Most wrestlers move up in weight class throughout their high school careers.
Hermon’s Ryan Botting is finding considerable success heading in the opposite direction.
The junior currently is 23-0 this season while competing in the 135- and 140-pound weight classes and, with 94 victories so far in his career, is closing in on the 100-victory milestone.
But Botting began his career with the Hawks competing at 152 pounds as a freshman.
“In my freshman and sophomore years I wasn’t real big into wrestling,” said Botting, who also runs cross country and plays baseball. “I wasn’t into it mentally back then, I didn’t realize how good it was for me to work hard at it.
“But once I got serious about it, I went to work, I had the motivation to get better.”
That motivation evolved into considerable success late last winter, when Botting finished second at the Eastern Maine Class B regional and then advanced to the 140-pound championship match at the state finals before falling to two-time state champion Jack Simpkins of Camden Hills of Rockport.
Botting, the son of Hermon wrestling coach David Botting, attended several wrestling camps during the summer in preparation for taking the next championship step this winter.
“My work ethic is a lot better,” he said. “Ever since June I’ve known that I want to win [states] this year. I’ve just been working out a lot more, running or lifting when I wasn’t on the mat.”
Botting has dominated his competition so far this season, with 22 of the victories coming by pin before he earned a 16-6 major decision over previously undefeated Josiah Moore of George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill last week.
Though that was a 140-pound bout, Botting is competing primarily at 135 pounds, where he is 15-0 heading into a meet at John Bapst of Bangor on Thursday.
“When he was a sophomore, he starting seeing the body type of the people who were having the most success at 152,” said David Botting. “He was having a real good season at ’52, but he thought it would be good for him to lose a little weight.”
Botting isn’t sure where his primary competition will come once wrestling’s postseason begins in late January.
“I’ve gone down a weight class since last year,” he said, “and a lot of other guys might have gone up a weight class, so I really don’t know who’s going to be there.”
In the meantime, Botting is concentrating on what he can do to help himself.
“I just have to work hard every night,” he said.
’Jammers eye return to glory
Camden Hills of Rockport wrestling is experiencing a bit of a championship drought by its own standards — the Windjammers last won a Class B title in 2007, the last of eight consecutive state crowns.
But coach Levi Rollins’ club is positioning itself to contend for a return to the top step of the podium this winter despite a relatively young roster featuring just three seniors and three sophomores.
Camden Hills is undefeated in dual-meet action entering a home meet against Erskine Academy tonight, and returns a solid nucleus of individual standouts from last year’s team that finished second to Midcoast rival Belfast at the state meet.
And the Windjammers are coming off a dual-meet win over Belfast and a strong third-place showing at the Noble Invitational, trailing only Class A powers Noble of North Berwick and Massabesic of Waterboro.
“That was a little bit of a surprise,” said Rollins, a former Camden Hills wrestling standout now in his third season as the team’s head coach. “After the first round we were in first place by 20 points. We led for quite a while and we only had four kids in the tournament.”
That effort was led by senior Zach Fields, who was named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler after pinning Matt DelGallo – who entered the match 140-0 in his career against in-state competition — in the 125-pound final.
“Zach wrestled him as a freshman and gave him a pretty good match,” said Rollins. “The last two years he hadn’t wrestled him, but he had gotten a lot better. This year he’s been training pretty hard and was looking forward to wrestling [DelGallo], and he was beating him 15-3 before he pinned him.”
Fields, the defending Class B state champion at 130 pounds, is wrestling at 125, 130 and 135 pounds during the dual-meet season depending on what’s needed for the team to accumulate the most points, Rollins said.
Other key veterans back for the Windjammers include 140-pound junior Brandon Rich, who placed second in the state at 135 last winter; 135-pound junior Max Bragg, third at 119 last year; and 152-pound junior Jacob Powers, second at 145 in 2009.
Also expected to make major contributions are R.J. Muir (160 pounds), heavyweight Jeff Bailey, Tom Cassidy (125 or 130), Anthony Batty (171), Brandon Graffam (189), Rhett Chase (215), and talented freshmen Coleman Powers (103) and Calan Bragg (119).
“This is a really good team to work with and coach,” he said. “We’re still pretty young, but last year we took second place and we’ve got a number of kids back who want to get back to being a state championship team.”