“No, you are not,” recalls Gary, having told him his trainer, unequivocally. “You will struggle.”
So he did. At that point, Gary couldn’t have imagined the multigenerational journey he was unwittingly tracing.
“A small decision,” he says now, at 67, “and a lifetime in a wrestling hall.”
“Yes, thank you dad! ” his son, Seanrang from the other side of the carpet.
Over the past half-century, there have been two steadfast truths about Wayland’s wrestling: The Warriors are warming up to Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and there is at least one Chase in the team photo.
Inside Wayland’s black and orange wrestling room – a large, airy space surrounding the side of the school’s bubble-shaped pavilion – hang rows of wood and glass framed photos of the greats of Wayland. The Champions Wall reads like a family tree of Chase, tracing Gary’s 1972 New England title at 157 pounds back to his brother Bob 1974 section title to Sean (two-time section finalist) and his brother Brett (29-0 his last year) to their future brother-in-law Chris Newton (1998 division 3 state champion) and up to a step cousin (Kenny mcguire).
On December 11, a new page was added to Chase’s legacy when Sean’s son, Cole, a 14-year-old freshman, won his college debut at 145 pounds in a duel with Milford.
âIt was pretty surreal to see him in a Wayland jersey, raise his arm and step on it and shake my hand,â said Sean Chase, now in his 14th season as a head coach.
âIt was exciting,â added his grandfather. “Thrilling.”
Fifty-three years before Cole’s first victory, his grandfather embarked on a wrestling career that took him to Boston State (now UMass Boston). But after graduating and starting a family with his wife, Eileen, he left athletics behind.
But at age 30, Moyer approached Chase to fill the vacant Lincoln-Sudbury wrestling coach position. Gary took the job and coached LS for the next four years, improving the Warriors’ record from 0-11 the season before reaching 9-5-1 in his freshman year.
In 1988 Gary joined Wayland’s staff as an assistant, spending 10 years under Moyer before becoming the second head coach in the program’s history when his mentor stepped down after 30 seasons.
Over the next 10 years, Gary led Wayland to an other-world record of 218-12-2, including a 91-1-1 double-meet score over a four-year span from 1998 to 2001. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013.
âThe coaching philosophy was to coach as a team,â said Gary. âYou trained to bring the whole team with you. It goes back to Coach Moyer. Wayland has never coached for the individual. Ultimately you want the individuals to do as well as they can, but the whole concept was to coach the team and get the whole team at the same pace. This is why Wayland has always had an extremely strong doubles competition team.
Gary led the Warriors to the 2006 Individual and Dual-Competition State Championships – known as the Undisputed Championship – and the 2007 Dual-Competition State Crown. After that 2007 season, he retired and Sean took over.
âThe grind kind of hit me,â Gary said. âI ended up getting a promotion at work and couldn’t pass the time. “
After his senior year at Wayland in 1995, Sean had gone to Boston College with the intention of wrestling, but was quickly exhausted from the sport and joined the Eagles lacrosse team. In his senior year he taught at Wayland and joined the wrestling team as an assistant. He’s now been a head coach for 14 years, 268 wins and two state championships, including an undisputed final in 2016.
âStarting in 1989, I have been in this country house every winter except last winter,â Sean said. âI really don’t know winter any other way. “
He also pulled out a piece from Moyer’s playbook, spending the past 16 years as Wayland’s freshman football coach. It’s been fertile recruiting ground, especially after seasons like this fall, when the Warriors went 10-0 with Cole playing center and defensive end.
âAt Wayland, we have athletes who wrestle, we don’t necessarily have wrestlers,â Sean explained. âWe have guys who come into the program because of our personal connections that we’ve made with them through the community and through other sports. It’s sort of from there that it blossoms.
Sean, who also coaches Cole with wrestling club MetroWest United, didn’t have to sweat to convince his own son to join the squad.
âMy earliest memories are definitely being here in kindergarten,â Cole said, looking around the wrestling room.
As he enjoyed his first college victory, the moment Cole will never forget was stepping out to warm up to the surly guitar riffs and splashing drums of “Fire” from The Jimi Hendrix Experience – a tradition of 51 years born from an idea of David Lipton, now a prominent economist and former acting managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
âIt was surreal,â Cole said. âI tried to keep a straight face, but I was smiling. I had seen so many people do this before.
âIt’s one of the oldest traditions in Massachusetts sports,â says Gary, who was in sophomore when Lipton first launched âFireâ from a portable record player in December 1970. âIt didn’t. has never deviated. No one ever changed the song.
No one would dare. At least as long as there’s a Chase around.
Near the falls
âª Thomas brown entered the highly competitive George Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament as an eighth seed with a combination of poise and skill few subclasses possess.
The Chelmsford rookie left the tournament as the champion after beating the top two seeds to win the 285-pound title.
He may be a freshman at Chelmsford, but Brown had won several youth titles competing for Doughboy Wrestling Club.
“Thomas is an excellent wrestler”, coach Chris Piscione noted. âHe’s rock hard and he competes really well. Once he got out, and I saw that he was starting to really control the tempo of the match, to control everything, I was like, “This is going to be a problem. [for opponents]. ‘â
In the quarterfinals against the two-time champion of the State of Vermont Hayden gaudette from Mount Anthony, the match was deadlocked, 0-0, after the first period, and 3-3 after two consecutive breakaways from the two wrestlers. Brown took a point lead with five seconds remaining when Gaudette was whistled for her second stall and secured the win.
Brown said his conditioning and experience against older wrestlers at the club level has proven to make a difference in the tournament.
âThey always beat me in training and helped me deal with losses and really helped me with the mental part of the sport,â Brown said.
âª St. John’s Prep won the Bossi team title for the first time in junior Charlie smith was sixth at 285, putting Prep (205 points) ahead of Timberlane, NH (203).
Matches to watch
Wednesday, Milford to Taunton, 7 p.m. – In a Hockomock Kelley-Rex match, Milford comes in at 4-0. Taunton (2-1) will have a challenge Sunday night against Oliver Ames.
Wednesday, Methuen at North Andover, 7 p.m. – With victories already recorded against Xaverian and Billerica, Methuen will put his undefeated record to the test against Merrimack Valley Conference rival, North Andover (6-1).
Thursday, Melrose at Reading, 7 p.m. – After finishing just seven points behind in the Bossi tournament, the Middlesex League rivals will go head to head.
Correspondent Ethan McDowell contributed to this story.