BAR HARBOR — The 2021-22 wrestling regular season began over the weekend with all three Hancock County teams competing at Mount Desert Island High School.
Ellsworth, Bucksport and MDI took part in dual meets Saturday in Bar Harbor. The three local teams faced off against one another as well as Caribou, Dexter, Piscataquis and Washington Academy in the first countable wrestling matches held in the state since Feb. 29, 2020.
Bucksport enjoyed a terrific afternoon as it went 4-1 over its five dual contests. The Golden Bucks beat Ellsworth 39-24, MDI 48-6, Dexter 36-24 and Caribou 40-18. Piscataquis nipped Bucksport 30-24 to hand the Bucks their only defeat of the day.
Kaleb Nightingale led the way for Bucksport with five victories, four of which came in contested matches. The Golden Bucks also got five wins each from Elizabeth Bernier (160 pounds), Paige Anderson (195 pounds) and Jaxon Gross (220) with each of those wrestlers winning two contested matches.
Grayson Fernald gave Bucksport three contested wins at 285 pounds and added another victory via forfeit. Jazmyne Rines (132 pounds; three wins, one contested), Naomi Bragg (two wins via forfeit at 138, one at 145), Samuall Soper (182; two wins, one contested) and Wyatt Weaver (285; one win, contested) added victories for the Golden Bucks.
“I’m very happy with how everyone wrestled,” Bucksport head coach Dave Gross said. “We still have a lot to work on, but nobody gave up, and I thought we pushed the pace of the match well. The kids stuck together throughout the day, [rooted] for each other and stayed in tune with what was going on, which can be difficult when it’s a long day, so I’m pleased with that.”
Ellsworth’s Luke McKenney (182 pounds) had a perfect day for as he posted three contested wins and one forfeit win. The Eagles also got one contested win and three forfeit wins from Josh Fisette (126 pounds) and one contested win and two forfeit wins each from Ridge Weatherbee (152) and Dominic Hamm (170). Gianna Anderson (132), Grayson Mote (145), Christian Hesseltine (160) and Isaac Weber (285) also competed for Ellsworth.
For MDI, Logan Blanchette won one contested match at 145 pounds and added both a contested win and a forfeit win at 138 pounds. Also competing for the Trojans were Nick Jacobs, who wrestled at 152 pounds, and Ashton Thomas, who competed at 285 pounds.
Entering Saturday’s meet, Blanchette was the only MDI wrestler with any varsity experience. For the team’s newcomers, observing and competing in a countable competition served as an excellent introduction to the sport of wrestling.
“Other than Logan, this was everyone’s first match to even see, so they came having not quite seen what wrestling culture is all about yet,” said Mike Rogers, MDI’s first-year head coach. “Now that they’ve gotten to see up close how intense it gets and how everything can change on a dime, they’re even more excited.”
With no wrestling last season, there was certainly some rust to be kicked off for wrestlers from all six competing schools. As the day progressed, though, those wrestlers found things starting to feel a little bit more natural again.
“I was definitely a bit rusty, but the further I got into the meet and the more matches I had, I could feel my muscle memory start to kick back in,” Blanchette said. “I was getting some moves that I had forgotten, and I could feel that rust start to come off.”
Ellsworth and Bucksport were originally scheduled to open the season Saturday at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Yet the Eagles and Golden Bucks were instead late additions to the dual meet in Bar Harbor after icy conditions throughout inland Maine made it unfeasible for the two teams to make long trips west.
Ellsworth, Bucksport and MDI will compete in a four-team meet that also includes Washington Academy at 5 p.m. tomorrow, Dec. 14, at Bucksport High School. The three local teams will return to Bucksport for the Ryan Detour Memorial Tournament at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, before closing out the calendar year at 5 p.m. next Wednesday, Dec. 22 in Bar Harbor.