Current UFC middleweight contender Tim Boetsch has been honored for the early stages of his competitive career, recently being inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.
The Lincolnville native, who now lives in Subway, Pa., was a four-time Class B individual state champion while attending Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport as well as a four-time Eastern Maine champion and a two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titlist.
He finished with a 146-6 career high school record, and placed fourth in his weight class at the National High School Coaches Association Senior National Championships. He also was named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-American team.
Boetsch went on to wrestle collegiately at Lock Haven (Pa.) University before turning his attention to mixed martial arts.
The 31-year-old Boetsch currently is one of the hottest middleweights (185-pound limit) in the UFC, having won four straight fights since dropping down from the light heavyweight (205-pound) ranks.
He most recently earned a decision over Hector Lombard at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, last month to improve his overall record to 15-4 while ending Lombard’s 25-fight unbeaten streak.
Boetsch currently is recovering from a broken foot he suffered during that bout.
Joining Boetsch as members of the MAWA Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are longtime Noble of North Berwick wrestling coach Kip DeVoll and Fryeburg native and nationally recognized coach John Gordon.
DeVoll, a Noble graduate, has been the Knights’ head coach since 1986 and guided the program to 14 Class A state championships — including a run of nine straight from the late 1990s into the 2000s.
Gordon wrestled for Fryeburg Academy and Plymouth State before entering the coaching ranks, in which he was selected as Wrestling USA Magazine’s 2011 National High School Coach of the Year.
His coaching career includes stops at Fryeburg Academy, Dublin (N.H.) High School, New Hampton (N.H.) School and the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., where his teams won four straight Pennsylvania prep state championships from 2007 to 2010 and finished as the runner-up at the national prep tournament in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Gordon has coached at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Va., for the last two years.
Recently, fellow PopCult blogger Erica Marcus bemoanedthe demise of the straightforward 10-point judging system in gymnastics, making the sport less dramatic for the viewer at home. I agree — but at least with gymnastics an unschooled eye can see when the gymnast has performed with grace and confidence and avoided awkward mistakes. You don’t need to be an Olympic judge to recognize a shaky performance.
Likewise with so many of the most popular events of the summer games — swimming, diving, track, etc. — the drama is clear-cut and stark, the triumphs instantaneous and self-evident. Who crossed the finish line first? Who dove into the pool cleanly, with minimum splash? When Usain Bolt wins the 100-meter and 200-meter races, you instinctually cheer, because there isn’t a human alive who couldn’t recognize his victory. It’s primal.
Freestyle wrestling, by contrast, is just bewildering for the nonfan. This afternoon I settled in to watch the quarterfinal competition. Now there is something pleasingly Olympic about wrestling. It reeks of antiquity, and we might be watching two grapplers come to life off an ancient Greek vase. Wikipediatells us that wrestling has been an Olympic event since at least the Olympiad of 704 B.C. The sport has a pedigree.
But this satisfaction quickly gave way to bewilderment. With all the twists and reversals it was difficult to tell who was thrashing whom. How on earth were the points being scored? It was like watching a foreign film without subtitles. True, the NBC commentators kept explaining what was going on, but I couldn’t relate it to what I was seeing on-screen.
Now maybe I’m just dim. But the sport does seem to have a certain amount of confusion built in. And during the quarterfinals of the men’s freestyle 185 lb. class, it wasn’t just me. American Jake Herbert was going head to head against Sharif Sharikov of Azerbaijan. (Just as the Jamaicans rule the track events, the Azerbaijanis seem to have a headlock on wrestling.) During the match there ensued what one commentator called a "rolling scramble," and when it was over, no one seemed to agree on what had happened and what the score was. The judges watched a replay, and frankly, they looked as confused as I felt. But they ruled that the score was 6-0, Sharikov. What?!
The U.S. coach, Zeke Jones, bounded out onto the mat to object. He wound up being handed a yellow card by a ref, and that at least was unambiguous: not good. The judges held to their score, and Sharikov claimed a spot in the semifinals. (He went on to win the gold medal in his weight class.) Jake Herbert and Coach Jones didn’t look too happy, and I wasn't too satisfied either. Maybe I just need to watch more wrestling to get the hang of it. But with the freestyle competition over in London, I guess I’ll just set myself an alert for the 2016 games.