Adam Waters likely won’t forget his first PIAA state championship wrestling title. He was one of two Faith wrestlers to capture the prestigious crown at Hershey’s Giant Center last weekend.
Waters pinned Notre Dame - Green Pond’s Holden Garcia in 1:43 for his title. It was the third time this season Waters beat him.
At the state tournament, Waters registered three pins and a tech fall along the way. For the season, Waters compiled an incredible 44-1 slate, losing only to Illinois Civic Memorial state champion Abe Wojcikiewicz, 4-3, at Delaware’s Beast of the East tournament in mid-December.
Teammate Gauge Botero also took home gold for the Lions, who won the overall Class 2A team title with 151 points, 50 more than second-place Notre Dame. Overall, Faith Christian had nine medalists in the tournament. The team also earlier won the team title at districts and regionals.
“My championship bout was one that I will remember forever,” gushed Waters, a 172-pound freshman. “Giving up an early takedown, I knew something had to change. I had an overhook, and I just went for the headlock and it stuck.
“As soon as I got the pin, emotions started flooding me. I thought back about all the hard work and sacrifices that went into the title. No win was comparable to that one.”
Even though he had one lone defeat, Waters admittedly had some butterflies in his stomach.
“My opponents were tough, and I had respect for them,” he stressed. “I definitely had moments when I was a little nervous, but as soon as I got on the mat, it became a wrestling match again.
“A lot of people had an influence over me, and I am thankful to my coaches at Faith Christian as well as my parents who have done everything for me.”
Botero, who wrestled at 121 and posted an overall 43-2 mark this season, defeated Montgomery’s Brandt Harer, 5-1, in the final. Botero’s two losses were to St. John Vianney’s Anthony Knox in two separate tournaments. Through two years, he has an overall record of 88-9.
The sophomore devised a plan with his coaches for the final match, which alleviated the tension.
“Going into the match, I had a game plan that my coaches and I went over two weeks earlier. So I wasn’t nervous going into the match. In the first period, I tried to slow him down on his feet, knowing that was his strong suit. I wanted to get on top and ride him out to break him from that position.
Upon winning the title, he recalled how his father, Kevin, helped him develop a strong mindset.
“Nothing compares to winning a PA state title,” boasted Botero. “My opponents were tough, and I’m happy I got to wrestle (Montoursville’s Branden) Wetzel (1-0 victory) and Harer. I surprisingly kept a cool mind and had no anxious moments the entire tournament.
“My biggest influence has been my dad. He has instilled a hard work ethic in me because without one, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Other Lions who received medals were sophomore Chase Hontz (139) and freshman Cale Weidemoyer (152), both third; freshman Kole Davidheiser (107), freshman Mason Wagner (133) and sophomore Luke Sugalski (160), who all finished fifth; and freshmen Arment Waltenbaugh (127) and Jason Singer (189), both seventh.
Watching two state champions being crowned and seven other wrestlers medal, head coach Ben Clymer continued his surreal experience.
“The final round was inexplicable,” Clymer said. “We have tons of confidence in our kids and how they are wired. But Hershey teaches humility better than most places, so I didn’t expect for nine of our guys to be walking out of there on a winning note.
“I had a couple of moments to take in the group from afar to see the joy permeating from the wrestlers and their families. So many people were coming up and telling me about records and milestones. I felt like it hit me, and I got to enjoy it with everyone.”
Clymer cradled the moment with joy and gratitude, and he realized there likely are more to come with the current core of freshmen and sophomores.
“Some waves of emotions have continued with me,” he stated. “There are people like my wife and some life occurrences that have been pivotal in allowing what happened to come to fruition.
“It’s overwhelming to consider how guys will play into the lineup next year. But we will enjoy the accomplishments of the season and thank the people that allowed it to happen. I am very thankful for this entire group, and for the joy to watch them grow.”