Bow wrestling off to strong start under first-year coach Bill Chavanelle

  • Jared Dolder, one of Bow High’s top wrestling newcomers this season, competes against Manchester Central on Jan. 14. First-year coach Bill Chavanelle says he’s pleased with the Falcons’ progress this winter despite the program’s relative youth. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

  • Bow wrestler Adler Moura goes for the pin on his Manchester Central opponent during the programs’ Jan. 14 matchup at Bow High. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

Monitor staff
Published: 1/26/2023 5:38:10 PM

BOW – Bow High wrestling coach Bill Chavanelle describes his team as “green.”

The Falcons might not have a ton of wrestling experience under their belts, but that hasn’t impeded their ability to compete hard and win this season. Through Thursday, Bow stands at 5-2 as a team in Division III and 15-7 overall against in-state competition.

In addition to six returnees, Bow added 10 new wrestlers to the program, bolstering a group that Chavanelle hoped would least double in size entering his first year leading the team.

“Obviously we have a lot of new kids joining the program, and we’re very, very green,” he said. “But with that green-ness, we’re very tough.”

Chavanelle credits his coaching staff for helping develop the inexperienced wrestlers and allowing for smooth operations.

During practices, Chavanelle typically works with the middleweights and oversees everything else; Tom Back helps the rookies – or “green kids” as Chavanelle describes them – focusing more on the basics; Wyatt Rheinhardt, who graduated Bow in 2021 with more than 100 match wins, takes the lighter weights.

The operation mirrors that of a small football team, with position coaches who work specifically with their players on fine-tuning skills before coming to work as a larger group.

Among notable performers this season, senior Nick Wray (145 pounds) and junior Adler Moura (120 pounds) stand out most. Both won at the Hubie Wagner Invitational tournament held in Vermont in late December. The event hosts some of the top wrestlers from New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

“Nick Wray, especially, he wrestled his head off those two days, where he pinned his way through the tournament, which – in a tough tournament like that – is almost unheard of,” Chavanelle said. “He’s been consistent all year long. He’s someone that I always had my eye on anyway because he’s been pretty solid for Bow for the last few years, but his senior year, he’s just taken it up another level.”

With just about three weeks until the state meet on Feb. 18 and a month until the Meet of Champions on Feb. 25, Chavanelle’s determined to keep his team focused and in position to peak at the right time.

The grind of wrestling season can be debilitating: film on Monday, running on Tuesday, competing on Wednesday, weight room on Thursday and intense wrestling on Friday can all take its toll week after week.

Keeping that mindset, focusing to improve each day, remains key. To help facilitate that positive environment in the depths of the season, Chavanelle’s emphasized keeping things enjoyable.

“We’ve done a really good job this year of keeping the room loose enough to make sure these kids want to actually be there (and are) also having fun with the results,” he said. “We’re having a good year overall as a team, we’ve won a lot of meets, and we’ve placed pretty high at some tough tournaments.”

Chavanelle still has lots of questions he’s eager to see answered in the season’s final few weeks: How does the team perform at the state tournament? Which wrestlers are going to take it to another level? Who’s ready to compete in that big moment?

While those questions will be resolved in the coming weeks, it’s not too early for reflection on how Chavanelle’s first season has transpired so far.

“I’m just really proud of these guys,” he said. “We’ve gone through a lot of different things as far as illnesses, some injuries here and there, other things that have been out of our control. But for a bunch of high schoolers and the position they’ve been put in, they’ve really excelled at all levels.”


ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL is a sports reporter for the Monitor. He graduated from Northwestern University in June 2022 with a degree in journalism and spent his last two years as sports director for the campus radio station, WNUR, leading coverage for nine different sports. A New York native, he's a diehard Yankees and Giants fan much to the displeasure of most of the newsroom.

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