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Canes Junior Has Wrestling Title Dreams

Bellows Falls-Hartford head coach Claude Weyant demonstrates a technique during practice. (Valley News - Libby March)

Bellows Falls-Hartford head coach Claude Weyant demonstrates a technique during practice. (Valley News - Libby March)

Westminster, Vt. — Nolan Viens is having a dominant season for the Bellows Falls-Hartford wrestling team. For that, he credits his coach’s son.

Viens, a 17-year-old junior from Hartford, is 33-1 this season as a 145-pounder. Last season, he was 50-5 and placed in the top four at the Vermont state meet.

But nothing in wrestling comes easy, and it certainly did not for Viens. Two years ago, he was a freshman adjusting to wrestling at an unfamiliar school — before Bellows Falls and Hartford united last year to form a co-op team, Viens competed as an independent.

Cyle Weyant, the son of head coach Claude Weyant, took Viens under his wing. The younger Weyant was a Bellows Falls Union High senior who was on his way to his second Vermont state title in three years. Viens’ introduction to high school wrestling was hardly gentle. Cyle threw him around, and Viens had no choice but to battle back.

In the yin-yang spirit that permeates wrestling, Viens’ improvement was immediate.

“To this day, I attribute Cyle Weyant as to why I’m as good as I am,” Viens said during practice this week. “We would get almost angry at each other. We were head-butting each other, and my head was so sore sometimes.

“But by the end of the year, I was catching up to him.”

Not to mention a title contender himself.

Wrestling at 135 pounds, Viens placed second at the state meet that season and he hasn’t looked back. Now he finds himself matched up against top out-of-state foes — he’s faced state champs from New Hampshire and Connecticut this season.

When the season began, Viens wasn’t sure if he’d be able to hang with New England’s elite, but now he has his sights set on placing in the New England meet, “which has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” he said.

Viens took up wrestling in the third grade, when a friend’s father noticed his aggression on the soccer pitch and thought it might be better applied elsewhere. He showed up for practice with a friend and soon found his calling.

“We went once the first week, twice the second week and every practice the third week,” Viens said. “We ‘caught the fever’ as my dad (Mike, Hartford assistant coach) put it.”

“He’s wrestling extremely well,” Claude Weyant said. “He has extremely good balance on the mat, is very knowledgeable with the moves, and he works extremely hard.”

For Viens, a running back and linebacker on the Hartford High football team, that balance has translated to improvement on the gridiron.

“Coach (Mike) Stone always tells me, ‘use that leverage,’ ” Viens said.

Now, Viens finds himself in the leader’s role, which will increase next season, when several freshmen join the ranks. Viens is quick to deflect praise to others, such as Hartford classmate Patrick Labuda, who has had a strong season at 138 pounds.

“Labuda’s really been catching up; this is his third year,” Viens said. “Now I think we’re really pushing each other, and when we go out on Saturday, you see it all pays off.”

Dave Bailey can be reached at dbailey@vnews.com or 603-727-3218.

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