Pine Tree Wrestling League

Ripley adds to family mat championship legacy

Gavin Ripley pins down second straight middle school title
By Zack Miller | Apr 13, 2018
Photo by: Zack Miller Siblings Maddie, left, and Gavin Ripley, Oceanside Middle School wrestlers.

Thomaston — It is not often one finds a family that churns out topnotch, highly-successful student-athletes, like a factory turns out a consistently cherished product, but with the Ripleys, one sees just that — from the youngest to the oldest.

The respected wrestling family had a high school state championship carved out when now Oceanside High School junior Ben Ripley won an individual Class B title his freshman year, and last year added Gavin to the list, when the 10-year-old captured a Pine Tree League Wrestling championship as a fifth-grader.

One year later, Gavin continued to add to his and his family's pedigree — and tremendous mat legacy.

The sixth-grader wrangled a 20-1 season record, with 18 of those 20 victories coming by way of pin, and concluded the season with his second straight league championship, on March 31.

Of course, the oldest Ripley daughter, Shannon, recently won a collegiate wrestling championship for Husson University in Bangor. And Maddie, Gavin's twin sister, more than holds her own in the sport.

So, obviously, success on the mat runs in the family.

“I was really happy [about winning this year],” Gavin said. “This year was a harder weight class than last year, because last year I only had one really tough match, and this year I had around five really tough matches.”

“I didn’t watch all of his matches last year, but he wasn’t quite as dominant last year as he was this year,” Oceanside coach Bill Weiss said. “I haven’t seen anyone work as hard as he does. He’s willing to work as hard as you push him.”

“I felt good for him, and I thought he did good, especially since I had never seen him wrestle [Stephen Galkowski of Mount Blue of Farmington] before,” said Maddie, Gavin’s twin sister and teammate.

Gavin went through the 87-pound weight class and pinned Caleb Gamache of Mountain Valley of Rumford, pinned Gavynn Young of Troy Howard of Belfast and pinned Galkowski in the championship final for the league crown.

“It was awesome,” Weiss said. “It’s such a rewarding feeling to know that a kid is the best. A feeling of victory after putting in all the effort and the time is tremendous. His teammates were rooting him on and Maddie was going crazy for him. It was kind of nerve-racking leading up to it.”

It is not too often you see a fifth-grader pin down a state title in their first year in middle school, but Gavin is not your normal wrestler.

“I was kind of nervous [this year] because I knew everyone would be gunning to beat me because I won last year. I had to work harder,” Gavin said. “I went to Florida and came back and gained a lot more weight, and I started to train harder when I lost to [Michael] Rollins [of Camden-Rockport] at the beginning of the year.”

“I tell kids you need four things to be successful: the right attitude, Gavin and Maddie have that, the conditioning, the strength and the technique,” Weiss said. “I can help with parts of it, but Gavin brings a lot to the table in technique and his attitude and I wanted to make sure his endurance was there, but Gavin is a package in those four areas. He’s got it all.”

The family came within one point of having two state champions this year, but Maddie fell to Colby Nadeau of Lawrence of Fairfield, 3-2, in the championship match, to finish second in the 81-pound weight class.

“It definitely stunk, but I got over it,” Maddie said.

“Maddie was one-point away,” Weiss said. “Talk about a disappointment with a brother and sister competing all the time. [Maddie losing] was really tough for me to watch.”

Moving forward though, Gavin, and Maddie, will be forces to reckon with on the mats in their respective weight brackets.

“These guys put the effort in and they are second to none,” Weiss said of the siblings. “Both of them could go forward and not lose a match in Maine. They have an incredible work ethic and desire. I’m proud of their work ethic and I’m proud to coach such great kids.”

“The only way Gavin’s going to get better is to go out of state,” Weiss said. “It’s a sport where you can go as far as you want. Gavin, and Maddie, have incredible potential. He’s got a passion for the sport. He’s got what you can’t put into a kid as a coach. He brings to the table a burning desire to get better.”

Comments (1)
Posted by: Heidi Ruth Locke | Apr 14, 2018 08:25

Congratulations Maddie & Gavin! Very proud of my former kindergarten & art student’s. The sky is the limit with hard work and determination!

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