During his four years as a varsity wrestler at Camden Hills, Rhett Chase learned there was more to wrestling than just throwing your weight around.
“Wrestling is more of a mental game,” he said.
“People say that we just go out there and throw each other around, but that’s not true. We have to try to think two, three steps ahead of the other guy, which isn’t easy. “
This season, Chase managed to stay two or three steps ahead of most of his opponents. He reeled off 50 consecutive wins before losing his first match of the season last weekend in the semifinal round of the New England championships.
Chase, the Maine Sunday Telegram’s wrestler of the year, also led the Windjammers to their second Class B state championship in three seasons.
“Up until my junior year, I was trying to go out there and muscle kids, and I couldn’t do that,” Chase said. “I got a lot of victories, but I couldn’t do that for long. I just wasted so much energy sitting there trying to muscle guys who were taller than me and so much stronger than me. I’ve learned to problem-solve on the fly.”
Camden Hills Coach Levi Rollins said Chase improved with each varsity season.
“He’s gotten more mature, and you can see in his wrestling from year to year he became more focused from the beginning of the season to the end,” the coach said. “When he walked in (to practice) at 5 o’clock in the morning you could tell he was ready to go. He’s always focused. It was business.”
The 220-pound division was considered one of the most competitive in Maine this season, and Chase defeated all the top wrestlers in that division.
At the New England championships, Chase defeated Class A champion Josh Andrews of Massabesic for the third time in two seasons.
In December, Chase pinned two-time Class C champion Zach Ragot of Washington Academy in the 220-pound final at the Noble Invitational in North Berwick.
While wrestling up in weight class, Chase also handed the only loss of the season to Brewer’s Marcus Eaton, the Class A champion at 285 pounds.
“He has no fear,” said Brandon Graffam, Chase’s teammate and the Class B champion at 195 pounds. “He’s like a honey badger. He doesn’t care who he wrestles. He always gives 100 percent, no matter what. He’s wrestled kids twice his size.”
Chase, who stands 6 foot and weighs a little more than 200 pounds, wrestled up in weight in most of his matches.
“He’s pretty light for 220,” Rollins said. “He probably could have gone 195 this year, but he’s the type of kid who doesn’t care which weight class he’s in. He just goes out and wrestles.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org