the Banquet Tickets link.

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