Class of 2007
Salemx Generals, Coach
Mike Poplaski was a fixture on Salem area wrestling mats for four decades. Poplaski was the founder of the Salem wrestling program and retired in 2010 from coaching after a career that spanned more than 40 years.
Poplaski's wrestling program that has produced six state champions, 31 Section 2champions and 20 Class D sectional team titles had humble beginnings at the little school on East Broadway.
"We started a club with 10 kids in 1967," Poplaski recalled. "We brought two mats into the cafeteria area, moved the tables around and we practiced. The next year was our first competition year and we went 3-11. There was a lot of learning by the kids and the coaches that year."
The Generals went 12-3 the following year and never looked back. They have not had a losing dual-meet record since that inaugural 1968-69 season.
"I owe a great thanks to Gilbert Flint, who was our superintendent at the time, and Al Cormier, who was our principal," Poplaski said. "I don't think with the budgets the way they are now that you could add a new sport at a small school. They hired me with the belief that I could make something happen. We were a one-sport (basketball) school in the winter at that time. Fortunately, it's worked out."
Over 42 seasons, the Generals have posted an overall record of 423-143-7. They have won 10 league championships and two Section II meet titles. The 1977 team won the Section 2 tournament by two points over Class A Mont Pleasant. They also won the Section 2 small-school title in 2004. Poplaski coached 116 individual Class D champs.
Poplaski wrestled in high school at Mohawk, near Utica, as well as in the Navy and at Albany State, before coming to Salem. In addition to wrestling, he also coached varsity football for the Generals from 1979-95, and coached the JV team through the 2009 season.
Poplaski, who served as the Section 2 wrestling chairman for 21 years, initially retired in 1998, but was asked to return two years later when the Generals were short on coaches.