High school wrestling

Littlejohn grapples with, finds inner peace in state title run

Meditation aids in personal growth, weight loss for Windjammer champion
By Mark Haskell | Apr 10, 2015
Photo by: Mark Haskell Camden Hills senior Kaylo Littlejohn in the school's mini gymnasium, or wrestling room, where the youngster developed some of his best mat moves.

Rockport — Midway through his junior year at Camden Hills Regional High School, Kaylo Littlejohn decided it was time to make a change.

Already in the midst of losing what ended up being nearly 100 pounds, the now Windjammer senior decided to add a component foreign to many high school-aged children: Meditation.

“I do it in the morning for like an hour each morning,” he said. “And it's just ridiculous the amount of focus you can get. It's pretty sick. You literally feel like you're a super person or something.”

Those changes were paramount to Littlejohn's continued success on the wrestling mat, which culminated when he nabbed the state Class B championship in the 195-pound weight class in February for the Windjammers at Fryeburg Academy.

“It was pretty sick, honestly,” said Littlejohn, who also captured the Eastern Class B title in his weight class this season. “It was amazing because no one expected me to win coming from where I started. I mean I just started wrestling three years ago.”

Equally as impressive is the fact that Littlejohn, who finished 25-5 individually from the start of the regular season to the state finals, beat Fryeburg Academy's Trevor Henschel, who had won an individual state crown in the previous season, in Henschel's home gymnasium.

That fact did not rattle Littlejohn.

“I didn't think about him at all,” he said of Henschel. “I just automatically thought I was going to win if I wrestled good.”

Littlejohn recalled the match being scoreless through the first period, but he got a reversal on Henschel later in the match “and he went to his back, so I got five points extra.”

“I knew at that point as long as he didn't turn me on my back, I was going to win,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn ended up besting Henschel 6-2.

“He beat a defending state champ in his own backyard for the title,” said veteran Camden Hills wrestling coach Pat Kelly. “Kaylo is another example of the 'idea' behind Camden Hills wrestling: 'Work hard, be dedicated and push yourself to the edge and reach for more.' That is precisely what Kaylo did this year.

Kaylo is a state champ because he believed in the philosophy of the program and he believed in himself.”

Much was riding on Littlejohn's win, not just personally, but for the Windjammer team. His win over Henschel catapulted Camden Hills to second, where it likely would have finished third or fourth as a team had Littlejohn lost.

Annually, the Windjammers typically are among the top two squads in Class B at the state championships and have won 15 state crowns and finished runners-up eight times.

Also in the mix was the chance that Camden Hills would not crown a single individual state champion — and titles are something the Windjammers usually collect in bulk each year — had Littlejohn not defeated Henschel .

Coach Kelly said meditation has helped Littlejohn not just on the mat, but in all aspects of his life.

“Meditation helps to give focus and purpose and Kaylo used this as a guiding strength,” Kelly said. “He calms his nerves and focuses his incredible body energy to the mat. Kaylo thrives on structure and that is exactly what he gets in the classroom and the wrestling room.”

Littlejohn will get more of that structure and work ethic after high school, as he has been accepted to attend West Point Military Academy.

Kelly, who said he will miss Littlejohn “because of what he brings to the [wrestling] room each day” along with “his humor and wit,” was not surprised of Littlejohn's decision to go to West Point.

“The wrestling room can be a kind of truth serum, whereby, the physical and mental demands paint a clear picture of one's true self,” said Kelly. “Kaylo will be a very successful leader in the army as an officer.”

Littlejohn's and Kelly's relationship did not start in the weight room. In fact, it began behind the wheel.

“It was in a driver's ed car and I was like 270 [pounds at the time],” said Littlejohn, as Kelly also runs Kelly's Driving School. “And [Kelly] was like,'You're a big kid, you should think about wrestling. You could be a champion son.' And then I just thought, 'OK I'll do wrestling, I've got nothing else to do.' ”

“When I met Kaylo he was just a sophomore and he weighed 270 pounds,” said Kelly. “I wanted him to wrestle for me so much because I could see the talent, desire and leader within him to do great things.”

That meeting in the car, from there, seemingly put the wheels in motion for Littlejohn's transformation.

“I just looked in the mirror and I said. 'I don't want to be a giant,' ” Littlejohn said. “I started wrestling at 275 and I cut down [the weight]. Before the season I was probably like 225-230 for sophomore year and I'm like 195 or 200 [pounds] right now.”

He weighed 275 pounds as a freshman and slimmed down to qualify to wrestle in the 195-pound weight class his senior year.

Despite his state championship on the mat, Littlejohn prefers to take out his aggression on the gridiron. He was named all-conference during his junior year at linebacker and offensive line, but sat out much of his senior season due to an ankle sprain.

Littlejohn is considering playing college football for the Black Knights, but also may join the wrestling team.

Personal information

Name: Kaylo Littlejohn

Age: 17

Grade: Senior at Camden Hills Regional High School.

Guardian: Donna Doherty (grandmother).

Town: Camden.

Favorite athlete: Jadaveon Clowney.

Favorite personal moment in sports: Making it to the finals in the Noble wrestling tournament.

Favorite course in school: Physics.

Favorite phone/computer app: Snapchat.

What do you listen to on your iPod before competing: Electronic dance music or Waka Flocka.

Food you pig out on: Peanut butter.

Favorite book: "The Book of Wisdom" by Osho.

Hobbies: Meditating, lifting weights.

Vehicle you wish you were driving: Lamborghini.

Person you most want to meet (dead or alive): Ralph Smart.

Most influential people in your life: My counselor and my grandmother.

Future plans: To go to West Point and become an army officer.

Comments (1)
Posted by: David R. Woodbury | Apr 11, 2015 07:31

Good story... Best of luck to Kaylo.



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