THE MICHIGAN DAILY
WEDNESDAY. 3 FEBRUARY 1965"
PAGE EIGHT THE MICHIGAN DAHA WEDNESDAY. 3 FEBRUARY 1965
PLAYS THE HEAVY:
Emerges as Star
HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLER BOB SPALY tries to score a take-
down on his opponent in last year's meet with Penn State.
Spaly finished second in the Big Ten and third -in the NCAA
tournament last year and is undefeated so far this season in dual
By BOB CARNEY
Once just an understudy, Bob Spaly has finally gained top billing.
Spaly-who looks more like one of Hollywood's heroes than a
heavyweight wrestler-has had to play the role of understudy to one
of Michigan's great heavyweights, Jack Barden, for ,the past three
As a freshman, a sophomore, and even last year when Spaly held
down the starting spot as a junior, the lanky 200-pounder was known
to many Midwestern wrestling fans as simply "the guy who replaced
But since last year's season opener, his status has changed con-
Spaly's dual meet record alone, an impressive 10-1-2, might have
been enough to convince some observers of the fact that he could hold
his own against any opponent. To the coaches and fans who had wit-
nessed the flawless performances of wrestlers like Barden and Denny
Fitzgerald, however, a victory-laden season record wasn't enough. It
would be in the Big Ten tournament and in the NCAA championship
that he would show his true colors.
In the Big Ten championship he lost only once-in the finals-
and brought home the runnerup trophy as the Wolverines took the
Big Ten title. And in an even more impressive showing in the NCAAs,
Spaly again met defeat only once and walked away with a third
Out of the Wings
With those two performances, Spaly silenced any would-be critics,
and ended his "backstage" existence. Improvement, however, has con-
tinued for the native Ann Arborite, who apparently isn't satisfied with
'just second.' In five dual meets this season, Spaly has yet to lose, pin-
ning one opponent at Pitt, and shutting out three others.
His victory at Illinois in the Big Ten opener is symbolic of the
progress the ex-Barden-protege has made. In that one he completely
dominated the match, three times came within inches of pinning his
opponent, and emerged with a 13-0 victory.
Besides these dual meet wins,a
Spaly placed third in the Midlands"
Tournament during the holidays
behind Olympian Larry Kristoffr
and Morehead State's Bob Bill-
berg, whom Spaly refers to as "the
next national champ."
"Spaly's come a long way i
three years," says Coach Cliff,
Keen. "He couldn't wrestle be-
cause of Barden as a sophomore,
of course, but 'even then he was
pushing Jack hard enough to send
i n discussing Spaly's improve-
ment since that time, Keen cites a
somewhat surprising factor con-
sidering the stereotype of the typ-,
ically massive, less-than-intelli-
gent heavyweight wrestler: a BOB SPALY
sharp mental attitude.
"Bob knows what's going on. every minute he's in there," says
Keen. "He's an exceptionally fine competitor."
Spaly himself recognizes the importance of mental conditioning
in the man-to-man situation that wrestling provides.
"Nervousness is natural," he says, "but if a wrestler allows him-
self to become overly nervous, he tires muh more quickly, and gives
an inferior opponent a chance to 'psych him out'."
And if Spaly doesn't fit the stereotype of the heavyweight wrestler
mentally, neither does he in physical makeup. He's taler-6' 2"-and
lighter-he could wrestle at 191 pounds-than nearly every one of his
Big Ten opponents, and often finds himself looking down at a stocky
230-pounder with a neck size of 20.
The situation has brought with it both advantages and dis-
In the former category Keen cites Spaly's ability to "cover the
mat well," and Spaly points to the fact that several holds-those
requiring control of both his legs and his waist-are virtually impos-
sible for an opponent to get on him.
But his stature has caused him problems at times too, especially
in the weight department where he may find himself the slimmer by
20 or 30 pounds.
"In a situation like that, I just can't afford to be caught on the
bottom," says Spaly. "If I'm taken down, I use a quick, stand-up
Despite the disadvantages, however, this combination of a good
mental disposition and a unique physical stature have helped Spaly
to become one of the team's real "stylists."
"I like to 'shoot' from the side and use a one-leg takedown," he
says, "and right now I'm working on a new riding style."
The change in style is designed to bring more opportunities for
pins, and involves riding the opponent around the legs rather than
higher on the body.
'It's a safer ride for a lighter wrestler," claims Spaly. "And it'll
give me more opportunity to use my legs in working for the pi." In
his 13-0 victory at Illinois, Spaly did just that. Using the "guillotine"
he came within inches of pinning his opponent three different times,
and gained three near falls.
Aside from escape methods, guillotine holds, and new riding
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