Six Camden Hills wrestlers earned the right to participate in the state Class A high school championships on Saturday, Feb. 17 and one of them, namely, Noah Lang, as he had in so many mat competitions previously, proved he was the best of the best in his weight class.

By day’s end, one of the six Windjammers — Lang — earned a distinction all wrestlers strive for from the first time they don their singlets: that of state champion.

Lang, who pinned down a regional championship a week prior at Oxford Hills High School in South Paris and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference crown a week prior to that at Cony High School in Augusta, completed the impressive high school wrestling trifecta on Saturday as he bested Noble’s Jonathan Grenier to collect the state championship in the 145-pound class.

Teammate Eric Andrews, a freshman, also earned a third-place finish at 103 pounds as Camden Hills amassed 43 points to finish ninth among 24 teams.

Marshwood of South Berwick scored 117 points to win its second straight state Class A team championship and seventh in eight years.

The team scores were: Marshwood 117, Noble of North Berwick 96, Nokomis of Newport 83, Oxford Hills of South Paris 69, Sanford 63, Skowhegan 61.5, Bonny Eagle of Standish, Cony 47, Camden Hills 43, Massabesic of Waterboro, Portland 34, Morse of Bath 32, Cheverus of Portland 29, Erskine Academy of South China 27, Kennebunk 26, Scarborough 23, Mount Ararat of Topsham 21, Biddeford 14, Messalonskee of Oakland 14, Buckfield 10, Mount Blue of Farmington 9, Deering of Portland, York 3 and Westbrook-Gorham 1.

Next up for the wrestlers who qualified is the New England qualifier, or All State, on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Nokomis of Newport. The top four Class A and Class B state finishers in each weight class will battle in eight-person brackets. Then, the top three from that qualifier move on to the New England meet.

Lang said he was thrilled to achieve one of his longtime goals and that his years of hard work finally paid off in one of his coveted prizes.

"Winning the states this year has been a huge weight off of my shoulders," he said. "I have worked years, in and out of season, for just one day, to be good enough to call myself a 'state champion.' Now that I have won the championship, I am proud of what I have accomplished. My name will now join the long and distinguished list of Camden Hills state champions in my team’s practice room. That’s an impressive legacy and list of names."

The hard-working, talented junior said, "I have all my wrestling teammates on the Camden Hills wrestling team to thank for pushing me hard every day; who also managed to keep it fun and light-spirited — especially my friend, Dawson Allen, who is always game to step up and train or go to competitions with me. It’s great to have a friend who supports you and is willing to sweat it out with you.

"Also equally important, I have my coaches to thank: Patrick Kelly, Brandon Allen, Perry Goodspeed, and Taylor Crosby — who knew exactly how far to push me and always tried to strengthen my weaknesses. I also want to thank my dad [Glenn], who kept encouraging me to go farther, work harder, and strive to be better."

Lang said one of the lessons he learned during middle school is if one wants to win the large and most competitive tournaments, one has to work hard “out of season.”

For Lang, that lesson stuck.

Last spring, he traveled to Virginia Beach "to tangle with some of toughest wrestlers in the country. While I won some of those matches, they also showed me that I needed improvement in some areas before the regular season. Last fall, I went to Natick, Massachusetts where I learned that no matter how tough the match seems, it’s not over until the whistle blows."

Lang also trained twice a week during the summer and fall with former Belfast and current University of Maine standout Brent Waterman Jr. at his Triton Athletics practices. Waterman is a state champion several times over, who went on to wrestle at Virginia Tech, Lang said, and "he was able to show me some of what made him successful as a wrestler."

Lang also worked with Maine Trappers in Bath, UMaine at Orono, and Logan Walsh of Wrestlers Way.

"One of the great things about Maine wrestling is that you know most of the competitors and coaches, and they set aside team rivalries to help each other during the off-season," Lang said. "We are often teammates at some of these off-season tournaments and that allows us to become friendly and foster respect for one another. Brent Waterman Sr. of Belfast also asked me to join him as a part of the Nebraska/Maine wrestling exchange — where I hosted some Nebraska wrestlers at our house during a week of wrestling. It was a great experience and an opportunity to build bridges between programs and foster the growth of wrestling."

Lang said the culmination of those things is what helped bring about his overall success this year, which included, but was not limited to, finishing first in his weight class in the Noble Invitational, KVACs, regional and state tournaments.

"But I have no plans to let up," he said. "I am going to compete at the All State [New England qualifier] next week and the New Englands. There are a lot of great competitors out there and anything can happen, so we will just have to see."

The individual Camden Hills state Class A results included:

106 pounds — Andrews pinned Anthony Napolitano, Por, at 5:36; lost by techncial fall to Jake Craig, Skow, 19-6; pinned Sean Radel, Ken, at 4:31; and pinned Napolitano, Por, at 3:48 in the consolation final. Andrews finished third.

113 pounds — Devin Hutcheson was pinned by Aiden Shields, Ken, at 1:33; and was pinned by Caleb Carrell, Nok, at 1:52.

120 pounds — Dawson Allen was pinned by Carson Goodwin, Mar, at 1:14; beat Peyton Bissonnette, Bid, 9-1; and lost to Richard Oberg, Skow, 10-2.

132 pounds — Ian Henderson was pinned by Matthew Thompson, Mar, at 0:40; beat Ethan Huff, Mass, 14-10; and was pinned by Joseph Pilecki, Nob, at 1:26.

145 pounds — Lang pinned Josiah Garcia, Bid, at 3:24; beat Jeremy Sendroski, Scar, 7-0; and beat Jonathan Grenier, Nob, 11-2, in the championship final. Lang finished first.

170 pounds — Alex Vokey was pinned by Dylan Strong, Mar, at 1:21; pinned Charles Russell, Nob, at 4:49; and lost to Austin Pelletier, Mess, 5-0.

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