Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Winslow’s Jacob Garcia, right, gets ready to throw Oceanside’s Aiden Sergent in their 190 semifinal match at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet Saturday in Bath.

BATH — It doesn’t matter how many people are in the gymnasium at Morse High School, Gavin Ripley is going to find a place in the stands to take a nap.

The Oceanside High School senior is a person of routine, and big crowd or not, he was going to make it happen at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference wrestling championships on Saturday.

“I usually bring a pillow and a blanket and take a nap in the stands,” Ripley said. “I get so tired after my matches, or maybe I’m just bored, but I’m able to shut my brain off and sleep.”

Ripley is both the defending KVAC and Class B champion at 132 pounds. In order to repeat as champion, Ripley has to win as many as four matches for the day, which starts early in the morning and may not finish until 7 p.m.

“There’s always pressure, but I feel like I thrive under pressure,” Ripley said. “I think I do the best under pressure.”

For Gavin Ripley’s sister — Maddie Ripley, the state’s first female state champion in an open tournament — sleep is not an option during a tournament.

Cony’s Jonny Lettre takes down Oceanside’s Takuma Steinberger during their 285 pound semifinal match at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet Saturday in Bath.

“I do not take naps, we are total opposites,” Maddie Ripley laughed. “And I don’t touch my phone. I turn it off as soon as I get here.

“I just stay focused (during the day), walk around and watch my teammates’ matches,” Maddie Ripley continued. “Eating and drinking throughout the day, just to stay energized and stay focused.”

There’s an added pressure for Maddie Ripley. Though she’s the defending Class B champion at 106, she finished second in the weight class at KVACs both last year and her sophomore year. Ripley started the season at 113 but made the drop back down to 106 days before the event.

“I feel good,” Maddie Ripley said. “I’ve drank almost 10 (full bottles of water). I just keep drinking (throughout the day).”

For Maine Central Institute senior Isaac Keresey, there’s also an added pressure.

“Last year was a lot more laid back, because I was a (No. 2) seed, and I beat the guy who beat me three times during the season (for the 160 pound title),” said Keresey, a defending KVAC champion at 157. “Today, I’m going into the finals against (Justin Batty of Camden Hills) who I’m 2-1 against so far. There’s definitely more pressure there than when I was a junior. Coming back for my senior year, it’s expected for me to win. But I’m still in the right mindset to go in there and win.”

Cony’s Kaiden Veilleux wrestles against Mt. Blue’s Jason Bagley in the 190 pound semifinals at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meet Saturday in Bath.

Keresey said he keeps his focus throughout a tournament by watching matches, as well as listening to music.

“You just want to distract your mind throughout the day, listen to music, to get back into the mindset before your match to get you prepared for the match,” Keresey said. “Just focus on your matches during the day, watch your competitors to get you ready for your next match.”

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