Hayford signs NLI for D-I wrestling

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BENNINGTON — Another Mount Anthony big man is taking his talents to the Division I level.

MAU's Calvin Hayford signed his National Letter of Intent on Thursday to attend Division I Campbell University on a wrestling scholarship next fall.

Heading into his senior season, Hayford, who wrestles at heavyweight, has more than 100 wins, racking up 99 of them in the past two seasons wrestling for the Patriots.

Now he'll go down south to Buies Creek, N.C., about 90 minutes west of Greensboro, and wrestle in the Southern Conference.

"It all started last year, the [assistant] coach and I met at the Hofstra Duals and we kept in contact for the next couple of months," Hayford said after signing his NLI. "We lost contact for a little bit, but he got a hold of me about a month ago. We were going down for Super 32, so we went to look at the campus."

Calvin's father, Craig, said he felt relieved that his son is making this decision.

"It's a lot of stress of his back," Craig Hayford said. "It's good to see all his hard work paying off."

As a freshman, Hayford wrestled as an independent representing Winooski High School but in the summer between his ninth and 10th grade years, Hayford made the trek to the southwest corner of the state to work with Catamount Wrestling Club.

"His passion was wrestling," Craig Hayford said. "I wanted to put him in a position where he could reach his full potential. We liked the way [Scott] Legacy ran the program and [Calvin] likes Coach [Brian] Coon and he thrived in the atmosphere here."

Starting at MAU as a sophomore, Hayford went 53-12, finishing third in the state. At the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach, Hayford made a run through the sophomore nationals, finishing second and being named an All-American.

Last year, as a junior, Hayford was 46-11 overall, including a runner-up finish at the Vermont state meet and a 3-2 mark at New Englands before finishing one match short of placing at nationals again.

"It was a big change, but it led me to MAU from Winooski, but it gave me the opportunity and the ability to go pursue my dreams," Hayford said. "It made me better and in turn, I got better. I wouldn't be where I am without Mount Anthony."

Hayford said it was important to make this decision now, in the early signing period, before the high school season begins next month.

"I just want my senior year to be fun, I don't have to worry about colleges, I don't have to worry about performance, I can just go and wrestle," Hayford said.

"It's an honor for any athlete in any sport to be able to go Division I," Coon said. "There's only so many spots and everyone aspires to be at that level. To be able to say Division I colleges want you, it means you've had a successful career. But you have to enjoy the work — being a Division I athlete is like a job, you have to enjoy the work, which he seems to do. There's no doubt he can be successful at that level."

Hayford said he is going for a business degree, which he said he hoped to parlay into into going to law school.

Hayford is the second straight Mount Anthony heavyweight to choose a Division I college to wrestle, following Jesse Webb, who attended Ohio University until going to Castleton this season.

"Once you have one good big guy, they help the ones coming up behind them," Coon said. "Jesse helped develop Calvin and before that it was Sam Webster and before that Ethan Furlon."

At Campbell, the heavyweight in the starting lineup now is Jere Heino, a junior from Finland, who went 26-10 last year and was a runner up in the conference at his weight class.

"Everything I've done has been leading to this all along," Hayford said. "A winning mentality can bring you to greatness."


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