APPLETON — Justin Batty was not about to let this opportunity pass. Not again.

Two years ago as a sixth-grader, Batty was undefeated on the mats for Camden-Rockport Middle School before COVID-19 suspended not only the Pine Tree Wrestling League season, but sports across the state.

In the blink of an eye, Batty’s opportunity to win a PTWL title vanished.

Justin Batty, left, holds his weight bracket sheet from the league championship meet as he stands next to his brother, Anthony Batty, an assistant coach for Camden-Rockport Middle School wrestling. Photo courtesy of Rosa Batty

With no wrestling season as a seventh-grader due to the pandemic, Batty, who attends Appleton Village School but wrestles for CRMS, was as focused as ever on his goal of winning that elusive PTWL championship.

The 14-year-old eighth-grader Batty did that on Saturday, April 2 at Morse High School in Bath as he finished his season unbeaten at 19-0 — including a 3-1 win over Troy Howard’s Brian Lemar in the 145-pound final — to win a PTWL title.

“It feels awesome,” said Batty, who also plays football for Five Town. “Everyone was congratulating me and hugging me. Handshakes all around.”

“Justin is probably the most dedicated wrestler I coached this year,” said longtime Schooner coach Aaron Henderson. “During the missed COVID season of 2020-2021, he was one of the few middle school wrestlers in our program who trained at a wrestling club and competed in tournaments.  The extra work paid off and he hit the ground well ahead of most of his peers this season.”

Batty, who also wrestled as a fifth-grader, finished his PTWL career with a 48-2 record, including 37 straight victories. He won every one of his matches this season by pin or forfeit prior to the championship round.

Justin Batty with his weight bracket sheet. Photo courtesy of Rosa Batty

In the league championship meet, he won his first two matches by first-period pins, which set up the final with Lemar.

“I was ahead the whole time,” Batty said of his championship match. “We started out and I took him down and then he got out because I stepped out of bounds because I didn’t want to wrestle him how we were. And he got a point for that.”

Batty started the second period on bottom, but ahead on points, and “I knew I was winning so I didn’t try to do anything stupid, I just wrestled how I wrestle.”

“All I wanted to do was win that match. I wasn’t worried about pinning him. I just wanted to win.”

Batty had faced Lemar twice earlier in the season, including a week prior in the East regional, where Batty won by pin. He said he knew Lemar “was training just to beat me” and “he knew he could make it [back] to the finals.”

“I was about as nervous as him,” said Batty. “I’m always nervous before every match. I always worry. But I knew I could go out there and beat him if I wrestled just how I’ve always wrestled.”

Batty started wrestling in kindergarten as he hoped to emulate his older brother, Anthony, who also wrestled for the Schooners and later at Camden Hills Regional High School.

Anthony was an assistant coach for CRMS this year and had a seat on the mat — next to Henderson — for his younger brother’s title win.

“I was just going to shake his hand,” said Justin Batty of his older brother. “But he hugged me.”

With no season last year, this was Batty’s final opportunity to earn a PTWL title. And he made good on it. He added he plans to continue wrestling at CHRHS.

“Justin is already competitive with high school wrestlers and the coaches can’t wait to get him at Camden Hills next year,” said Henderson. “He should be an impact wrestler on an impactful CHILLS wrestling team.”

“I have the technique I need for a little while,” Batty said. “But I need to get stronger and work out more over the summer. That’s the plan.”

He is the son of Rosa and David Batty.