Seven out of 14 of last year’s varsity wrestlers graduated. The average age of this year’s varsity team is 15—very young for a high school team. We had two seniors, two juniors (one of whom began wrestling in November), nine sophomores (one new to wrestling) and one Freshman (Eli) on the varsity team. At the beginning of the season, Camden seemed poised to have a “rebuilding” year and not be the usual powerhouse team in the state. Prognosticators said Camden would likely end the season at 12th, not the usual 1 or 2 spot. Apparently, no one told the boys and girl of the team.
Camden Hills Wrestling Team 2012-13, State Champions, and new friend and adopted teammate Michael Alvarez (State Champion at 152) of Morse in Bath, Maine–read below to find out why he’s so wonderful.
Twelve of them, including the two boys new to wrestling, qualified for STATES! The team was undefeated in dual meets at 25-0. They won the Class B title at the all-schools (class A, B) Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. They won Eastern Regionals. At this point, the sports pundits revised their thinking and said Camden would likely finish third, possibly second but not first. Once again, no one told the kids. In a nail-biter finish, Camden beat Fryeburg Academy to win the State Championship 131.5 to 128.5 points…by a mere three points! As coach Patrick Kelly pointed out to the local newspaper, EACH and EVERY kid who wrestled helped win (or not give away) critical points. It was truly a team effort, capped with two State Champions, two runners up, two at third, one at fourth and an ELATED group of kids, coaches, parents and wrestling alums.
The coaches and this year’s graduation seniors, from L to R: Paul Smith and Perry Goodspeed (assistant coaches), Calan Bragg (132-lb and newly minted State Champion), Tia Silverio (Team Manager), Coleman Powers (154-lb and newly minted State Champion), Coach Patrick Kelly and Asst. Coach True Bragg (cousin to Calan)
It is now 4-5 days since the kids won, and I think we are all still floating on air. I’ll share a bit about each of the boys who came home with a medal, a bit about Eli, and tell you about Michael. I don’t think I’ve EVER heard of a team cheering so wildly for another team’s kid to win!
Eli had an amazing year, not only being ON the varsity team as a Freshman, but in making it to States. He is the same weight as Coleman, but Coleman as a senior got to choose which weight class he wanted to wrestle (and frankly he could beat Eli easily so was a stronger component of the team in terms of contributing to team points). That meant Eli had to wrestle up a weight class–and let me tell you wrestling against someone 7+ pounds heavier and older is a challenge. Nonetheless, Eli did really well. If they had places below 4th, Eli would have come in 5th or 6th at States–as a Freshman! WOW!
Eli is in back and in control as he takes his opponent down to the mat to attempt to pin him.
Eli has control of his opponent’s arm, which allows him to turn him over and (in a few moments after this picture) pin him for the win.
And proud papa Paul (and asst. coach) with Eli holding the team’s trophy for the State Championship:
Paul and Eli enjoying the team’s victory.
The team’s success came with every single point scored or not given up to second place Freyburg Academy, including wins and scores from the boys who didn’t medal. Those who did medal, brought extra critical points. Sophomore John Underhill had a couple of matches where he absolutely dominated:
John Underhill is very close to pinning this kid in an earlier match in the day. John came in fourth–well done!
John is getting close to another pin
Sophomore Jared Gilbert came through and won 3rd in the consolation finals:
The ref is checking as Jared presses his opponent into the mat
It is so nice to get the “hand up”! And I’ve finally, after years of trying, figured out when to snap so I actually get the shot in the nano-second the hand is UP! Jared WINS. You can see on the scoreboard that he won by a pin, because the clock has stopped with time in the second (of three) periods. Good job!
Sophomore Chriss Weiss (we’re so glad you’re back in Camden!) took another 3rd for Camden in a talent-laden weight class (126 lb).
Typical Chris: on top, in control, and ready to roll-em over.
Chris is just seconds away from the ref calling the pin and taking third! He needs to get the Mountain Valley boy’s left shoulder down, and it’s done.
James Archer (113 lb) and Connor Winchenbach (138 lb) came in second in the Finals against tough opponents.
The ref slams the mat in the “Pinned!” gesture in an early match. From this shot, you can see that the boy on the bottom has his shoulders flat on the mat…done for!
In the finals match, Connor wrestled one of the best wrestlers in the state, senior Daniel DelGallo from Gardiner. DelGallo is now a three-time state champion, but Connor wasn’t going to make his trip to the top of the stand easy! That’s Connor in front, yanking DelGallo off his feet.
Sophomore James Archer wrestled another State Champion, Fryeburg senior Connor Sheehan, in the finals. Sheehan won his third state title and James came in second.
James Archer in an earlier match controls his opponent.
James gets the pin (with Eli shouting in the background)
Seniors Calan Bragg and Coleman Powers won their first State titles and absolutely decimated the competition. Luckily, I got some great shots of them. Glad I finally figured out how to get the shots before the season was over!
Calan Bragg is working his opponent down, but the Ellsworth boy is arching his back (it’s called bridging) to keep his sholders off the mat. The referee on the left is one of our favorites…a really nice guy who is fair and takes time to instruct the kids in the sport as he refs a match.
Calan flips his opponent over and is bringing him down to the mat.
Calan keeps working, getting him closer. Wrestling is a sport of mental as well as physical toughness. Determination pays off!
Coleman is SO darn fast that I have a hard time getting photos of him–he’s usually a blur! The first photo is from an earlier match in the tournament, the others during his Championship Finals.
Can you say “dramatic move”…. unbelievable! And the wrestler must control the opponent all the way down so that he lands safely (although sometimes hard) on the mat.
Coleman getting ready to crank his opponent over onto his back!
Coleman takes down his Freyburg opponent in the Finals. Coleman pinned him in 53 seconds in the first round.
But even with all that excellence, the win for the team title was NOT in the bag. We were leading Fryeburg by only a few points. Fryeburg had two more boys in the finals. If both won, they would win the State title for their team. If one came in second, Camden would win by a slender three points. The second boy won. The first of the two Fryeburg boys was in the 152 pound weight class up against Michael Alvarez of Morse (Bath, Maine). At the KVAC tournament several weeks ago, Eli pointed him out as they were in the same weight class and told me: see him, he’s the one that’s gonna win states. Can I say how ELATED WE ALL ARE that he DID!
The Camden team, parents, and supporters were watching the VERY close match, which changed lead a couple of times, screaming and cheering loudly. Michael won by a narrow margin on points at the end of the third period, and the Camden crowd went crazy! I think every kid on the team and half the parents sought him out to congratulate and thank him. The kids even invited him to join us for a team “victory” photo with the trophy, and he did. Here he is kneeling down in front to join the team as they all give him a round of applause and Coach Goodspeed shakes his hand. And it turns out he’s a really nice kid, too!
In blue (kneeling in front on right, shaking hands with G), Michael Alvarez of Morse school in Bath. Congratulations, Michael on your State Championship and the best of luck at New Englands!
So as you might guess by this massive post, we are all SO HAPPY and still floating on air. The kids were amazing–all of them, including the JV members of the team who helped their teammates during the season. The coaches did an amazing job bringing out the best in this young squad. Looking forward to next year–so proud of all of them!
Next, we will return to actual quilting in Hope, Maine!