High school wrestling

Camden Hills' Kelly, Lang share similarities in first year on mat

Three-time state champion soccer players tangle on mats for first time in high school
By Zack Miller | Nov 28, 2018
Photo by: Zack Miller Camden Hills' Kristina Kelly, left, and Izzy Lang.

Rockport — It is not often one finds two young people with common traits and it is especially rare to find a high school duo with such close family and athletic similarities.

For Camden Hills Regional High School junior Kristina Kelly and senior Izzy Lang, bonds are abundant.

For starters, Kelly and Lang have been key members of the Windjammers' three straight state Class A soccer championship teams — Kelly as a high-scoring forward and Lang as the keeper — and that bond has carried over to this winter's wrestling squad.

The 2018-2019 mat season will be each athlete's first foray into the sport at the high school level.

"It was really helpful, especially the first practice, having another girl in the practice room that doesn’t really know what she is doing," Kelly said. "The other new kids were on vacation for Thanksgiving, and aren’t in my weight class, and the only other person was Eric Andrews, who was like third in states last year. It’s nice having someone the same level, and the same abilities as me."

"I love having Kris there," said Lang. "She is such a good partner to work with. She’s fast, and something I’m not used to having another female, and it’s nice to have for company. We go way back to preschool as well as at middle school meets, and growing up together at [those] wrestling meets."

"I was looking for a new way to stay fit," said Kelly. "I went to the YMCA last winter, and kind of got bored, so I figured wrestling would keep me in shape and would be a little bit more fun than being alone and running on a treadmill every day."

The family wrestling bond is strong with both girls, as Izzy's twin brother, Noah, and Kristina's brother, Drew, are seniors on the squad. The girls also have fathers who have been heavily involved in the sport.

"Noah is doing it his senior year, and we’ve always done things together, since we are twins," said Lang. "I decided that this was our last time before we go to different schools, and I really wanted to be here with him, and I’m really connected to a lot of boys on the team, and I wanted to be with them through this year."

"I don’t really notice [Drew], because it’s mostly partner-based throughout the practice, and since he is so much heavier than I am, the only time I see him is when we are on the wall getting ready to run, and even then we are on opposite sides of the wall," said Kelly. "I think it will be more when we are at meets."

"It’s been really nice [being on the same team as Noah]," said Lang. "He and I get along really well now, and I’ve missed maybe three wrestling meets in his entire career, and it’s something we’ve really bonded over. I don’t think I could let go of it, so being here with him is a major priority for me."

It is not just the "brotherly love" the girls feel, because wrestling runs through their veins.

Kelly's uncle, Patrick, is the head coach of the team, while Kelly's father, Jack, has been an assistant coach in the past, and Lang's father, Glenn, was a state champion wrestler for the Windjammers, just as Noah was last season.

"I came in knowing a lot of the basics and having an idea of what I was doing," said Lang. "If I have any questions my dad is usually in the corner, and I can ask him to help me out, and he will come over and demo. It’s really helpful."

"It makes me feel more comfortable in the practice room, because where as Izzy’s brother is a state champion wrestler, it’s pretty intimidating to go in, especially since I’ve never really wrestled before," said Kelly. "If I ever have any questions I can always send [my dad or uncle] a text, or if I’m confused on a move, or want to practice, I can always go home, or to [Patrick's] house, and they will always help me practice something."

Coming from an accomplished mat pedigree, the pressure can mount to be successful.

"I feel [the pressure] a little bit, but I don’t think anyone else sees that pressure for me," said Kelly. "They just see me as the soccer player. I’ve always been the smallest and the little girl that has been good at soccer, so I’m hoping I can come into wrestling and surprise people. I am a good soccer player, but I can also come into the training room, and it’s not just because I’m good at it, but because I can pick it up and show people I can actually wrestle."

"There’s no pressure on me whatsoever," said Lang. "My parents said ‘if you want to do it that’s great, if you want to just manage that’s great, so you don’t have to practice everyday. The focus is really on Noah and his senior year and having accomplishments, so there is no pressure on me this year. It’s what I want to do."

Lang will have the challenge of balancing competing and managing the team, a position she has held in the past.

"It’s going to be hard," said Lang. I’ve definitely considered it’s going to be a challenge scoring, and then potentially having to change [clothes] and then go into a match. I really have a major passion for [managing]. I kind of coach on the sidelines while I’m scoring. You aren’t really supposed to do that, but it’s going to be a challenge, but also manageable."

Being first-year high school female wrestlers, they will have the opportunity to compete for multiple state championships, as female wrestlers now have their own state championship competition for the first time, while also being able to compete with the males, as females have done in the past.

"It’s probably making it a little harder for me just because of the weight classes," said Kelly. "I’m going to try to drop a little lower, because it will increase my chances at the girls state [championships]. If I was wrestling in the boys state [championships] I honestly wouldn’t make it, because there are boys that have been wrestling for seven or eight years that I will be going against and would get the spot over me. I think it’s really exciting, and it gives me something to work towards."

"It doesn’t really change a whole lot for me," said Lang. "I don’t really see myself competing further on. I don’t know if I want to go beyond practicing. It’s definitely something in the back of my mind currently, but there are a lot of good female wrestlers around my weight, especially form southern Maine, that have been wrestling for years and years."

"[My goal this year is too] maybe win a match," said Lang. "That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I’m balancing the managing and competing, so I don’t know how much I’ll compete."

"[Wrestling is] really to just stay fit, have some fun and learn some technique," said Kelly.

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