BUCKSPORT – Despite all the protocols and rules that impacted last year’s high school winter athletics scene, most sports were able to hold some sort of competition. Then, there was wrestling, but this week, they returned to the mats to actually wrestle for the first time in over a year.
It’s been a long time coming for high school wrestlers in Maine.
“I haven’t wrestled in 2 years,” said junior Jaxon Gross.
“It’s been since 2019,” said Bucksport head coach David Gross.
But this week, they returned to the mats after being the only winter sport unable to compete last year.
“It was awful. I really want to be out there,” said senior Kaleb Nightingale.
“I was really angry I feel like contact sports get the butt end of the stick,” said senior Paige Anderson.
There were no matches last year, but even behind the scenes at practice, the kids weren’t even able to make contact with each other.
“You get the sweat going, but its not the same unless you’re head to head with a kid out on the mat,” Nightingale said.
Because of that, the Golden Bucks and the rest of the wrestling world are easing back into the flow of things.
“Everything is coming back, but it’s going to be a slow process,” Gross said.
“It’s definitely been a little slow getting back into the tempo of everything. It’s a bit quicker than I’m used to,” Nightingale said.
“I’ve been keeping up but this is a little different, I’m a little rusty,” Anderson said.
And after that first practice of the season, everybody is feeling it.
“I didn’t get out of bed,” Anderson said.
“I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I was definitely limping around school and even this morning didn’t want to get up I was still a bit sore,” Nightingale said.
Bucksport head coach David Gross is in his fifth season with the Golden Bucks, and he says what he missed the most was just watching his kids grow.
“That’s what I love to see is I love to see kids improve. It shows that their work is worthwhile, with hard work you will improve,” Gross said.
The wrestling season un-officially kicks off on Dec. 4th with a round-robin tournament, and Gross and the Golden Bucks are just looking forward to going out to compete and fulfill their goals.
“There’s a few kids on the team where their goal should be a state championship, and other kids their goal should be their first win.”