She watched Deanna Rix chase history from a distance.
She followed Kristi Pearse’s quest to break new ground as a teammate.
Now Logan Rich of Camden Hills of Rockport gets her chance to become the first girl to win an individual state championship in Maine high school wrestling.
Rich, a senior from Hope, positioned herself as one of the top seeds at 103 pounds for Saturday’s state championship meet by winning the Eastern Maine Class B championship in her weight class last weekend.
“I think it’s amazing, and it would be so awesome to win states and be the first girl to do it,” said Rich. “I’ve been thinking about it since the beginning of high school, definitely. It’s been my main goal the whole time.”
Rich began wrestling as a sixth-grader and worked her way onto the varsity as a freshman at Camden Hills — where Pearse had transferred the same year after spending her freshman season at Wiscasset.
“When I first started wrestling, it was Kristie’s first year here, too,” said Rich. “Everyone was really welcoming to us. We were partners, and slowly as the year went on we started being partners with everybody else.”
Rich and Pearse were among several schoolgirl wrestlers at Camden Hills, one of the perennial wrestling powers statewide during the last two decades.
“The girls just join the team,” said Windjammers coach Levi Rollins. “I don’t go out and try to search for them, they just come into the [wrestling] room and we’re glad to have them. I think they just like being part of the team.
“They really learn a lot quicker than some of the boys, I’ll say that.”
Both Pearse and Rich learned their lessons well.
Pearse twice reached the championship round at the state final but both times lost to 2008 New England champion Carlin Dubay of Caribou, including 6-0 in overtime as a sophomore and by pin as a junior.
Pearse joined Rix in getting to the championship match, as the former Marshwood of South Berwick standout threatened to win her breakthrough match in 2005 but lost 2-1 in double-overtime to Shane Leadbetter of Sanford in the Class A 130-pound final.
“I think mostly it’s about keeping your head into it, and not getting psychologically down,” said Rich of the key to breaking through where Pearse and Rix had come up just short. “It’s mostly about that, and how you’re wrestling, keeping your composure.”
Rich has been competing mostly at 112 pounds this season, but several weeks ago dropped to 103.
“I just feel way more comfortable at 103,” she said.
Rich, who also serves as a team captain for Camden Hills, placed third at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet, trailing only Class A wrestlers Andy Ancira of Cony of Augusta and Kelly Golek of Mount Ararat of Topsham.
She had little difficulty at the Eastern B regional, scoring her two victories by pin and major decision.
“Logan’s a very tough girl,” said Rollins, “and sometimes her technique gets her through more than her strength.”
Rich won’t be the favorite to win her weight class at the state meet, to be held at the Augusta Civic Center. Shane Daly of Wells, the runner-up to Dubay at last year’s state meet, is back as the Western B champion, and Ryan Burgess of Mountain Valley of Rumford is another top contender.
But Rich’s steady development throughout her career already has put her in a position few Maine schoolgirls have attained — and she’s set to continue her wrestling career collegiately at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“Logan’s grown all around, really,” said Rollins. “She’s tough on her feet, everyone knows that. She’s taken down pretty much every kid in the state on her feet. She’s gotten better wrestling on bottom and being able to escape, and those are two things that she needs to be as successful as she can be.”
All-class tournament slated
High school wrestling supporters long have sought to have an all-class meet to determine the best in the sport regardless of class as well as fill the void between the state finals and the New England championship meet.
Now that hope will become reality, as the first Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance “all-star invitational” folkstyle wrestling championships is scheduled for Feb. 21 at Cony High School in Augusta. The meet begins at 9:30 a.m.
The top three finishers in each weight class from Saturday’s state championship meet will be invited, and since the event falls within the Maine Principals’ Association winter sports season, high school coaches will be allowed to coach their athletes.
Awards will go to the outstanding wrestler of the meet as well as the top four finishers in each weight class. A team championship award also will be presented.
For more information contact Terry Devereaux at 621-1978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.