Since eighth grade, Chase Ledbury, now a senior at Saugus High School, has been competing for the varsity wrestling team and over the years he has steadily progressed into a league champion and a top state competitor in the 145-pound weight class.
Earlier this month, Ledbury reached a major milestone by capturing his 100th career match victory. The win came in the final dual meet of the season against Northeastern Conference (NEC)/Cape Ann League (CAL) foe Beverly back on Feb. 9. With Beverly ahead by one point, 34-33, the meet came down to the final match between Ledbury and his 145-pound opponent. Ledbury ended up scoring a major decision to help catapult the Sachems to a 37-33 dual victory, the 10th of the season for the team and 100th of Ledbury’s career.
“It was the first time in recent memory that [Saugus] has beaten Beverly High School,” said Saugus Head Coach Wayne Moda. “It was great to see Chase reach his personal goal while at the same time propelling the team to their collective goal [of 10 wins for the season].”
Moda acknowledged that 100 wins in wrestling is special. “It may not seem like it would be a difficult goal to reach, but it is,” he said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team only competed in eight dual meets and no tournaments in 2020-21, Ledbury’s junior year. But despite the difficulties brought on by last year’s pandemic, Ledbury was able to persevere and come back strong this winter.
“In this sport, to get good, you need to wrestle a lot. There are so many factors involved – mental, physical,” Moda explained. “Unlike football, basketball, lacrosse and soccer, you don’t have ‘the whole game’ to sharpen your skills. In those sports you can be beaten badly but still get something out of the game. In wrestling, being beaten badly can mean being pinned in 10 seconds. Then you are done. Not a ton of lessons come in 10 seconds.”
This senior season has proven to be an outstanding one for Ledbury. He captured the NEC/CAL tourney title at 145 and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the league tournament. He also earned the league’s Wrestler of the Year honor. He’s also been selected all-conference and gone undefeated in dual-meet competition for the past two years.
Ledbury advanced from the 113-lb. category as an eighth-grader to 126-lbs. his freshman year and 138 as a sophomore before settling in at 145 as a junior. He admits he didn’t gain a serious interest in the sport until his 2020 sophomore season, when he finished fifth overall at the Div. 3 North sectionals and won the league championship in his weight class. “That’s when I really began to understand and love the sport,” said Ledbury, who recalled his first win ever as an eighth-grader. “We had a small team and if you are light in weight you sometimes get a varsity spot no matter how good you are. Being in eighth grade and having to wrestle upperclassmen was tough, so my first win was special because that was the point where I realized I could do it.”
Ledbury added that being two-time captain of the team is important to him, as well as the support he has received from family. “They have been by my side every step of the way, and it has allowed us to spend lots of time together,” he said of the family presence. “They love to watch me and I love them being at my meets and tournaments.”
Moda said Ledbury is one of the hardest working kids he’s coached. The two first met last year when Moda was coaching at the Red Roots Wrestling Club. “We worked together during the COVID months when not many others were training,” Moda remembered. “It was apparent that Chase had the work ethic and talent to be very good. During that time, [Chase] explained to me that the Saugus/Peabody team was without a coach, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring for the position.”
Since becoming Head Coach, Moda has witnessed what Ledbury “is all about” in terms of his character. “Chase is very calibrated and methodical in his approach. He doesn’t get too high and doesn’t get too low,” Moda observed. “He puts 100 percent into everything he does. He is a natural leader and has been an amazing mentor to the rest of our team.”
With an overall 45-4 match record since last season, Ledbury has extended his career victories total to 110 on the heels of his century-mark win against Beverly two weeks ago.
Moda said Ledbury possesses the ideal mindset for a wrestler competing as part of a team. “Wrestling is an individual as well as a team sport, and many wrestlers have a hard time navigating that,” the coach pointed out. “Sometimes what is best for an individual is not always best for the team. If a wrestler is winning a match, he may become complacent and hang on just to win when the team needs bonus points or a pin in order to earn a higher score. It’s hard to summon the energy to ‘do better’ than win. Chase fully understands that dynamic.”
An excellent student with a GPA of 4.16, Ledbury scored an overall fifth-place finish at this year’s Div. 1 North state tournament. As a result. he qualified to compete this weekend in the state tournament in Fitchburg, where he will be competing among the top 18 wrestlers in the state in the 145-pound division.
Ledbury plans to pursue wrestling beyond high school, as he signed an athletic commitment to attend Trinity College in Connecticut and compete for the Bantams. He was recruited by a number of Division 3 colleges before deciding on Trinity.