In mid-November, Portsmouth High School started its first-ever wrestling program. Less than four months later, Thor Griffith represented the Clippers as a medalist at the New England Championships.

“I don’t think we could write a much better story for a first-year wrestling team,” Portsmouth coach Randy Whisler said.

Portsmouth started the season with 22 wrestlers and finished with 16. It took seven grapplers to the Division II state meet, placed six, and took five to the NHIAA Meet of Champions, where captains Ali Alrobaiay and Griffith won matches.

Griffith, after an undefeated regular season, lost his first match at the MOCs to Kyle Garrapy of Keene in the heavyweight final, his second-place finish still qualifying him for the regionals. He lost his first match there to Connecticut's Matt Weiner and had to battle back with four consecutive wins through the consolation bracket. Griffith defeated New Hampshire's Kyle Garrapy, 1-0, to enter the medal rounds as the only remaining heavyweight from the Granite State. He lost a tough match against Massachusetts' Grant Laws, 12-4, setting up a fifth-place match against Connecticut's Hayden Minski.

Griffith earned a hard-fought, 9-2 win in that match to finish fifth in New England. He finished the season 40-3 overall.

"I’m absolutely amazed by this team," Whisler said. "We started this season with five coaches and 22 wrestlers, 21 of whom had never wrestled. At the end of season, we had 16 die-hard Clipper wrestlers, and an additional two Dover (High School) independents, that have become a family who understand the basics of wrestling."

Portsmouth's inaugural wrestling team was comprised of: Mark Gokhban (113 pounds), Will Hess (120), Gale Paquet (120), Alrobayai (132), John Moriarty (138), John Shortill (138), Elisha Mayo (145), Ezera Schrader (160), Peter Simeonov (160), Luke Shambo (170), Cole Lertiren (170), Carlos Nogueira (195), Riley Huneke (195), Matt Lovern (220), Joe Gobbi (285), Griffith (285), Alex Meyer (Dover, 132) and R J Embly (Dover, 152).

"These wrestlers went far beyond any expectations we had for them," Whisler said. "We could talk about wins and losses, but for the coaching staff it never has been nor ever will be about that. We teach young athletes to become adults through wrestling; all the rest is just icing on the cake.

"I could spend hours on the growth that I have seen with this team. They all learned how to deal with tough losses after putting in your all, and how in losing one grows as an individual. We did a lot of growing and in the end we started to see some great strides in work ethic, setting goals and making sound judgements, as well as winning more and more matches."

On behalf of the team, including coaches Jason Chasse, Royce Josey and Nate Perham, Whisler thanked principal Mary Lyons, athletic director Rus Wilson, assistant director Tom Kozikowski, athletic secretary Karen Conway, and athletic trainer Shammara Al-Darraji for their support.

"Congratulations Portsmouth wrestling for starting a new chapter in Portsmouth sports," Whisler added.