Hard work pays off for wrestler Anthony Vickers
Northbridge’s Anthony Vickers, a D2 state wrestling champ.
By CHRISTOPHER TREMBLAY, Staff Sports Writer
Like many younger siblings, Anthony Vickers looked up to his older brother and wanted to me just like him, so around the age of eight he decided to try out wrestling. Although he was not all that good in the beginning he stuck with the sport and is now reaping the benefits of all his hard work.
“My older brother was wrestling for the high school and wanted to me like him so I gave it a try. I found that I loved the hard work, the competition and of course the winning,” Vickers said. “It took me a couple of years to get the sport down, but I just kept trying until I got better. When I was 10 or 11 I made it to the Youth State Final in the 65 lb. weight class.”
Although the Northbridge native had a love for the sport of wrestling he decided to take some time off to pursue another sport – boxing. Again, it was because his older brothers were into boxing, and he wanted to once again be like them. About three years into his leave from wrestling as he entered his freshman year in Northbridge High School he was once again lured back into the sport.
“I wasn’t going to start wrestling again, but Coach (Baird) Lashley kept begging me to come out for the team as there was no one really wrestling for Northbridge,” the now junior wrestler said. “He had heard about me through the previous coach and eventually I decided to try it again.”
His freshman season with the co-op wrestling team made up of Northbridge, Grafton, Whitinsville-Christian and Nipmuc just happened to be the Covid year, so the season was rather limited. Vickers only got to wrestle in four matches but the then freshman managed to win all four. Coach Lashley was looking for Vickers to take a step up during the following year.
“His sophomore season was his most accomplished to date, but it wasn’t something that I was looking for out of him,” Lashley said. “I was just hoping that he would fall back into love with the sport and enjoy getting on the mat once again.”
Vickers took to the mat and was more than productive that season. The sophomore, wrestling in the 113-lb weight class, finished third in the Division 2 West Sectionals, took third once again in the Division 2 State Tournament, finished sixth in the All States and got to wrestle in the New Englands. In doing as well as he did he started to ponder what could have been0.
“After that season I reflected upon how much I better I would have been if I had continued to wrestle and not taken those years off – I know I would have been State, All State and New England Champion,” Vickers pondered.
Coming into this season, Vickers’ junior campaign, Lashley saw a total change in the grappler.
“He was still wrestling in the 113-lb weight class, but he was bigger and stronger,” his coach said. “He went 35-0 this year and is now 71-8 over his career; won the Sectionals again and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament, though all the Divisions.”
Following his Sectional Championship, Vickers went on to become the first wrestler in Northbridge High School history to claim a state championship in the sport. He would then take second in the All-State Tournament and is scheduled to wrestle at the New England Tournament the first weekend of March in Providence, Rhode Island.
“Winning the States and becoming the first Northbridge wrestler to do so was very emotional; it made me realize all my hard work had paid off,” he said. “My father always told me that if I worked hard then good things would come. Ever since I got into Northbridge High School I knew that there wasn’t a State Champion and I wanted to be the first one to do it.”
Not only has Vickers collected numerous wrestling accreditations, but he has also added a boxing title to his resume. While taking time off from wrestling Vickers captured the 112-lb. Junior Lightweight Boxing Championship.
Vickers continues to box year round, but once the high school wrestling season begins in November he puts down the gloves and starts practicing on the mat.
Taking part in both sports I don’t see a conflict. I’m trying to have success in other sports,” the two-sport champion said. “I love both sports equally and have the time to do both, I just need to focus on each sport individually during the year.”
Usually once the wrestling season comes to an end Vickers walks away having nothing to do with the sport until November, but after the success he has had this season the junior is looking improve his craft for his senior season.
“I want to go further next year and in order to do that I need more mat time so there will be no off-season this year,” he said. “I want to continue to work hard so that I stay sharp and win another state championship as well as adding an All State and New England Championship.”
Showing that he is willing to put in all the hard work is why Lashley named the junior a captain of the squad.
“Although there were some seniors, Anthony has shown that he is one of the hardest worker on our team, as well as being a role model to the other wrestlers. He always comes in with the right attitude,” Lashley said.
As the New England Tournament approaches the Northbridge junior is hoping to advance into the finals and even winning it.
“I believe in myself and feel that I can accomplish winning the New England Title,” he said. “I just need to wrestle as hard as I can and don’t take anyone lightly.”
Depending on what happens in Providence Vickers is looking forward to become a four-time champion next year when he wins the Division 2 West Sectional, the Division 2 State Title, the All State Title and concludes it with a New England title.