2017-01-09 / Sports

The cradle of youth wrestling

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Alex Holland Pre Season Youth Wrestling Tournament
By Taylor Morrison
Assistant Sports Editor

WATERBORO -- The local wrestling community crowded in to choke the Massabesic High School gym with enough heat to melt any hitchhiking snow instantly and made it the hot spot on the snowy landscape Sunday morning, packed with more than 16 youth wrestling teams for the Alex Holland Pre-Season Youth Wrestling Tournament.

The tournament, held as a precursor to wrestling season, not only gathers the local wrestling community together in a large group before full season to unite, but serves the double purpose of also helping teams get an early glimpse at the competition’s wrestling style and any new developments.

Despite the slick roads early Sunday morning following new snowfall, this tournament drew youth wrestling teams from clubs, schools, and gyms far and wide.

Erin Jones, the Massabesic Youth Wrestling Club coordinator, also known as ‘Mumma Jones’ within the club, said, “[the tournament] was a really good success. We had 245 kids in brackets and it ran really well... We had teams from downeast, we had one kid come from Lincoln. We travel a lot with our youth kids, so [Salem, New Hampshire’s Salem Bulldogs] asked if they could come, so we said ‘why not?’ Massabesic had a great day, very successful. About 75 percent of our team placed. The next step for us is we are going to head down to The Big Red in Lowell, MA next weekend. We’re bringing the biggest group of kids we ever brought down.”

On the home front, three Biddeford wrestlers took home tournament championship medals. In the first and second grade division, first grader Jayson Elwell of Biddeford defeated Carter Ouellette of the Die Hard team with a pin at 2:35 in his final match. In the third and fourth grade division, third graders Dom Smith and Kaden Langevin of Biddeford both won championship finals. Langevin defeated Colton Carter of the Maine Trappers, pin at 0:26 in the final match. Smith won 4-0 against Dash Farrell of the Maine Trappers.

First place winner Smith’s proud mother, Mindy Smith said, “we love coming to Massabesic for tournaments. They always welcome Biddeford and we brought five guys, three golds. Pretty cool.”

Jim Smith, the Biddeford high school assistant wrestling coach, said of the tournament, “Massabesic is one of the better programs in the state. Fun to work with. I’ve said before, they’re my wrestling allies, so it’s great to work with them.”

Smith himself is a Biddeford wrestling winner in his own right. Smith recently won the 2016 National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholastic Assistant Coach of the Year award for the state of Maine.  

Smith agreed that strategically, playing with at least fourteen well-established teams has its benefit as a pre-season sampler of future matches. Smith said, “It’s important to get different looks from everybody. Everyone has their particular style of wrestling and we’ve got ours. We put them together and we get better off that.”

Richard DeRosier, the Massabesic high school wrestling head coach pointed out a long-term altruistic benefit of uniting so many wrestling teams. DeRosier said, “they all help each other. As I’ve said, in wrestling everyone is family so no matter where you are and what you do, someone will open up their door and say, ‘I wrestled also.’”

DeRosier pointed out that bringing the community together through events like this also helps build a strong support structure for young wrestlers and wrestling families long before high school.

DeRosier said, “getting these tournaments is what makes our middle school and our high school better as a community. As you know, wrestling is a family. So having this and getting our parents involved, our youth, our middle and high school -- that’s what’s starting to shape this. This whole reason we do this is so that when they get to high school, they’re ready.”

A prime example of a youngster preparing to launch such a wrestling career was Owen Tripp, a fifth grade third place winner on the Maine Trapper team defeated Chris Buckley of the Wesbrook Wolfpack with a pin at 2:56.

Tripp, a fifth grader, like most of the youngsters here, is very serious about wrestling. Evaluating his performance after exiting the mat, Tripp said, “it was good. I tried really hard and I lost one match, and it was a tough one. It was a 3 to 4 and I lost by one point.. I worked a lot of moves.”

Owen’s father said, “I’m just proud of him.”

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