With 144 wins, two team state titles, and two individual state titles, senior Brooks Law can already lay claim to being one of the most decorated wrestlers in Foxcroft Academy history. Yet he’s still just second in his own family in career wins, with brother Forrest ’13 (now a US Army Airborne Ranger) setting the school’s all-time mark at 168 two years ago. That should soon change for the 145-pound senior captain, who became the second Pony freshman to win a state title in 2012, was the first sophomore in Maine history to pick up his 100th win as a sophomore, and has lost just 12 matches in three years.
Law is one of seven state qualifiers returning for Coach Luis Ayala, who led the Ponies to a fourth-place finish at the Class B state meet last winter on the heels of winning three straight Class C state titles. Fellow seniors Eli Olson (third at the eastern regional meet at 126 pounds) and Isaac Whittemore (third at the PVC meet at 138) will look to finish their careers on a high note while talented juniors Antonio Ayala (third at the state meet at 120 last year after becoming the third FA freshman to win a state title the previous year), Michael Pendriss (fourth at the state meet at 182), and Brandon Brock (fourth at the state meet at 195) also return. Sophomore Billy Brock will look to build on a promising freshman campaign that saw him finish third at PVCs and fourth at the eastern regionals in the 170-pound bracket.
“We have an experienced team coming back this year and that helps a lot in practice,” said Coach Ayala, who led FA to back-to-back state titles in 2004-2005 in addition to the recent three-peat. “We can move into learning a higher level of moves and drills. We don’t have to review a lot of the basics. Practices have been moving along because the kids have been coming to practice ready to work hard–especially with these two first weeks of preseason, where we do a lot of conditioning and cardio drills. It can get intense, but the kids are used to it now and are prepared for it.”
The Ponies, who graduated two more state qualifiers (state runners-up Corbyn Bruce and Todd Francis), will also look for major contributions from junior Chris Storer (152), sophomores Conner Johnson (132) and Matt Storer (285), and incoming freshmen Brandon Weston (106), Breyer Manchester (106-113), and RJ Nelson (120-126), each of whom was a Penquis League Champion last year.
Coach Ayala has been impressed with his freshmen thus far. “The new wrestlers are learning what it means to be a Foxcroft wrestler,” he said. “They have been coming in with an open mind, learning a lot, and working hard. They have a lot of experience wrestling and have been successful in middle school, and that helps with their adjustment to high school wrestling.”
The Ponies will seek to improve on last year’s performance at the state meet, in which they finished behind Camden Hills, Mountain Valley, and Ellsworth. “It’s not going to be easy, but we look forward to the challenge,” said Coach Ayala. “The competition at this level is intense, and it’s a battle every time we wrestle these opponents. Expectations for us are always high. We expect to be in every tournament competing and battling for a trophy. This year is no different. We have a great group of kids that expect no less from our team. We will train hard and be prepared to compete to do our best. That is what we do!”
The Ponies first regular season test will be at Belfast this Saturday at 10 am. They face a great challenge in the early going, as both Ayala and Pendriss will be sidelined with injuries for several weeks.
Photo atop article is Brooks Law at last year’s state meet. Photo of Brandon Weston was taken by Angela Ayala at the Dexter Duals preseason meet on November 22. Click here to see more of Angela’s photos from that meet.