Mount Anthony wrestlers honored

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BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony Union High School wrestlers celebrated their record 30th consecutive state championship with a parade and accolades Sunday afternoon.

After riding through the downtown in a school bus proceeded by a line of fire trucks, the wrestlers and their families were joined by community members in the parking lot of the high school to celebrate their achievements. In addition to being recognized by the local community, the team also received congratulatory remarks from Gov. Phil Scott and all three members of the state's congressional delegation, as snow flurries swirled.

Select Board member Jim Carroll commemorated each of the wrestlers' parents and thanked them for all of the work they did to ensure that their children were successful wrestlers. He said he believes that the parents are the foundation that helps the athletes become successful.

"Without the dedication, the hard work, and everything that you put in, you wouldn't have thirty straight championships that you take home," said Thomas Jacobs, Bennington Select Board chair. "You're a part of the long line, and I have a feeling, Coach [Brian] Coon, that it's not going to end at thirty. I have a feeling that some of these guys aren't graduating this year and they're going to carry on that tradition."

In a letter to the wrestling team that was read aloud by Jacobs, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch congratulated the team on continuing the high school's wrestling tradition.

"Congratulations to you on your splendid Mount Anthony effort, thirty straight consecutive crowns, astonishingly," Welch wrote. "You have served your state well. What a tradition — you should be proud."

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy not only wrote a letter congratulating the team and Coon, but also sent a flag that was flown above the U.S. Capitol. Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, serving as master of ceremonies, presented the flag to Coon.

A letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders, in which he commended the team on its teamwork and passion for wrestling, was read aloud by Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington.

"I know you're aware of the tireless amount of work and dedication that it takes to reach this level of competition, and the team has proven itself to be very talented. Your hard work has been an inspiration to MAU athletes and to your fellow coaches. I want to recognize your families, your friends, your teachers, and all the people who have supported you. I know they join me and the entire state of Vermont in congratulating the Mount Anthony Union wrestling team on your championship season and wishing the team the best in seasons to come," Morris read.

Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, delivered her own speech to the wrestlers, offering her congratulations to the team. She said that there is a legislative proclamation in honor of the team that is being drafted, and will be presented to them sometime later this month.

"This is a remarkable and truly incredible achievement and you should all be proud of your hard work and determination. To each and every member of the team please know how proud you have made your families, schools, and the entire Bennington community," Morrissey said. "I am incredibly impressed with your victory and continued winning streak. I would also like to extent my congratulations to Coach Coon on his second victory as head coach of the team. Your leadership, of such a talented team, speaks to your tremendous dedication."

Morris congratulated the team on behalf of Bennington's Statehouse delegation, and credited the team's success to the member's willingness to push themselves hard, and to the support of their family, friends and other allies.

"This is such a remarkable achievement for our community and for our state," Morris said. "On behalf of our entire delegation, I hope you know how very proud we are of the achievements that you have brought here to our region you pushed yourselves beyond the limits that you thought might never be possible. I don't think anyone thirty years ago would have said this streak would be something that you could ever bank on, but it happened. It happened because you didn't quit; it happened because you showed up, and it happened because you had the heart and passion to really make it happen."

Coon said that the wrestling team's success comes from the amount of work and dedication that each of the wrestlers puts into the sport. Each of the wrestlers dedicates a large amount of their free time to the sport and to improve their craft.

"These kids give so much of their time away in the fall and the summer," Coon said. "I think as long as the kids continue to do all of the off-season work, they will continue to be successful. I think the off-season work puts us above most of the state."


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